Landyachtz AB-ST Review: Adventure Revisited
The new Landyachtz AB-ST is a Chromoly steel gravel bike with clearance for 29 x 2.2″ tires, a carbon fork, lots of mounting options for hauling gear, and a stable geometry suited to getting lost. We’ve been testing one out for a few weeks before its release, and you can find Miles’ review here…
Action shots by Nathan Reimer (@____nathan____)
Two years ago, Landyachtz released the AB1 (Adventure Bike 1), positioned as a versatile and capable drop-bar rig with a mid-range price tag at around $2,700 CAD (~$2,100 USD), complete with reasonable tire clearance, a carbon fork, lots of mounts, and a lightweight aluminum frame. Landyachtz described it as a “do everything gravel bike,” and although this might be true for some, I felt it was missing a handful of the adventure-ready qualities that the name so boldly promised. A few months back, I was looped in on a new model that they described as being “longer, slacker, and more upright than the AB1″ with a steel frame, carbon fork, and clearance for 2.2” tires. I couldn’t help but think, now that’s an adventure bike!
The Landyachtz AB-ST is a completely new bike for the Vancouver, BC-based bicycle company. In my eyes, it picks up where the AB1 and AB-AL left off. It’s built up around a 4130 LY Select Chromoly steel frame with internal cable routing, their new Carbon Adventure Fork with an adjustable flip-chip style dropout, thru-axles, big tire clearance, and lots of mounting points for racks, cages, and fenders. Instead of simply creating a steel AB1, Landyachtz created an entirely new bike. As mentioned above, it’s longer, slacker, and much higher in the front end when compared to the AB1 or AB-AL. Where the AB1 felt like a road biker’s gravel bike, the AB-ST takes cues from rowdier, dare I say more adventurous riding. While some folks might roll their eyes at a gravel bike with 2.2″ tires, I’m brimming with excitement. To coincide with last week’s launch, Landyachtz sent over a complete AB-ST build for me to test out. Find my thoughts on it below.
Landyachtz AB-ST at a Glance
The AB-ST is the second steel drop-bar gravel bike in the brand’s current lineup. Compared to the others, its angles lean far further toward off-road capability. It has a longer wheelbase, lower bottom bracket, head tube angle that is a full 2° slacker, and more stack. On paper, the result is the most stable, capable, and mountain bike-inspired gravel rig Landyachtz offers. It’s also the only gravel bike in their lineup with internal dropper post routing, top tube bosses, and a proper selection of cargo mounts, including under the downtube. Framesets are specced with the new Landyachtz Carbon Adventure fork, which has three-pack mounts, a threaded fork crown mount, internal brake routing, and a flip-chip-style dropout to allow rake adjustment from 47mm to 52mm, giving the option of fast handling or a more stable ride for loaded bikepacking.
- Frame/fork: Steel/Carbon
- Angles (L): 70° Headtube, 74° Seattube
- Stack/Reach: 626mm/455mm
- BB Drop/Chainstay: 72mm/430mm
- Bottom Bracket: 68mm threaded
- Hub specs: 12x100mm / 12x142mm, TA
- Seatpost: 30.9mmm
- Max tire size: 29 x 2.2″
- Price: $1,250 CAD / ~$975 USD
Perhaps the biggest difference between the AB-ST and the other models is its tire clearance. The AB-ST can officially handle 29 x 2.2″ tires, including fast-rolling cross-country tread, and can unofficially fit 2.25″ tires according to the build Landyachtz sent me for review. The 29 x 2.25″ WTB Nine Lines fit pretty well in the rear end of the bike, but the vertical clearance on the fork is uncomfortably tight. I think 2.2″ or even 50mm tires are probably the better option to leave some room for mud and debris, but I did ask Lucas at Landyachtz for the biggest tires they had, so that’s on me. It’s no surprise to see thru-axles front and back (12×100mm and 12×142mm), a threaded bottom bracket, and fully internal cable routing. There is only one small section of exposed cable along the bottom of the drive side chainstay leading to the derailleur and on the rear brake hose that runs on top of the chainstay.
