I’ve had some great road bikes over the years but for the past 12 months I’ve felt a tug for something different, new. A bike that could travel with me to Tucson, Montana, Europe, and South America. A bike that could handle gravel, mountain passes, creek crossings, the hills of Tuscany, and all day charity rides like RATPOD. And last but not least, a bike that’s fun to ride and sexy to boot! So, with all of that in mind, I decided to pull the trigger on a brand new hand built titanium bike made in Steamboat Springs, CO – a MOOTS Vamoots DR road bike.
Why I Bought a Moots DR Road Bike
I went with a Moots Vamoots DR Road Bike for a few reasons. First off, I wanted a road geometry and frame that still had clearance to get dirty and give me confidence to get off the beaten path and ride hard. This bike has more of an “endurance geometry,” which I like, but I didn’t want a full on gravel bike or cross bike, or something else. I wanted a road bike that you can put some badass tires on and get to the amazing places we ride. Having grown up a full-on roady, I always find myself craving the road geometry and fit. I have a Santa Cruz MTB, a Pinarello cross bike, and a Moots RSL hardtail, yet on each one I find myself longing for a fit that isn’t quite there. When I jump on a road bike (not a gravel bike) I find that I can quickly get it fit right and feeling good. I’ll admit that this is not the norm and don’t necessarily suggest getting a Moots DR for your next XC or MTB season, I’m just saying that instead of going the gravel bike route, I deliberately got the DR because I knew I’d be happier with that ride over the course of my adventures.
Other Reasons I Chose the Vamoots DR Road Bike:
I’m hard on my bikes
I also wanted a bike that will hold up to the bad things I do to bikes. Traveling on planes and in vans, strada bianche riding in Tuscany, guiding and riding our Trips and Tours through Montana. And then just the random adventures we do on a weekly basis in Arizona, Montana, and beyond. Also, I find that I break my bikes more often than other people. With trips coming up on my schedule to the Dolomites and Chile, I really wanted something metal that I didn’t have to stress about. Can something still go wrong? Of course it can, but in my travels I have found myself working a lot less with a metal bike vs. a carbon bike.
I Like the People at Moots
Also, I like the folks as Moots. They are a company that truly cares about the bikes they are delivering around the world and that means a lot to me. That’s why we partner with Moots for the Moots Owner’s Camp every year in Tucson, AZ. Full disclosure, The Cycling House is a Moots dealer and we’ve done many builds with Moots for our guests at TCH. But this was the first time I was on the side of ordering for myself. Shaun Radley runs all of our bike sales and since I’ve been busy traveling and running trips, it was fun to experience what our riders experience when they order a Moots.
Moots Crafts Great Products
Moots has really dialed in the new Vamoots DR and enhanced it with the latest technology to perform at its best. The biggest upgrades are the thru axles (both front and rear) and the flat mount braking using Moot’s 3D printed insert. These allow for perfectly aligned brakes and a super strong frame. It’s next level stuff in the Ti world and it allows the DR to be compatible with the most recent braking components including Sram, Shimano and Campy.
The Ordering Process and Timeline Expectations
I put my order in for a new DR in December of 2017. The Cycling House was scheduled to host the 5th annual Moots owner’s cycling camp in Tucson and the folks at Moots said it was their goal to get my bike built and ready to roll in time for camp. They pulled it off and it came to Tucson on the Moots demo van – which was a pretty awesome way to have a new bike delivered! The ordering process was smooth and expectations on build timeline was realistic; I appreciated the honest timeline layout.
Michael Loomis, Moots’ N. America Rep for the West and Southwest says, “You can generally expect 4-6 weeks for stock geometry and 8 weeks for a fully custom frame. Options like internal routing and premium finishes will add time to the build process.”
Personalizing the Vamoots DR
Most of my build is pretty standard so I won’t bore you with too many details, but I did want to note a few specifics.
I chose the Di2 internal routing option that Moots offers (there is an up-charge for this). It gives the bike a super clean look! I also went with the Moots Titanium stem and seat post since I’ve always loved that Moots seat post. Also, I’m very happy with the new Anodized logo, it has a really clean look and is different than anything Moots has done on their bikes before. It adds color to the steely gray, creating a nice contrast.
I went with a Shimano Di2 Ultegra build because I haven’t had electronic shifting for over three years and I figured – why not? It creates butter smooth shifting and this frame deserves the upgrade. I went with non-compact cranks because there’s nothing worse than having your friends drop you on a descent because you’re spun out.
