THE FULL MOXIE REVIEW
THE VIBRANT ALL-ROUNDER
Words by Robert Johnston // @robert_johnston
Photography by Adam Lievesley // @adamlievesleybmx
Pipedream Cycles is a Scottish based company who have become renowned in the UK for their dialed steel bikes. Beginning back at the turn of the century by designing some progressive geometry titanium hardtails, Pipedream’s journey has not been without its ups and downs, but fast forward to the present day and the company is thriving with an ever-growing range of bikes from Adventure/Gravel bikes through to their latest release – The Full Moxie all mountain full suspension frame.
Pipedream supplied Eurowolf Rob with a TFM to put through the ringer for a couple of months in the changeable conditions of Spring in the UK.
The Full Moxie is Pipedream’s first full suspension bike, adding another level of capability to their Moxie hardtail with its 146mm of single pivot rear suspension. To explain the name a little, “Moxie” is a slang term for courage and guts, and “The Full Moxie” is a play on “The Full Monty”, meaning everything you could possibly need. This then suggests The Full Moxie should offer all the courage and guts you could possibly need; so, it was up to me to discover exactly what this meant out on the trails.
The Full Moxie was designed in Scotland by head of Pipedream Alan Finlay and is manufactured in Taiwan from custom butted 4130 Crmo steel tubing, maintaining a similar silhouette to its Moxie MX3 hardtail little brother with the distinct lack of external gusseting that produces an extra clean aesthetic. Driving the shock is a CNC’d aluminum yoke, with a CNC’d shock mount bolted to the top of the top tube on the other end. The two sides of the rear triangle are tied together with another CNC’d aluminum part in the form of an X-brace, which is bolted in place in front of the seatube – a necessary piece to obtain the desired stiffness around the pivot and shock yoke whilst making frame assembly possible. This rear end will clear a 29×2.6” or 27.5×2.8” tire if chunky rubber is your thing, and the frame is Mullet compatible though this will alter the geometry. The main pivot uses a pair of chunky 6804 bearings, with the yoke seeing slightly smaller 6900 bearings – both are easy to source for replacement when the time comes. A replaceable derailleur hanger is present as you would expect, the headtube is a straight 44mm affair for use with a ZS44/EC44 headset, and cable routing is all external along the top of the down tube with the final portion of the dropper cable routed within the seat tube. The shock placement leaves no room within the front triangle for a conventional bottle, so the only provisions in place are on the underside of the downtube – an area I tend to avoid mounting a bottle to unless strictly necessary. A compact slide-in bottle design will squeeze inside the front triangle though for those who demand a bottle within the frame, so it is not impossible. The rear axle is the Boost 12x148mm standard; there is a mechanic-happy 73mm threaded bb; and a 160mm post mount rear brake with clearance for up to a 200mm rotor should you desire the stopping power.
Rear travel adjustment is possible with different shock stroke lengths, with a 62.5mm shock yielding 140mm or the tested 65mm stroke length producing 146mm at the wheel, and Pipedream suggests anywhere between a 140 and 160mm travel fork up front to accompany this, depending on the balance of agility and aggression desired. The long stroke length shock delivers a low average leverage ratio, which theoretically offers improved longevity and increased damper capability for longer descents, and there is a mild amount of progression on offer to make it both air and coil shock compatible. Anti-squat figures are moderate, with 115% percent at sag in the 32t rear cog, with an accompanying 115% anti-rise also.
Static geometry numbers on The Full Moxie take a lot of cues from what Pipedream has learned during the iterations of their Moxie hardtail, resulting in some decidedly modern numbers for an all-round machine in 2021. The Full Moxie is currently available in two sizes – Long and Longer – which span a suggested rider height range of 5’5”-6’3” (165-190cm). These frames both share the same 420mm length seat tube, so it is down to the rider to determine the reach number that suits them best. Shared between the two sizes are the 64-degree head angle; 77.5-degree effective seat angle; 20mm bb drop; 440mm chainstay and 602mm stack. The Long size tested featured a 470mm reach, whereas the Longer sports a lengthy 510mm figure for those with a preference towards stability, producing a 1250mm and 1290mm wheelbase, respectively. Pipedream suggests a stem length of 25-45mm, reducing the overall cockpit length compared with a longer option.
At present, Pipedream is only offering The Full Moxie as a frameset with a choice of three shocks: A Fox DPX2; DVO Jade-X coil shock; or the DVO Topaz T3 air unit tested. The bare frame comes in at £1499.99, and shocks are available at a discounted rate in addition to this, with the frame and DVO Topaz retailing at £1749.99. You can choose from three vivid colors: Orange, Blue and Pink (tested); all of which are available to purchase directly from the Pipedream website only.
