Rescued from a lake, a Moots gets second chance at life


Editor’s note: One of the popular selling points for titanium frames is that they will never rust or corrode. This Moots frame shares its story of rescuing a frame from the bottom of a lake and giving it a second lease on life.

There I was, slick and sweet, set up for perfect performance. My titanium YBBeat Superlight frame gleamed in the sales window, and I longed for the chance to go out and do what I was built for – get dirty and ride hard. After an incredibly long wait, or so I thought at the time, I was sold. My new owner and I hit the trails, and I got my wish. We rode high in the Rockies, swooping through fields of wildflowers. We explored Moab slick rock, speeding by sandstone arches.

But some things are too good to last. One dark night, a thief broke into my home and took me away. My XTR components, Moots stem and Moots seat post were stripped and sold, and I was ungratefully imprisoned with another stripped captive, an aluminum S-Works road frame, in the bottom of a lake.

For years we laid there, beyond time and knowledge, losing hope. We were forgotten by all, except the fish that swam through us as a murky playground. Our captivity took a hard toll on the poor old aluminum boy, and he quickly succumbed to the harsh conditions and began to corrode away. The only aluminum left on me, the YBB lockout collar and the headset cups, also began to oxidize. But I never fully lost hope since my skillfully crafted titanium tubes, immaculate welds, and even decals were holding strong.

Many times the water above me froze and thawed and my hope grew cold. My hopes of glory winning the NORBA World Cup or riding San Juan alpine trails were gone. I despaired of ever rolling again. All my dreams were buried with me in the depths of a lake.

As the fish darted past in panic one day, mud and muck stirred up clouding the view. Suddenly, the remains of my poor aluminum companion were lifted out of the lake by what appeared to be a large rusty scoop on a yellow arm. I was left alone in the muck, but dared hope that I might be pulled out of the depths. The yellow arm had the word “Cat” painted on the side, but I didn’t see any resemblance to the large feline that tracked us on the 401 trail in Crested Butte years ago.

brokenmoots3My turn came with a painful smash into my down tube. My beautiful, hand-built titanium frame now had a 5-inch long dent in the lower part of my down tube. But I was free! I felt the warm sun and soft air. Some men in yellow hard hats trundled over to see what we were. Much to my delight, the crew leader who found me realized my worth. He cleaned me up a bit, but then hung me in his garage for another, new type of captivity.

I was bored.

I was also worried that I would never roll again – who would be crazy enough to rebuild an old Moots with a huge dent in its down tube? Not the man who found me – he likes fast iron and faster lead. At least he let me stay.Until one day, the man found out his niece just married a bearded man that likes to go for long walks in the mountains carrying (and occasionally riding) a heavy steel bike. Apparently, he was one of those nerdy mechanics who learned the trade the hard way – many miles of riding, necessity, and a patient determination to get the best deal possible.

My new Mechanic lovingly cleaned all the mud and grime off me, reveling in my smooth curves and delicious welds. He soaked me in the bath tub for a couple of days (his Lady must not have been too fastidious to let pond water and mud in their tub.) Much to his chagrin, he couldn’t get the last little bit of lake muck out. Now when I’m tipped forward and backward it jingles around inside me. I don’t mind much, as it is a reminder to be grateful that I’m not still in the bottom of a lake!

But once again, I was hung on the wall, sans parts. I heard the young couple talk about “Project Moots” often–they intended to build me up once he had a “real job” over the summer.

The day finally came. My Mechanic spent an evening after work putting on new parts for me. The build was a hodge-podge of highly functional but not too flashy parts. I wouldn’t be the coolest bike on the internet forums, but at least I could roll reliably. The wheels were hand built by my Mechanic, which is a nice touch. The front hub is a gem, an old DT Hugi 28 hole polished silver hub laced 2-cross to a Matrix Swami rim. He put an extra long 130 mm stem on me, and took me for my first ride in many years. It felt so good to feel the wind flow over my tubes and the vibration of the pavement under me. But the long hoped-for ride was soon over.

I was too small.

After all of that, would I not have a job?!?! All I had been through? What would they do with me?

On a whim, my Mechanic suggested that his Lady try me. After her first test ride she said, “You mean riding a bike is not supposed to hurt?” Her old Motobecane commuter bike had a slightly longer top-tube length. I was a much better fit. Graciously, my Mechanic said, “Well, if Project Moots fits you better, we’ll set it up for you. You’re the luckiest mountain bike rider ever to get a Moots upgrade after only a few short mountain bike rides!” He put on a shorter stem and lowered the seat. I fit her even better this time. She was delighted. Despite my dreams of racing and alpine exploration, the dent in my down tube could be a structural problem. My Lady is small, light, and rides delicately. This wouldn’t be as fun, but at least I would have a much smaller chance of breaking in half.

Over the next few weeks my mechanic changed my parts out for things that fit my Lady better. He cut the handlebars narrower, put on some cool curvy grips, and a really goofy and kind of embarrassing gel seat. Oh well. At least she is comfortable. My favorite part is my custom Cleaveland Mountaineering frame bag. He even sewed a heart onto the pink camo pocket liner with a love note on it. Evidently he really likes her.


And now I’m playing again. My Lady uses me primarily as a commuter bike, and my odometer now reads over 700 miles. On the lucky occasion that we go explore the trails around Grand Junction, I feel free again. She’s definitely a newbie, but is doing her best to learn because she enjoys doing things with her husband. (I like to hope that she also enjoys doing things with her slick bike.) She often comments that I “don’t buck or rear as much as her old bike.” She’s a horse girl, so we won’t pick on her lingo too much.

Mostly I’m grateful to be out in the wind, doing what I was built to do. Even the indignity of a heavy gel seat is worth it when I remember my years in captivity at the bottom of a lake.

The true story of “Project Moots” was retold by Jeremy and Robin Cleaveland of Cleaveland Mountaineering. Check out their custom-made frame packs and touring accessories at

Read more about Moots, its hand-crafted bikes and its community of riders at at


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