I’m not a tech editor, and this isn’t a review. Other than talking a little smack in the comments, most of my job is meetings, spreadsheets, and making sure Levy stays hydrated. I haven't ridden this bike’s competition enough to make relevant judgements.
That said, I spent several months last year riding Moots’ new Womble trail hardtail, and I’ve got some thoughts.
Moots’ niche in the bike industry is well established. They make gorgeous, shockingly expensive bikes for people who want refined, grown-up rides. Moots says they’re for old souls, not for those chasing geometry trends or podiums.
Moots Womble Details
• Wheel size: 29"
• Frame Material: Titanium
• Travel: 140mm (f)
• Head-Tube Angle: 67.1° (at 25% sag)
• Weight: 27.1lb (size M w/ XT trail pedals, no cage, minimal sealant), 3.9lb frame only (claimed)
• Sizes: S–XL
• Price: $6,999–$9,320 USD (as ridden), $3,750 USD frame only
• Made in the USA
• More Info: moots.com
In other words, they’re for rad dad boomers who have bought into the cult of titanium—folks who appreciate nice things, enjoy the subtle flex (not the material), and are willing to pay for it.
All of that is why we were surprised to see
Moots release a new trail hardtail with fairly modern, capable angles last year. Their new Womble is still no hardcore hardtail, but it’s not a glorified gravel bike for Sun Valley fireroads either. Note: We’ve promised to do more content on the value side of the spectrum in 2021, but this isn't it—please don’t take this story to suggest that $10K hardtail builds should be normal. We agreed to check out the Womble because we're bike dorks and it’s gorgeous, but I just want to acknowledge that this is a wildly expensive bike by any metric.
|The Womble wants to be pedalled way up into the mountains. Fast, open, smooth terrain is the bike’s bread and butter.— Brian Park|
Construction and Features
As you’d expect from a frame that costs literally twice my entire motorcycle
, the US-made Womble gets a lot of things right. There’s plenty of room for 29 x 2.6 tires, clean external routing (even cleaner with this AXS version that removes the unneeded cable guides), a threaded BB, and some fancy bead blasted, anodized graphics.
As usual from Moots, the toptube and downtube are double butted titanium, but they’ve used a new, larger diameter tubeset on the Womble. Large diameter titanium looks odd to me for some reason, but the aesthetic is very clean. I was riding a size Medium, so the large diameter tubing might look more traditional in the larger sizes.
Also, I love me a good 44mm headtube. It looks good, it’s simple, and it lets you run an angle adjusting headset if you like.
• Head tube: 44mm
• Bottom Bracket: 73mm threaded
• Seatpost: 30.9mm
• Axle spacing: 148 Boost
• Brakes: Post Mount 160 (180mm approved)
• Max tire width: 29 x 2.6
• Bottle capacity: 2 (1 on size S)
• Max chainring: 32t
When a bike costs this much, I have expectations. The Womble’s build quality is impeccable, the finish is perfect, and most of the details are thoughtfully sorted… But it’s 2021, and I think a hardtail frame that sells for nearly $4K should come with integrated chainstay protection. It’s not a huge deal, but come on Moots, let customers protect that beautiful frame out of the box. Or was I supposed to do an artisanal leather bar-tape wrap on there?
On a more serious note, the maximum 32t chainring may be a dealbreaker for stronger riders and all-mountain bikepacking folks—there's so much range on cassettes these days, I suspect people in flatter places will be spinning out their 32t rings without much trouble. I wonder if there’s another way to design that BB junction, or if maybe a slightly longer chainstay would mitigate the issue. That said, 32t was fine for me and I appreciated the ability to run wider tires with decent clearance.
Moots quotes their geometry at 25% fork sag, which makes sense for hardtails since it’s measured in the position you are usually in riding—except that not every brand does it that way, so it’s harder to compare. There are four sizes ranging from 419mm to 505mm reach. The headtube angle is just over a 67° at sag, which is pretty normal for a light trail hardtail these days. BB drop is fairly neutral too at 57mm, and there are 434mm chainstays on all the sizes.
The seat-tube angle at sag is listed at 75.7°, but with its stylishly shaped seat-tube, the actual STA is a good bit slacker than that. Pedaling position was excellent for my ~30” inseam, but people with longer legs may need to push their seats forward a bit.
The Womble is designed around 35mm - 50mm stems. You can run down to a 120mm fork too, but it would make for a steeper headtube angle, longer reach, and lower BB.
Loves slow tech.