The AB-ST shares several geometry and frame spec-related similarities with the new Surly Ghost Grappler, Kona Sutra LTD and ULTD, Breezer Radar X, and many more. It has the long reach like the Ghost Grappler, inspired by modern mountain bike geometry, not quite as high of a stack height, and reasonably short 430mm chainstays. While the big tire clearance technically fulfills our requirements as a 29″ drop-bar mountain bike, it’s still not quite as upright as bikes like the Salsa Fargo or Ghost Grappler.
Landyachtz’s AB-ST manages to pull some of the best specs from other bikes that fall into this category, including short chainstays, big tire clearance, a slightly taller stack height, long reach, slack front end, and steep seat tube angle. On paper, the AB-ST hits a sweet spot for me. It’s capable and stable but still sporty enough to keep up with speedy gravel bikes with smaller tires. It has the potential to be dressed down with narrow bars, fast-rolling rubber, and the fork in the high-trail position, or dressed up with 2.2″ tires, a dropper post, wide bars, and a more upright riding position. Landyachtz put together a complete build that’s more in line with the latter vision, which is the approach I’d take if I were building one up myself. Either way, any type of build will likely look great against the AB-ST’s classic silhouette and dark blue tubing.
Build Kit & First Impressions
This time around, I opted for an XL frame in an effort to get as much height as possible out of the front end. At 6’1″ with a 33″ inseam, I’m usually somewhere right in between a large and extra-large, so I decided to give the bigger frame a shot with the AB-ST. Landyachtz put together a fun build for me, complete with 2.25″ WTB Nine Line tires, flared Salsa drop bars, and a SRAM Rival 1×11 drivetrain and hydraulic brakes. The steerer tube came pre-cut from Landyachtz, and while I would have preferred some more room to raise the stem slightly, the fit felt good. I’m currently dealing with some neck issues, so the last thing I wanted was to be hunched over on a racy gravel bike. Thankfully, the AB-ST isn’t that. The 11-42T cassette was paired with a 42T front chainring, which didn’t leave me walking up any hills around Powell River but did see me standing out of the saddle and grinding up steeper grades. Mind you, that was without a fully loaded bikepacking setup, so if I was heading out on a trip next week, I’d be looking for a smaller chainring or a way to expand the low end.
The build kit Landyachtz put together is pretty close to how I’d build up my own. I like my gravel bikes to do more than just smooth roads, and the big tires, mounting points, and steel frame are all good indicators that it’s a pretty capable bike. I was secretly hoping they were going to sneak the integrated dropper lever into the left shifter/brake lever, but no dice. Lever actuated dropper posts on drop-bar bikes are great for dismounting, stopping at lights, and especially descending steep, rough trails and roads. The only reason I would possibly size down would be to squeeze in a slightly longer travel dropper post for getting rad.
I was happy to see rear rack mounts on the outside of the seat stays, as well mounts for bolt-on bags and a generously sized main triangle. The XL frame I tested had plenty of room for a large BXB Better Half Frame Bag and a big bottle on the seat tube, and it also fit a large Rockgeist 52Hz gravel frame bag nearly perfectly. The low seat tube mounts and triple-pack downtube mounts also make for a good platform to run a standard half frame bag to maximize the space. Those needing extra space for gear or water will be happy to see mounts on the new carbon Adventure Fork, which aren’t offset like on the original AB1 fork, making it compatible with more front racks, bottle and cargo cages, or all of the above. I was glad to be able to run my Rawland Rando rack alongside a standard bottle cage. It’s worth noting that the threaded bosses on the fork legs are recessed a few millimetres into the fork, so I opted to use a small spacer for a cleaner setup.
