My Moots PsychloX RSL and I have gone through a lot together. We’ve ridden the streets of Paris, the cobbled climbs of Flanders, the rolling hills of Iowa and the smooth gravel of Idaho, but, most importantly, it’s been my cyclocross racing steed over the past five years. Like any Moots it’s a head-turner, even though I was never strong enough to race it to it’s potential.
After experimenting with three different styles of cantilever brakes I finally decided that in order to continue racing my local cyclocross events (which seemed to incorporate increasingly technical descents) I needed to upgrade to disc brakes. I had two options: buy a new machine or retrofit the Moots. Retrofitting didn’t make economic sense: the cost of the frame mod alone was $1000. Add to that a new fork, new wheels and new brakes and levers and I was in for well over the cost of a new bike.
On the flip side the Moots, as it stood with canti brakes, had minimal resale value. Maybe, if I was lucky, I could have gotten a fifth of it’s value on the used market; with no incentive to sell it the bike would have simply hung, unridden, on the wall of my garage. The bike was made for me, I wanted to keep it so retrofit was the decision.
Dave Levy down at TiCycles in Portland did the retrofit and the new brakes fit perfectly. With the cancellation of cyclocross season here in Seattle I wanted to get the Moots out in some dirt, namely gravel, but the tire restriction was a bit too narrow.
The PsychloX is a pure racing machine – no tire wider than 33mm is going to fit between the chainstays. This is great for cross racing and touring (where I can put on 32mm road tires) but when it comes to gravel (which is now my primary objective) I want a minimum of 40mm of rubber.
I was able to solve the narrow tire problem by switching out my 700c rims for a pair of 650B’s. The reduced diameter of the 650B wheels allowed the installation of some Rene Herse 42mm Baby Shoe Pass tires. With disc brakes, changing out wheel diameter becomes a non-issue.
When I took the smaller wheels for a test roll I was pleasantly surprised by how quick and light the bike felt. The PsychoX is first and foremost a performance racing bike and thus the geometry is a bit tight when compared with my Ibis Hakka MX. If I were heading out for an all-day trip I would reach for the Hakka, but if I were heading out for a shorter technical run such as the Olympic Adventure Trail I think that the Moots with the 650B’s would be the ticket.
By retrofitting to disc brakes and purchasing 650B wheels I’ve made the Moots into a nice single bike option: ride 700s for cross and road and ride the 650B’s for gravel.
cantilever days it was a given that braking during a cross race was more of a suggestion than a direct order, and amateur courses kind of reflected this fact.