Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
screamer
Joined
·
1,385 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've loved my motolite ever since we got together almost exactly two years ago. While I'm just as susceptible to bike lust and the wandering eye as the next guy, in recent months I've had the opportunity to re-kindle the flame with my ML as it were, and things are better than ever between us. I thought I'd share the story in excruciating detail: so pour yourself a beverage of choice and I'll begin.

I built my ML up with parts taken off an old bike, and it was really a pretty rag-tag assortment, not doing justice to the quality of the frame. Over time, I've replaced every single one of the components, not with top-shelf stuff but with quality nonetheless. It's the last three items I've replaced that have made the most difference, cost the most money, but been the most worthwhile. They are: adjustable seatpost, new wheels, and real brakes.

I've gone into detail about the specifics of the seatpost elsewhere (a Precision AMP), but having thrashed it for a while I think it's safe to say that it (or one of the other excellent adjustable seatposts out there) is an absolutely essential piece of equipment for the ML. Being able to change the bike with a flick of a switch from a super efficient climbing monster to a low slung descending weapon really takes advantage of the ML's ability to bridge both extremes of the spectrum. It's no exaggeration that it completely transformed how I ride the bike, and it was awesome even before that. One of the things I've always liked about the frame is it's stiff, aggressive character: it wants you to get out of the saddle, weight centered, and crouched in attack position. Not having the saddle in the way just makes this even more the case. An unexpected benefit is being able to get really low on slow, technical climbs. Since the ML has a pretty high BB & COG for bikes of its type, it already excels in the technical climbing department. With the seat down, it helps my confidence tremendously to know that I can easily put a foot down even when seated: I'm clearing climbs I never thought possible because of this. Completely awesome!

The second critical upgrade has been a quality wheelset: Stan's Arch rims on HopePro2's, courtesy of Chad, Nobby Nics 2.25 & 2.4 run tubeless. Another complete transformation! Without going into too much detail, this combo absolutely rocks. I'm running about 20psi front & back, and the cornering traction is just about limitless. I've made so many sketchy turns, just pinning it and being completely stupid, and they just hook up no matter what. It's hard to know whether it's the stiffness of the build, the profile of the rim/tread, the low pressure, or more likely a combination. I can just rail corners in a way I never thought possible outside of a DH tire, and again the aggressive tendencies of the ML really come into their own. I'm braking later, carrying more speed, picking lines better, and in general feeling like a fast rider for the first time in over 17 years of MTB'ing.

The last upgrade is a set of decent brakes. In all fairness, I've been running Avid mechs for about 7-8 years, so I don't have a really solid basis for comparison. Having said that, the Formula K18's that I got have been just incredible. Out of the box they don't feel as powerful or grabby as the Avids, but immediately I realized that having greater control is far more important. I used to think 1-finger braking was kind of a marketing myth. No longer! Again, I'm braking less and later, and the effects on control and speed just keep increasing. It's been pointed out by others that the ML is perhaps a more capable climber than descender, and I used to agree with this. However, just being able to regulate speed more precisely has shifted the balance. Being able to keep another finger on the bars also made me realized that I had been gripping too tightly in the rough, tensing me up and resulting in the front end getting thrown around more. I'm far more relaxed, hitting the steeps with way more confidence, and flowing through rock gardens like a different person. Maybe there are better descending bikes out there, but the ML just go a hell of a lot better from my perspective.

So what's the punchline of all this? Two things. First, I've had a chance to ride a couple of El Guapos. Dominator13 was cool enough to switch with me a couple of weeks ago, and he's got one handsome focker. I was really blown away with the ride, but was surprised that it wasn't as different from the ML as I was expecting. I generally ride with both wheels planted on the ground, and I'm starting to think that the El Guapo really starts to come into its own as distinct from the ML when your wheels start leaving terra firma. In other words, I wasn't really riding the bike to its potential. It's also been suggested that the EG will render the ML obsolete, and while I agree that there's a lot of overlap between the two, I'd still pick the ML for the XC riding that makes up the majority of what I typically do. Obsolete? Not for me.

