the first specific bike group for gravel
Last year I talked about gravel as a new emerging modality in the world of cycling. More than a year later, the fans of this modality are in luck and that is when the Shimano GRX, the first bike group designed specifically for gravel practice.
The new Shimano group, which I predict a great future, is born as an interesting mix between road cycling groups and the mountain. The new GRX is presented with multiple options and in 3 series. The RX800 that would be equivalent to a Shimano Ultegra, the RX600 that would be similar to a Shimano 105 and the RX400 version that being the most economical could be compared to a Shimano Tiagra.
The Shimano GRX breaks some market schemes and it comes as the most versatile market group. It can be mounted with single or double plate transmissions, with options for mechanical or electronic transmission and 10 or 11 speeds. In addition, it fits perfectly well to cassettes and chains of both MTB and road. A tremendously functional product perfect to delight gravel enthusiasts, adventure and bikepacking.
Shimano GRX cycling group
Shimano GRX handles
We begin by analyzing what for me is the great novelty of the group. The handles of the new Shimano GRX have been designed to maximize comfort and ensure cyclist safety. They present a curved profile with a fairly high head and a non-slip texture Perfect to ensure grip on any type of terrain. The pivot axis of the handle is located 18mm higher than what we usually have. This allows the cyclist to have greater control of the bicycle especially in the technical and downhill areas.
In addition, thinking of the telescopic seatpost, the ST-RX810-LA 11-speed version is offered allows to control its use without the need to add an additional button. It is likely that the finest critics criticize the somewhat orthopedic design of the handles but I believe that in disciplines such as gravel comfort and safety must be ahead of aesthetics.
Shimano GRX cranksets
Shimano also offers several purchase alternatives here. Without going any further, the higher-end version (810) offers different options. On the one hand FC-RX810-1 connecting rods that balance the weight and efficiency for mixed terrain with a monoplate system and on the other hand the version of the FC-RX810-2 cranks more functional and adaptable through a double plate system.
Both cranks are available in lengths of 170,172.5 and 175mm. The monoplate cranks are marketed in 40 and 42 tooth plates, while the double-plate ones are only manufactured with the development of 48-31.
Naturally, these connecting rods and these plates serve both the mechanical version and the electronic / Di2 version.
As for the mid-range, the FC-RX600-11 cranks (double plate) and FC-RX600-1 cranks (monoplate) are offered. In addition, the FC-RX600-10 version is included for users carrying a 10-speed transmission system. The developments of the monoplate version are identical to the previous one, although the two-plate version has a gear of 46 for 30 teeth. In short, as we see Shimano is once again responsible for satisfying virtually all user profiles with its products.
Shimano GRX derailleur
Although the assembly of a derailleur is reserved for double plate versions, Shimano has also wanted to manufacture a specific diverter for the GRX family. The FD-RX810-F derailleur offers a fine, smooth and comfortable change. It also leaves more free space for the cyclist to equip the bicycle with somewhat wider wheels designed to travel mixed terrain. The model has a front range of 17 teeth. The derailleur adjustment is fast and intuitive.
Shimano GRX Shift
At this point Shimano differentiates us between electronic and mechanical changes. On the one hand we have the GRX Di2 range with the RD-RX817 and RD-RX815 models and on the other the mechanical version with the RD-RX812 and RD-RX810 changes.
The reason why the Japanese brand presents two electronic and two mechanical alternatives is to adapt the change to the different developments. Versions 817 and 812 are compatible with lower sprockets of up to 42 teeth, while models 815 and 810 are designed to mount a maximum lower sprocket of 34 teeth. All this has been designed to prevent the chain from working excessively cross. I recommend that you choose the rear derailleur depending on the development you plan to mount.
Shimano also offers innovations in terms of tires adapting once more to the needs of the market. WH-RX570-TL wheels are a good example of this. Tires with size 650 and 700 and suitable for thru axles and obviously disc brakes.
With these wheels the cyclist can safely ride covers of different sizes. This seems to some nonsense to allow road tires and MTB tires to be mounted on the same wheels. One more detail about the great versatility of the modality.
To all the above we must add other accessories such as chain, brake calipers, wheel hubs, disc brakes or rear cassettes that in some cases are perfectly compatible with the road and mountain versions.
Opinion Shimano GRX
We have been seeing for some time how bicycle brands are betting heavily on the world of gravel. Shimano is perfectly aware of this and in a very skilful commercial gesture now offers users the first gravel bike group.
Personally, I believe that the market lacked specific products for this modality and that is that gravel has some important peculiarities that differentiate it from MTB and road. With this new catalog the cyclist can now combine multiple mounting options and enjoy a more rigid and reliable bike.
In my opinion I would highlight the handles of the Shimano GRX group. I find them quite worked and the innovative design they present gives a plus of safety and comfort in the most technical and fast areas.
I believe that the Shimano GRX is a medium-long term commitment and it will not be necessary to update the product annually as is the case with models such as Shimano Ultegra. On the other hand The product catalog I think is perfectly studied and is more than enough to respond to all consumer needs.