British brand Pipedream are back with a hardtail to truly get the pulse racing. Launched at Eurobike, the pink machine was hard to miss, and certainly got lots of media attention throughout the week. It's reassuring to know that a steel hardtail can still turn heads at a trade show overflowing with enormous tyres and e-bikes.
The Moxie is currently in the final process of production, and we were lucky enough to get one of the first frames in the country for testing. It was raced in Exmoor and ended up on a podium and has been passed around the test team more than any other bike this year.
So what makes it unique? The Moxie is a classic steel construction but having found a new factory in 2015 that makes its own tubing; the door was wide open to create some special geometry. Crucially the Moxie is available in two sizes; Long and Longer. This gives two reach numbers for sizing, either 470mm or 510mm. The seat tube length is the same on both at 420mm or about 17inch in old money, but don't be fooled, this is not a small bike.
Head angle is a slack 65.5 based around a 160mm fork, and the bottom bracket is a ground-skimming -64mm drop based on 650b plus wheels and tyres. To match the longer reach, the seat tube is steep at 76.5 degrees. Riders up to 6 foot 4 have been totally happy with our 'Longer' model, and with an uninterrupted seat tube, posts can be slammed to fit smaller riders. Choose a reach, then choose an appropriate dropper post length. This is sizing done properly, not clinging to a hangover from road biking measurements. Maybe a couple more reach options would give more sizing choices, but the current two give a fair spread.
The look is classic steel, with no bracing or additional gussets, which will appeal to the purists. Although it may look old school with skinny tubes, its purpose is far from it, with the Moxie aimed at the rowdiest of terrain possible for a hardtail.
The frames are available on their own, or with some great deals with components ordered with them. Our tester was a quirky mix of kit including a DVO Beryl fork and Garnet dropper. The frame rolled on Zelvy Carbon wheels shod with 2.8 Maxxis Minions for glue-like grip and extra comfort. SRAM GX eagle gives plenty of gears and various Funn finishing kit dealt with everything else. With adjustable dropouts, 29ers fit happily, giving the Moxie even more versatility.
With so much media hype surrounding this bike, I was eager to get it out on the trails. I headed to my local stomping ground in search of some fresh loam, as I set off out of the van I opted for the more technical climb rather than the fire road just to see how it handled steep climbs.
With the bike feeling slightly on the heavy side, I had braced myself for a bit of a fight, however with the nice seat tube angle and long reach - the steep and technical climb was a breeze. This combination for a long bike with a steep seat tube angle gives the Moxie a unique climbing ability; it also helps keep the nose down, so there are no unwanted wheelies going on here.
Normally when I come to ride a long slack bike, it takes me a little while to get my head around the descending technique as you usually have to apply a more neutral position. But there was none of that aboard the Moxie, as I dropped into the first trail I forgot I was on such a long bike, in fact, I forgot I was on a hardtail for most of the descent.
I assume the length of the bike and the plus tyres smoothed a lot of roots and holes out and I was able to carry my speed down the faster pieces of track. Soon the trail steepened off into tight loam corners, but the Moxie being the stable, dependable girl that she is made light work of them!
So... the Moxie passed the “Enduro” test, now to take it off into the hills for an “All Mountain” ride. The hills local to me are rugged and unforgiving, not the kind of place you’d commonly take a hardtail – let alone one with plus tyres, so armed with a dozen inner tubes I headed off.
As we stopped looking down on the first descent I immediately let all the guys riding full sus bikes lead the way – I didn’t want to be the guy holding everybody up. To my surprise I was blown away by how much straight-line speed this bike had, I was gaining on the guys in front and guess what no punctures!
Having been passed around the team, the largest of riders found that under power there was a degree of flex in the back end. This being more apparent to the well over 6 footers and 14 stone riders. This compliance, however, is also part of the winning combination of the bike, making full use of the characteristics of steel for a comfortable ride.
The character of the Moxie is one of quiet (unlike the paint job) confidence, as it does an excellent job of looking like a standard hardtail. Open up the speed, or get on the steeps and it comes alive, putting plenty of full suspension bikes to shame. We are reminded once again that geometry is the key to a great bike, not suspension travel.
The components have been pretty impressive, particularly the fork which although has limited adjustment, has been dependable and predictable throughout. The Plus tyres are good and grippy but the rear died eventually and swapping down to 2.6 seemed to be a good choice with little effect on bottom bracket height. The Moxie would probably run just as well on the new breed of 2.5 wide trail tyres from Maxxis, or better still I think 29er wheels could be the sweet spot.
The TRP Gwin spec brakes were fresh to us too, and although lever feel was good, they needed bigger rotors to give the power required to steady the Moxie.
The Moxie inspires confidence and makes you want to push it further and faster – probably faster than I should have been going. This bike isn’t just a great descender; it can be ridden all day, trail centres, a razz in the woods, uplifts at your local DH track and all-mountain adventures. Nothing is out of bounds for the Pipedream Moxie!
By Danny O'CallaghanDanny is a lover of trails! He has explored these trails worldwide but the trails he loves the most are on his doorstep in the English Lake District and he's made it his personal mission to ride them all! Always keen to push the limits, he has an impressive list of injuries and adventures in equal measure.
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Dan, Joe and Edgar