Moots Vamoots DR, Build 2 ReviewMay 2, 2016
- Outstanding ride feel
- Handbuilt quality and attention to detail
- Titanium more durable than carbon
- Lacks race stiffness
- High price-to-spec ratio
- Bouncy Ti seatpost
As the only Titanium entry in our roundup, the Moots Vamoots DR was able to shine in the ride feel category—no composite can ride like Ti, with its buttery smooth compliance and vibration-sucking nature. And the handmade quality of this machine is immediately apparent on the road or in the garage! The Ultegra Di2 group always excels as a lower priced, but barely noticeable difference in quality, option to Dura Ace with smooth and precise shifts, even under load. While the Mavic Ksyrium wheels are incredibly durable and sufficiently fast and light.
However this may not be the bike for criterium racesor crushing steep climbs. But for the majority of endurance riding, the ride can’t be beaten, and Ti’s legendary longevity means this bike will last.
Steel may win over any frame material for flat-out smoothness, but Titanium (Ti) is close behind and is generally considerably stiffer. The Moots Vamoots DR is a great example of that combination, with an emphasis on the smooth side. The position is immediately comfortable, with the long 170mm head tube and relatively slack 73-degree head tube angle (test size, 56cm). Add to that the absorption of Ti tubing, the compliance of the “wishbone” seatstay design, and a bladed but tapered Enve carbon fork and you’ve got a perfect recipe for comfort. Even the roughest roads were comfortably navigated, and neck and shoulder issues were almost non-existent. Moots’ own bent Ti seatpost added even more compliance, especially over big bumps. The only drawback was the Fizik aluminum bar—carbon would have diminished the hand vibrations, and should be standard at this price point.
At 16.8lbs the Moots Vamoots DR bike is comparable to the others in this group, despite the titanium. But it would need to be the lightest to compete in overall stiffness-to-weight because of its considerably more flexible tubing and welded connections. Ti is simply heavier than carbon and not as stiff. Again, this bike is more about ride comfort, and it excels there, but the carbon frames are almost as comfortable and considerably quicker and more responsive. However, compared to other Ti frames I’ve ridden, the Vamoots DR is surprisingly quick, even with its relaxed geometry. And while it can be felt when hammering long, steep climbs, many riders will never notice or care about the less explosive performance—they’ll be too busy enjoying the ride.
If the climbs are long and gradual, and staying fresh is key, the Moots Vamoots DR can be an excellent choice. Stress on the body can take its toll, and this bike minimizes stress with its dreamy ride feel, especially at a bit of pace. The rider will simply forget the machine and focus entirely on the legs. However, when the hill kicks up and efficiency becomes paramount, that’s where it comes up a bit short, especially out of the saddle. When slope grade percentages hit the teens you can definitely feel some flex in the bottom bracket and front end—certainly not a major issue, but noticeable compared to the stiffer carbon bikes. This becomes a more serious problem when an attack or sprint is in the mix.
More compliant bikes like this can sometimes feel slow in the turns, but great ones like this carve turns, much like a pair of giant slalom skis versus slalom skis. The 12mm thru-axle on the Moots Vamoots DR helps keep the top-notch Enve fork tracking straight with minimal lag. Once initiated, the bike hugs its line with no twitchiness and keeps it there. This is perhaps not the ideal bike for weaving through the group on a descent, but for holding a position over long winding descents with minimal effort or anxiety, it excels.
Components: Drivetrain, Shifting and Brakes
Shimano’s Ultegra 6870 Di2 drivetrain is an outstanding performer and excellent lower-priced option to DA. (Full disclosure: our test bike actually had a mechanical system, but we rode multiple others with electronic). I noticed no difference in performance between this and DA. Both were incredibly—and I mean that in the literal sense—quick, quiet and precise. While setup can be a bit tricky, and there’s always the chance of battery failure (or more accurately human error since it’ll be your fault for not plugging it in!), the shifting is simply unmatched by mechanical systems.
The Shimano R785 hydraulic disc brakes are exceptional, especially with the Ice-Tech feature which helps dissipate heat—critical on longer descents—with “fins” extending out from the caliper body, increasing surface area for cooling. However the lack of IceTech rotors will limit the efficacy under extreme braking. With the excellent modulation and power, a rider can fly into a corner, slow on a dime, and accelerate out with almost no exertion at all. One finger braking is truly an option.
Mavic Ksyrium wheels have a long-proven track record of durability and versatility that make them an ideal match for this bike. While carbon might have a smoother road feel, the Moots Vamoots DR frame is so comfortable anyway that there’s no need—instead these provide a lower price point and outstanding longevity. They’re not ultralight, but that’s not what this bike is about. Instead these can easily handle the added torque of disc braking, which can otherwise result in noticeable flex, especially when braking, and even force wheels out of true. The only issue is the slightly narrow rims, at 19mm, which can limit the many benefits of wider tires, especially over 30mm.
While not an inexpensive bike by any means, especially considering the relatively lower components compared to similarly priced carbon bikes, that does not mean it’s not a good value. With proper upkeep, Ti bikes—especially handbuilt, top-end models like this one—will probably last as long as you will! These are time-proven machines with classic geometries, and they’ll remain fast and smooth as long as you keep them that way. If price is a major consideration, this is not the bike—you could easily find a Dura Ace or even Campagnolo spec’d carbon bike for less money. But if money is no object, and you appreciate quality above all, it would be hard to find a better choice.