Moots Routt Titanium Adventure-Gravel Road Capable Bike Review

It may not be common knowledge, but Fit Werx has been a Moots dealer since our early days. For those of you who may not be familiar with this Moots, Moots has been making titanium bicycle frames in Steamboat Springs, CO, since 1981. Moots makes bicycles for road, mountain, cyclocross, gravel road, and they were pretty early to Fat Bikes too. All Moots frames are hand-made from U.S. made seamless, cold-worked, stress-relieved 3/2.5 titanium. Moots believes titanium to be the best material for bicycles frames – period. In fact, titanium is the only material that Moots builds frames for this reason. Moots makes custom-built frames, as well as stock geometry frames and the Moots Routt is their answer to the adventure/gravel road capable bike category.

Adventure/Gravel Road Bike

So what do I mean by an adventure/gravel road frame? Adventure road bikes are a fast-growing segment of the bike market and, considering there are so many gravel roads in Vermont, New Hampshire, NJ, NY, MA, we have sold a number of them in recent years. We prefer “adventure” to the common “gravel road” category name as “adventure” is by far the more apt descriptor of what this type of bike is capable of as they are far from dirt road only bikes.  As the name implies, “adventure bikeSRAM Rival 22 Hydro Caliper & Rotors” are designed to handle gravel and unpaved roads better than a regular road bike while still offering on strong pavement capability. For example, the vast majority of performance road bikes will not allow the use of a tire wider than 28mm (many won’t even go that wide). Of course once you leave paved roads a wider tire will be better at handling rough road surfaces, so riding is more comfortable and safer. In the case of the Moots Routt, the use of disc brakes and a tall span fork allows it to accept tires up to 34mm wide (the related Moots Routt 45 will accept up to a 45mm tire if you want wider). Yet, there is no reason why you cannot use 23mm or 25mm wide tires and ride the Moots Routt as a performance oriented bike on paved roads too. In fact, we have had more than a couple people buy a bike in the adventure bike/gravel grinder category with two sets of wheels (or just tires) and have the bike do double duty.

While they may look much alike, adventure road bikes are different from cyclocross bikes in a variety of ways. From a geometry perspective, a gravel road bike is a road bike geometry at its heart while a cyclocross bike is designed to work best on a cyclocross race course. For example, the bottom bracket on the gravel road bike is lower than a cyclocross bike so the bike has a lower center of gravity and is therefore more stable and confidence inspiring than a cross bike when on the road. Also, the geometry of many gravel road bikes is a bit more relaxed than a cross bike so that it is easier to handle and more comfortable and confidence inspiring on longer rides on the road (paved or unpaved).

Moots Routt – Lifetime Durability

The Moots Routt’s durability is insured by the full titanium construction; this is one bike that will have no trouble handling washboard roads or errant stones hitting the frame and there will never be any rust or corrosion here. Ti frames are all but indestructible, outside of running over them in your car or driving into your garage with the bike on the roof (we’ve seen a couple ti frames beat up garages pretty well and be just fine…). Furthermore, Moots goes the extra mile and welds the bottle cage bosses (instead of rivets like most) and uses the most durable construction methods possible as well. This type of attention to detail is part of what makes a Moots special as we have seen the cheap aluminum rivets used by many other builders come loose at times.

The standard Moots Routt frame is designed for use with disc brakes, either hydraulic or mechanical. However, if you prefer cantilever brakes, it can be ordered with cantilever brake mounts. In keeping with an ever increasing trend, the head tube is 44 mm in diameter, allowing for the use of a fork with a tapered steerer. Why? Well outside of a larger diameter steerer tube being torsionally stiffer than one of smaller diameter, the best fork on the market right now for this type of bike is the Enve CX and the Routt accommodates it quite well. This combination provides for more responsive handling than the standard non-tapered forks, with a more secure feel as well. Although not a huge selling point on a titanium frame, the rear derailleur hanger mounted to the comfortable and laterally stiff “Breezer style” dropouts is also replaceable. Again – details that make a difference.

Moots Routt BottSRAM Rival 22 Crank and Front Derailleurom Bracket

The stock Moots Routt frame comes standard with an “old school” threaded bottom bracket. Every mechanic I know prefers this type of design as compared to the newer designs, such as BB30, PF30, BBRight, BB86, BB90/BB95, BB386 EVO, PF86/92, and whatever else some manufacturer designed last week. My eyes start to glaze over at this plethora of “standards” – a misnomer if I ever heard one. All of these newer designs require that the bearings be pressed into the frame in one form or another. Imperfections in the manufacture of the frame will mean that the bearing does not fit tight with these press in designs, which can easily result in creaking, the bane of these new designs. The “old fashioned” threaded bottom bracket is rarely plagued by these problems to the same degree. However, if you prefer a BB30 design for its lightweight or over-sized shell and crank options, the bike can be ordered that way too.

