Moda's Molto Gravel offers some big tyre clearances and geometry that works well on loose surfaces, and those things make it a very capable winter road bike too. This bling build makes the Molto a high-end addition to the best commuter bikes out there.
Technically the Molto is a gravel bike, but thanks to Moda's willingness to a build to the spec you wish, you can also go down the winter road route, as many customers do. That is why the build you see here is running a road grouspet, slick tyres and full mudguards.
> Buy the Molto Gravel from Moda now from £3,019
Don't worry though, we switched those slicks for knobbly tyres and left the fenders on the workshop floor for a bit of gravel action too.
With these slicks the Molta feels very much like a road bike on the tarmac. There is no whiff of compromise, it is just a very nicely balanced machine with a huge amount of stability and confidence when the road surfaces aren't at their best.
The tube lengths and angles puts you in a neutral position: there is enough reach to the handlebar that you aren't putting too much weight on the saddle, and the front end is low enough to get you out of the wind, but not by so much you find yourself in a full-on race position.
The Molto turns in nicely thanks to the balanced handling. It's responsive enough for the majority of situations, but it is far from quick or twitchy.
In the real world it's only on really fast sections or technical downhills that you are going to notice the lack of speed and precision in the front end compared to a race bike. And you're not going to need either on the grotty roads of winter, or when filtering your way through the traffic on a commute.
I found the Molto really easy to live with. It's one of those bikes that you can ride for a lot of miles without really paying much attention to what's going on.
There is enough feedback coming through the carbon frame and fork to ward off any surprises, but on longer rides it allowed me to switch off to what the bike was up to, leaving me to just focus on the road ahead and the scenery.
On the days where I was cramming in a quick lunchtime blast the Molto was still fun to ride. At just over 9kg with the mudguards fitted and 32mm tyres, it still feels sprightly enough to stick in a few efforts, and the stiffness means that out of the saddle efforts are rewarded with a bit of get up and go.
As the roads got wetter and muddier the Molto showed its composure when descending, tackling tight corners or being banked over on roundabouts. The fork transmits plenty of feedback from the tyres, so I always had a feeling of reassurance as to how much grip I had.
The Molto's ride quality is decent. It's not the most cosseting frameset I've ever ridden, but thanks to the size of the tyres it can fit, it's easy to offset that by running big rubber at lower pressures.
Even with the tyres at my preferred high pressures for roads, I found the Molto offered decent levels of comfort, not once feeling battered around on even the roughest of roads.
> Best gravel bikes 2022 – adventure-ready rides for leaving the tarmac behind
As a road bike it rides very well, and I'd highly recommend it for year-round use for all kinds of riding. It doesn't need mudguards or huge tyres to feel at home.
Drop down to something like a 28mm tyre and ditch any unnecessary accessories and you have a bike that easily delivers a comfortable, speed-focused ride for everyone but a racer or die-hard descender.
> Heading off road
Switch the tyres and head offroad and you find the Molto transfers a lot of those positive characteristics.
Even on loose gravel the Moda doesn't feel out of control or flustered. That neutral handling, although feeling a little quicker on less smooth surfaces, still feels hugely controllable.
This allowed me to attack hard-packed gravel and smooth-rolling chalk or grass parts of my favourite trail with gusto, and even if the rear tyre was to break traction it felt easy to bring everything back under control without scrubbing off too much speed thanks to the feedback.
With plenty of mounting points I loaded the Molta up with some bags and kit and headed off around my favourite off-road test loop. Being able to easily accommodate a set of 45mm Schwalbe G-One Bite Evolution Line tyres, the Molto hangs on to that confident and stable feel that was evident on the road.
It's a fairly lumpy route with some steep descents which due to the colour of the gravel hide some hidden potholes. You certainly need your wits about you and here I found the Moda to be great having great flickability around any potholes, and it also felt lighter than expected which meant I could easily bunny-hop it over any holes that appeared that I couldn't dodge in time.
If you want to seriously load up and head off on an adventure, or at the other extreme tackle really rough sections, the Molto might not be the best choice due to the road-esque geometry. For those kinds of shenanigans, you might want something with even bigger tyre clearance and slacker geometry. Saying that, we are talking the extremes here of probably what a gravel bike is capable of.