I was surprised with how confident the Womble was in slow tech. Picking my way down some of North Vancouver's slower, jankier trails, the 140mm Pike did a great job taking care of my garbage line choices, and the back end just kept following along with no complaints.At home on fast, natural singletrack.
As pleasantly surprising as the bike was on our local trails, it wasn’t until I took the bike to the sweeping high desert singletrack of the Okanagan Valley that it really came into its own.
The Womble wants to be pedalled way up into the mountains. Fast, open, smooth terrain is the bike’s bread and butter. It absolutely loves natural singletrack, and it made me feel like I understood what the bike was all about. It wanted to be pedaled harder than I’m capable of pedaling, and it put a smile on my face every time I took it out.Isn’t so sure about rougher terrain.
The Womble does get unsettled when the terrain is rough and
fast. First of all it’s a hardtail and I haven’t ridden a hardtail regularly in years, so I needed to adjust both my riding style and expectations along the way.
I suspect some of that unsettled feeling is also down to that longish 140mm fork and the fairly neutral headtube angle. While the extra travel is nice at low speeds, hardtails get steeper the deeper you go into the travel, and the Womble did threaten to throw me out the front door while plowing into things at pace.
I’m definitely not advocating that Moots throw a 160mm fork on this bike—I’m not sure the world needs an ultra expensive titanium hardcore hardtail, but maybe that’s just me. I'm also hesitant to insist they slack it out by a few degrees to make it more capable. While I would want it slacker personally, that runs the risk of diminishing some of the things that make the Womble special as it is. I bet the next time they update this bike it gets slacker though, just saying.Rides solid and feels fast.
Whether it’s the new large diameter titanium tubeset or the stout ENVE wheels, the bike rides stiff. Not harsh, but also not as supple (or whatever) as the titanium evangelists might lead you to expect. Solid. Considering the price and build, it’s not super light at 27 lb, but it still feels fast and wants to be pedaled hard.
Is there something special about titanium? I’m not the person to answer that question—I’m admittedly not attuned to my riding in a way for the differences to be obvious. I suspect that, for me, a few PSI difference in my tires (or a different casing) would make a more noticeable change to ride feel than ti vs steel vs aluminum.
I will say that the feel at the bar of the Womble is muted and confident. Is it carbon wheel or bar magic? Titanium magic? Foam rubber grip magic? 2.6” tire magic? No idea, but it feels great.
The Womble frame is a work of art, and the build matches it well. Moots did an excellent job of catering to the target market and it’s got all the right high performance stuff on it. It's also worth mentioning that the Womble is available in a few slightly less eye-watering spec levels, but they're all very thoughtfully chosen.
Enve cockpit & wheels. For all the flack that Enve gets, I really like the spec choice on the cockpit and wheels. The parts worked well in my time on them and there’s a good brand fit between the two American made companies. It might not be how I’d spec a bike like this, but if you’re spending all the money on a USA frame, it’s not crazy to spend all the money on USA components too.
Vittoria Martello tires. The tires were an interesting choice. My test unit came with 29 x 2.6 Vittoria Martellos, but the stock build is with 29 x 2.5 EXO+ Maxxis Assegais. Both of those tires are aggressive, high volume tires, and neither are featherweights.
Talking from the bleachers is easy, and product managers have an incredibly hard job. Do you play to a bike’s strengths by installing faster, lightweight tires? Or do you try to make up some capability with bigger, burlier tires? Tough choices, and some media hack like me always finds something to complain about...
The Martellos were excellent on the rough, rooty terrain around Vancouver, and I'm a fan of those 2.5 Assegais I have on another bike. But, if I’d had more time before I sadly had to send the bike back, I’d have been curious to see what swapping the 1100g Martellos for ~820g Barzos (in 29 x 2.6) would do for the bike’s character. For me this bike is still on the light-and-fast side of things, and bogging it down with big meats isn’t the direction I’d have taken it.
AXS drivetrain & dropper. Wireless drivetrains are still sci-fi to me. I’m glad Moots aren’t retrogrouches when it comes to spec; just because it’s an “old soul” frame shouldn’t preclude it from having some futuristic tech. I absolutely love the performance of AXS. It may not shift under power quite as well as Shimano, but having those little robots handle your gearing is effortless and impressive.
The 175mm RockShox Reverb AXS post worked perfectly and had no issues over the several months I had the Womble. I will say my brain doesn’t want to go back to sub-200mm drop posts, even as a fairly short guy, and there was still room to add more dropper travel on my size Medium frame...
