The Molto sits three from the top of UK brand Moda’s 15-bike lineup, and it’s based around a hi-mod carbon frame that bears a passing resemblance to a few Far Eastern frames we’ve seen.
What is different, however, is the classy treatment Moda have taken with the blue, chalk and grey finish and bold graphics. The designers of the Moda range are UK distributors Eurobike; they also handle American Classic and Barelli, so it’s no surprise to see that those brands have been used to create the Molto.
Frame & equipment: Racy skeleton, classy looks
The frame features a short head tube, by modern standards, a short wheelbase and details such as an oversized BB shell, thick chainstays and substantial seatstays marking the frame out as one that’s built to race. The overall frame finish is superb; the contrasting colour scheme is all completed with a sand matte texture that adds plenty of class.
The drivetrain is based around SRAM’s Rival group and it’s quality stuff, with carbon bladed shifters and beautifully machined mechs. These are paired with a Barelli carbon chainset that has a decidedly old school (for carbon) appearance, with a high gloss finish and ridged crank arms that are curvily sculpted for better heel clearance. They’re plenty stiff enough and the machined alloy chainrings handle shifting well, with just a slight delay compared to SRAM’s offering.
American Classic’s Victory 30 wheels have custom coordinated graphics that add to the bike’s well considered look. They’re shod with Kenda’s Kaliente Pro tyres.
The bike is finished with a whole host of Barelli components. Up front, the slender bar and minimal stem, both in aluminium, look the part. At the back, a 31.6mm aluminium seatpost with layback is topped with a Barelli saddle, which has a nicely slender shape and a highly flexible hull – however, the soft padding does make for a slightly ‘squidgy’ feel.
Ride & handling: Reactive and stable with a climber’s weight
Out on the road the Molto frame certainly feels solid; it doesn’t vibrate or chatter over gravelly tarmac but it does have a tendency to bang and crash through anything bigger, such as road scars or potholes. Its smooth general manners are down to the slender bar having a little more flex than most, and the springy, light nature of the handbuilt Victory wheels.
We could induce a bit of flex from both the wheels and the bar under hard out-of-the-saddle efforts. It’s nothing that would ever concern us, though you will notice it from time to time.
Handling-wise we like the Molto – the short stout head, tube and oversized fork blades contribute to a bike that’s highly reactive to steering inputs, with the short wheelbase making it good and nimble.
With gearing of a standard 53/39 chainset paired with a 12-25T cassette reinforcing the Molto’s racing purpose, we initially thought it might be a bit much for the more everyday rider. Thankfully, light wheels and a low overall weight go a fair way to compensate when the road starts to rise. Throughout are test route we never found ourselves wanting for a lower bottom sprocket.
What we did want, especially as one of our test rides was particularly wet, were better brakes. The single pivot Barelli stoppers are impressive to look at, with a heavily pared down mass and contrasting anodised cable QR cams. High-quality blue Swiss stop pads complete them, but even they couldn’t compensate for their poor performance.
Initial bite is minimal and you’ll go almost all the way through the lever’s travel before getting any meaningful resistance. At the far end of the travel the brake will lock the wheel, but with such little feel in-between it’s difficult to regulate speed, making wet downhill descents more about nerve than control.
This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2013 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 273, on sale Friday 1 March and available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.