I’ve been obsessed with owning a Moots ever since the first time I saw a YBB in person 15 years ago. This review is in no way unbiased, professional or short. It’s long and completely biased by my obsession with owning one of these bikes.
I’m a middle/back of the pack rider who rides with “friends” who seemingly turn every group ride into a mad dash for the green jersey even though they promised it will be a base building ride. Anyone else have friends like these?
I’ve owned two other titanium bikes before including a Litespeed Arenberg and Tuscany. My last bike was a Cervelo Soloist (Aluminum). While researching my new bike purchase I relentlessly searched the Internet for every review, Youtube clip, article on the Vamoots CR. I was a bit obsessive, and I never got enough information to satisfy me. Reviews were generally a few years old and would rave about the frame but not go into the detail that I wanted. This review is long and made for the obsessive bike geeks out there who are thinking about buying a new Vamoots CR.
Let’s start with the bike’s strongest attribute. It’s nearly impossible to ride one of these before you own it so most owners have to take a leap of faith that the bike will ride well once they buy it. Rest assured it rides like a dream. I’ve owned two other titanium bikes before but this bike rides so differently than a Litespeed. The Litespeeds were smooth, but they had a metallic quality to the ride. They would smooth out most road irregularities but a lot of feedback still got to the rider.
The Moots is creamy and luxurious. Where I ride, they use this wonderful technique called chip seal which leads to a road texture that resembles a granola bar. It’s a great test for any bike when it comes to road quality and I’m blown away at how creamy the road texture becomes on this bike. I love ice cream and the analogy that I will use is cheap vanilla ice cream versus super-premium ice cream. Both are good but you don’t realize what you are missing until you eat the good stuff. The Vamoots is a full-fat, super-premium ice cream that just has an amazingly luxurious feel to it.
Much of the credit goes to the Moots cinch seat post. I think this should come standard with every frame because I can’t imagine buying a Moots without it. First of all it’s beautiful. The welds are seamless and the engineering of the post is brilliant. Secondly, it truly enhances the ride quality of this bike. It’s incredibly expensive at nearly $400 but spend the dough and buy it. I’ve also test ridden a number of high-end carbon bikes, and I think this attribute is where the Moots trumps them all. Most of the carbon bikes I tested are plenty stiff, but they have a wooden or dead feeling to the ride. Maybe it’s just me but I never enjoyed riding them. I like metal because it has a warmth to the ride that I could never find in carbon.
STIFFNESS AND CLIMBING:
I really wanted to get the RSL even though I’m short and have no power in my legs. The RSL just looked cool and had big, fat tubes and appealed to the wannabe racer in me. I’m glad I didn’t get it because the CR is plenty stiff for me.
When I’m out of the saddle climbing a hill, I don’t feel any flex or flimsiness in the rear end. The bike smoothly accelerates all of the power I’m putting into it in a controlled way. If you look at the chainstays you can see why the bike feels so planted when you climb. The chainstays are fat and noticeably larger that the seatstays. They aren’t wimpy or thin.
I will say that this bike climbs really differently than most of the carbon bikes that are in the market now. Most of the carbon bikes I’ve tested (Madone, Orca) climb violently like a scared cat when you stomp on the pedals. Every watt of energy you put into the bike seems to transfer to forward acceleration and the response is immediate and sudden.
The Moots isn’t like that. It will climb quickly but not violently and suddenly. It’s responsive without being sudden. The power output you get from it is measured and steady. If you have a power meter on your current bike and you’ve memorized Lance’s time splits climbing up Alp D’huez, then you probably won’t like the Moots. It will get you to the top but it will do it in a civilized way and maybe a bit slower than its carbon competitors.
DESCENDING AND CORNERING:
On my Cervelo, I’ve never been a good descender. I was always a bit timid and generally rode the brakes because the bike never felt the most stable going downhill.
With the Moots, I let the bike go on descents. The bike feels so planted and stable on the downhills even if there is a crosswind. I’m not sure if it’s because of the fork offset (45) or the bike or both but I’m usually keeping up with the leaders of our group ride on the descents instead of bringing up the rear.