Disc Brakes on a Road Bike
I know this is by no means a new concept, but it was only a couple of years ago that bike companies weren’t putting disc brakes options on most new road bikes like they are now. This is my first road bike with disc brakes and this bike has the Shimano Ultegra brakes and levers. I took my first ride on this bike on Mount Lemmon, which you may think is a good brake test but it’s actually not a descent that you use your brakes a whole lot. It wasn’t until I rode the backside of Gates Pass that I truly put them to good use. Bumpy, steep, and with an off camber sharp corner, this is a good test for what new disc brakes are all about. I couldn’t help but grin – I love it.
I chose wheels that may be a bit over the top, but totally awesome. I almost went with the Ardennes by HED but the folks at HED suggested I ride their new carbon clincher wheel called the HED Vanquish 6. The rim is wide and deep and these wheels are fast. I still might get the Ardennes metal wheels just because the Vanquish, at $2500 and full carbon, is so nice it’s almost too much wheel for some of the stuff I ride. But, as HED says in their description of the wheels, “…if gravel and endurance riding are your thing, the Vanquish will optimize the shape, ride quality, and even aerodynamics of your wide gravel and cyclocross tires.” I couldn’t pass up that invitation. For me, I view the Ardennes as more of a high-quality blue collar wheelset. It’s an aluminum wheel that I’ve ridden on countless bikes and found them to be very durable and reliable, and plenty light for climbing. I think both wheelsets are great, but I gotta say, when cruising on pavement, dirt, and everything in between, the Vanquish ride is amazing.
Moots says this frame is good for tires between 25-30mm so I went with the ‘bigger and wider is better’ approach, as recommended by one of our guides and mechanics, James Farrugia, who keeps up on the latest tire news. I almost went with my standard GP4000 tire but he said to check out the new “boutique” Strada Bianca made by Challenge. I must say, they look and ride awesome! I went with the 3o’s which still gives me a few millimteters of clearance. I measured the tire once on the wheels and they measured 32 outside to outside. The only issue I had with this tire was getting it to seed and stay seeded. Most of this was user error but take your time getting these tires to seed properly so you don’t blow it off the rim. As long as you are methodical about setting up these tires you should be fine. I’ve had no issues since I properly set up these tires and starting riding. They ride awesome.
How Does the Vamoots DR Ride on Pavement?
I’m most impressed with how quick this bike feels on pavement; it is sturdy yet agile. I was expecting a little more lag or slugishness when I jumped out of the saddle to sprint. I didn’t get that. The big tires make it ride smoothly, even through the bumpy stuff we have on our routes in Tucson. Climbing and descending is my jam and I feel like I could ride this bike all day. On the road, I feel like it is best on the descents. I felt very confident even on Mount Figueroa in California, which is a pretty technical descent that keeps you on your toes. I recently participated in the Montana Gravel Challenge which is a race with lots of pavement and gravel sections. It was rainy so the gravel was muddy and the pavement was wet. I loved having this bike out there because most folks were on a 25mm road setup or full on gravel bike, but I felt like with the Vamoots DR, I hit the sweet spot between the two.
How Does The Vamoots DR Ride on Gravel?
This is where I fell in love with this bike! We did a big ride around Mount Lemmon and the route definitely put this bike to the test. The route has tons of gravel – and not smooth gravel. It’s about a 10+ hour day. It’s rocky and chunky and probably a ride that most people wouldn’t want to do on a road bike. The bigger tires, super solid brakes, and titanium ride made me fall in love with this bike. Seriously, I loved it!
I feel like I’m in a bit of a unique rider because I love riding my road bikes on gravel and dirt. If you plan on riding lots and lots of gravel and dirt and you want a full on gravel bike, the Vamoots DR is not the bike for you. Check out the Moots Routt. I know Brendan Halpin is getting one of those. For me I’m going to stick with the DR :)
A Few Key Words That Come to Mind Describing The Vamoots DR
- Everything-Road Bike
- Group Ride
- Gran Fondo
- All-day Vision Quests (where the bike doesn’t become the weakest link, it may be you :) )
Thanks for checking out my story of some of the adventures with my new Vamoots DR. It was a big investment but one that was totally worth it. Drop me a line if you have any questions.
If you’d like to know more about owning your own hand built Moots bike, you can contact us here and we’d love to help you through the process.
Enjoy the ride,
President, The Cycling House
Follow my Cycling House adventures here