So after lurking here for months on end, I can finally and legitimately come out of the shadows and show off my spankin' new Motolite. You've all helped me out a lot with info & inspiration, and I couldn't be happier with my choice. So thanks for that. Now, on to the good stuff....
When I picked up the frame from my LBS (Roaring Mouse here in SF, whom I can't recommend enough; they are GREAT to deal with) after a six week wait, the first impression was that this is one of the most carefully thought out bikes I have ever seen. The welding is absolutely first rate, the tube forming is impeccably designed, and just holding the frame (OK, "fondling" is probably more accurate) is an awe-inspiring experience. I do design for a living (buildings, not bikes), and the hallmark of quality is a product that immediately tells you how it performs at first glance. The Motolite definitely fits this category. On the superficial side, the grey is VERY dark, almost black. Mmmmm.... black....
After the fastest, and probably most trouble-free, build in history, I hit the trails. Disclaimer: my first time out I was feeling pretty crappy with a head cold, and if it hadn't been for this sexy new toy I probably would have just wussed out on the couch watching the World Cup. I'd set up the rear with the recommended sag (which was actually about 20psi below what Fox recommended for my weight???), and on the first fire road climb I could tell already I needed a bit more pressure given a couple of pedal strikes. So that put me at about 15-20% sag; weird. Even with my snot-filled head though, I was climbing like a rocket. I hit a couple of steep & loose short cuts, and scooted up them no problem. Totally incredible! The front end felt a lot taller than what I was used to (the Rev was set at 130mm max), but wasn't lifting up at all. Cool.
Once I hit the singletrack (starts with a really tight twisty descent), it took me a couple of minutes to get used to sitting up taller and steering wider -- I've been riding a 3/3" horst XC bike. It didn't take long for me to figure out that the bike responds much better with weight forward, aggressively working the bars and hammering out of the turns. At the end of the trail, I reduced the fork travel to about 120mm, and turned around to do the ST backwards. With the lower front, the handling through the twisty stuff felt much better, and I just blazed through it, making a couple of off-camber switchback climbs that in the past have given me a lot of trouble. I've heard people talk about "razor-sharp handling," and finally I understand what they mean. Again, I scooted up the steep technical climbs with so little effort, I felt like I was hallucinating! REALLY cool.
On the second lap, I hit a steep, loose & rutted descent that in the past has been about a 50:50 prospect for me. I've always lowered the saddle here, but didn't bother today and felt completely comfortable; the Moto felt absolutely stable. My one complaint is that the front end didn't bite as much as I'd like through the loose stuff, but I have a suspicion that my 2.1 Weirwolfs might be a little overwhelmed by the increased speeds and aggressiveness that the Moto allows here. Food for thought. Later in the day, when I was cruising down another portion of singletrack, I almost hit an uphill rider that materialized around a blind corner; it wasn't until then that I realized how much faster than normal I was riding.
So the next day, with a little less pressure in the fork's positive chamber, plus some cockpit adjustments (lowering the stem, scooting the saddle forward), I hit my next favorite trail which is a much faster ST circuit. I rode the first lap pretty bullish, with some really clumsy lines. The bike was totally forgiving of my sins, and just bowled over everything. I felt like I was looking down the trail easily 10' further than normal. When I dawdled, I definitely felt that the small-bump compliance suffered, but with just a little more gas everything seemed to open up and erase all the obstacles. The stiffness of the frame really rewards the slightest effort, and the bike just launches itself forward. I'll have to do a bit more tuning to get to the bottom of this, but it really seems as if the bike rewards good fitness and whatever hammering you can muster. I'm just not sure what happens when you bonk. On the second lap, I focused more on smoothness, taking care to make all of the technical sections and picking lines a bit better, and again the bike really seemed to shine with that riding style. Verdict: a poised and centered stance worked better than hanging back and plowing through everything.
Overall, I couldn't be happier with the bike. I haven't yet played with the ProPedal settings on the RP23, but so far I'd say there's a big difference between the on & off lever settings, which I wouldn't say was the case with the RP3's I tried. The 20% sag seems great to me; I'm getting full travel out of the shock and it feels plenty plush. I still need to play with fork settings, but so far I have about 10psi less than RS recommended for my weight in both pos and neg chambers. Still too early to give much feedback on the fork, although on first impressions it's really precise and working well right out of the box.
As for the build, it's not very sexy. I built it up mostly with parts taken off my old bike: a beloved RM Element which developed a crack in the top tube. I'll upgrade as they wear out. So far the paint seems just fine; I added a liberal dose of clear tape where there might be cable rub, and gave it a good couple of dings on my rides, and so far so good. I'm hoping that Titus ironed out all the issues.
Anyway, thanks again to the Titus board for all the help & info you provided, and I'm looking forward to many good years as a Titan!
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