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From Inside Peloton: Moots Routt

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Categories: Bike brands love them because they sell more bikes. You need to have a race bike, but should it be an aero bike or a climbing bike? Why not get both! Of course, you need a ’cross bike, which is different from a gravel bike, and what exactly is an adventure bike? Rain bike? Commuter? Don’t forget an endurance bike!

This is where the term “mixed surface” comes in, and Moots has embraced it with the new Routt. Named for Routt County in Colorado—home to Steamboat Springs, Moots’ HQ, and incredible riding on and off the pavement—the Routt is intended to be a one-bike quiver. At home on gravel, dirt, long road rides and the ’cross course, there are few places the Routt cannot go.

Price: $3,895 (disc frame and Enve fork)
Weight: 20 lbs (58cm)
Specification: ENVE CX fork, Shimano Ultegra 6800, CX75 brakes, Moots stem and post, fi’zi:k Cyrano R3 bars and Aliante saddle, DT SwissR520 wheels. Tested with multiple tires
More: moots.com

The Details
To call the Routt a completely new bike it not accurate. The original Psychlo X ’cross rocket may not be its identical twin, but they share a lot of DNA. This begins with materials, U.S.-made seamless 3/2.5Ti, and construction. We could bend your ear with tales of gorgeous welds and the obsessive attention to detail, but let’s just agree that the Moots head badge says all of that already. Both bikes have stout 44mm head tubes for stiff front ends and compatibility with tapered steer tubes, they feature external cables with ’cross-friendly routing, and they share rear ends—monostay seat stay, 423mm chain stays and 34mm tire clearance.

The differences are subtle and aimed at giving the rider a position and stability that’s intended to keep things rolling when the surface is, well, mixed. The geometry is more traditionally endurance, with a taller head tube and shorter reach putting more weight back in the saddle. The Routt’s bottom-bracket drop is almost a full centimeter lower than the Psychlo X RSL. The Routt also gets a slender 27.2mm seat post for more compliance and a disc-brake option, which is really mandatory for a bike seeking this kind of versatility.

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Another nice touch in the name of trouble-free fun is the threaded bottom bracket. Call us old cranks, but any weight or stiffness gains a press-fit bottom bracket delivers evaporate when it inevitably starts creaking.

Moots only sells frames, so the build is up to you. Our test bike came with mechanical Ultegra, ENVE CX fork, cable-actuated Shimano CX75 calipers, Moots stem and post and DT Swiss R520 wheels—and it tipped the scales at XX pounds for our 58cm. With the Routt’s ability to blaze new trails, we’d opt for the increased stopping performance of hydraulic.

The Routt and its mixed-surface intentions might be a mixed blessing for Moots. If the firm has been truly successful, the casual racer, weekend dirt rider and occasional fondo entrant may have just found a single bike that can happily take care of all their needs for the rest of their lives. With titanium’s longevity and Moots build quality, a Routt rider may never “need” a new bike.

The Ride
The overwhelming takeaway for us on the Routt was, don’t be fooled by the lower bottom bracket and more relaxed position. These things are not about slow-and-steady performance. They are about letting it rip on nasty surfaces. The bike’s stability and rider position keep the bike planted to let you keep the throttle wide open when a traditional ’cross bike or road bike would be getting seriously out of shape in deep gravel or on a nasty fire road. It’s a fabulous climber in steep dirt or gravel as well, with more weight in the saddle, and the fairly tight rear end giving the bike gobs of traction. All of this performance can be dialed for technical trails by running the Routt with 650b wheels.

In road mode, with a set of 28mm slicks, it’s clearly an endurance machine with the obvious benefits of the relaxed position and Ti’s buttery ride quality. The 27.2 seat post benefits from the sloping top tube, leaving more post exposed and providing comfort and in-the-saddle power transfer on poor surfaces. The sloping top tube also makes for a small, tight rear triangle, which does great things for the bike’s lively response.

The Routt may thrive with dirt under its wheels on a country byway, but what has the geometry overhaul done on the ’cross course? It hasn’t hurt much. It’s got the lively response at the pedals and the right damping, and only on a tight and technical course will the bike show any shortfall. When it gets twisty between the tapes, don’t expect to gain any positions dive-bombing the tight line and be prepared to thread the needle when shouldering the bike thanks to the sloping top tube; but for the casual ’cross racer, the Routt can more than handle its own come race day.

The Rider
The bike will make any mixed-surface rider happy, so it may be more instructive to determine who isn’t a Routt rider. If you want a five-bike quiver, live for the criterium or get paid to race ’cross, the Routt isn’t for you. For everyone else, the Routt will happily let you streamline the quiver significantly and leave you wondering why you had so many bikes to begin with.

From Issue 38.