Chapter 3 – Moots Cycle – Steamboat Springs Colorado
The third stop on my trip out west led me over gorgeous mountain passes from the front range out to Steamboat Springs. The plan was to visit Moots Cycles and talk about their long history of making fat-bikes and see what goes into manufacturing their newest fat-bike the Frosthammer.
I was first introduced to Jon Cariveau in the Moots Booth at NAHBS in Louisville. That was just about the time my plans were starting to hatch for a summer visit to the Rockies. Jon is the Marketing Director and an eighteen year veteran with Moots. I have to admit that, I’ve always loved Moots mountain bikes. I have three titanium mountain bikes in my collection and one of them is a Moots. So when Jon invited me to come and visit, I was more than delighted to put it on the schedule for our Field Trip to the West.
I met Jon at Moots World Headquarters on the north side of Steamboat and we sat down and chatted about the first Moots fat-bikes and where Moots fit into the historic time line. I think that the very first time that I saw a legit fat-bike (on-line) was a custom Moots that was made for Mike Curiak to race in the ITI. It was probably in the Passion Forum over at MTBR. Jon recalls that being somewhere around 2002. Around the same time, two guys that worked in the frame shop, Eric and Brad, made themselves fat-bikes. They built them to ride in and around the numerous snow packed trails that Steamboat offers. Those two bikes were fitted with Rohloff hubs and were the start of 2 years of what Jon called RAT Technology (Ride and Tweak). So moots fat-bikes developed right in Steamboat with input from the very well traveled Mike C. In 2004 Moots showed a fat-bike at the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show for the very first time.
Back then Moots only did fat-bikes as special orders for winter riding, but when the 170 hub standard came about and more components like cranks, rims, tires became available, they started making the FrosTi year around. Now Moots has embraced the 190/197 hub standard with their newest fat-bike the Frosthammer. Out west, fat-bike riders that we’ve talked to, really want the ability to run the fattest tires possible. The low moisture content in the snow out west puts flotation to the test, so the new Frosthammer can handle 4.8 tires mounted to 100mm rims. The Frosthammer features a curved top tube. to increase stand-over. I like this feature for deep snow situations. Moots starts with the best sourced, made in the USA, 3.25 titanium tubing and then manufactures their bikes to the highest quality standards.
Jon took me through the process that a frame goes through from tube mitering to welding to QC and finishing, all the way through shipping. They were doing inventory the day I was there. How would you like to have to count all of this titanium tubing?
Each joint is precision mitered, burnished, ultrasonically cleaned and then double bead welded. Moot’s welds are what I compare all other bike company’s work with, for precision and craftsmanship. They have five full time frame welders and I was surprised to learn that they produce about 30 bikes a week all year long! They make almost everything that goes on their frames in-house, and that includes their sweet titanium stems and seat-posts.
Above (right), a tacked frame waits for the fusion pass to be completed, then the finishing pass will complete the double pass process. The thing that I wanted to illustrate with these two pictures, is the fit of the miter joints before any welding takes place. Tight, close fitting, miters are just one of the things you don’t see, in the completed product, but are paramount to the strength of the welds on Moots frames.
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I had the distinct pleasure of seeing the whole operation….even the media blasting room, where the trademark matte grey burnished finish of Moots bikes is applied with sound and furry. Moots has 25 full time craftspeople working together in their Steamboat facility all dedicated to making the finest quality titanium bicycles in America.
(click any photo to enlarge)
If you’re planning a trip to Steamboat, Moots holds tours, Mon-Wed-Fri at 10 am. You could see everything that I saw, or you can follow the Moots tour on YouTube by clicking right here.
For further information about Moots visit – www.moots.com