Dean checks out an unusual boutique titanium drop bar soft tail all the way from the USA: the Moots Routt YBB.
- Brand: Moots
- Model: Routt YBB
- Price: £5700 (Frame and Fork)
- From: Moots / Saddleback
- Tested by: Dean Hersey
- Duration: 7 weeks
Images by Trail Creatives
Moots has been producing the highest quality bike frames and select components from their base deep in the Rocky Mountains since 1981. It was a few years later when they released to the world their first YBB (Why Be Beat) soft tail suspension frame and it became the brand’s signature model.
Ten years after they started, Moots took the decision to move from steel frames to the titanium that they swear by today. The brand is a true artisan bike company making some of the most sought after titanium bikes in the game. Offering a wealth of customisation with their bikes, if there is not a frame size to match your shape, you can even have it custom made to your specification and geometry.
Moots has a range that includes bikes for tarmac roads through to mountain bike trails; with the Routt YBB being part of the Moots gravel/CX family bikes holding the middle ground in between. This bike is beautifully finished from every angle. The frame finish is truly breathtaking; the welding on this bike is a work of art. I wouldn’t think twice about hanging this frame on the wall at home to just admire. It almost seems a shame to get it dirty (don’t worry it got a really good covering of winter mud).
The Moots frame colour is a classy etched matt titanium finish. You can expect a wide range of custom touches such as anodized logos and patterns complimenting the exclusivity, with a range of build options and the rarity of the bike ensuring that the chances of seeing another bike identical to yours are slim.
My usual gravel bike sports a full carbon fibre chassis and 650b wheels paired with 2.1 inch mountain bike tyres, so I was intrigued to see how a change in frame material and the combination of the soft tail with 700c wheels would stack up on my regular rides. Would the mix offer comfort at a detriment to speed? Are suspension frames for gravel riding a step too far? Is this a gimmick, a show pony and mantelpiece ornament?
Just like all bikes in the Moots line-up, the Routt YBB is made from premium titanium tubing. The tubes are seamless, meaning they are drawn as opposed to rolled and welded, thus ensuring the frame’s strength and the quality is of the highest level.
The tubeset is tacked together before being double pass welded to increase strength and also give the frame its alluring welds. The high grade titanium is cold worked and stress relieved (CWSR) tubing and features a varying wall thickness to produce the desired compliance and feel. The tubing wall is thinner in the middle of the length and thicker at each end. The frame also features internal butting tubes to keep the external diameter as large as possible whilst maintaining thin walls. These techniques ensure the material is worked to the correct dimension whilst also maximising the strength to weight ratio and enabling the ride characteristics of the bike to be tuned. The frame is backed up by a lifetime warranty against material defects.
Everything in the process (apart from the 3D printed dropouts and the carbon fork) is done in-house in their facility based in Steam Boat, Colorado. Moots adopted this technique for their dropouts so they can make the intricate part accurately and also strong enough to take flat mount disc brakes.
The Moots Gravel/CX carbon fork specced on this build offers plenty of clearance for 45mm tyres on a 700c wheel or 2.0 on 650b. Featuring a tapered steerer tube, a well executed internal routing and it is flat mount disc brake compatible. It also boasts a 12x100mm thru axle and a 47mm offset. Bang on the money for a modern gravel bike.
The classic clean lines of the tubing and styling of the bike enhances the aesthetics and provides a finish to match its price. The details are prevalent whatever area of the bike captures your gaze. The internal cable routing is very neatly executed. The frame features three bottle cage bosses, also eyelets for a mud guard and clearance for 45mm tyres. I really like the striking metallic green anodizing of the Moots logo against the matt frame colour. The craftsmanship of the hand painted headtube badge is the perfect complimenting touch.
What about the YBB suspension unit I hear you cry? Well this is a throwback to the suspension technology of yesteryear, but what isn’t broken and all that. The Routt YBB features a simple spring over elastomer setup with a bush that sits inside the frame offering around 20mm of undamped rear travel. There are no pivots or bearings to worry about. It comes apart easily in minutes and to service it just requires a simple clean. The YBB unit relies upon the engineered flex in the titanium chainstays to offer the rider a smooth and comfortable ride taming any gravel road buzz.
The components specced on this particular bike really showcase the highest quality that is on offer to do the beautiful frame the justice it deserves. The cockpit components and seat post are from Enve. The bars width measures up to 46cm mated to the 100mm carbon stem.
The standout parts on this build are the pairing of carbon Enve rims and Chris King hubs. These wheels not only look extremely flash but they are functionally light weight, roll very quickly and the pick up from the Chris King hubs is instantaneous. Importantly the rims and the hubs are backed up by a lifetime warranty.
Mounted to the Enve G23 rims were a pair of hip tan wall WTB Riddler tyres set up tubeless. At 37mm wide, the Riddler is narrow compared to what I run on my usual gravel bike, but the tyres are fast rolling and light weight, hinting at the speed that is poised and waiting to be unlocked from the Routt YBB.
The 1x 11 speed drivetrain and brakes are Shimano GRX items. On this bike the shifting is taken care of by the unflappable electronic DI2. The cassette 11-42t range combined with the 40t chainring up front was ample whilst off road. In addition to the standard levers this bike came equipped with a second GRX sub brake lever offering riders an alternative braking position from the tops of the handlebar.
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Moots Routt YBB Specification (as tested)
- Frame // Titanium 20mm travel
- Fork // Carbon Fork
- Shock // YBB unit
- Hubs // Chris King (centre lock)
- Rims // Enve G23
- Tyres // WTB Riddler (700c x 37) Tubeless
- Chainset // Shimano GRX 40T chainring
- Rear Mech // Shimano GRX DI2 11 speed
- Shifters // Shimano GRX DI2
- Cassette // Shimano XT 11-42T
- Brakes // Shimano GRX F160mm R140mm
- Stem // Enve Carbon 100mm
- Bars // Enve Carbon 46cm
- Grips // Enve bar tape
- Seatpost // Enve carbon 27.2mm
- Saddle // Brooks C15
- Size Tested // 56cm
- Sizes available // 50, 52, 54, 55, 56, 58 and 60cm
- Weight as tested // 9kg //19.8lbs