Also, the Pike Ultimate RCT3 was as impressive as ever. I really like this fork.
Bigger anchors please. I have found SRAM's G2 Ultimate brakes to have excellent power and modulation, but I would love to see bikes like this (or really all bikes) specced with at least 180/200 rotors instead of the supplied 160/180 rotors. Literally nobody has finished a ride and gone, “You know what? The extra 30g of weight from my rotors was really holding me back.”
That said, I am admittedly biased towards stupidly powerful brakes, and we are talking about a sub-4lb titanium frame, so this is an incredibly minor nitpick. It costs $10K, let me find something to cry about.
Final thoughts on the Womble
Pros and cons? No, sorry, I did say this isn't a review. I give the Womble 93/100 TPS reports, 1/5 Bernie Sanders mittens, and 9/9 Whole Foods gift cards.
In all seriousness though, whether you're interested in buying a Womble (can I borrow some money from you?) or not, it’s a hell of a bike, and the right rider won’t be disappointed. Even if that rider isn't the aforementioned rad dad boomer.
Yes, an entry level full suspension outrides the Womble in descending performance, but that’s not what the bike is about. Most efficient climber? Who cares. Enduro-winning descent time? Look elsewhere. The Womble made me stop and think about what I like about hardtails—the simplicity, versatility, and clean design, rather than the traditional performance metrics we sometimes get hung up on. In the right terrain and with the right mindset, it’s an amazing bike.But wait, now I want a hardtail?
Now that I’ve sent it back, I have to admit that the Womble was a bit of a gateway drug. I want a hardtail in the garage again. But I’d like to try something simultaneously more and less aggressive. Please excuse me while I go on a little tangent.
I'd like an "XC trail" hardtail like this one, but I didn't love its nervousness when things got rough (even for the XCish terrain here). The more I think about it, I believe there’s a limit to how much travel makes sense on a hardtail. As you get deeper into the travel, everything gets worse: the reach lengthens and pulls you forward, and your headtube angle steepens. So a longer fork equals more room for the bike to get worse. That's my theory anyway.
Maybe I’m out to lunch, but I’ve picked up a steel hardtail from another brand, an angle-adjusting headset, and a 120mm SID to see what happens. I’ll try to keep the whole build under ~25lb, but end up with much more aggressive geometry (~62.5° headtube angle, etc). I’m hoping it’ll retain some of the magic of the Womble, but widen the terrain sweet spot.
We’ll see. Is that stupid? Will the 100 foot wheelbase ruin everything? I’m curious to see how stupid the “Slim Donut” is in the next few months. I could be super, super wrong...PS: The next Field Test will have a whole value hardtail category. Sorry in advance to Levy's ankles.
1) Widely Over Priced - Check
2) Sense of superiority - Check
3) Out Dated Geo - Check
4) Not Carbon Fiber (Pick a frame material and be a dick about it) - Check
5) Heavier then an equally spec'd and cheaper FS bike - Check
6) Continues trend of over valued products that have pricing structures that do not reflect the reality for the majority of the marketplace - Check
7) Complete miss on specifications that would be important to the non-dentist level riders and salary earners (no sliding dropouts, boomer leg strength chain ring clearance) - Check
This bike will be ridden by 3 different kinds of people:
1) Boomer Dentists
2) Flannel & Cut-off Jean Wearing, Chamois hating bike shop employees
To be fair, a boomer on a moots is still cooler then a boomer on a niner.
Now queue the gotchya comments about how Ontario doesn't have mtb.
Also interesting to say "pick a material and be a dick about it" while unironically being a dick about geo. Huh.
After much experimentation, I think its silly having more than 130mm travel fork and slacker than 66 degree HTA on a hard tail. Without rear suspension, you can't go fast enough to justify it. With these 150mm 64 degree HTA hard tails, you lose the feeling of a hard tail without getting the speed of a fully. Is it faster than this hard tail? Probably. But a fully with older geometry is faster still.
My hard tail (haven't ridden this one, but like I said very similar geo) still feels way faster than an XC bike, but also has a kinda dirt jump feel to it. You can still ride downhill pretty fast, but you can corner on smooth turns and pop jumps like a dj. You don't have that feeling on the uber slack hard tails or on a fully.
TL;DR: this is close to perfect geo for a hard tail. You don't get a hard tail for ultimate DH performance, thats what fullys are for.
This Gen X rider is NOT interested in overpriced, twitchy hardtails. I'll see if Judd Nelson is interested at our next Gen X meeting.
