Moots YBB £1995 (frame only!)
When the opportunity to test the YBBeat came up we reached down the phone and grabbed it by the headtube. Whether it’s because it’s the most expensive soft-tail out there, or because Moots did it first back in ’88 didn’t really matter, we knew it’d be a classic ride.
The YBBeat is not a full suspension bike by any stretch of the imagination, but it’ll keep your spine sweeter and choices of rough line smoother than even the most cunningly butted hardtail. Best of all, it’ll still be flexing long after you’ve taken to your armchair in a retirement home and passed the frame on as an heirloom. Justification is in the eye of the wallet holder, but if you want handcrafted individuality then this is a fabulous day or race trail rig that gets better the more you ride it.
If you’re a wee slip of a thing, 160lb or less, the super light Moots will shave half a pound off the standard YBBeat frame for an additional £200.
|Frame||Tig-welded, plain gauge 3-2.5 titanium|
|Stop||Paulís Motolite Z cantis and LPZ levers|
|Go||8-speed XT mechs, crank/shifters|
|Wheels||Paulís front hub, XT rear, WTB New Paradigm
|Stuff||Moots own Ti bars, stem and seatpost|
|Weight||23.1lb w/o pedals|
|From||RDK: 01582 762733|
The design has been copied occasionally, but the idea has never been so popular. From the budget KHS we thrashed most enjoyably last issue to the muscular, SID-shocked Trek OCLV Soft Tail Pro, it appears that the soft-tail is an idea whose time has finally come.
The bike has an undeniable, and pretty much unstoppable, urge to race. It’s light, fast and reactive, flashing along long fireroad drags and dancing through switchback singletrack. But you’d expect that from any 3-2.5 titanium bike lovingly hand-assembled by craftsmen. The ‘suspension’ aspect is ironically most noticeable on tarmac where you feel a slight pedal-induced bobbing due to the general urge to push bigger gears. Off-road this disappears, to be replaced with almost imperceptible smoothing of trail irregularities. Imagine the difference between riding a bone dry trail and the same one after an hour of rain; the lumps are just as big, only softer.
So what’s the difference between the Moots and a hardtail with a suspension seatpost? For one, you don’t have to accommodate any change in saddle height, no matter how unconsciously. For another, a soft-tail keeps working when you stand up which helps when you’re honking up the hills. Best of all, a soft-tail allows you to stay in your seat more, keeping the centre of gravity nice and low.
The Moots also felt more supple than our usual suspension seatpost-equipped hardtail. This may be due in part to the fact that soft-tails have less unsprung mass to overcome before they become active, so they are super reactive, even on smaller trail braille. The Moots’ coil shock and elastomer damper provide, and control, an inch and an eighth of movement – which we never managed to fully utilise. The tuning of the spring is done during assembly and is frame-size-specific (big sizes = firmer springs). If need be you can specify a different spring rate when ordering your new YBBeat.
If you get on the YBBeat after a spell of full suspension you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. But if you’ve only ever ridden hardtails and want to ride all day without getting one of ‘your backs’ you’ll understand what it’s all about. The YBBeat provides a ride far, far closer to a hardtail than to a suspension bike. It could be argued to be the pinnacle of hardtail design because you lose nothing by having the shock and gain plenty. Our YBBeat was built up using red-anodised Paul’s Components brakes and front hub which gave the bike a classic retro look. The Smoke and Dart tyres, and old five-arm XT crankset complete with matching red bolts, completed the circa ’95 livery. We appreciated the trip down Memory Lane, but wouldn’t like to live there, if you get our drift. Modern stuff works better.
There is a very appealing logic to using a material with virtually limitless fatigue resistance to provide pivotless ‘suspension’, albeit crude, on an off-roader. If titanium is so good for hardtails then why not go that step further up the evolutionary tree and give the material’s flexibility the opportunity to really perform? If it happens to be super light as well, so much the better.