Landyachtz AB1 Review: One for the road
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Earlier this year, British Columbia-based Landyachtz Bikes released the AB1 (Adventure Bike 1), positioned as a versatile and capable drop bar rig with a mid-point price tag. Miles spent time exploring the gravel roads on the west coast to find out what it does best. Find his review here, plus a deep dive into the geometry of several other comparable alloy gravel bikes…
There are so many of gravel bikes to choose from these days. I can only imagine that the increasing number of price points, models, and geometries makes it very challenging for potential buyers to hone in on a shortlist of candidates. To confuse things further, brands have gotten into the habit of using mountain bike terminology and feeding unrealistic expectations for what a gravel bike can do. This may be true for a small number of them, but it’s a stretch for the rest. The point I’m trying to make is that with so many options, gravel bikes can fall into several different categories, and it’s worth digging into geometry charts to figure out exactly what’s what.
Earlier this year, Vancouver, BC-based Landyachtz Bikes released their premier gravel bike, the AB1 (Adventure Bike). It’s based around an aluminum frame, carbon fork, a 650b wheelset, and is offered in a single well-rounded build kit. Landyachtz labels it as their “do-everything” bike, ideal for your “daily commute, exploring your local trails or a fully loaded bikepacking expedition.” The frame features a nice selection of mounting options, reasonable tire clearance, and a crowd-pleasing threaded bottom bracket. Coming from a brand that’s better known for their single speed city bikes and skateboards, the AB1 looks like a solid gravel realm contender. But did they get it right? To find out, I spent about a month riding one while getting to know my new backyard on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.
The AB1 At a Glance
The Landyachtz AB1 is built up around a Taiwanese-made Select 6061 Aluminum frame with dual dropped chainstays, an English threaded bottom bracket, and fully internally routed cables. It comes stock with their new carbon ADV fork, which adds some versatility with three-pack mounts, thru-axle, and a clean aesthetic that blends in nicely with the contours of the frame. The frame has triple mounts on the downtube, plus standard bottle mounts on the seat tube and under the downtube. There are rack mounts above the rear dropouts that can be paired with the hidden mounts on the inside of the seat stays. Although the AB1 has clearance for 700c x 42mm or 650b x 47mm tires, it’s offered in a single build that comes with 650b x 47mm WTB Ventures mounted to tubeless-ready WTB KOM Light rims.
- Frame/fork: Aluminum/Carbon
- Angles (L): 72° Headtube, 73.5° Seattube
- Stack/Reach: 592mm/399mm
- BB Drop/Chainstay: 71mm/430mm
- Bottom Bracket: T47 threaded
- Hub specs: 12x100mm / 12x142mm, TA
- Seatpost: 30.9mm
- Max tire size: 700c x 42mm or 650b x 47mm
- Price: $2,749 CAD / $2,100 USD
As far as geometry goes, the Landyachtz AB1 sets itself apart from most of the gravel bikes we’ve seen here on the site—but not how you might expect. Although Landyachtz makes some pretty lofty claims on their website and in their product launch video, the AB1 has a short stack height (vertical distance from bottom bracket to the centre of the top of the head tube) and a longish reach that’s fairly aggressive for a the gravel bike. More on that later. The build includes a 1×11 SRAM Apex drivetrain, complete with an 11-42T cassette and 44T chainring, Apex hydraulic brakes, and finished off with Ritchey’s mountain bike rated Comp seatpost, stem, saddle, and Ergomax bars.
As far as pricing goes, the AB1 retails for $2,749 CAD (~$2,100 USD), which puts it roughly in line to compete with the Salsa Journeyman Apex 1 650 and the Kona Libre, which retail for $1,499 and $1,799 USD, respectively. All three of which have a 6061 Aluminum frame, carbon fork with mounts, and Apex build kits.