Whatever the surface though, I found the Molto a fun and positive bike to ride giving a balance of speed and edginess when you want it. If you don't, it still manages to be fun, but in a more controlled manner.
Frame and fork
The Molto uses a full carbon frame and fork, which in this 54cm size has a claimed weight of 1,200g (+/-40g) and a 520g fork weight.
In my eyes it's a good-looking frameset, and I'm a fan of both the Nardo Grey and this Teal option, which looks deep and luxurious. It's certainly tough, as the abuse of the gravel trails have left no impact.
On a gravel bike, probably one of those most important features is tyre size, and the Molto doesn't scrimp on clearance. Moda says 45mm to 50mm depending on brand and how pronounced the tread is.
As I said, I rode the Molto with the 45mm Schwalbes, and with their shallow tread there was still plenty of clearance front and back.
As you can see from the pics there are obviously mounts for full mudguards, and you can fit a rear rack too. Moda also includes mounts on the top tube for a bento bag, 'Anything' mounts on each fork leg and three bolt holes for adjusting the down tube bottle cage around bags.
All cabling and hosing is run internally for a smooth look, and that also makes fitting bags easier.
If you are using a mechanical gearing system the cables enter the top of the down tube, or if you aren't a blanking plate seals the frame.
Other neat touches are the dropped drive-side chainstay which improves clearance between the tyre and chainring, plus the curved seatstays designed for a bit of compliance.
Moda has selected a press-fit option for the bottom bracket, which may make some people wince considering their early tendencies to creak if poor tolerances allowed water ingress. In their defence though, over the last few years I haven't had any issues personally with test bikes running press-fit bottom brackets.
Everything else is as you'd expect, with 12mm thru-axles front and rear and with flat mounts for the calipers.
The Molto comes in five sizes, with the XS having a top tube of 520mm and the XL with a 580mm top tube. For the 54cm the top tube is 555mm long, paired with a 540mm seat tube and a 150mm-tall head tube. Stack and reach figures are 577mm and 374mm respectively.
The head angle is 71.5°, and the seat is 73°. The wheelbase is a reassuring 1,025mm, which brings stability on dodgy surfaces. The chainstay length is 435mm and the fork offset is 50mm.
Moda offers a selection of build options, kicking off with Shimano's mechanical 11-speed 105 groupset and Mavic Allroad wheels, a version which will set you back £3,019. Going for a GRX build ups that to £3,289.
You can upgrade things like wheels too, and should you want anything specific you can contact Moda to discuss your options. If you want to build your own bike from scratch, then a frameset can be had for £,1549.
Our test model came with 105 Di2, Shimano's latest electronic groupset. I've reviewed the groupset in detail already, and from a performance point of view it really can't be faulted.
The shifting speed is near identical to the Ultegra Di2 R8179 groupset which sits above, and the braking performance is great too.
As a standalone groupset I was critical of its price as it is no longer as much a 'for the people' option as it once was, but it doesn't seem to have pushed up full bike prices.
Anyway, it was a welcome addition to the Molto, meaning that shifts were quick and easy in gloved hands, and nothing was affected by the road spray or grit from the gravel rides.
If you are going to be using the Molto as a full-on gravel ride, you'll probably be better served by the GRX offering, which has smaller chainring sizes than the road-biased 105 chainsets.
Our build also came with Spinergy GX alloy wheels, which have 20mm-deep alloy rims that are 24mm wide internally.
The spokes are PBO, meaning each one (24 per wheel) is made up of 30,000 strands of Polyphenylene Bensobisoxazole fibre. Spinergy says this creates a lighter, stronger wheel, and they're famed for their plush ride quality in comparison to metal. I wouldn't say it makes a huge difference to the ride quality overall, but they certainly don't lack when it comes to stiffness.
The tubeless rims worked really well with the 32mm road tyres fitted, and they'll happily accept anything up to 54mm.
The Continental Grandsport Extra tyres fitted were ideal for the conditions the Molto saw, with a balance of grip in the wet and dry, lowish rolling resistance and impressive durability. I covered about 400 miles on them in all sorts of weather and they didn't miss a beat.
The rest of the build is supplied by various people; Deda for the handlebar and stem, a Moda-branded carbon seatpost and a Selle Italia saddle.
Our build here costs £4,313 with the upgrades, or £3,729 with the Di2 105 groupset but the default Mavic Allroad wheelset.
