Aaaahhh, project bikes. They can be a great way to test a bunch of products and build up a dream bike for certain situations.
For me, it all started with Cross Vegas last year and getting hooked on the sport. It was time to get a cyclocross bike. I knew I wanted disc brakes and I knew I wanted a frame that would last a lifetime. After all, we test a lot of stuff in a wild variety of conditions, so it had to be a durable frame and be something I’d want to ride year after year after year.
So, way back in February (yes, February!!!) I contacted Moots about building up a custom version of their then-forthcoming Psychlo-X RSL frame. Here it is December and my frame is finally in and starting to get built. Finally.
PART ONE: THE FRAMESET
I wanted this bike to be something I could use year round. It needed to accommodate all manner of everything. Everything except cantilever brakes. I’m committed, it’s disc only. That means no canti tabs and 135 rear spacing.
Why Moots? Besides being sexy as hell, they last forever. I have several friends that are still riding Moots road and mountain bikes and after 10+ years they’re still in love with them. My own time on the Vamoots RSL was a dream. Plus, they offer a level of customization not generally available from mid-sized companies but (usually) without the long wait times of a smaller custom builder. Six to eight weeks is standard. In the case of the new Psychlo-X RSL, Moots was still waiting on the tubing from their supplier, which is what caused the nine month wait from order to delivery. (I received the frame in early November, actually, but as of mid-December was still waiting on the drivetrain and a few miscellaneous parts to be discussed in a future post)
While they offer full custom geometry, I stuck with their standard layout for a size 58 frame. From there, I added Di2 cable ports, fender and rack mounts and full brake hose routing to the rear. Sweetie, look away now. Those extra bits certainly added to the damage:
The upper and lower rack/fender eyelets added another $130 to the total. The ISO brake mount is indeed a free option if that’s all you get, but if you want both Canti and disc mounts there’s a $100 upcharge.
Frame weight is a respectable 1,500g (3lbs 5oz), which should allow for a fairly light build when it’s complete.
Up front, Moots uses a 44mm ID head tube. This lets you run an Inset headset with a 1-1/8″ fork or a combination Inset upper cup with outboard lower cup with a tapered 1-1/2″ fork like the 3T Luteus. This adds about 3/8″ to the effective fork height compared to an Inset lower cup, the head angle should be about 0.8º slacker than the stock 73º.
Note the Di2 wire port on the downtube plus traditional shift cable runs on the top tube. I had it built to run both mechanical and electrical in anticipation of future groups.
The top tube starts off flat and rounds toward the seat tube, sort of opposite of what you find on a lot of other ‘cross bikes. Moots’ in-house racer and marketing guy Jon Cariveau says they found that if you’re shouldering your bike near the back of the top tube, you’re in the wrong position. If you’re holding it such that your arm is around the downtube and grabbing the opposite handlebar drop, the bike should naturally land on your shoulder at the midpoint of the top tube or slightly forward.
The top tube will get full length cable housing loops for the rear brake if you’re spec’ing it as a disc frame. So, when hydraulic brakes are the norm, I’ll have to disconnect one end of the system to install them and bleed it.
The top of the seat tube gets a separate piece of tubing with a thicker wall to hold the seatpost securely. Reaching inside the tube, you can feel the lower section butting out and becoming much thinner to save weight. Welds, as with all Moots we’ve seen, are gorgeous.
The Psychlo-X RSL uses a PressFit BB30 bottom bracket. If you’re planning on using a Shimano crankset, that means you’ll have to find a third party adapter.
The Di2 wiring ports open up all through the BB shell, lead into the driveside chainstay and open from the top to go to the front derailleur. Battery mounts are on the bottom of the downtube. The pulley wheel redirects a mechanical shift cable for bottom pull front derailleurs.
The RSL dropouts get a bit of chiseling on the non-drive side to save weight. Di2 wire port on the back of the chainstay has me thinking I could potentially run the rear shift cable internally using a full length housing, but methinks that might add a bit too much friction overall.
Disc brakes mount up via IS tabs. Cariveau says they used IS rather than post mount because they just haven’t developed it yet for titanium. He says it needs a larger landing area than what the Breezer-style dropouts can afford and the bend in the seat stays would have to be different for it to line up correctly. That said, the new MX Divide and Divide full suspension bikes were completely new models for 2012 and do get post mount tabs.
Part Two of the MonsterCross project bike will detail the cockpit build, most of which you see here, with full weights, specs and details on why the parts were chosen. From there, we’ll cover the wheels, then the drivetrain, which is still something of a work in progress.
Come off season, this will be an all around commuter and fast-as-hell commuter and dirt road bike. For now, it’s going to be one quick cyclocross rig with eyes on the endurance event put on by our friend Eddie O’Dea: The Southern Cross. Fortunately, North Carolina’s state series runs well into January.