Moots Routt Options

Moots offers many options for your frame, from pump pegs to fender mounts, so their bikes can be outfitted pretty much any way you want. For example, the Routt can be ordered with Moots’ unique YBB suspension rear triangle. While Moots YBB is not a full suspension type of shock absorber, such as you would find on a mountain bike, the passive Moots YBB, when combined with the controlled flex in the chain stays, effectively damps rear end impacts, a particularly useful trait when riding on rough, unpaved roads or trails. The bike can be built for use with a 12 X 142 rear thru axle (thru axles are standard for the ’16 season on the Moots Routt) and you can even have the bike constructed with S&S couplers. These couplers allow the bike frame itself to be taken apart so that the bike, wheels and all, can fit into a large suitcase, making it far easier to fly with your bike. Finally, internal cable routing for electronic shifting is also available. In other words, there are plenty of options available on the Moots Routt to make the bike as compromise free as possible for your use as possible.

Moots Routt Component Spec

A Moots Routt in a 56 cm frameset and weighs in at 1,570 grams. While not super light in today’s road bike world, but it not unreasonably heavy and the frame shows that Moots values ride quality and durability over just cutting weight at all costs.

One great thing about a “frame first” bike like the Moots Routt is that every part is rider matched to your specific riding position/fit needs and use. For the floor, we elected to build this Routt with SRAM Rival 22 HydroR road hydraulic disc brakes, and Boyd Altamont disc brake wheels to create a value oriented package that highlights durability, function and price. The cockpit of the bike consists of 3T Egronova Pro alloy bars with a 3T ARX Pro alloy stem, and Lizard Skin bar tape. Much has been written, by me and many others, about SRAM’s road hydraulic disc brake system, so I will not belabor the point. Simply stated, it works great. The shifting feel and performance of Rival Hyrdo22 is the same as SRAM Rival’s cable actuated road group while the hydraulic disc brakes are strong, with very good modulation, and requiring minimal effort for maximum braking force. While heavier, the brakes of the Rival Hydro 22 group work as well as the Force or Red level brakes while the Boyd Altamont disc wheels are a very good wheelset for their $700 price level. While we did not build this Moots Routt up with weight as being the focus, the Boyd Altamont are reasonably light for a wheel of this rim depth and price and have proved reliable and a strong value in their price range.

We also took the opportunity to use Moots’ great looking matching titanium stem and seatpost on our Routt with color matched anodization as they really go well with the rest of the build and Moots is nice enough to offer a discount when you get them with a frame.

The Moots Routt comes in either a custom built frame, or in one of seven standard sizes, from 50cm to 60cm. The range of available sizes allow finer tuning of the bike to the rider than many brands. Furthermore, Moots offers the option for a stock frame to be constructed with a 1cm higher head tube, offering even more fit options at no additional charge. Of course, the Moots Routt is also available as a custom frame that allows for compromise free geometry or to accommodate for unique needs.

Moots Routt – Isn’t Titanium Dead?

A change of gears – I remember a phone call a few years back, with the caller asking whether we thought titanium was dead as a bike frame material. I guess his idea was that carbon fiber was better, so why bother with titanium. After all, none of the “major” manufacturers offer a titanium bike. My answer was a definitive, “No”. Titanium remains an excellent material for bike frames as it is more about the application of the material more than the material itself and titanium can do things that carbon fiber has yet to achieve. A well designed titanium frame offers a quality of ride, a “feel”, that carbon cannot duplicate – a sort of liveliness, filtering large frequency road vibration and shock. The ride of titanium is similar to classic steel bikes, but at a notably lighter weight and no risk of rust and offering the durability and toughness that is unmatched. You may ask, “If titanium it such a great material, why don’t the major manufacturers offer ti bikes?” A fair question and deserving of an answer. It is much easier, and far cheaper, to pop a frame out of a carbon mold than it is to hire people skilled in welding titanium, stock an expensive material; buy and maintain the equipment necessary to cut, miter and butt titanium tubing; and build frames one by one, by hand. This makes titanium special. Titanium frames are the domain of the specialty builder and the bike rider who understands the potential benefits of looking beyond the mainstream.

The Moots Routt is truly a bike for all seasons. Throw on wheels with 23-25mm tires and it can serve as a lively and comfortable performance road bike, yet, with a change of wheels or tires, you can take this bike off the paved road onto the many, many unpaved roads we have here in Vermont. Heck, you could even ride it on your favorite rail trail or tackle moderate off-road/cyclocross-type riding and be very happy. All of this can come from this single, durable, confidence inspiring, and versatile frame. The Moots Routt proves that titanium is definitely far from dead and, like the carbon Parlee Chebacco, a great adventure bike is more about execution and application of a given material than the material itself.

Contact us to learn more about the Moots Routt and to schedule a Rider First Bike Fitting to get one rolling for you!

Fit Werx is an authorized Moots Dealer with locations in Waitsfield, VT, Peabody & Lexington , MA and Ridgefield Park, NJ (near NYC). Fit Werx is changing the way people buy bikes through their Rider First Bike Fittings and Rider Matched Bike Sales approach. Fit Werx offers production and custom bikes, cycling products, service and bicycle fitting services for new and existing bikes. We invite you to contact us and ask questions and to make sure that you have a bike fit in advance of buying a new bike. Using the information from a Fit Werx fitting will guarantee that you select a bike that fits your individual needs as well as possible.

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