|Before the snows. |
Okay folks, I've ridden GRX components more since the last update
, and I figured what the heck,
it's time for an update again. So, here's the deal so far. But first- Shimano sent these components over for test and review at no charge. I am not being paid, nor bribed for this post.
I'll take some categories here and expound on my experiences so far within each category. Shifting, braking, ergonomics, and ride performance overall.
First up: Shifting-
the GRX stuff, so Shimano says, is its own group. They really don't like comparisons to the road groups, but look- GRX 800 is pretty much Ultegra level stuff.
With that out of the way, let's compare and contrast using Ultegra as our baseline.
In my opinion, having been on Ultegra 11 speed for many years now, the GRX stuff actually works better. It takes less movement of the lever to actuate a shift, and the shifting is so nice, you'd never guess there was a clutch on that GRX derailleur, but there is, of course. I mention this because I have seen folks mention that they really didn't see why road stuff needed clutch rear derailleurs because of their fears that it would make the shifting feel weird. It doesn't. Not at all. Like I said- it's actually the best shifting bike I have over any of my Ultegra bikes.
I did have to adjust the cable once. But that's to be expected. Beyond this, the shifting has been a non-issue with the only possible exception being that since it is so easy to shift, I sometimes go lower by two than one when shifting going uphill. Talk about a light touch for this lever!
|The best Shimano road hydraulic brakes? Possibly. |
The Best. Really, they are that good.
I haven't been enamored of anyone's hydraulic road disc brakes versus mountain bike brakes since the advent of road disc. The various road disc systems I have used were "okay", but they did not inspire the sort of confidence in stopping, modulation, or power that many mountain brakes have displayed over the years. Now with GRX, road disc brakes have the range of modulation, power, and the overall feel that I have liked with my MTB experiences. GRX brakes have bite, and I have heard that the rotors may actually be "softer" metal which might help to explain that if true. Whatever it is, I like it. And........they are whisper quiet.
I almost hate to say it, because I'll have jinxed myself now and they will squeal and howl next time I ride the GX5 bike.
If you've ever wondered why it is that the levers come so far back and almost hit the bars before you feel you've "bottomed out" with regard to power, well then you'll like a good GRX set up. The levers travel about half as far, at least on my bike.
|The GRX rear derailleur with a clutch is amazingly quiet and great at shifting. |
When GRX was introduced there was a lot of hoo-ha
written about the ergonomic advancements Shimano put into the levers. I thought, "Yeah, yeah, yeah..... We will see about that. Probably no big deal here.
" Well, I was wrong.
The levers, for all their clunky, angular looks, have a feel which falls to hand in a way that does feel very natural to me. The reach from the drop to the lever end is perfect, in fact it is an easy two-finger reach. At least with the PRO Brand Discovery Big Flare Bar.
The hoods are shaped broadly, but not too bulky, with a new rubber compound and textured surface which feels just fine to me either bare handed or with gloves. I have zero issues with the hoods. Of course, the real test is what the hoods look and feel like after a long time in the field, which, of course, I cannot say yet.
As you might expect, I have seen no issues that might give me pause as to the design or function of GRX so far. In comparison to Ultegra, I see better brakes, better shifting, and the ergonomics are another step up from Ultegra. It's quieter, and that's probably due to the chain stability the clutch derailleur brings to the table. I did not mention the cassette since Shimano uses existing cassettes from both the road and mountain side with GRX. The one I got is an XT level 11-42T and works as you might expect- really well.
The cassette does have a little better spacing for gear jumps throughout the middle of the cassette, which I enjoyed.
|The GRX wheels are actually pretty nice.|
When Shimano sent me all this stuff to test and review, they also sent out a set of GRX wheels. I have had two basic thoughts whenever I have thought about Shimano wheels in the past. First thing- heavy.
Second thing- durable.
Oh, I suppose there is a third thing too and that would be narrow rims.
I remember those Shimano 29"er wheels they used to tout back ten years ago. Man! Those rims were narrower than gravel wheel's rims nowadays.
Now these wheels are all aluminum, they don't have low spoke counts, and the hubs aren't anything spectacular, so the weight isn't going to wow anyone. That said, the GRX wheels are not crazy heavy, like past Shimano wheels I've tried were. I have the weights written down somewhere, but that will go into the Riding Gravel review when I do that. Tubeless set up was really easy though. Plus the wheels seem airtight, because I lose very little pressure over several days.
While riding these wheels I have been not noticing anything. That's good. No flexiness, no weird noises like spokes pinging and such, and no wobbles. The freehub pawls are fairly silent, but if you tune in, you can still hear them. I can accelerate, stop hard, and corner hard with no ill effects stemming from the wheel construction. In my opinion, these are wheels you just ride into the dirt, however long it takes, and you don't worry about them along the way. I wouldn't call them "race day" wheels, but if you raced on them, they would hold up and perform for you well. So, nothing flashy, all business here.
Now with this early onset of cold and ice, I am not sure when, or even if, I'll be getting more rides on the GRX stuff, but this is the bike I will be riding a lot throughout Winter when the conditions are right for it. I may slot in some 650B X 47mm wheels and tires if things get softer out there. But anyway, I am looking forward to more miles with GRX soon.
Disclaimer above. But to repeat- I did not pay for the GRX bits and Shimano did not bribe me, nor pay me to write this up. In fact, they are not even aware I am doing this here. As far as I know anyway. Look for more on GRX on RidingGravel.com soon.