This says 67* sagged and nobody's calling it an aggressive hardtail?
F that abomination of a bike
And although he might be the only one, who actually is cooler than Kirt Voreis?
Imagine a review for the new sender saying "it feels sluggish on my local xc loop, and the geometry feels like they went to far and the bike wants to fall over. Even on my more downhill-ish tracks." It makes for a worthless review.
Anyone born before 1964 is a boomer. Do the math.
Having a slack hardtail with good midstroke support absolutely will go fast enough to justify it and gives you way more confidence to rail corners and do everything an HT does well but better.
I run a 160 on a scout so it runs about 64 unweighted and 66 sagged. Stupid amounts of midstroke support holds it well up in the travel even on proper steep stuff, I basically never use half the fork. I'd go slacker if I found a frame I like too. It's mind bogglingly good and confidence inspiring to ride a good hardtail, you put your faith in all of your components and geometry, not just your back shock. Oh and I can corner on rough as turns. ????
Not everyone's cup of tea but incase you haven't noticed, this sport is not about everyone having the same bike.
Pinkbike! Know your boomer!
(Scary I know). There’s plenty of dentists (maybe even more now than Boomers) in the rebellious Generation X.
And even Millennials are aged 24-40!!!
I think for a true aggro hardtail, I found 66 HTA with 130mm fork to be the sweet spot, with the chainstay lengths varying on personal preference.
Here is my bike(s) www.pinkbike.com/u/hamncheez/album/29er-custom-ti-
I did a fully with www.tibicycle.com over the summer, and they were responsive and very knowledgeable. This one is my design 100%, I did the CAD and everything. I'm trying to figure out how to do a production run with these frames, but its really, really hard to start a bike company.
The fact that never use half the fork is @hamncheez’s point. You can’t use that travel without screwing with the geo so you set it up with the spring rate of a 100/120 fork. So what’s the point of having a long travel fork? Why not just run a 120 fork and not carry around the extra fork you aren’t using?
saw alotta of 64 degree head angle bikes pedalling in a wobbly wandering pattern all the way down the paved bike path. LOTS.
Totally agree. There are a very limited number of mortal men strong enough or drunk enough to
Really smash it hard enough to justify the geo of a hardcore hardtail
serious tho, with how thick some of those old aluminum dj are, there is negative compliance when you land. Its harsher than landing just on your feet haha
Yeah... I think young people think that anyone over 35 is a boomer. The youngest "boomer" would be 57 years old this year. I don't see a lot of 60 year olds on the trails... certainly not on a hardtail.
Not everything is about your little pee-pee.
Way too steep.
I’m not arguing that geo doesn’t make a huge difference. A slack ht, low bb, and longer stay will make any bike more composed at high speeds. Just having ridden a bunch of burly stuff on a hardtail, I don’t think that really extreme geo makes enough of a difference to justify all the trade offs. Esp when you’re so limited on rough terrain. Hard tails are fun where @brianpark says they’re fun. Ultra steep tech and fast flowy terrain. And for both of those short chainstay and not insane ht makes things maneuverable and playful. To each his own tho.
As well, The Who are not of My Generation
More accurately ( and sadly since I am one) ‘Gen X’ would be the more appropriate term...we’re the ones still riding and working with the disposable cash to spend on bikes like these.
Setting aside the slightly homoerotic conversation, you're still missing the point mate. Be cynical all you want, people enjoy these bikes and the market is moving in these directions as people are asking for it. Stop staring down your nose at what people love to do. It ain't harming you.
I am not quite a boomer dentist - 50 yo software engineer, who makes more than dentists. Would have bought it easily - if my 5 times cheaper fireline to hardtail was not just fine and will last forever. Though. Maybe for the Moots logo. Hmm.
Don’t hate on things you can’t afford.
black forks on this, and maybe delete the wheel decals and this would be one of my lottery winning bikes. A man can dream...
26" 'till I die.
Can i upvote this more plz
Literally nobody has finished a ride and gone, “You know what? The extra 30g of weight from my rotors was really holding me back.”
I'd wager somebody has said this in the cycling community.
It definitely wasn't true, but i think it's definitely been said.
Moots: "Hold my beer."
“ Not as clumsy or random as a full-sus ride; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”
There will be a few posers, but most of the people who buy this bike will love it, ride the hell out of it,
and still own it long after the haters have gone through three of the latest greatest. More importantly, they won’t give a damn about what anyone else thinks of their bike.
...Milennials, look it up!
I think a slack-ish 140mm hardtail is possibly the best do-it-all bike for someone on a budget. But if I had a Moots budget... I would skip the Ti flex and just get two separate bikes
The 240z is very reliable. You just have to change what your idea of reliable is. It is a analog process. It requires work, and attention. But I'd drive her across country tomorrow given the chance. Kinda similar with the HT. I've got old geo full suspension bikes and have a very modern one on order, but the HT brings a certain joy, just like the z.
Neither is a logical thing. There are better solutions for most things than them. But smiles per miles, and the "in the moment, here and now" that they demand when in use, is purely sublime. I'll have both for the rest of my life, I'm sure.
1. Ti is cool and spending 10,000 on any bike doesn't make sense to a non-biker. At that point just get what you want and who cares if it makes sense. Bikes should not be a class issue, there are already too many of those and if you could afford a 10,000 bike you would get one.
2. Dropper posts are a game changer for hardtails. Many modern, machine built trails are smooth enough for hardtails and without all that suspension movement on jumps they are more predictable and efficient therefore a great tool for the right trail. Its the same reason you don't see suspension on bmx bikes.
3. I have a custom steel "trail" 27.5 hardtail with a 140 fork on it. I had to get it custom because most companies making steel these days in this category don't use high-end tubing so the bikes are boat anchors. Would be one reason to get a moots. I was also able to request swoopy seatstays that really give it a nice supple feel. With fast rolling 2.8 tires on it the f*cker is super smooth, playfull and rips. There are plenty of trails it will take a FS bike to school on under the right rider.
Guess I mostly wanted to say I have a custom steel hardtail. . Hahaa! and I'm a millenial. .
Uhh don't you mean sorry in advance to @jasonlucas 's ankles?
They might not be old enough to be boomers, but by the time they are done, those might have the ankles of one.
Edit- Perhaps the brilliant 9 tooth small cog on E13 cassettes could be an option for people who want a bit of a bump in speed with the 32t max chaingring? Or is a company like E13 far too pedestrian to find itself on this bike?
Geometry makes up for the supposed shortcomings of fork travel. I’m sure there is some limit and maybe I’m close to it but it’s not as bad as people make it out to be.
Travel only makes up for bad geo.
Great for people just getting into mountain biking? Yep. Awesome bang for buck, forces you to focus on learning all about line choices, and much simpler in terms of learning about bike maintenance and upgrading.
Great for off season winter riding? Yep. In general, they can take more abuse as far as infrequent cleaning and care.
Great for old geezers addicted to nostalgia as their drug of choice? I think so. I would love to pick up something reminiscent of a classic bike from the mid 90’s, but with modern geometry, modern disc brakes, better tires, and a simpler to operate 1x drivetrain. More pleasure on the trail than a museum piece, but still beautiful to look at, and infused with mtb heritage.
And most importantly, great for keeping people away from gravel bikes. Seriously, why buy one of those abominations, when there are fantastic hardtails (and even some fully rigids) that exist? “But drop bars offer more places to put your hands?” Really? Ever heard of bar-ends? I still have a collection of those, and would love to try them out again when I get around to building a marathon or bikepacking bike... I think it makes sense (heck, my first real mtb, a Bridgestone MB3, had a Zoom Brahma bar on it, which would be really weird by today’s standards).
Moots, AXS, ENVE, & Pike Ultimate, nothing subtle about that flex.
All those things it "wants" or "loves" aren't the same for many places. "Way up into the mountains" isn't often "smooth" on the way down. "Natural singletrack" often not "open", and is almost never "smooth", in many places.
Do you need a Ferrari 488 Pista? Is it practical? Hell no. People who buy these buy them because they can.
Can't believe it wasn't the first comment...!
Making good use of things left behind.
Ahh those were the days.
To the boomer, this bike represents the pinnacle of their financial achievements.
Sadly, to own "things" like this, the boomer must work a lot, so they have no time to ride.
On a bright note, this bike will stay clean and shiny hanging from their thousand dollar wall mounted bike rack.
over seventy Boomer - A person that rode the Marin County fire trails on 55 lb steel framed bikes with little to no brakes back in the late fifties . Also known as the Fucing INVENTORS of Mountain biking .
Every generation after that - ungrateful loud mouthed punks that make inane over generalized rants on the net in between riding daddies shiny full suspension cushy suspension bike with brakes that can stop him on a dime and call it bad ass. STFU, NurseBoy .
Go buy a Chromag Surface TI, the bike that actually achieves all of the unicorn hardtail goals this overpriced piece of whoo ha can’t.