From skateboards to bicycles, Vancouver, Canada-based Landyachtz has a wealth of experience designing various modes of two- and four-wheeled transportation. We last tested their Columbus steel-framed ‘1146’ road bike (RBA, January 2019), which left us waiting on the next release from the Canadian crew. Landyachtz filled the one remaining hole in their drop-bar catalog with the AB1 gravel bike. AB stands for “adventure bike,” and Landyachtz hit nearly all the marks to achieve the optimal modern gravel machine. Best of all, it’s in stock and doesn’t break the bank.
The AB1 is an entry-level build that starts with a 6061 aluminum frame that is assembled in Canada with symmetric, dropped chainstays to help provide room to use up to 700x42mm or 650x47mm tires. Landyachtz offers a single build of the AB1 that rolls on the 650b hoops.
Landyachtz designed their own carbon fork, which is drilled with triple mounts, making it ideal for handling gear for long rides. Two positions for bottle mounts are drilled on each side of the downtube with a single position available on the seat tube. Fenders can be mounted, and a rack can be supported by the two rivets on the seat stays, in addition to the two on either dropout.
In order to ensure favorable handling rolling over rocks and roots or with a full load of bike-packing gear, the AB1 has a long 104.4cm wheelbase. The slack 72-degree head tube angle helps maintain the relaxed geometry, especially with a loaded front end. At 59.2cm, the stack is relatively low for the size-large frame, and the reach is long at 39.9cm, which encourages a rather aggressive position in the saddle.
SRAM’s entry-level Apex drivetrain is an ideal pairing for the alloy rig. A SRAM X-Sync 44t chainring is matched to an 11-speed 10-42t XX1 cassette. At 1.05 gear inches, this pairing is just above our preferred 1:1 gear ratio and a smaller chainring would be the easiest fix. The 160mm Avid G2 rotors are modulated by SRAM’s Apex hydraulic calipers. The lines are routed in a hybrid style with the downtube hiding the rear hydraulic line, as well as the shift cable until they’re exposed below the bottom bracket, while the fork partially conceals the front brake line.
Ritchey is responsible for the remainder of small parts. The front end is made up of an alloy Ritchey Ergomax handlebar and an alloy Comp stem. The bars feature a raised design to lift the front end. An oversized 30.9mm Ritchey Comp seatpost is paired with a Ritchey Trail Comp saddle. The AB1 rolls on a pair of WTB KOM Light rims.
In an effort to test how adventure-ready the AB1 is, we scouted a few unmaintained gravel roads in addition to our typical routes. We were able to find the limits of our handling skills far before the full capability of the AB1 was met.
The AB1 handles speed well. Graded gravel descents ridden at speeds over 20 mph are supported well by the tall gearing and aggressive WTB tires. Leaning into corners is predictable and confidence-inspiring, thanks to the 47mm treads amplified by the 35-psi tire pressure.
We loaded various bags on the Landyachtz for some of our longer rides. The 650b setup handled well in precarious situations, even with extra weight on the front end.
Nearly every gravel road we tested the AB1 on required some climbing, which brought to focus the tall gearing spec’d on the bike. Given the reasonable price tag, a chainring upgrade to either a 42t or even a 40t SRAM X-Sync chainring will run somewhere around $80.
Landyachtz delivered a solid gravel bike with a full plate of gravel-focused goods. Not meant to be a race bike (especially at just over 23 pounds), it is intended for outback cycling. We’ve found that 650b builds are hard to come by at the $2000 price point, especially given the pandemic-related bike shortages. SRAM’s Apex mechanical drivetrain got the job done without shifters and derailleurs that can run out of battery.
In the dirt, the AB1 was reminiscent of the Ritchey Trail Comp mountain bike from the ’80s handling-wise, but it’s better overall thanks to the modern, quick braking power offered by the disc brakes. Once again, we were pleased with the latest design from the crew up in the Great White North.
Slack, relaxed handling
Good cost/benefit ratio
Weight: 23.12 pounds
Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL