Now onto part 2 of the Boo RS-M review. If you missed it, part 1 got into the background of Boo Cycles, and their use of bamboo as a frame material. Let’s get all the fluff and nonsense out of the way, for the cost (approx $ 3500) of the frame, it better be a great fucking ride. Tack on the premium ENVE hoops, a XX1 drivetrain, plenty of other high end parts, and its not long before the bike costs as much as a decent used car. Not long into my first ride, the bike passed the initial “sniff test”, and I was looking forward to spending more time riding it. This was my first time on a Lefty fork, and after the first few turns and bumps I was a fan. I never really thought about it unless I was locking or unlocking it, which . The XX1 drivetrain offered up enough gears for the Front Range, and the Enve hoops kept a turnin’ without issue. It’s a decent assumption that if you are building up a Boo bike you have some coin, so you can spec it out to your liking. With that said I’ll focus on the frame.
When picking up the RS-M I was told that the bike would be very stable when descending at high speed. Heading down the first descent on the maiden voyage I forgot about the breaks and let gravity be my friend. Nothing too gnarly as it was February and plenty of trails had snow on them, but once I had the RS-M up to “top speed” it felt very stable (compared to my aluminum hardtail), tempting me to descend at speeds that were beyond my ability. One could argue that’s a bad thing, but since I never ate it while riding I’m going to call that a good thing. I was also told this bike was made to be “railed when cornering”, but I guess I wasn’t taking corners as fast as I could have (I’ve never been one for “railing”) to notice a difference compared to my other mountain bikes.
As previously discussed this bike is a bit heavy due to the bamboo, but the complete bike is still pretty damn light. I never felt that my climbing was hindered by the added weight of the frame. As is the always the case with riding bikes up hills, the major factors in how fast you go are the strength of your legs and the size of your ass and gut. On a longer day in the saddle with lots of climbing, pushing that extra weight may add up and slow you down, but that is why they invented 42 tooth rear cogs.
According to Boo a benefit of the bamboo frame was how forgiving is, which I think worked to my advantage while riding it. When I first got the RS-M, I had been dealing with some lower back issues. The pain was bad enough that I had been told to take a couple weeks off the bike, and once I got back to riding to take it easy. When I started to ride again (on the RS-M), I noticed that my back issues (pain, tightness, etc) did not manifest themselves during a 1-2 hour ride. Whether or not that was related to a couple weeks off the bike to heal, new stretches I had incorporated into my daily routine, or the bamboo taking a bit of the harshness out of the ride is up for debate. I think it was a combination of all three, but the bamboo probably played a part, so thats a win in my book for the bamboo.
The RS-M rides great (as expected), but the biggest gut check for the frame is the price. Any custom frame is going to cost you a pretty penny, and the RS-M will set you back 350000 of said shiny pennies. The price, while tough to swallow, might be justified after considering the amount of time and effort that not only goes into the bamboo to make the frame, but the construction of each frame. As Jacob previously, their frames are like a fine whiskey that takes time to craft, and time equals money
It seems that one of the easiest things to be done when talking about cycling related products, is to trash the latest and greatest disgustingly expensive bike, frame, part, clothing, etc (we do it here plenty). Personally, I think great products take time to develop and build, and therefore will cost more. That high cost for a quality product can be justified. Conversely, something that is expensive because it is bright, shiny, and new; but isn’t worth a shit is a colossal waste. These are the products that should be trashed by the masses. In short, a quality expensive item is cool, an overpriced item royally sucks. That is the approach I’m taking, and think that quality of the material, craftsmanship, design, and production of the RS-M, can allow someone to justify dropping that kind of coin on the frame. Also, if someone has the kind of dough to buy a Boo, they probably have plenty of disposable income and don’t want me to tell them how to spend their money.by
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3500 clams? Bamboozled.
You really kept riding a frame with “breaks”?
Have a buddy who was corresponding with these guys, seemed to be a hyper speed level of marketing rhetoric coming out of that place, good product or not, thats a turn off for me (not that they care). Thinking of the “railing corners” comments etc….
Fuck a $3,5000 bamboo frame. You could get such a nice steel frame. It would be custom built just for you, and it would last and last.
I saved up and bought a Boo RS-X cross bike. It took me a while to gather the coin but I’m being totally honest when I say it was worth it. I am one who sees through bullshit and does not fall for marketing hoopla and thus my interest was more related to the actual craftsmanship and performance of the frame, the characteristics of the material, whether my lower back could benefit from the dampening abilities of both the materials and how they are optimized in the frame design, and how the thing rode in a test ride, which I had the chance to do before I committed to buying it.
In short, I’ll say that I absolutely love the bike! The ride quality is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. It is really stiff and efficient but buttery smooth. I am railing shit on it that had me bouncing all over the place on my other cross bikes (aluminum and carbon frames). The bamboo absorbs a lot of chatter and keeps the rear wheel planted and the front end just feels more stable than other bikes I’ve ridden.