Landyachtz AB-ST Build Kit
- Frame 4130 LY Select Chromoly Steel
- Fork LY Carbon Adventure Fork
- Headset FSA
- Handlbars Salsa Cowchipper Deluxe
- Stem Alloy 120mm (swapped for Farr Headspace 70mm)
- Crankset SRAM Apex 1, 42T
- Cassette SRAM Apex 11-Speed, 11-42T
- Shifters SRAM Rival 1
- Chain SRAM 11-Speed
- Derailleur SRAM Rival 1
- Brakes SRAM Rival Hydraulic Disc
- Bottom Bracket SRAM GXP
- Wheelset Easton ARC 25 Offset Rim, 25mm internal width
- Tires WTB Nine Line 29×2.25″
- Seatpost Alloy
- SaddleWTB Volt
Ride Feel and Handling
While I haven’t had the AB-ST long enough to classify this is a long-term review, I still managed to pack in a good amount of riding. After a wet spring, the Pacific Northwest finally had some clear weather, and I took every opportunity I had to get a feel for the bike. I’ve been out on some big gravel days, navigated local singletrack, and zipped all over town to avoid filling my van up on gas.
One of the first things I did was replace the included 120mm stem for a 70mm Farr Headspace stem, which helped dial back the frame’s long reach. While I think I could still go shorter, and raise the bars up a smidge, the bike was comfortable and balanced feeling on all of my rides. On everything but a few steep descents, I felt planted and confident on the bike. With the help of its big tires, steel frame, and long geometry, the AB-ST plows effortlessly through pretty much anything. I found it to feel much more comfortable and stable than the AB1 I tested last year. With that said, the longer/slacker geometry on the AB-ST certainly isn’t as playful or snappy feeling as other gravel bikes I’ve ridden (the AB1 included), so anyone coming from a road background might find it a little sluggish at times. With the fork’s flip-chip in the high trail/more slack position, it felt most at home pointed straight, leaned into corners, and making wide, methodical turns.
It’s a long bike, so it took some getting used to while winding through narrow, technical trails. Beyond that, it’s hard to imagine what the AB-ST can’t handle. Having spent time with it, I’d be speccing mine with a dropper post and taller front end for a true drop-bar mountain bike setup. I expect most people would increase the gear range as well since it’s certainly not a featherweight bike and it felt most natural climbing in a seated position, rather than standing up out of the saddle. Although my post-Covid fitness isn’t quite up to speed yet, I’ve snuck in a few longer rides where my legs were the only thing holding me back. It doesn’t have the same powerful, responsive feel as the AB1, but if you’re looking to ride far and aren’t too concerned with speed, it could be the bike for you.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the necessary front brake adapter to experiment with the high trail, 47mm rake setting on the fork. I did pull out the dropouts, which consist of an outside/inside bracket on both sides, held in place with small 2.5mm hex screw. The brackets are sandwiched on either side of the dropout, and when flipped the other way, they change the rake and wheelbase by 5mm. While it doesn’t seem like much, 5mm can have a noticeable impact on handling and feel. With quicker handling in the 52mm position and stability in the 47mm position, it’s nice to have options. The AB-ST fork is set up in the 47mm position with an adapter, and you just need to remove the adapter and mount the caliper directly to the fork for the 52mm position.
Adventure Bike: Take Two
When Landyachtz released the AB1 (Adventure Bike 1) they labeled it as their “do-everything” bike, ideal for your “daily commute, exploring your local trails, or a fully loaded bikepacking expedition.” While most of that held true, I felt the geometry was more road-oriented than what’s found on most off-road-focused drop-bar bikes. It’s not quite a monstercross bike, definitely not a drop-bar mountain bike, and for someone who likes the versatility afforded by big tires and the option for a dropper post, it wasn’t really adventurous enough for me.
