The first ride on the new Titanium Moots Psychlo X was not quite aligned with its intended purpose of course cyclocross racing. Instead, I swapped in some road wheels with 700x23 road tires and rode the Hangman Valley loop. Most of my riding is on the road these days and I thought this would give me a good comparison to tease-out the riding characteristics and any undesirable traits (there are none) the bike might have. Also, I have never ridden a cross bike off road so I would not have any basis for comparison in this case.
|I got the aspect a little off so the front tire appears to take all of the clearance - this is not the case in reality.|
|No more homeless squirrels...|
Those familiar with the loop know it has a lot of chip seal, climbing, descending and rough, cracked road - perfect for bike frame test track.
First, I did not fully appreciate the cavernous tire clearance the frame and carbon fork provide until I exchanged the Speedmax Cross tires for the road set. Not that things were tight with the cross tires -I felt I could have run MTB tires and still had room for a family of squirrels in there. The folks at Moots take clearance seriously when designing their frames for things like mud and fenders. The narrow road tires merely accentuated how much room there is for clearance - nice touch. The fit, finish and welds on these frames are second to none which is what we have come to expect from the company's more than 30 years of frame building and fanatical attention to detail.
The best way to describe the ride is smooth, responsive and predictable. The frame and fork do a nice job of removing the harshness from chip seal and cracks without making the ride dead or wooden. There is still plenty of road feel and responsiveness to the ride. The best test for this was bombing down the broken and uneven surface of Hatch Road at full speed. The bike transmitted what was going on beneath the tires, but without any of the harshness experienced with some other frame designs. The only way to describe it is that it is more like the rumble of a passing train than buzzing or sharp jolts. The other thing was the ride and handling were rock-steady and confidence inspiring at any speed.
I expect the ride quality will go from excellent to sublime when I switch back to higher volume and lower pressure tires from the 700x23 with 110 psi.
Climbing and sprinting indicated no tendency to flex in either the bottom bracket or front end. It just lunges forward in the direction you point it. Same for turns, you feel like you are carving nice turns on skis in powder as you shift your weight from side to side.
Moots clearly designed this frame for racing, but due to its good manners and smooth ride I can see it being used as a fun weekend logging road bike that wont complain about getting muddy. This alone holds the promise of freedom, a lot of time in the saddle and adventure - all of which is probably what got most us hooked on cycling in the first place.
It seems prudent to do a few more test rides (if it sticks around that long) to learn more about this beauty. Some extended dirt road rides in the Palouse will provide some more insight on how it handles the environment for which it was designed. Some easy rides on the the HD trails should give some clues as to the handling and ride quality in sandy/rocky conditions - so stay tuned.