When ‘cross frames were made of steel, titanium was opulent. When ‘cross frames were made of aluminum, titanium was still extravagant, but attainable. And now that ‘cross frames are ubiquitously carbon, titanium is reserved for those who want to ride a work of art instead of a mass- produced piece of plastic – still lavish, but more elegant than ambitious. In short, ti has always been tits!
Moots has been hand-crafting titanium since 1981 out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Like all of their frames, the Psychlo X RSL proudly displays its craftsmanship through its artful welds and elegant tubing. But what isn’t so apparent to the eye is that all of the thin-walled, oversized titanium tubes on this top-end ‘cross frame are seamlessly butted for additional weight savings and ride-tuned comfort. Combine the butted tubing with the press-fit BB 30 bottom bracket and a 44mm headtube, and you get a frame that is stiff when pedaling, but surprisingly supple and compliant for titanium over rough terrain. The increased-diameter tubing at the bottom bracket and headtube allow for increased weld overlap, making for a stiffer triangle. The butted, shaped tubes not only allow for a comfortable place in which to slip your shoulder in the case of the toptube, but they also reduce weight, making this one of the lightest performance ‘cross bike you can buy.
The elegance does not end with the front triangle. In the rear, butted tubes are formed to increase mud clearance, and the chainstays are braced to add even more stiffness. The entire package makes it the one of the most coveted titanium ‘cross bike on the market, earning the Colorado manufacturer the “Best Cyclocross Bike” award at the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show in 2012.
As a complete bike, Moots mounts its carbon fork to the frame with a Chris King 44mm Inset headset, and also throws in their titanium seatpost and stem for good measure. Moots uses SRAM’s top-end Red group for the shifting and drivetrain, and TRP’s magnesium EuroX cantilever arms for the braking. And while Moots offers the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon tubular wheels for the bike, our test bike came with the pedestrian Mavic Ksyrium SL clinchers.
So while carbon ‘cross frames seem to be the norm now, there is still something inherently throw-away about riding plastic. Next year a new frame lay-up or tube shape will make this year’s carbon frame obsolete, leaving the type-A racer clown clamoring for the latest, and dumping the old frame into the drifting continent of trash in the Pacific. But ti will always be ti. It’s like having a Monet in your garage – except you get to ride it! .
— BY: JOSS DeWAELE | ROAD