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by Iain Treloar
July 2, 2020
Photography by Moots
Revered US titanium frame brand Moots has announced revisions to its Routt gravel bikes, bringing them up to date with current trends. In many ways, the changes are what you’d expect to see on latest-release gravel bikes in 2020 – more tyre clearance, slacker geometry, and optimisations for current gearing standards. However, the brand has still arrived there with some interesting and alluring results, so let’s dive in.
The Routt range came into existence in 2014 as an evolution of the Psychlo-X cyclocross bike, and has developed an enthusiastic following in the years since – not least in the area around Steamboat Springs, in Routt County, Colorado, which has oodles of gravel roads waiting to explore.
Since the Routt’s introduction, the gravel market has exploded, meaning Moots has had to come to terms with changing disc brake standards, the transition from quick-release to thru axles, and ever-expanding tyre sizes. Up until last year, the Routt sat in a fairly safe middle ground, but with things continuing to shift in rowdier directions, it was time for an update.
Moots’ Routt range now straddles three distinct models. Topping the range is the Routt RSL, the brand’s premium offering designed for gravel racing, with butted tubing to keep weight down and fine-tune ride quality. Compared to its predecessor, the 2021 Routt RSL has increased tyre clearance, from 40 mm up to 45 mm, reflecting changing norms around gravel tyre width.
It features lovely 3D-printed dropouts and a seven-size stock range (with custom offerings available) and now has three water bottle mounts along with fender mounts. There are modest tweaks to geometry, with a slightly slacker head angle which – paired with the RSL’s somewhat longer top tube – plays nicely with a wider handlebar and slightly shorter stem.
Routt RSL framesets start at US$5,560, with complete bikes from US$8,501 (only US prices were available at the time of publishing, for all models).
The 2021 Moots Routt RSL.
The Routt 45, which entered the range as a wider-tyred Routt alternative capable of clearing 45 mm tyres has bumped its clearance up to 50 mm, but kept the name. Compared to the previous year’s model, the new Routt 45 keeps the same 437 mm chainstay length despite the added clearance, but opts for a slacker head angle and longer top tube. Compared to the previous fit, that should put most riders with a 10-20 mm shorter stem length, with Moots recommending a similar increase in handlebar width to get the rider into the ideal position.
Routt 45 framesets start at US$4,560, with complete bikes from US$7,501.
The 2021 Moots Routt 45.
Rounding out the revised range is the Routt YBB, which incorporates Moots’ long-standing 20 mm rear “micro-suspension” system into the wishbone at the top of the seatstays. YBB (which stands for ‘Why be beat?’, natch) was first introduced into the Colorado-based company’s range in the 1990s, and has found a renaissance with the advent of gravel.
Routt YBB framesets are available from US$4710, with complete bikes from US$7,651.
The 2021 Moots Routt YBB features the same front end as the Routt 45 …
… with the addition of this discreet, minimalistic rear suspension system.
Part of what’s driving the expanded tyre clearances across the board from Moots is the arrival of appropriately wide gear ranges from both SRAM and Shimano. The two brands have taken different approaches to get to this point, but they have converged in one important respect – their gravel gearing moves the chainline out, giving Moots space to shimmy the frame over to accommodate wider tyres without having to extend chainstay lengths.
Frames are designed around electronic or mechanical groupsets, with the buyer choosing at purchase how they’d like theirs built up. The entire Routt range is compatible with both 1x and 2x groupsets – as long as they’re Shimano GRX or SRAM Wide. Existing road-specific groups will no longer play with Routt framesets.
Otherwise, there’s a range of fancy anodised finishes available, as well as seven stock sizes for each model and the choice of custom geometry for an up-charge. All framesets are built by hand in Steamboat Springs and come with a lifetime warranty. And while they’re undoubtedly a premium product, there’s a certain austere beauty to a Moots that is hard to deny.
To find out more, visit Moots.com.