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
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.
|Tig-welded, plain gauge 3-2.5 titanium|
|PaulÃs Motolite Z cantis and LPZ levers|
|8-speed XT mechs, crank/shifters|
|PaulÃs front hub, XT rear, WTB New Paradigm|
|Moots own Ti bars, stem and seatpost|
|23.1lb w/o pedals|
|RDK: 01582 762733|
The design has been copied occasionally, but the idea’s
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.
ALIGN="BOTTOM" BORDER="0">Three tubes welded together,
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
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.