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While I was perusing the endless sea of 10×10 tents at Sea Otter, I stopped by the Mavic booth to test ride the new 29er wheels. When I asked for a large bike, a mechanic pointed to the end of the A-frame rack and asked if a titanium Moots MX Divide would do. I was threading in my pedals before he finished asking the question.
Getting the lowdown on the MX Divide from Jon Cariveau of Moots, I learned (not surprisingly) that the MX Divide and its 100mm of travel is no cheap date. Retail for a frame and Fox Kashima RP23 shock is $5,000, making the MX Divide more expensive than the Trek Top Fuel ($4,200) and the Specialized Epic S-Works ($5,000 with RockShox Sid fork).
Engineering It Bigger
Aside from the raw titanium frame the MX Divide shows no signs of similarity to any other Moots bikes. The MX Divide was a start-from-scratch project that Moots called in Sotto Group engineering for, to help perfect a suspension setup that would be efficient for the full length of travel. Sotto Group engineered a single pivot “Fusion Link” (fancy title eh?) suspension design, which uses a carbon pivot manufactured by PMG, the same factory that makes Moots carbon forks, as well as ENVE forks.
In an effort to put the MX Divide on the cutting-edge, Moots engineers decided to go with a 142mm rear thru-axle. However, according to Cariveau, titanium is not an appropriate material to be used with the threaded thru-axle design. So Moots called upon Zen Bicycle Fabrication to machine the 6061 aluminum chainstays.
The mix of carbon, titanium, and aluminum creates a “fusion” (see what I did there?) of materials.
Beyond a trio materials and fancy terms, Moots decided to go big on the MX Divide’s frame design. Literally, they made everything bigger from front to back.
The non-tapered head tube of the MX Divide measures 44mm. This oversized head tube leads into a larger than average top tube and down tube.
The tubes are one continuous diameter, so the seat tube is blown out to accommodate a 30.9 seatpost and the bottom bracket shell was machined for a PF30 system. The larger tubes of the MX Divide were intended to give the bike added stiffness and strength.
On The Trail
Getting straight to the point, the MX Divide is a fun bike to ride. It’s lightweight enough that the big wheels are easily thrown about, though the SRAM XX-equipped version that I rode was no featherweight.
The front wheel can be popped off the ground with little effort, which I found surprising considering the somewhat steep 71° head tube angle. This head tube angle helps the MX Divide descend and climb well. The bike gave me loads of confidence as it tracked well through the corners and climbed nimbly.
The geometry feels more relaxed than it is, though the suspension design could be the source of that comfort. Bombing the trails around Laguna Seca the MX Divide feels like it has more travel than it does. The MX Divide is plusher than other 100mm travel rigs, such as the Specialized Epic.
This ride quality makes the MX Divide more an all-day-in-the-saddle trail bike than a true XC race rig. But, for rugged races, the MX Divide won’t hold you back. The Moots would be ideal for a race like the Breck Epic.
At the end of the day, the MX Divide is expensive, but Moots has never welded a bargain bike, and they never need to. Moots makes boutique bikes. Some get raced and some toured, but they’re all made in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, one at a time.
The MX Divide comes in six sizes (16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 22″) each with specially engineered angles for a given size. Currently Moots is not offering custom sizing.
The MX Divide incorporates as many cutting-edge features as they could squeeze into the oversized tubes. The PF30 bottom bracket is becoming the go-to for high-end titanium and aluminum frames and we expect the 142mm rear end will become a standard for 29ers as many pros are adopting the thru-axle idea, even on their hardtails.
Moots’ attention to detail, innovative use of materials, and subcontracting to American engineering firms could justify the price tag of the MX Divide. The MX Divide is one expensive bike, but if an average-sized rider wants the best, then the MX Divide may have cornered the market on the boutique, race-ready, dual-suspension 29er.