To put the price issue into perspective – a top end Specialized Crux frame and fork is the same price as a Boo frame and fork (3500 bucks) so it’s not any more expensive than a top end frameset from mass production manufacturers. I’ll admit however that this is a comparison of top end frames, which are by their very nature quite expensive. Still, the point is that with a Boo (and other premium hand built frames) you are buying craftsmanship and quality. The other factor to consider is warranty. Boo offers lifetime. Mass produced frames from the big companies come with basically no warranty.
I don’t mean to be long winded but just wanted to put out there that I took a year of detailed research, test riding and communicating with companies and frame builders before deciding on a Boo and for me personally I feel like I got a really good product. I’ve been really pleased so far and can safely say that I feel a real qualitative difference in the performance of my Boo compared to other bikes I’ve ridden and tried. My Boo kicks arse.
I’ll admit it…..I’d be afraid to ride a bike that pricey. I was happy(still am once in a while) with my ’99 Cannondale M400 mtn bike. 600 bucks and still rolling all these years later.
“On a longer day in the saddle with lots of climbing, pushing that extra weight may add up and slow you down, but that is why they invented 42 tooth rear cogs.” No, they invented 42 tooth rear cogs because they couldn’t figure out how to get a front derailleur to work…
Hey All–I started and own Boo Bicycles. I appreciate your time spent reading this article. DC is a great, they don’t BS, and this is why we gave them our top bike to thrash.
I didn’t start Boo as a novelty–I have a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton and simply wouldn’t do something if I didn’t believe it was technologically superior. Bamboo’s properties are unlike any other material currently used to build bike frames, and while they’ll never be built into 700g über-light carbon wunderbikes, I personally believe their advantages greatly outweigh this fact.
They’re not cheap because they’re SUPER F*CKING HARD TO MAKE. We don’t pump these out of a mold, and we don’t buy tubing from a freaking catalog. WE GROW IT OURSELVES. It’s so unbelievably difficult that no other company on earth makes a bamboo bike that holds a candle to ours. Sorry, that’s the truth, and honestly it would help our cause significantly if someone actually had the skill and investment to make something that competed with us.
This is all to say: I’m not against spending $2000 for a sweet custom steel frame. I think steel is sweet, and provides a lot of the lively ride quality that our bikes do. But they’re heavier and not as stiff. So yeah, if you’re in the market for a $10,000 bike, look at ours. Even a $6,000 bike. But if you’re not, then do knock us for how expensive our bike is. And also knock every single other bike that’s over $6,000. And while you’re at it, knock every car that is more than $30,000. And every house that is over $200,000. Because yes, in this life, you can just be frugal / cheap / stingy / poor. But if you’re not, consider getting a Boo, because it’s an incredible performance bike and a great investment that will last much longer than many other “top end bikes” out there.
And thanks, Chris–you’re a great customer, although not unique in your sentiments :) If anyone wants to call me to discuss / argue / heckle, please do so: (970) 444-2228. I welcome all naysayers because I absolutely believe in bamboo as a frame material, and have the experience both in engineering and professional racing to back up my opinion…and yes, in the end, it’s just my opinion and we’re all entitled to them.
93 Fisher HooKoo. $100 used.
76 Raleigh Supercourse. Bought for $75 dollars, converted to fix with track cog and redish/respace.
Surly Crosscheck frame, $400, built over and over in any way one could imagine with parts on hand.
2003 Redline Monocog, bought new. $400. Riders like it’s wired directly to my brain.
2004 Honda Element. Bought it new, turned a quarter million miles last month, Still runs like a Swiss watch.
House built in 1903. Bought in 1993 for 64, 900. Very comfortable, very happy, raised our kid in these four walls and wouldn’t trade it for a mansion.
None of these were bought because I was “frugal/cheap/stingy/poor”, but because they fit my/our needs as if they were custom made.
Not that I judge folks by what they own. Oh no. But I tend to look pretty closely at what owns them.
I have no issues with nice bikes, bikes that cost a bit (though I do have a BS line that the big boys have started to cross with their $15K + units) nor do I have an issue with bamboo, I think anyone who wants to push the limits and try new stuff should go for it.
I don’t like hyper marketing though, it’s a massive turn off, and in all honesty, you’d be well served to getting back to building bikes, running the company and growing bamboo. Let someone else with a bit less personal investment, and a bit more calm communication style, be the public face.
Right now, it feels like you’re standing in the room screaming, you should love me, everyone should love me, my bikes are so much more betterer than anything else out there if you’d just believe me when I tell you how awesome they are, so love me now dammit!!!!!!!
Just comments from a guy in the trenches building his own brand, one day, one fork, and one customer at a time.
Nice bikes though, from what I hear, so you got that going for you…..
This design if recent, may have been from a home built on the web page Instructibles, where you may get advice on building coffee tables and stuff there. It is a nice site too,.Nothing to add really but in response to the quote meant ” to rail” I think that could be for training every day, why it’s light, why the good component group. lol
The price is too hight.