In a lot of ways, the AB-ST is what the AB1 should have been. When thinking about all of the gravel routes within close proximity of Vancouver, where Landyachtz is based, the original Adventure Bike felt underwhelming. Routes like the BC Trail, Cowichan Valley 8, the newly published Tree to Sea Loop on Vancouver Island, and those here in Powell River and Texada Island are much more enjoyable to ride with bigger tires and a slightly more upright position. The AB-ST is the perfect platform for long-distance gravel tours in British Columbia and beyond, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some folks who originally purchased the AB1 turning to its more capable younger sibling as their next bike.
Purchasing Options and Additional Thoughts
I ran a few questions by Landyachtz’s marketing and media guy Lucas Greenough to help clarify some things I’d been wondering while working on this review. Firstly, their ADV Fork currently comes with a 350mm steerer tube that can be cut to any desired length. Since each AB-ST is going to be built from the frame up, they have no problem accommodating requests like that, and will work one-on-one with the customer to dial in the fit and function of each build. Lucas also mentioned an updated ADV Fork is on the way, which will have an even longer 400mm steerer tube. The exposed rear derailleur cable was apparently chosen to reduce drag in the system, but considering it’s a straight section of cable and is susceptible to dirt and other contamination, I’m not sold on that thinking. Lucas did say that their in-house metal shop could modify the frame to have full-length housing. The other option would be to use a housing guide adapter like this from Problem Solvers. On the dropper post front, Landyachtz can set up a dropper with either GRX, SRAM left shifters (they have them in stock), or the Easton AX dropper lever. This cable port can also be used to run a front derailleur.
As far as getting an AB-ST for yourself, you have a few options. The global parts shortage has encouraged Landyachtz to sell it as a frameset to start. Currently, it’s too challenging to source enough components for any specific build kit, so they’ll be working with their customers to either piece together a completely custom build or work with whatever they have access to at the time. They have lots of Easton wheels and cockpits on hand, but certain drivetrains are harder to get. Although stock, ready-to-buy build kits make things easier, I’m excited to see what kind of unique AB-ST builds come out of their shop. If you’re interested, you might want to move quickly, as Landyachtz is only producing 100 framsets to start.
- Balanced and stable platform for bikepacking and more
- Off-road geometry is exciting when compared to AB1/AB-AL
- Lots of mounts on frame and fork and room for a big frame bag
- Dropper post routing and 2.2″ tire clearance
- Aesthetically pleasing lines and classy paint job
- 26 pounds isn’t bad for the burly build tested
- Long geometry and slow handling in high-trail mode takes some getting used to
- Exposed cable under chainstay is a little odd
- No stock builds, and a global parts shortage could make actually building one up difficult and more expensive
- Somewhat pricey at $1,250 CAD for a frameset, but not far off from the competition
- Limited to 100 framesets
- Model/Size Tested: Landyachtz AB-ST, XL
- Weight: 26lb (11.8kg) with pedals
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price: $1,250 CAD / ~$975 USD (frameset)
- Manufacturer’s Details: LandyachtzBikes.com
In a time when our industry has an overwhelming number of gravel bike options, I ended my review of the original Landaychtz AB1 thinking, is that it? I was curious whether or not they’d come back with an updated version with less road-like geometry and more off-road capability. If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably well aware that they did. The Landyachtz AB-ST is everything I want out of a versatile, drop bar 29er. Features like 2.2″ tire clearance, dropper post routing, Chromoly Steel frame, carbon fork, and loads of mounting options tick off every box for me. Plus, the angles and specs match up as well. It lives up to Landyachtz’s claims and makes for the perfect platform to tackle the growing number of gravel routes in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. It might not be the fastest or most agile gravel bike out there, but it’s not designed to be.
Currently, the new AB-ST framesets are delayed by a few weeks, but Landyachtz has opened up a pre-sale for people who know what they want. They are expected to land in the next couple of weeks and will be delivered in around three weeks for folks outside of the Vancouver area. They also have demos at their shop for anyone looking to take one for a test ride.
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Drop-bar & Gravel Bike Reviews
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