Although I am a relatively tall guy at 6’2”, my preferences led me to requesting the shorter of the two options of The Full Moxie – the long size sporting a 470mm reach. This was equipped with a 45mm stem, and in my eyes was only slightly shorter than what I would consider optimal for general mountain biking. The 510mm reach figure on the longer size would represent the joint-longest bike I have tested, and my regularly frequented trails combined with my bike preferences negates the need for this kind of stability-enhancing length. Pipedream kindly supplied a full bike although they only sell the frameset, which was equipped with a DVO Diamond fork to accompany the Topaz T3 out back; featured a Shimano SLX 12spd groupset; some Pacenti wheels I hadn’t previously heard of; and some 2.6” Schwalbe Super Trail rubber. On my scales, the full build tipped the scales at 33.5lbs (15.2kg) without pedals, which is certainly on the portly side, but more understandable looking at the no-nonsense build, of which it would be sensible to suggest a few pounds could be knocked off if so desired. Inspecting the frame in the flesh, it all looks tidy and well put together, with no glaring defects in the paint nor welds, and nicely machined aluminum accoutrements that tie together the high-quality fabrication. And that color…it pops! A serious eye-catcher on the trails.
Hopping onto the Pipedream for the first time had me eager to raise the initially supplied 15mm rise bar higher than the steerer would allow for, due to the relatively low stack height that is produced by the 110mm headtube and 20mm bb drop combination. Thankfully a 38mm rise Nukeproof Horizon bar was supplied to me for testing at the same time, which left me in a more comfortable position. 270psi in the DVO Topaz out back gave my 95kg mass 30% of sag. The shock on this particular test bike required all of the rebound damping to be wound on, and still resulted in a rate that was slightly faster than I would have liked to have had the option for. Whether this was a nuance of this specific unit, or a general valving issue is not clear, but Pipedream indicated they had not experienced this with any customers previously. In the bladder I began with the recommended 200psi for my weight, and after some experimentation at slightly lower pressures, decided that the recommended value provided the best supportive feeling in the mid-stroke. In the DVO Diamond I opted for 135psi, at the upper end of my weight bracket in the recommended settings in the user manual. I opted to run the OTT cranked fully on to provide the most supple initial stroke, and settled on 4 rotations of HSC and the recommended 10 clicks of rebound from closed to produce a slightly faster setting that matched the highly active rear end. I would then tailor the 6-position LSC dial to the trail and conditions, opting to use position 2 or 3 for the majority of the time which yielded a nicely supportive platform from which to attack the terrain ahead. Airing up the 2.6” Magic Mary up front to 23psi, and the Gravity casing Kenda Pinner Pro I opted to fit in the rear to 24psi had me ready and raring to take The Full Moxie to the trail.
Pedaling the Full Moxie, the mild amount of Anti-squat keeps the 146mm travel rear end from feeling dreadfully soft, but the sensitive initial stroke of the DVO Topaz shock fitted in the rear was eager to prove exactly how sensitive it was, with some noticeable movement both seated and when stood on the pedals. Thankfully, the compression switch on the Topaz is easy to access, and a quick flick into the “traversing” mode on the T3 switch creates a firm, but not fully locked platform, that makes climbing pleasant on smoother terrain. The even firmer “climbing” setup leaves the rear end essentially fully locked, which is great on smooth dirt climbs or on the road, but certainly reduces seated comfort and rear wheel grip. When left in the “descending” mode, the rear end’s sensitivity leads to a healthy amount of grip, but it can become difficult to time pedal strokes in technical terrain due to the bb height dropping under dynamic movements. The climbing angles are comfortable, with the reasonably steep seat angle keeping a good amount of weight on the front wheel on all but the steepest, granny-ring demanding climbs.
On flatter sections of trail, it’s certainly nice to have the option to utilize the DVO’s “traversing” mode, which produces a more efficient platform to mash on the pedals and gives a bit more of a wall to push against to generate speed through pumping trail features, with additional agility produced by a higher dynamic position in the rear end that leads to a steeper head angle and higher bb. When left off, the slackened dynamic geometry offers increased stability, whilst the rear end is more reactive and smooths the trail. There are two very distinct personalities on offer at the flick of the switch, which is very useful for a varied ride. I found myself matching the fork to the rear end setting, flicking between position 2 and 3 of the LSC to maintain a balanced ride.
