Review: Moots MX Divide

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Since 1981, Moots has been handcrafting frames from U.S. made titanium and are well known for their soft-tail YBB frame and high-quality hardtails, road, and ‘cross frames. Feeling the need to cater to XC and Epic riders and racers looking for a short travel bike, other than ones made from carbon or aluminum, Moots partnered with the suspension experts at the Sotto Group. The Sotto Group has helped bike companies such as Fox, Mountain Cycle, Lynskey, and Ahrens with suspension designs, and after two years of working with Moots, the 29-inch-wheeled MX Divide was created.

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Like all of their other frames, the MX Divide is made from 3/2.5 grade, seamless titanium in their Steamboat Springs facility. The single-pivot design has 100mm of rear travel designed around a 100mm suspension fork.

It has a 44mm head tube to take advantage of the extra stiffness tapered steerer forks offer. The swoopy curves are not only aesthetically pleasing but also beneficial. The first bend in the down tube near the head tube provides fork crown clearance. The second bend creates a more horizontal junction with the bottom bracket and seat tube. This angle reduces the need for counter mitering the seat tube, which would impact the tube’s stiffness. With a large diameter seat and down tube, the bottom bracket shell also needed to increase to accept the tubes. The result is extra stiffness and the use of a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket.

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The rear triangle is a mix of asymmetrical, aluminum chainstays manufactured by Zen Fabrications in Portland, Oregon, mated in-house by Moots to titanium seatstays. The aluminum was chosen for its stiffness, weight, and ability to shape it for the desired chainring and tire clearance at an economically reasonable rate. Good thing Moots went for the economical metal chainstays, or the frame would be over five grand. Rear spacing is 142mm with a 12mm thru-axle for stiffness.

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The rear shock is driven by a molded, carbon fiber swing-link dubbed Fusion. The Fusion is made by EM2, the same people that make Moots’ carbon fiber road and ‘cross forks. The leverage ratio of the swing-link is placed low on the MX Divide to ensure all 100mm of travel are used on the Kashima coated Fox RP23 shock in a plush manner, while the linkage prevents harsh ramp up at the end of the stroke. For durability, sealed cartridge bearings are used at all the pivot points. Perfect welds are a given and the craftsmanship is amazing.

The Cinchpost seat post ($345) and Open Trail stem ($395) are also made by Moots. A barrage of other high-end parts, including a Kashima coated, 100mm Fox 32 Float fork with a 15mm thru-axle, SRAM 2×10 drivetrain, Avid XX disc brakes, and DT Swiss wheelset, complete the build; Enough fanciness to seriously damage your bank account.

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While the resilience of titanium tubing is appreciated in hard/soft tail frames, those attributes aren’t necessarily desirable in a full-suspension bike. I would imagine engineering suspension around it is a challenge as well. That said, I give Moots and the Sotto Group props for the design. It’s probably about as stiff as it could be made using Ti, yet the flexible characteristics are apparent.

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Ascending felt natural and the bike is a capable climber while seated. The long 17.8-inch chainstays kept the front wheel from lifting from the ground, so I could spin when needed on steep terrain. Even with the ProPedal set firm, the suspension is a little sensitive and active when standing. It’s best to find an agreeable gear in the 2×10 drivetrain, remain on the saddle, and pedal to the top at a good pace.

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The 74-degree seat tube and 71-degree head tube are fairly standard angles for a short travel XC bike, delivering a stable ride and calm steering. With an un-sagged BB height of 13-inches my center of gravity is low in the suspension. All the fun numbers mean that when I’m navigating curvy trails, I feel balanced between the tires and seated in a position that allows the bike to be steered without much body input.

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Rolling downhill, the MX Divide is quick to pick up speed and lulled me into going faster than I should have, more than once. The titanium and suspension combination makes most trails feel unbelievably smooth. I would definitely put a 180mm rotor up front to slow momentum and be able to make turns.

I enjoy the supple feel of the bike when rolling in a straight line, but when needing to make quick steering adjustments in rapid succession, it didn’t feel like the bike could keep up with where I needed to go. The frame flexes laterally making the rear feel washy.

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I don’t think the titanium stem benefitted the steering either. When carving through switchbacks, I would need to readjust my line mid-turn to compensate for flex, and when slicing and dicing in technical sections, I’d have no idea where the front wheel was going to end up. Swapping the stem for an aluminum Thomson stem added some control to the front end, but didn’t solve the issue.

As Moots intended, the suspension does feel plush and consistent through all 4-inches of travel. I’d get off the bike and notice the O-ring at the end of the shaft but never felt a harsh ramp up or bottoming out of the suspension, or even thought I was using close to all of it. The MX Divide rolls dominantly along trails and over roots and rocks, while absorbing impact from drop offs. Square edge hits are tamed superbly and the titanium itself mutes other vibrations attempting to find my hands. The trail really does disappear, which is a great thing if that’s what you’re looking for.

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Obviously, the MX Divide is not for everyone. It’s definitely not the stiffest bike out there and Moots makes no claims that it is. Those riding titanium do so for Ti’s suppleness and longevity.

So who is the MX Divide for? Those that need maximum stiffness and precision won’t be satisfied on a titanium frame. But, epic riders and multi-day stage racers would enjoy the high level of comfort, vibration damping qualities, and lack of impact to the body that the MX Divide delivers. You can spend all day on the saddle and not feel sore the next morning. The stock geometry fit me as if it were custom, but for riders desiring the real deal, custom geometry will be offered in the future.

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Vital Stats

  • Country of Origin: U.S.A.
  • Price: $4,995 frame and RP23, $9,300 as built.
  • Top Tube: 24.25-inches, 641mm
  • Head Tube Angle: 71 degrees
  • Seat Tube Angle: 74 degrees
  • Bottom Bracket height: 13-inches, 330mm
  • Chainstay Length: 17.8-inches, 452mm
  • Weight: 25.5lbs., 11.57kg
  • Sizes: 16”, 17”, 18”, 19” (tested), 20”, 22”
  • Specs based on size tested