The word supple gets thrown around a lot, mostly related to randonneur, road, or gravel bikes with a bi-plane steel fork and typically, rim brakes, yet I’m convinced I’ve built the most supple, modern mountain bike, just in time for our San Juan Hut trip this week. Check it out in detail below…
When my Womble review finished, I asked Moots if I could buy it and we worked out a deal. I couldn’t imagine sending it back. It’s the bike I ride just about every day, from town trails to climbing up the mountains, and down the rowdiest lines we’ve got here in Santa Fe. Over the past few months of ownership, I feel like I’ve become part of this bike. I can predict how it handles at high speed through chunder and love pushing both it and myself to the limits. It’s super light, very nimble, and yeah, I’d argue it’s incredibly supple. Especially in the carbon-dominated space that mountain bikes currently exist within.
As the Womble was reviewed…
Before we go any further, let’s look at what the word supple means. The Oxford dictionary defines supple as “bending and moving easily and gracefully; flexible”. If a loaded titanium bike is anything it’s that: flexible but I’ve done a few things to this build since reviewing it last year. The Womble is also a very flexy bike – in the right ways – even when it’s unloaded. Let’s look at what I did to make it so.
We’re all familiar with the concept of incremental gains, the concept that many small changes can lead to bigger changes overall. In that regard, there were many small changes to the build kit on the Womble that made it the supple ride it is today.
First up are the newly-refreshed Zipp 3Zero Moto wheels. These wheels are a great way to add more flex to your bike. I reviewed them in detail before on a steel hardtail but on a titanium frame, their ride qualities are heightened even more. These wheels are very shallow and wide and are designed to have “ankle compliance” over rocky terrain and around turns. What this means is the wheels are able to flex about the spoke centroid. It’s very noticeable on the Womble, especially with a 2.6″ Teravail Kessel tire. These new 3Zero wheels are rated for eBike use, so they’re a little more robust than their predecessors. With the new Zipp ZM2 hubs and a lower price point of $1800 for the pair, the 3Zero Moto wheels were an ideal upgrade to this build.
I wanted to increase the flex on the front end of the Womble. Since it has a Pike on the front, you really have to work the bike over to move it around on the trail. At the end of a long day, you can really feel the front-end stiffness. The ENVE wheels and bars were certainly the reason for this. Once I replaced the wheels with 3Zero Moto, I pinged my friends at Why Cycles for a pair of their titanium bars. Due to production delays and material shortages, their bars are back-ordered this year but Why had a pair of used bars they could send me. I added Control Tech bar end extenders to the bars, bringing them to 820mm wide. Do these bars flex? Oh yeah. In a bad way? Not at all. They just lower the fatigue felt on my wrists after long descents like the Angel Fire to Taos South Boundary Trail.
The Why Cycles titanium bars added to the supple feel of this build overall and the next upgrade was more cosmetic than ride quality-oriented but I couldn’t resist buying a pair of eeWings for the Womble because… just look at them! Sure, they don’t get all chattery like carbon cranks but they’re hardly flexy. Again, the name of the game is relieving joint fatigue. Much like the bars reduced wrist fatigue – everyone should have titanium bars on their carbon mountain bikes in my opinion – the cranks left my ankles feeling fresh. I also went with a 6mm offset (inset) Wolf Tooth 28t chainring to make the climbs easier on this trip. The frame has just enough clearance to run the 6mm inset ring, making the chainline more efficient and way quieter. I tend to use 28t chainrings on MTBs that I’ll take touring. Another small change was removing the Selle racing saddle in lieu of a Brooks Cambium.
Not that they add to the supple feel of the bike but I upgraded to Magura MT Trail SL brakes. They’re a combination 4/2 piston brake set that offers better modulation and control than the SRAM Guides that were on this build before. I found the Guide brakes to be very needy, having had to bleed them at least once a month and constantly adjusting them to reduce rubbing. I haven’t spent that much time on the Magura brakes but after a few rides, I can feel a noticeable difference. Plus the silver calipers look so good with that silver RockShox Pike!
The icing on the titanium cake is the Yoshimura Chilao pedals.
Loaded for the Telluride to Moab San Juan Hut Trip
The San Juan Huts are a network of alpine shelters, sprinkled throughout the San Juan Mountains in Colorado and the La Sal in Utah. When you sign up for one of their trips – like the one Josh did two years ago – you get to pack a little lighter since you don’t need to pack a shelter or even meals. The huts are loaded with food and water, so all you have to carry are the essentials, hence the lack of a saddle pack on this setup.
When you load up a titanium bike, the added weight accentuates the flexiness of the frame, in a good way. There’s nothing worse than taking an overly stiff bike on a 7-day bike tour. It just beats you up. Especially on singletrack. I’ve done a few shakedown rides on the Womble as it sits and I can’t begin to put words to the ride experience without using numerous tropes of bike reviews. Although rather than saying it is “vertically stiff and laterally compliant”, the whole entire bike is just compliant, so there’s that.
I packed pretty light, breaking down my kit here:
–Porcelain Rocket handlebar harness loaded with my clothes, down jacket, merino leggings, sleeping bag, and Bedrock sandals. The front pocket has snacks. 7 Pro Bar coconut bars, 7 baggies of gummies, and lots of almond butter packs.
–Jpaks SnakPaks top tube bag has my sunscreen, various balms, chain lube, toothbrush/paste, chapstick, antibacterial wet wipes, soap sheets, bike tool, pump, and headphones.
–Jpaks bottle caddy carries my Kershaw knife and a 26oz Radavist bottle.
-Navigation via a Wahoo ELMNT Bolt
-Rogue Panda frame bag (from my Sklar tourer) has my 3L water bladder, electronics case with a headlamp, two AXS batteries, Garmin InReach, USB cables, charger, and 6 batteries for my Sony A9ii. I’m also carrying a UL first aid kit, titanium trowel, Snow Peak mug, spare tube, Dynaplugs, Co2, and an MSR Trail Shot filter.
Here’s a sneak-sneak peek at the Collette Marie-designed Radasnake collaboration coming this fall!
-I primarily carry a small backpack for my camera, rain jacket, and lunch for the day. I’m bringing my Sony A9ii and the Tamron 28-200 lens. I was going to carry my Leica M7, 35mm, 50mm, 90mm lenses with 8 rolls of film but wanted that extra reach my 200mm lens at crop mode provides (approx 350mm reach). And the Sony kit is lighter than the Leica kit, believe it or not. I also have an extra Sea to Summit dry bag and rain fly for my backpack in the bag.
Since reviewing the Womble last year, it’s been my go-to bike, taking me all over the mountains surrounding Santa Fe, up super steep climbs and down loose and chundry descents. At this point, I feel like I’m one with the bike. I know it sounds cheesy but I can’t get over how much control this bike has and with the unloaded complete weighing in at 26lbs, it’s hard to make up excuses for not pedaling it into the alpine. As it sits here, it weighs 46lbs on the nose including 3L of water. Not bad!
Let me just take a second to thank Bailey at Sincere Cycles for being such a huge help with this bike, which has been an ongoing project. Thanks, duder. xo
Got questions? Drop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them today!