While the titanium bike doesn’t contest any of the outer limits in any category — it is not the lightest, the stiffest or the most compliant — it is a well-balanced frame that could last a lifetime. And for this price, it better!
The Moots Vamoots Disc RSL is a titanium road race machine with room for wide tiresBen Delaney / Immediate Media
Like many small builders, Moots has options aplenty for build kits and construction. There are nine sizes, each with its own titanium tube thicknesses, plus custom sizes and options such as internal brake routing, a pump peg, a chain hanger and an engraved head tube.
Unlike many small builders, Moots also incorporates new-school tech like 3D printed titanium flat-mount dropouts to ensure perfect alignment.
Moots offers four stock builds of the Vamoots Disc RSL that start at $9,099. This build tested is a dream package of sorts at $14,505.
The rear dropout junction is 3D printedBen Delaney / Immediate Media
How a $14,000 bike rides
At the risk of stating the obvious, a few factors influence how a bike rides. The wheels, the tires, the touch points and the drivetrain all play a part before you get to the frameset itself, where geometry, material and design define the experience. Let’s focus on the frameset first.
The beauty and curse of titanium is that it has some natural give. If you are looking for a cushy ride, titanium is a great way to go with normal-sized tubes. But if you want a super-stiff and efficient machine, then the builder has to use wider tubes than other alloys.
The Vamoots is Moots’ endurance bike, and the Vamoots RSL is the race-geo machineBen Delaney / Immediate Media
The Vamoots DR is a good example of the former, as an endurance road bike with a plush ride. This Vamoots DSL, however, locks down lateral stability with massive head tube and bottom bracket dimensions.
Butted titanium shaves some weight while maintaining strength, but a 58cm frame still tips the scales at 1,360g.
So how can a heavy ti bike compete with a modern carbon frame that could nearly halve the weight? Well, it doesn’t.
Mr Moots is the company mascot, seen here adorning the carbon disc forkBen Delaney / Immediate Media
Moots has always done its own thing, and a rider who buys a boutique titanium frame isn’t after a carbon wonder bike. More likely, they are looking for a piece of handmade art. And while there is a proliferation of handmade builders out there, very few have the pedigree and longevity of Moots.
On the road, the Vamoots RSL Disc strikes a happy, ride-all-day balance. For a titanium bike, the Vamoots RSL Disc can get up and go with surprising efficiency. With many ti frames, the first hard accelerations are met with side-to-side bowing around the bottom bracket. There is very little of that here.
Moots builds titanium frames and parts in Steamboat Springs, ColoradoBen Delaney / Immediate Media
Similarly, there is no mushy vagueness up front, whether yanking on the bars for leverage or leaning the bike back and forth through S curves.
For vertical stiffness, the Vamoots RSL Disc is not as Cadillac-plush as most of its Moots brethren. Beefing up the dimensions for handling and pedaling does have a carryover effect on overall compliance. But the magic of titanium is unmistakable on the Vamoot RSL Disc, which subdues road buzz, smooths off the hard edges of bumps and subtly insulates you from some of the fatiguing aspects of road vibration.
Of course you get titanium cagesBen Delaney / Immediate Media
With 73.5-degree head- and seat-tube angles, the Vamoots RSL Disc handles like a race bike. It’s quick and easy to steer with your hands or your hips. The 7.2cm bottom-bracket drop (size 56cm) keeps you feeling centered in the frame without bottoming out your pedals when spinning through corners.
Dream build: ENVE SES 4.5, titanium stem and seatpost and Shimano Dura-Ace 9170
Smooth-welded titanium stem? You betBen Delaney / Immediate Media
You can get the Vamoots RSL Disc with Shimano Dura-Ace or Ultegra drivetrains in electric or mechanical configurations. This Dura-Ace 9170 is the Di2 version with hydraulic discs.
It’s hard to fault the top-shelf offering from Japan, with configurable shifting, hugely powerful yet easy-to-modulate braking and long battery life. You can get the discs to squeal on longer, steep descents with sharp corners, but a few seconds of coasting and air cooling will relieve the noise.
A variety of builds are available. ENVE’s SES 4.5 wheels are hard to fault in the disc configurationBen Delaney / Immediate Media
The titanium stem, seatpost and cages really tie the whole package together. Excuse the pun; I couldn’t resist. Executed in aluminum, a seatpost of this shape and dimension would knock your molars out; in ti, the compliance is comparable to a high-end carbon post.
Thru-axles front and rear, which is now established as the standard for road disc bikesBen Delaney / Immediate Media
The few hundred miles I rode this bike on pavement and dirt were my first experience with the ENVE SES 4.5 Disc wheels. I had spent a fair amount of time on the rim version of this wheelset, and loved everything about it except the quick release skewer (which could slip under high torque) and the high price. Here, one of those issues is resolved.
Bottom line: a premium titanium race-geo bike
While most companies opt for internal routing, Moots keeps the hydraulic lines externalBen Delaney / Immediate Media
With even the “cheap” models starting at nearly ten grand, the Moots Vamoots RSL Disc is clearly not the bike for every rider. And although the angles and dimensions are race-centric, this isn’t the bike for every racer, even ignoring the price.
Shimano’s PRO Vibe bar has Di2 routing and, for me, a comfortable shapeBen Delaney / Immediate Media
What this is, finally, is an excellent execution of old and new school titanium fabrication that delivers road-buzz absorption without feeling mushy or vague.
The ideal mate for this machine is likely a veteran rider who used to race and still appreciates a quick handling bike, but wants a dependable forever-ever companion with which to ride off into the sunset for years and years to come.
Moots specs the Fi’zi:k Aliante R3 across the four build optionsBen Delaney / Immediate Media