Additionally, I just got back from a couple of days in the mountains around Lake Tahoe, CA (Downieville and Hole-in-the-Ground, for those of you familiar with the area) riding what I would call aggressive, intense XC: lots of climbing at elevation, lots of rocky, twisty singletrack. Maybe not the steepest (ie: Alps), most technical (ie: BC) trails in the world, but the speeds are high and the trails take every bit of skill you have to get up & down them fast and in one piece. For these rides (and I'm talking about doing the full climb at DVille, not shuttling!) I can't imagine a bike I'd rather have than my ML in its current setup for all the reasons listed above. The trails brought out the bike's best qualities, and vice versa. I've ridden & raced at downieville many times, but this time my riding was head & shoulders above the others, which I attribute to the bike. The ML was absolutely perfect, no joke.

I'm sorry I don't have any riding pics, because we were just having too much fun. And sorry for the crappy cellphone quality: cameras weigh a lot when you have thousands of feet to climb at altitude with crappy air quality (california's on fire right now, if you haven't heard it in the news). But here's a pic of her in her element at the top of Hole-in-the-Ground.

Things have never been so good. Thanks for reading.
 

Attachments

·
Paper or plastic?
Joined
·
10,686 Posts
HITG is really fun. If you add Donner Lake Rim Trail to it, it's awesome.

Pics from last year at HITG on the ML (courtesy of Cohenfive):


 

·
screamer
Joined
·
1,385 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Awesome is definitely the word. Still quite a bit of snow there yesterday, but great riding nonetheless. I was a bit too wiped after DVille to add Donner Lake, though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,097 Posts
Budgie, thanks for the write up. Great to hear people who (like me) still love their ML. The switch to Tubeless tires really changed the ride for me as well. Are the Stan's rims essential to run regular Nobby Nics tubeless? I have a set of 819 that I am using with a Stick-E Nevegal in front (with stans) and a Maxxis Highroller 2.1 UST in the back. I like the traction but they are slow.

I never thought about the seatpost but you are 100% right. After the PUSHEd shock, this is next on my list!

Thanks again, and post more pics!
 

·
screamer
Joined
·
1,385 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not sure about other NN/rim combos, since this is the first time I've tried tubeless for the Nics. I will say that the Stan's rims create a super-strong connection at the bead: you really hear the tire snap into place when inflating. I used a floor pump and they aired up immediately. Six weeks in, there's no burping or air loss.

FYI: I'm running the snakeskin NN's, just because I like the extra sidewall beef: more reliable, but more importantly more cornering stability.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,679 Posts
Very well done!

I wrote that the ML is not going to be obsolete. In fact, I agree with you that you have to be way more aggressive and into air if you are to take on the weight penalty and truly enjoy the EG. He's not kidding when he says 17 psi. I got a chance to mount his ML and I was concerned about the low pressure because you could really feel it. But, man did they stick like glue to the trail, unfortunately I did not! :D :D I do have a question about the low psi. How does it do on the long climbs. Does it increase the BOB affect or does it just give you more grip? Great writeup, Hugh. :thumbsup:
 

·
screamer
Joined
·
1,385 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's an interesting question about climbing. The short answer is that the increased traction is great to have, whether it's loose fireroad gravel or the sort of sand-over-rock conditions that you get up in Tahoe or some of the climbs at Skeggs.
The long answer is that bobbing might have been an issue if I'd been running my previous shock pressure, but with the lower tire pressure I've actually gone to slightly less than 25% sag in the rear (I was running more like 30% previously). As you know, 25% is what Titus recommends for the frame; it's just that with higher tire pressures in the tubed setup I wasn't getting the plushness that I wanted on descents. The tubeless setup is just so much more forgiving and confidence-inspiring, I'm back to the recommended shock pressure, still getting the traction and feeling of plushness I want on the descents, and also much less bob when climbing. So it's more efficient all-around, and really feels like I've hit the sweet spot that the frame was designed for.
 

·
thats right living legend
Joined
·
6,360 Posts
I miss that sweet tight susp of the Moto sometimes. As far as cornering, that sucker absolutely railed with Nev 2.35 fr and rr with HIGH psi in back... like 40psi. I had to run that pressure or I'd flat.

For riding very tech, rough, even scary "unfamiliar" terrain on an unfamiliar group ride, with lots of long climbs, there's NO OTHER bike I'd rather be on than a Moto-Lite. That BB will climb over ANYTHING, which is a secure feeling. And like you sad about it's descending ability, I couldn't agree more, and I didn't have a GD or anything. I just had to position my seat on the rails and post at a heavy compromise... and the sucker still RAILED everything up or down. :thumbsup:
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top