The Moots Compact is a great all-round bike suitable for anyone (well, anyone with deep pockets), from the cycling hobbyist to the rabid racer who hammers all season long. It’s quick, responsive and stiff – all the things a good bike should be – and yet this titanium bike feels markedly different from its high-end carbon cousins.
The Compact's impressively luxurious ride will see you through long distances with no trouble at all. If you’re looking for a guaranteed head-turner, the styling might not be for you, but if you appreciate subtle and classy looks, you’ll love it.
Ride & handling: smooth operator
From the off, I was struck by the comfort of the Compact's ride. It's exceptionally smooth – relaxing even – and very different from the stiffness you get with an all-carbon bike.
The Compact frame absorbs anything the road can throw at it. The vibrations that hit the wheels are absorbed by the frame and never make it as far as your body.
There's no twist or give in the frame. This enables you to concentrate all your power onto the pedals and that power is converted into swift forward motion by the bike. I'm impressed. This is no first-generation titanium bike, but a fully evolved all-round bike that can handle the many different aspects of cycling.
You’d think that a bike this comfortable might be compromised in terms of performance, but you’d be wrong. The bike handles beautifully when you dive round corners. The all-carbon Alpha Q GS10 fork carves superbly, no matter what speed you go.
On some bike designs the steerer tube and fork are bonded together. If the bonding on this joint is not up to scratch, it can create a weak joint that could snap. [We’ve seen it happen and it ain’t pretty – Ed.]. The GS10 avoids this problem by using carbon rooting technology (CRT), a process that layers the carbon from the steerer tube into the fork blades. The result is one super-stiff steering tube/fork unit.
And that extra stiffness proves its worth. The fork isn’t twitchy at all and not once did I have to correct the steering. If you take your hands off the bars, the bike tracks perfectly.
The Compact also did its utmost to ease my ride as I fought against a fierce headwind. Its ability to absorb the road’s worst, so preventing back pain, would make it a great long distance ride.
Frame: understated quality
Moots, started out making custom bikes in 1981. Steel was their material of choice back then, but in 1991, the Colorado-based company switched to titanium. Today, the care and attention that goes into the Moots from-the-ground-up design process and exacting welding sequence is also lavished on their range of stock bikes, which includes the Compact.
As you’d expect from a company that lets performance do the talking, the Compact is nothing fancy in appearance – although the Deda Newton aluminium bars are very cool looking indeed. But that doesn't stop its beautifully joined swathes of titanium looking seriously powerful.
The Compact has a comfortable 73-degree seat angle, which makes it easy to get up when you need to. When it's time to sprint or get out of the saddle up hill, the bike’s reaction time is spot on.
My test Compact was a stock 59cm frame. The top tube looks like it might be too short, but its virtual length (standard geometry) is 58cm and it in fact provides plenty of reach.
The Compact features a longer-than-usual head tube that extends up from the top tube about two inches. This means the bars are slightly higher for a more comfortable position. This didn’t stop me getting down into low aero position, though.
Moots includes some nice touches on this bike as standard that could have been extras. When I put on the rear derailleur, at first glance the rear hanger seemed awfully small and fragile. On closer inspection though, I realised it was quite beefy and, even better, fully replaceable.
The clean, simple braze-ons for the housing and cables are more nice touches. Such perfectly executed detail reflects the overall quality of the Moots bike.
Also impressive was the seat clamp, which was part of the frame as opposed to an independent clamp. I particularly liked the way it was a close fit to begin with and quickly became a snug fit when I tightened it. It didn’t bend at all and held the seatpost securely.
Equipment: SRAM & Mavics make a fast combination
The black of the SRAM Force groups stands out against the silver-grey of the Compact’s titanium body. The group features SRAM’s DoubleTap gear-shifting system, which uses just one lever to shift both up and down (one tap for up, two for down).
It took me a while to get used to. On more than one occasion I caught myself tapping the lever expecting the gear to get easier instead of harder, but once I got the hang of it, it was a piece of cake.
The brake levers feel plasticky and seem on the fragile side. They work fine, though, and I like the way they snap back into position firmly after braking.
I built up an impressive appetite on the hills, so it was time to get the Mavic R-Sys wheels spinning as fast as they would go. These wheels feature tubular carbon spokes, and the result is an extremely light, stiff wheel – 1,355g for the pair – that accelerates well in sprints.
The neon nipples put me off a bit, but the wheels’ superb stiffness soon made me forget about that. I’d be happy using these hoops on mountainous terrain or in a criterium race – they spin effortlessly.
Moots' own, newly-developed seatpost with independent fore/aft and tilt adjustments is excellent. One Allen key does everything, making the saddle a breeze to install and get positioned.
Conclusion: cult classic
I felt secure and comfortable on the Compact. I only had to look at the barely distinguishable welds and the way the tubes all melted perfectly together to see how carefully this bike had been constructed. There were no flares or tapers in the bottom bracket or headtube area to be seen on its round tubes. No gimmicks at all, in fact – just expertly executed, performance-driven design, making the Compact truly worthy of a cult following.