The demo that Landyachtz sent over is identical to the complete bike they have listed online. Having a single, mid-priced build definitely keeps things straightforward. Justin at TAWS Bike Shop in Powell River set it up for me, and there were no huge surprises for either of us. The paint job looks better in person than it does online, especially with some mud splattered across it, and the build kit came exactly as listed. We did notice a few small imperfections, including some easily chipped paint around the various bosses and what looks to be a slightly crooked bottle mount on the downtube, but otherwise, it needed very little tuning or set up. It came with a build checklist from Landyachtz showing that the build had be torqued to spec in all the right places, which provided some reassurance.
One thing that stood out for us was the low front end on the AB1. Even on the size large I was sent, I needed a healthy portion of my seatpost exposed to get the right saddle height, and the resulting drop to the bars was different than I’m used to. Paired with a long (but not out of the ordinary) reach and 100mm stem, I immediately found myself stretched out beyond comfort. Flipping the stem up and getting all available spacers under it helped, but I still consider the resulting position more aggressive than what I anticipated. On paved roads and smooth gravel, I was able to settle in comfortably, but on rough terrain and loose descents, I felt out of my element.
Landyachtz AB1 Build Kit
There’s a lot to like about the AB1’s build kit. I appreciate the use of a complete SRAM Apex drivetrain, not trying to save a buck or two with more affordable cassettes or cranks. It’s nice to see hydraulic brakes and some trusty WTB rims and tires specced, providing a great baseline build that makes sense for the price point. The Ritchey Comp ErgoMax bars are also a welcoming touch, with their large ovalized section across the top of the bar for some added comfort. I would have preferred Ritchey’s WCS VentureMax bar that came specced on the Ritchey Outback I reviewed this summer, which is better suited for off-road use.
There are also a few quirks that don’t really align with Landyachtz’s “do-everything” mantra. Perhaps the biggest is the decision to spec a 44T chainring alongside an 11-42T cassette, which is more suited to on-road, not very hilly, types of rides. On the frame itself, I would have preferred the upper rack mounts be positioned on the exterior of the seat stays, as they are very awkward to get to with a hex key and nearly impossible to get to with a multi-tool. Also, for a newly released fork, I was a little disappointed not to see lower mounts for even more front rack compatibility. Check out the full build kit below.
- Frame Select 6061 Aluminium
- Fork Landyachtz ADV Carbon
- Headset FSA Integrated
- Bottom Bracket SRAM GXP English Threaded
- Crankset SRAM Apex 1, 44T
- Cassette SRAM PG-1130 11-42T
- Rear Derailleur SRAM Apex 1
- Shifter SRAM Apex 1 HRD
- Chain SRAM
- Brakes SRAM Apex 1 Hydraulic
- Rotors Avid G2 160mm
- Front Hub Novatech 12x100mm
- Rear Hub Novatech 12x142mm
- Rims WTB KOM light i27
- Tires WTB Venture 650b x 47mm
- Handlebar Ritchey Ergomax Comp
- Stem Ritchey Comp
- Seatpost Ritchey Comp
- Saddle Ritchey trail Comp
Thoughts While Riding
After spending the better part of the fall riding exclusively on my Why S7 with chunky 27.5+ tires, it was great to get onto something faster. Taking advantage of breaks in the weather was that much easier on a speedy bike that I could leave from home on. Instead of poring over local trail maps for the best possible escape from town, I just rode. The AB1 is totally capable enough to handle smooth singletrack and service roads, which resulted in some pretty silly loops around town and out along some of the more remote logging roads.
Coming from a mountain bike with a 30T chainring and 10-51T cassette to the AB1’s massive 44T chainring and 11-42T cassette, climbs took some serious effort. While riding fully loaded, I found myself dreading the thought of tackling another hill, so I eventually stuck to more adventurous day rides. The AB1 really excelled at zipping along rolling, relatively smooth terrain—including the maze of logging roads that serve as the gateways to most outdoor pursuits in Powell River.