That's up against some tough opposition from the likes of Orro with the Terra C that Dave recently reviewed. It's £2,999.99 with Fulcrum Rapid Red 900 DB wheels and a 105 Di2 groupset.
Something like Trek's Checkpoint SL 5 will set you back £3,700, though. You get a carbon frame and fork, clearance for 45mm tyres and loads of mounts, including for mudguards and a rack. That price includes a mechanical GRX groupset too.
Giant's Revolt is a race-orientated gravel bike range that works well on the road, although the heavily-dropped seatstays mean the frame doesn't lend itself well to off-the-shelf full mudguards for winter roads.
The Revolts offer similar tyre clearances and the Advanced 1 comes with a SRAM Rival eTap groupset (on a similar level to 105 Di2) and alloy wheels for £3,399.
There is some stiff competition out there when it comes to pricing, especially from the likes of Orro, but what Moda delivers here is a high-quality frameset, both in its finish and its ride. It's a very versatile bike too. The geometry and tyre clearance mean that it sits right on the line between road and gravel without, it seems, sufffering any real compromises.
Hugely versatile bike that works just as well on the road as it does on gravel
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Make and model: Moda Molto Gravel Shimano 105 Di2
Size tested: Medium, 55cm
List the components used to build up the bike.
Groupset: Shimano 105 R7100 Di2
Chainset Size: 50/34T
Rotors: 160mm F/R
Wheelset: Spinergy GX Alloy
Tyres: Continental GrandSport Extra 32mm
Saddle: Selle Italia Short Fit Model X
Handlebar: Deda Zero 1
Stem: Deda Zero 1
Seatpost: Moda Carbon
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Moda says, "The Molto gravel bike is both agile, diverse and VERY capable of the most demanding conditions. It's at home on both road and tricky gravel trails, the full carbon frame and forks ensure a responsive and lightweight feel to the ride.
With an extended wheelbase, dropped chainstay and a NEW 2022 clearance for up to 45-50mm tyres. With 12mm thru axles and flat mount disc brakes it guarantees stability and confidence under braking. Mudguards and pannier mounts allow you to ride any distance anywhere at any time, this truly is an all-round bike designed with adventure in mind."
It is a very versatile bike that works well on the road and on the gravel.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
With a 105 Di2 groupset this model sits at the top of the range, with the rest of the models using Shimano's mechanical groupsets. Moda do offer plenty of customisable options though.
Overall rating for frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
A very well built and finished frame.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Both the frame and fork are unidirectional carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is a balance of endurance road and gravel, as you can see by the figures mentioned in the main review.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack and reach figures are typical of a bike of this type.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The Molto has a firm ride, but one that is comfortable on and off-road.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness isn't a problem at all, especially around the bottom bracket where it can handle hard efforts with ease.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
The stiffness and the way the Molto feels lighter than the scales say mean it does feel efficient.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
With the mudguards fitted there was a small amount of overlap.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
On the road the Molto has neutral handling, which makes it easy to ride quickly even on wet or poor surfaces. With the loose surfaces off road it feels a bit quicker, but it never becomes a handful.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The Spinergy wheels felt comfortable; how much is down to the PBO spokes is hard to quantify, though.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Deda handlebar and stem are definitely stiff enough if you are riding out of the saddle.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
On the road the Continental tyres roll well considering their size, and grip well even in the wet to allow you to keep your pace up.
Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
Rate the bike for acceleration:
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Rate the bike for high speed stability:
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Rate the bike for climbing:
Rate the drivetrain for performance:
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Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The 105 Di2 groupset offers great shifting and braking performance.
Rate the wheels for performance:
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Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
The Spinergy wheels are a decent weight and stood up to plenty of abuse during testing.
Rate the tyres for performance:
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Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Good all-rounders for taking on UK weather.
Rate the controls for performance:
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Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
A good set of components that work well and won't require any upgrades in a hurry.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Orro (see review) offers great value for money, although the Molto holds its own against bigger brands like Trek.
Rate the bike overall for performance:
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Use this box to explain your overall score
The Molto is a fun and forgiving bike to ride, but still challenging enough for experienced riders. I've gone for a 7 purely because of the cost compared to something like the Orro (which scored an 8). Everywhere else though the Moda scores highly.
Age: 44 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
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