I had a chance to throw a leg over a couple of MOOTO X’s at the recent Moots Demo Day at NCC, including an RSL.
Those who read regularly know my penchant for lightness and efficiency, so you may think that would be the Moots mountain bike I’d be most interested in. I had originally thought so as well…until I checked out the 27.5 YBB they had laying around.
YBB is Moots talk for their softtail design. This one was sporting a 650b setup, with full Shimano XTR 2×10 drivetrain. (A note on that: the shifting was telepathic. Potentially the most comfortable, best shifting drivetrain/shifter combo I’ve ever seen).
I took the YBB out for a test-ride that consisted of about 15-20 minutes of urban riding. Cobblestones, curbs, grass, mulch, more curbs, and yet more curbs.
The softtail dampener is very minimal, with about an inch of travel.
That travel is accommodated purely by compliance in the seat and chainstays.
In all honesty, I had figured that the YBB was a gimmick. I had thought that it would either be so stiff as to not offer any meaningful compliance, or so squishy as to be pedal-bob inducing. To my surprise, it was neither.
I’m not a big fan of huge travel rear suspension for my needs here in Illinois. My Superfish’s 80mm of rear travel is about perfect. On the other hand, I’m not a huge fan of hardtails either…I like the bike to do some work for me–to take the edge off of hits, and to allow me to keep putting power down on rough terrain.
The YBB was unnoticeable under pedaling. It felt like a compliant hardtail. Even when going into exaggerated ‘out of the saddle’ pounding, it went unnoticed.
However, when hitting obstacles, I was surprised at the amount of compliance it had. I purposefully bombed several curbs, not making any effort to pick up the rear tire, sitting on the saddle, to see what it did. To my amazement, it completely took the edge off of the hits. It wasn’t “140mm of travel” smooth, but it did a great deal.
In short, I had thought that the YBB would be meaningless, but it wasn’t. If I was in the market for a mountain bike, the YBB would be on my short-list. The BB was admirably stiff, but the bike had that wonderful Ti ride quality.
As for the 27.5 wheels, I can understand why they’re making a bit of a splash. They were noticeably better at surmounting obstacles than 26″ wheels…and comparing the same rim/tire, the 27.5s accelerated noticeably quicker than 29ers. That said, were it me, I’d still go 29er. The difference in acceleration wasn’t that great (and could be overcome with a better wheel/tire combo). But I still feel that there’s a greater difference in ‘roll over anything’ ability with 29ers. The real application of the 27.5, in my opinion, is in the smaller size mountain bikes, for people who aren’t tall enough to comfortably ride a 29er with reasonable geometry.
In any event, the YBB–it’s a compelling and very interesting bike. You should check one out.