Taking The Full Moxie down some properly challenging terrain, there is no mistaking that this is an all-round machine. Whilst it is certainly capable of nearly any typical enduro style descent, it does not lose its trail-bike liveliness, and favors an active riding approach with some selective line choice, opposed to holding on tight and plowing through anything ahead. The 470mm reach and 440mm rear end is well balanced, with the 20mm bb drop and 30% sag giving a dynamic position that is still eager to pop and play on the trail. The front end will happily lift for a manual without too much of a fuss, yet there is enough weight on the front wheel to keep the steering from being too light in the flatter turns. A shorter rear end and higher bb would yield a further element of playfulness sure, but the figures present here strike a nice balance for an all-rounder. Riders seeking for a more stable and speed-seeking ride could of course size up to the “Longer” model, with a great increase in the spread between the wheels. When deciding which size to opt for, I would be wary of choosing this larger size unless you are of an appropriately gigantic size to justify it.
The 146mm of travel out back is well behaved, taking the sting out of the trail as you would expect without being overly eager to approach the bottom out bumper. The biggest hits do find their way to the end of the travel, and at times my ankles were made aware of this with the subtle knocking of the bottom out bumper, but this was only ever the case on the kind of hits where a bottom out seems inevitable. In the initial stroke the Topaz is effective in ironing out the chatter and hugs the terrain surprisingly well for what is otherwise a sporty feeling bike. Through successive big hits, or particularly big g-outs, there were times when the otherwise quite stable and planted pink machine would become a bit unsettled, nudging you to ease off the charge a touch to bring things back into The Full Moxie’s capability range. This was only felt on flat out downhill trails, for which I think the Pipedream can be forgiven, and it may have been a different story with a touch slower rebound. Under heavy braking it was a similar story, with the rear end feeling a touch firm and breaking traction at times when deploying the anchors hard. This falls a touch short of “all the courage and guts you could ever need”, but then perhaps the more stable demeanor of the longer frame (that Pipedream would recommend for me) and a slightly “calmer” suspension setup would bring things closer to fulfilling this namesake. There is no mistaking that The Full Moxie is a capable bike for its intended class.
As steel frames go, the Pipedream falls on the slightly stiffer end of the spectrum, providing quite a direct and connected feel with the trail opposed to generating the absolute most mechanical grip possible, which is quite in keeping with its all-rounder nature. The bike certainly feels active and peppy, but if this is a factor of the steel tubing or the suspension setup is hard to know for sure. Up at the yoke you can see a bit of lateral flex when pushing on the rear wheel when off the bike, but it is not particularly apparent when on the trail. Over the two-month test period, I checked the pivot bolts periodically expecting them to need cinching up as most do, but everything held tight without so much of a wobble or creak from the frame throughout. Popping the rear shock out, the rear end cycled very smoothly throughout its range of motion even after countless muddy rides and washes on a test bike that had come to me directly from another media outlet. The rear axle had a tendency to loosen from time to time, until I applied a dab of Loctite to the threads instead of grease, after which there were no further concerns. Cable routing is basic but purposeful, presenting no issues through the testing period. Mud clearance in the rear triangle was more than ample with the 2.4” rubber the bike was tested with, showing no signs of buildup in even the gloopiest conditions. The frame is generally quite open and easy to keep clean also, avoiding any particularly difficult areas to get in about with a brush.
At £1749.99 with a high-quality shock, The Full Moxie undercuts many of the competitors by a considerable margin. Though the tubeset does not have a fancy brand name to go with it, it is still a custom butted tubeset and as such could be considered of equal or perhaps even better quality than taking an off-the-shelf branded tubeset. It is hard to argue with the overall value on offer by the Pipedream here, and what’s even better is they’re in stock at the time of writing, which is especially rare in the current climate, and available to ship worldwide.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Pipedream’s first full suspension offering represents a great option in the trendy aggressive trail – light enduro category. The Full Moxie loves to crunch miles and claw its way up steep, chunky climbs; then offers a lively ride on the descent that is not afraid to get stuck into some seriously gnarly terrain. Prospective buyers should be careful in their choice between the two sizes, with a big gap in between that will yield very different handling bikes, but the beauty of the low seat tubes and long dropper compatibility means everyone can have this choice to tailor the bike according to their needs.
Price: – £1749 (Frame with DVO Topaz T3)
Frame: Custom butted, heat treated CrMo | 140mm – 146.3mm
Fork: DVO Diamond D1 | 160mm
Shock: DVO Topaz T3 Air
Brakes: Shimano SLX 4-Piston
Shifter: Shimano SLX 12-spd
Handlebar: Nukeproof Horizon Bar
Seatpost: OneUp Components V2 Dropper
Hubs: Pacenti PI30-END
Front tire: Schwalbe Magic Mary 29×2.6″
Rear tire: Schwalbe Hans Dampf 29×2.6″
Cranks: Shimano SLX
Derailleur: Shimano SLX 12-spd
True All Rounder
Not a light bike
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