Now, Moots has been a name in the cycling industry since 1981, but it wasn't until 1991 that the brand focused solely on using titanium as the building material for their machines. Sure, there's been a carbon fiber fork here and there and some handlebars too, but titanium is their game.
Well, this time around, Moots has broken away from over 30 years of tradition and is presenting the world with a 33 lb (15 kg) gravel e-bike built completely out of carbon fiber. Should we be worried? Folks, this is Moots we're talking about, and they've been catering to happy cyclists for longer than some of us have been alive; worry not, my friends!
First of all, take a nice long look at the images you see in the gallery. As you do, notice the smoothness of the frame and the geometry. Take note of the flush battery pack integrated into the down, that Shimano powerhouse sitting as your BB, and that massive 1x drivetrain. Throw on some carbon rims, a seat post, and a cockpit, and we've got a machine that Moots demands at least $10,000 (€9,400 at current exchange rates) for the most standard of builds.
As to why carbon fiber, that's rather simple; think about the properties of titanium and how costly of a building material it is. Now, take the timeless metal and start forming it into the shapes needed for a battery pack, motor, and wiring.
What are we left with? Most likely a massive hunk of alloy that uses more titanium than classic tube frames. How much do you think that's going to cost you? I'm not even going to go into making molds and all that. Then there's the knowledge the industry already has in terms of carbon fiber manipulation; we're really good at it.
With the frame aside, let's explore the electronic goodness that Moots feels is fit for their Express. Personally, I was surprised to see Shimano running the game. However, I can understand why; the EP801 setup is one of Shimano's freshest MTB-oriented products that can punch out a whopping 85 Nm of torque. However, it's been dumbed down to 60 Nm (44 lb-ft) for the Express; you'll understand why shortly.
As to why Moots chose Shimano for this endeavor, it may have a whole lot to do with the EP801's features, one of which is something known as Auto Shift, a system that relies on a "forward-thinking" sensor that tracks speed, torque, and cadence, and adjusts power levels accordingly, always staying in the "right" gear. Since there's an app for this, you can mess around with power levels.
Furthermore, the rest of the drivetrain is once again covered by Shimano. Actually, the entire bike is all Shimano, as Moots says, "from nose to tail." Here, we're given a 1x11 drivetrain with a 47T chain ring and an 11-50T range. Looks like proper gearing for some hard-hitting experiences. If you need more range, look into a drivetrain with two chainrings.
Beyond all that, Moots also ensures you have the liquids you need by throwing on three water bottles, and to keep you and your Express clean, integrated fender mounts can be found. Frame bags are also part of the magic here, and so are fork mounts. In short, you've got the mileage to ride out of town and the gear to camp out overnight.
There's just one question on my mind now: is this a new beginning for Moots, or are we looking at their one and only unicorn? Time will tell all.