Moots Routt 45 review | $tunning titanium gravel bike

Freda Walters

The Moots Routt 45 is a premium titanium gravel bike with clearances for big tyres. It’s a beautifully made machine that rides sweetly and offers lots of scope for customisation, but all that comes at a hefty price tag. Moots bikes are sold as complete builds in the US but […]

The Moots Routt 45 is a premium titanium gravel bike with clearances for big tyres. It’s a beautifully made machine that rides sweetly and offers lots of scope for customisation, but all that comes at a hefty price tag.

Moots bikes are sold as complete builds in the US but not in the UK, so this review is of the frameset only – but I’ll cover full details of the SRAM Force eTap AXS build supplied by distributor Saddleback to give context.

Moots Routt 45 frameset

Moots builds its frames in-house and the attention to detail is stunning, from the beautiful cowled rear dropouts to the distinctive wishbone-style seatstays and elegant rear brake hose port on the down tube.

The frame is matched to an understated tapered full-carbon fork via an external lower headset cup and zero-stack upper.

While the Routt 45 is nominally made from the same material as every other titanium bike on the market, it’s obvious from even a cursory glance over the frame that it’s a cut above mass-market titanium.

The welds are ultra-neat and the brushed matt finish has an expensive glow to it, interrupted only by subtle logos and a stylish head badge – a proper one rather than a decal.

I should note that I wasn’t the first to ride this test bike and the finish had suffered some wear already, perhaps from mounting bikepacking luggage. While the matt finish is sublime, it is liable to rubbing, which leaves shiny marks.

You might regard this as patina, but it’s something to consider when you’re choosing finishes. On this front, Moots offers lots of options including some stunning combinations of anodising and etching.

As you’d hope for a versatile gravel bike, there are mounts to accept full mudguards. Moots hasn’t gone overboard with the bosses otherwise, but there’s an extra pair of cage mounts under the down tube in addition to the usual two inside the front triangle.

Incidentally, this is the Di2/AXS-specific version of the frameset, which also routes the brake hoses internally. Moots offers a version of the frame for mechanical groupsets too.

Moots Routt 45 geometry

The Routt 45’s frame angles are pretty standard gravel fare – the head angle is a couple of degrees slacker than a typical endurance road bike’s – while the reach and stack figures wouldn’t be out of place on such a machine.

Moots hasn’t gone too extreme with the long reach and short stem combo that apes mountain bike trends, but this 54cm test bike came fitted with a 90mm stem, which made it quite short for its nominal size because it has just 374mm of reach.

I found I was hanging over the front hub and so fitted a longer stem for my testing, and I’d consider sizing up given the choice. The stack, however, is fairly normal for a bike like this at 587mm.

As the Moots is sold as a frameset, there’s nothing that marks it out as sex-specific, and all riders should be able to find a good fit with appropriate finishing kit.

Moots Routt 45 build

As mentioned, the Routt 45 isn’t sold as a complete bike in the UK. However, my test bike came equipped with a suite of components likely typical of how riders spec their Routts, and it’s pretty similar to one of the standard builds available direct from Moots in the US.

This build is based on a full SRAM Force eTap AXS 2× groupset with the wide, gravel-friendly gearing option that gets you a 43/30 crank and a 10-36 cassette.

The wheels are 700c Astral Wanderlust rims built on White Industries hubs. While White Industries is a familiar choice for boutique American bikes, Astral is a name you likely won’t have heard outside the US.

The aluminium rims are low profile and gravel tyre-friendly thanks to a 22mm internal width. This bike came with Panaracer Gravel King SK tyres in a 43mm rear, 50mm front combo.

The tyre clearance at the AXS front derailleur isn’t huge. While there’s certainly room to accommodate a 50mm tyre in the frame as promised, it’d be fairly snug at the derailleur because of how far rearwards the battery protrudes. This is something to note if you’re planning an AXS build and ride in very muddy conditions.

While the Routt’s bar is a gravel-approved ENVE carbon item, with a fairly dramatic flare – it’s roughly 43cm at the hoods but 55cm at the tips of the drops – the titanium stem and seatpost are both by Moots itself, and they are lovely objects in their own right.

Both use sensibly-sized hardware and the saddle rail clamp bolts on the post face outwards, and is easily accessed. It’s a minor detail, but one you’ll appreciate if you need to swap seats.

Unsurprisingly, this bike also came with a titanium-railed saddle, a nice Selle Italia.

The Moots isn’t incredibly light at 9.1kg for a 54cm, but is impressively feathery for a metal-framed bike with metal wheels and properly chunky tyres.

Riding the Moots Routt 45

The Routt 45 is everything you’d hope a fancy titanium gravel bike should be.

It’s ultra-smooth at both ends and, while that’s partly down to the chunky tyres, the rear-end compliance has to be at least partly down to the useful length of titanium seatpost sticking out of the frame.

Quite a few titanium bike designers opt for a stiffer 31.6mm post, either to offer better dropper compatibility or to match a wider top tube, but Moots has gone with a skinnier 27.2mm component and I’m glad of it.

While the Routt doesn’t have the totally unyielding feel of a road racer, it’s plenty stiff under pedalling.

As with every gravel bike, the tyres are a defining feature of the riding experience and I certainly wouldn’t spec my Routt with the Panaracer Gravel King SKs fitted here.

Panaracer Gravel King SK

The Gravel King SK tyres are a poor choice for typical UK riding conditions.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

While doubtless an acceptable choice for dry dusty gravel, these are hopeless in typical UK winter conditions, offering wheelspin rather than forward motion on gentle yet greasy climbs off-road. They also don’t inspire much confidence through corners on loose surfaces and aren’t all that fast on tarmac.

While I’m moaning – and this will depend on various factors including frame size, shoe size and the position of your cleats –nmaxing out the front tyre size with a chunky 50mm also caused a tiny bit of toe overlap. It wasn’t enough to be scary, but it was noticeable. A further hint that a larger frame would suit me better? Perhaps.

In any case, none of this detracts from a generally lovely and versatile bike, which is a pleasure to ride on and off-tarmac.

Moots Routt 45 overall

Head tube

You don’t buy a bike like this because it’s objectively value for money, you buy it because you want it.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

To an extent, a bike like the Routt 45 will always be a heart over head purchase simply because it’s a very expensive thing indeed and fundamentally it doesn’t do anything a significantly more affordable bike couldn’t.

The frameset pricing puts it in the realm of the very best carbon superbikes and while the Moots is light for its class, it’s not exceptional in that regard.

Where the Routt 45 succeeds is in projecting an air of specialness; its look is understated yet unquestionably premium thanks to small details and a beautiful finish – no one is going to mistake it for mass-market titanium.

Build it with Moots’ own finishing kit and appropriately expensive components, and you’ll be rewarded with a bike that rides beautifully and offers loads of versatility.

Like many of the best gravel bikes, it can be a road bike when you want it to be, but with the right tyres it’ll do so much more.

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