When cornering, the bike again feels so composed and easy to guide. You can lean into it hard and the bike won’t complain or you can take wide sweeping arcs and it still feels as composed. It just glides through corners and turns without much drama or fanfare.
I was reading a review on MotorTrend about why they love the new BMW 3 series (don’t they always love this car?) and they talked about how the car isn’t a standout in one particular area but that the car “gets under your skin and you are spoiled for anything else.”
I feel the same about the Vamoots CR. There are lighter bikes, flashier bikes, stiffer bikes, sharper handling bikes but few have the subtle qualities of a CR. I’m kind of glad that I bought this bike after road riding for awhile. I don’t think I would have liked or appreciated this bike if it were my first road bike. When you ride it, nothing jumps out at you. It quietly does its job and you only realize how good it is after ride something else. It’s only then that you realize that you’ve been spoiled.
The Vamoots kind of runs counter to our culture now where louder, flashier is better. It’s the anti-Snooki. I think if you are reading this review you have self selected yourself as someone who is a bit old school instead of an early adopter who is salivating at the newest 2.0 version of the latest gadget.
WHO WOULDN'T LIKE THIS BIKE:
No bike would make everyone happy, so I tried to objectively look at who wouldn’t like this bike. I think there are three
1. Big folks – I ride a 48 cm which is tiny. I can imagine if you are running a 62 cm the feel of the bike would be very different. I’m guessing the bike might be a bit flexier but this is a total guess on my part. I wish I had this problem, but I always bought bikes from the kid section of the geometry range.
2. Power/Weight Weenies/Data geeks – Guys who love numbers and data about their bikes/ride probably wouldn’t like this bike. What makes this bike great won’t show up on a power meter or Excel spreadsheet. Velonews won’t be running any wind tunnel tests on this bike nor will Lennard Zinn write another impossible to understand tech column about the CR.
3. People who wear a lot of Assos clothing – If you have a lot of $400 Assos jackets and $300 bib shorts in your closet you probably won’t like this bike. I think there’s a correlation to the amount of Assos in your closet to the level of flash that you demand from your bikes. Buy a Pinarello or a Colnago or a Wilier. I’m not sure you would be happy with a Moots.
NITPICKS ABOUT MY BIKE:
I love this bike but there are a few minor issues that I thought I’d point out.
1. Cheap Decals – The frame finish on a Moots is so beautiful so I don’t know if any decals would look good on this bike but the decals seem cheap in my eye. I know that you can get the frame refinished and it allows the bike to be returned to a new condition but there has to be a better way to put the Moots logo on the frame in a way that matches the beauty of the finish. The transition from the gorgeous frame to the decals is jarring.
2. Weird weld line/mark on my seat tube: Right below the weld where the seat stays meet the seat tube there is a weird weld line/mark on the tube. At first I thought it was a stain but when I rubbed it I realized that there is some sort of weld mark on the seat tube. It almost looks like the seat tube had a problem and they had to weld over it. I’m sure it’s purely cosmetic but I wouldn’t have sent my frame out looking like that. The Ti finish shows every flaw and this one is noticeable and a bit disappointing. Not sure what happened with it.
3. Uneven finish on Cinch seatpost: I bought the Moots Cinch post to perfectly match my frame but the finish on the post is brighter and shinier than the frame. What’s weird is that at the top of the post, the finish more readily matches the finish of the frame so it’s a bit uneven. It’s a minor detail but most people that buy the Moots post will put it on a Moots so there’s no reason why the finish shouldn’t match the frame.
2012 Vamoots CR (48 cm)
2012 Moots carbon fork (45 offset)
2012 Ultegra 6700 groupset with compact crank
2012 Ksyrium Elite wheels with Michelin Pro Race 3 tires
Moots Cinch post
3T Ergo Carbon bar (flat top – amazing difference)
Chris King headset
Selle Italia Prolink saddle