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Fans of Colorado titanium bike and frame brand Moots may have noticed that the fun-loving Baxter adventure bike quietly disappeared from the web site on January 1. However, that wasn’t because the company was walking away from that corner of the market – as is now clear, it was because there was a new model on the way called the Routt ESC.
Like the original Baxter, the Routt ESC is designed to push the boundaries of what drop-bar bikes can do. With clearance for 29×2.4″-wide knobby tires, a forgiving rider position, and a generous allotment of mounts, Moots says the bike is purpose-built for “escaping to the nastiest gravel, two-track, and singletrack.”
The Routt ESC uses a similar 3/2.5 straight-gauge titanium tubeset as the Baxter, with larger diameters and slightly thicker wall thicknesses than what Moots uses on the rest of the Routt gravel lineup, and overall dimensions that are close to what the company features on its lighter-duty mountain bikes.
Like the Baxter, the Routt ESC also draws some more inspiration from mountain bikes with the axle spacing. With few exceptions, gravel bikes currently feature the same 100×12 mm front and 142×12 mm rear dropout dimensions as disc-equipped road bikes. However, the Routt ESC goes with the wider “Boost” spacing typically used on trail bikes, with a 110 mm-wide front hub spacing and 148 mm-wide rear, all in the name of additional tire and drivetrain clearance.
Speaking of which, the Routt ESC is designed for single-chainring cranks only, with room for chainrings up to 38-teeth. I mean, seriously, did you really want to run a front derailleur on this thing? I didn’t think so.
In keeping with that “the ride is better than the destination” attitude, the handling characteristics still fall well into the more stable end of the spectrum, while the comparatively tall stack heights and shorter reach dimensions suggest a more upright posture.
Interestingly, though, Moots has pulled the Routt ESC back from mountain bike territory in one key area: the fork. Whereas the Baxter had a front end that was corrected for a 100 mm-travel suspension fork, not many buyers went that way, so they ended up with a carbon fiber rigid fork with a very long axle-to-crown length of around 490 mm. That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but that extra length makes for a comparatively shorter head tube, which then cuts into the size of the front triangle (and, more importantly in this context, reduces the size of the frame bag you can run).
For the Routt ESC, Moots has gone with a third-party titanium fork with both a much shorter axle-to-crown length and a softer ride quality. Head tube length has grown about 70 mm to make up the difference, and there’s now a lot more room in the main frame to carry gear.
“We searched high and low, and this fork really hit the spec we were looking for,” said Moots brand manager Jon Cariveau. “[It has a] 420 mm axle-to-crown, flat mount, Boost 110 (to match the Boost 148 rear), external routing, and three-pack mounts. It is titanium and not made by us. We fell in love with the ride quality. We didn’t make it as we are too busy building frames.”
In addition to those fork blade mounts, the standard configuration of the Routt ESC gets three bottle mounts on the main triangle… and that’s it. Moots’ marketing materials don’t make any mention of this at the moment, but presumably, buyers will be able to add more threaded fittings via custom options (and, to be honest, I’m surprised there aren’t more of them stock).
Other details include a 73 mm threaded bottom bracket, a 44 mm head tube, and easy-to-service external cable routing.
Moots is debuting the Routt ESC in two complete builds to start.
The higher-end option features a SRAM Force AXS 1×12 mullet wireless electronic transmission with a White Industries crankset, Moots titanium seatpost, Enve carbon stem, handlebar, and wheelset, and a Selle Italia saddle for a whopping US$12,000 (and that’s for the standard brushed finish; fancier anodized ones cost extra).
The somewhat more affordable Neo Retro option features a Shimano Deore XT 1×12 mechanical transmission with a White Industries crankset and bar-end shifters, Paul Components Klamper mechanical disc brakes, a Moots titanium seatpost and stem, a Dajia Cycleworks Far Bar flared aluminum handlebar, a Brooks leather saddle, and five King Cage titanium bottle cages for US$9,770.
There’s no frame-only option just yet (although that’s almost certainly coming), and pricing for other regions is to be confirmed.
More information can be found at www.moots.com.