Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Now That The News Is Out

The new component group from Shimano- GRX
Well, now you've probably seen the news about GRX. (If not, here is my RidingGravel.com post about it) I also had a reaction to the significance of this new introduction, which you can read here, if you care to.

The reactions of others were typical and predictable. Those who have had issues with Shimano for any reason in the past, (even if they were mechanic/self-induced) didn't like it. Those who love SRAM stuff didn't like it. Some people commented on my story with comments that were addressed in my posts, but the commenters obviously ignored, (or did not read or comprehend) my thoughts. Again....very typical and very expected. 

But there is one rule of the internet that I have learned over the last almost 15 years. That is, only the dissatisfied/unhappy comment. Well, almost only they do. Sometimes you get the open minded commenters.Sometimes you get folks that have reasoned criticisms and you can have a good discussion with them. Fortunately that has mostly been the case here on the blog. But on the general internet- not so much. In general, people with reasoned opinions, or that are in agreement simply nod their head, think about things, take a sip of coffee, and then move on. You never hear from them. Not on the internet, at any rate. Meet them in public and you get surprised. The kindness and interaction is refreshing. It's a weird reality.

Anyway, I think that the whole introduction of parts and pieces early, as Shimano has done, is not optimal for the bicycle business. Now, if you are thinking about a gravel bike, you are going to put off your decision until GRX is available, (Late Summer/Early Fall), and this also makes floored models in shops, (and online, by the way), less attractive. I know. I had an interaction with someone that was like this yesterday. But how do you make sure an entire line of new components is all ready to go on bikes all at the same time. Remember- SRAM did it with one level of components, not three, and not across such a wide ranging number of possible combinations. So, don't compare it to the late SRAM AXS intro. It isn't even in the same league.

Shimano has 1X. By the way, SRAM did not "force their hand" into this either.
Certainly, the introduction was held at such a time that it came just before bikes started showing up spec'ed with the parts. This is another issue with the bicycle industry- the roll out of new componentry and new bikes right in the heart of the selling season. This has been going on for decades.

Then there is the whole issue of "created need". You know, there was a time when cross-compatibility of chain rings was ubiquitous. You could set up an MTB, cyclo cross, road, or touring set up with one crank set, a couple or three square taper bottom brackets, and a selection of rear free wheel cogs, and later on, cassettes. "One crank forging to rule them all and in the Darkness bind them". (Apologies to J.R.R.) But with changes came confusion, and compatibility is very limited now, or non-existent. This drives demand when a new advancement is made and it isn't compatible with your current gear. Fortunately, Shimano did not make the new GRX 12 speed and had us all go to MicroSpline cassette free hub wheels. (But how long before that happens?) Anyway.....It didn't seem to bother people when SRAM made us get their XD driver, so who knows?

There are certain things that point to a better future with GRX and adventure/gravel rigs, but there are also things that are sort of a pain due to their proprietary nature. At least Shimano made GRX compatible with current cassettes and chains. You can plug and play current Di2 stuff into Di2 GRX, (as long as it is 11 to 11 speed), and you can use current 11 speed road shifters to make GRX derailleurs shift. I guess it is about the best Shimano could have done, in that regard.

So, will I get any of this stuff? I'd like to try it, for sure. Probably the 46/30 crank though. Honestly, I'd rather not have that low a little ring, but whatever. I may opt for the GRX in the rear only and stick with my 46/36T crank set. I just don't see the need for dropping out of a 46 to a super-spinny 30T and having to switch up three or four gears in the back to get where I want to be. I'm a picture book case of "Princess and the Pea" (overly sensitive) when it comes to cross-chain gearing. So, I am likely an outlier in this crank gearing business.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this goes as time progresses. GRX won't likely be widely available until later this year. Stay tuned........

9 comments:

Tyler Loewens said...

I dig it quite a bit! Interestingly enough, the profile of the di2 shifter from this group looks a lot like the profile of the FSA WE shifter. Either way as a SRAM guy, I have to say it looks prettier than the new SRAM AXS Force.

Ari said...

That 30 will be useless, except for grinding up monster hills.

bostonbybike said...

In general I agree with your earlier comments - it's an important move since it's coming from Shimano and they have a power to steer market in certain direction.

What I really like about the new GXR is that finally there's a good chance we may see more and more "ordinary" road bikes designed for an average Joe. Up to now all road bikes, even the budget ones, are built like race machines - with those 50/34T cranksets and 11-28T cassettes. That's too much for most of us. The GXR has a chance to change that. Who knows, maybe in the next few years most non-race road bikes will have a GXR 46/30T cranks installed with a 11-34T cassette?

BluesDawg said...

Funny, while I see several things I like about this group, I'm most excited about seeing a high quality 46/30 crank that will be commonly available and at an affordable price.

I understand that not everyone wants or needs gearing that low, but for those of us who do, this is very welcome news. I hope that we will soon see even smaller chainring combinations coming either from Shimano or aftermarket sources so we can have better options for loaded bikepacking on gravel bikes. Making those rear derailleurs work with bigger cassette cogs would help, too.

Rydn9ers said...

Just letting you know that I'm sitting here sipping my Dr. Pepper and nodding my head... gotta move along now.

Guitar Ted said...

@Rydn9ers- Well played.

NWOshooter said...

I like the new gear and the spec, although the new brifters look kinda funky to me.

I just ordered new Ultegra brifters, 46-36 crankset (with an extra 34T inner ring) and an RX rear derailleur for my Checkpoint, however, so I won't be switching over any time soon.

The new wheels look pretty good, too, with a decent inner width and low weight. I suppose time will tell how well they hold up.

Michael Lemberger said...

Two words, Ari: Hilken Hill.

Unknown said...

Like this?

https://www.centurycycles.com/articles/peninsula-extreme-hill-climb-challenge-pg1514.htm

The 46x30 w/11-36 would not be too low gearing here. The 53x39 on my road bike is demoralizing during the steep ascents from the Cuyahoga Valley.