I’ve enjoyed riding the 650b x 47mm WTB Venture tires that come stock on the AB1. They’ve been perfect for cruising between different surfaces and the occasional trail. The centre tread of the Venture is fast on the road, while the smaller intermediate knobs provide enough traction for gravel and dirt, and do a great job at shedding water here in the PNW. I actually think the AB1 would be an ideal candidate for the larger 700c x 50mm Ventures, but with a max tire clearance of just 42mm, that’s really just a pipe dream.
Stack, Reach, and Gravel
Although geometry and more specific details will come down to personal preference, I thought it might be worth comparing the AB1 against some comparably priced / specced aluminum drop bar gravel bikes. For the sake of consistency, I’ve compared some key angles of the Landyachtz AB1, Salsa Journeyman, and Kona Libre below—followed by some thoughts on what this means.
Unless I’m focusing on speed and hammering out a fast-paced ride, I usually prefer a more upright position when it comes to drop bar bikes. When looking at the reach and stack numbers above, the AB1 leans further to the road side of things than the Libre and Journeyman. It’s worth noting that I also compared the AB1’s stack numbers against some other drop bar gravel bikes I’ve ridden over the years, and none of them fall below 600mm, except for the AB1. Without diving much deeper than that, I would think the AB1 would be perfect for those coming from a road biking background looking to enter the gravel scene. It might be a little low in the front compared to what I’m used to, but perhaps a different (shorter and taller) stem would have helped remedy that for me. I have a long inseam, so this may not be an issue for those who prefer a shorter stack.
Although the shorter wheelbase may not be conducive for longer tours, it did result in a quick-handling ride that didn’t feel out of place on pavement or gravel. Whether in the saddle or standing while climbing, the AB1 felt responsive and powerful—making it a little easier to push that giant 44T chainring around.
I asked Landyachtz for their thoughts on the AB1’s geometry, and it actually aligned quite closely with what I’ve described. “A lot of the riding/testing we do in is in and around the Northshore so we wanted to go with a 650b tire to be able to handle the roughness of the trails that the shore throws at us,” George Bailey from Landyachtz explains, “but we also wanted to be able to swap the wheel for a 700c and be able to keep up with the pack on a gravel race. The bike was designed to have a racy feel but still be long, low, and slack.”
When you break it down, the AB1 falls into line with bikes like the Trek Checkpoint and Cannondale Topstone or more traditional gravel bikes. Although these aren’t the monstercross breed of gravel bikes we’re accustomed to, they are all fast, lightweight, and provide enough versatility and comfort for big, epic rides. As long as you’re okay with the racy riding position, that is.
- Model Tested: Landyachtz AB1
- Actual Weight: 23.25lb (10.5kg)
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price: $2,749 CAD (~$2,100 USD)
- Manufacturer’s Details: LandyachtzBikes.com
- Good selection of mounting options
- Single, well-rounded build
- Thru-axles and threaded bottom bracket are great to see
- Powerful, responsive geometry
- Low stack and long reach / stem won’t be for everyone
- Price seems a little high relative to competitors
- Standard tire clearance
Although I’d describe the Landyachtz AB1 as a versatile, all-purpose road bike and not a do-everything gravel rig, it is a very well-rounded option. The single build that Landyachtz offers is well specced and thoughtful, and surprisingly lightweight. In my mind, the AB1 is a fantastic road-to-gravel transition bike for those who prefer the riding position of an endurance road bike but want some added versatility in the form of slightly larger tires, additional mounting options, and a clean 1×11 drivetrain.
Unfortunately for me, there aren’t many flat or rolling roads in Powell River, BC, so I only ventured out along the logging roads north of town on a few occasions. It would have been a fun bike to ride around the Fraser Valley, where I have spent two of the last three winters, as there is a maze of gravel paths, bike lanes, and side roads that link together some pretty epic rides. I see the AB1 excelling on lightweight, endurance style mixed-surface rides where a 47mm tire hits the sweet spot and running a half frame bag with room for bottles (or full with bottles on the fork legs) could get you through the day. The AB1 has some nice features and provides a great overall package, so I’ll be interested to see if Landyachtz maintains its road-like geometry or updates it in a future iteration.