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This Custom Mosaic RT-1 Is a Beautiful Mystery

A mysterious beauty winked at me from across the TPC warehouse. I had to know more about this Mosaic RT-1. Who rode it? Where? Why? The more I tried to understand, the less I realized I knew.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Bikes

I love well-painted titanium bikes. They tick all the right boxes: tough, light, beautiful, and potentially immortal. So of course, this matte pearl metallic blue Mosaic RT-1 immediately caught my eye. One of Mosaic’s hallmarks is its beautiful custom paint, which is all done in-house by Spectrum Paint & Powder Works. 

We’re all big fans of Mosaic here at TPC. The founder, Aaron Barcheck, used to work here in the early days. When he started Mosaic, we shared neighboring warehouses in North Boulder. He’s built beautiful bespoke titanium bikes for TPC and custom bikes for our founder, Nick Martin, and a few TPC employees ride Mosaics as their daily drivers.

Mosaic headbadge

It’s been so cool to see Mosaic go from our scrappy friend and neighbor to one of the most sought-after and respected bike builders in the country. 

However, as I was admiring this bike, I did notice a few build choices by the previous owner that made my imagination run wild. This is a fun game I like to play with used bikes — what does the build tell you about where this bike came from and who rode it?

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What’s in a Frame?

Mosaic knockout bike paint

The RT-1 is Mosaic’s flagship road bike. It’s built from oversized straight gauge titanium tubes that are thin-walled and internally double-butted. Every RT-1 is bespoke, with custom geometry and paint. It’s been painted in Mosaic’s “Knockout” finish which features a raw titanium logo that is "knocked out" from a coat of matte pearl metallic paint.

Mosaic build

This RT-1 is a 56cm, built with a 565 mm ETT and 73-degree head and seat angle. The complete build with a SRAM Force AXS 1x drivetrain and HUNT 44 Aerodynamicist carbon wheels weighs in at 17 lbs 3 oz. 

Mosaic custom logos

Obviously, the paint is very pretty and it’s the first thing people notice. The next thing that catches the eyes is the custom knockout graphic on the top tube: “SCAD+M.” I have no clue what this means. 

When I see “SCAD” I immediately think of Savannah College of Art and Design. SCAD even has a cycling team, so that was my first thought, but based on the shipping label that came with the bike, it came from Texas. It isn’t proof that this bike doesn’t have some relation to Savannah, Georgia, but what’s “+M?” Maybe a clever reader knows?

Lightning bolt Mosaic bike

There is also a bead-blasted lightning bolt on the seat tube. Why? Seriously... why? It looks cool but what does it mean? This particular bolt is styled with two pointed ends, like an emoji. Or is does it mean "high-voltage?"

It’s fun to ponder the possibilities. If I really wanted to know the truth, I could hunt down the previous owner and ask, but that’s not something I’m willing to do. Some basic Google-fu turned up nothing super compelling. This is a mystery I’ll leave to some real internet sleuths. Perhaps, only the original owner knows the truth. 

A Build for Particular Tastes

Two things stood out to me about this particular RT-1 build:

  • The Force AXS 1x drivetrain combines a 40t chainring with a 10-28t cassette. Can you climb a steep hill using that? I’d certainly struggle.
  • The brakes are Growtac Equal mechanical disc brakes. I don’t see mechanical disc brakes very often these days, and I rarely see them on frames this fancy. 
SRAM AXS 1x drivetrain road bike

Let’s talk about that drivetrain first. This is the same gearing I used on my cyclocross bike… back in 2016. Will it work on a pure road bike? Sure. But it’s pretty limited. I’m probably the world’s biggest fan of 1x road bikes, but for me, this isn’t it. 

A rider who has the taste and budget for a custom titanium Mosaic likely knows exactly what they want from a bike. Just look at the crankset. This is a 56cm frame equipped with short and stubby 165mm crank arms — a super progressive choice. It also has a power meter and an oval chainring. This bike clearly belonged to someone interested in customizing their setup for their particular needs. 

The previous owner probably set up this drivetrain to perfectly match their local terrain. As I said, the bike was shipped to us from Texas. Are there massive alpine climbs in Texas? No. I imagine more rolling terrain, the occasional punchy kicker, and long windswept flats. The 12-speed 10-28t cassette keeps the gearing tight, and the 40t chainring is likely just right for terrain that never gets super steep. 

MAYBE it’s made to be ridden in a city. I think the gearing would actually make a lot of sense in an urban environment. Austin perhaps? It’s pretty flat and there’s a great cycling scene there. 

Growtac Equal disc brakes

Then there’s the brakes. Growtac is a Japanese company, and as far as I can tell, the only other products they make are indoor rollers, hardware, and some apparel. Their marketing copy suggests that the Equal mechanical disc brakes are among “the best in the world for braking power and lightness.” The calipers are beautifully machined from “duralumin” (an alloy of aluminum) and weigh 136 grams each with pads. They also come with very nice and very stiff compressionless cable housing and the calipers also offer a clever leverage adjustment function. 

Are these Equal brakes cool? Yeah, definitely! Are they powerful? I mean… sure, they’ll stop you pretty well. But no mechanical disc brake can match the power of a hydraulic disc brake. On our test track, they did feel pretty good. Good enough to justify their $365.00 price? Eh, I’d just get TRP Spyres, but Spyres aren’t as cool. These high-end Growtac calipers certainly fit a Mosaic frame a lot better. 

Why choose mechanical for this build though? With calipers this expensive, you’re not really saving much money. But some riders prefer mechanical to hydraulic disc brakes because they’re simpler and easier to service. I have another theory though: the shifter hoods. 

RED AXS mech shifter hoods

Pickier riders often dislike the chunky shape of SRAM’s hydraulic shifters. Sleeker hoods were probably the most anticipated design change of SRAM’s latest Red AXS and Force AXS groups. Before these were released, if you hated the old hydraulic hoods but wanted wireless AXS shifting, then mechanical disc brakes were a potential solution. 

The mechanical Red AXS shifters are super sleek compared to their hydraulic counterparts. They’re old-school. In fact, I’m so used to the chunkier hydro levers, that I found the hoods on this bike felt shockingly small in my average-sized hands. That’s just what some people want.

There’s a Bike for Everyone

[product-block handle="7903303434432-mosaic-rt-1-disc-road-bike-2021-56cm"/]

After getting it photographed, I decided to display this RT-1 in our retail store. It’s the type of bike that stops traffic, so I thought it would be perfect near the entrance where customers could admire it as they walked in. 

Sigh, what a waste of time. This bike didn’t last long! As with many of the bikes I feature, someone found it as beautiful or exciting as I did and bought it while I was writing a post about it. Oh well. 

Where is this RT-1 going? I have no clue. I’m not privy to that info. I like to think someone fell in love with the color like I did. If they live somewhere flat, this build might already be perfect. If not, well AXS makes it super easy to pop a front derailleur and double chainrings on. This RT-1 can become whatever it wants. Fly free you pretty blue thing. Your secrets belong to someone else now. 

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