Shimano's GRX gravel bike component series has been a definite hit thanks to its range of gearing options and tweaks to accommodate fatter tyres than you'll find on road bikes. But it was launched a little late so not every bike maker got on board for the 2020 model year. That's changed for 2021; GRX is everywhere. Here's a selection of Shimano GRX-equipped gravel bikes, cyclocross bikes and adventure bikes that we like.
Intended for gravel bikes, Shimano GRX is a not so much a single groupset as a series of components from which manufacturers can pick and mix
As well as gravel bikes, GRX is being used for cyclocross race bikes and for bikes that veer toward the 'touring bike' end of the touring-adventure-gravel spectrum.
GRX was announced surprisingly late in 2019, making it hard for the very largest manufacturers to choose it, but we expect to see GRX bikes from Trek, Specialized and Giant for the 2021 model year
Bikes with Shimano GRX start around £1,200
To recap, GRX is Shimano's first dedicated gravel bike groupset. It's available at three price levels — 800, 600 and 400 — that roughly correspond to the Ultegra, 105 and Tiagra road bike components respectively. There are 2X and 1X options, 800 and 600 are 11-speed and 400 is 10-speed. Cassettes come from existing road and mountain bike catalogues, and max out at a recommended 11-34t for 2X and 11-42t for 1X.
From compiling this list, it is clear manufacturers aren’t afraid of mixing the different levels of GRX. Some bikes have upgraded shifters, cranks and derailleurs, with some downgrading the crankset, shifters or cassettes, all in an effort to deliver a bike at a target price point.There is one limit to this interchangeability. You can’t mix and match GRX chainsets and front mechs though. To accommodate wide tyres, Shimano has pushed both outboard by 2.5mm.
The new groupset is dropper post friendly with a dedicated lever when using a 1X setup to control the seatpost. There are also in-line brake levers, so you can operate the brakes from the top of the handlebars. Shimano has also launched new wheels as part of the GRX range.
We have, it's no secret, a long-standing deep and frankly borderline indecent relationship with Specialized's Diverge gravel bikes, so we're excited to spend more time with the 2021 models with their revamped geometry, Future Shock suspension and 47mm tyre clearance. Give us free choice and we'd be very tempted by the second-from-top model in the range with GRX Di2 gearing and that amazing paintjob. Yum!
Boardman are offering two GRX-equipped bikes for 2021, and this is higher spec 9.0 model is configured with a 2x, 46/30 chainset to provide a top end just a little larger than a 50x12 gear. Boardman has slackened the head angle compared to the previous version, elongating the top tube and lowering the bottom bracket—all in the pursuit of a confidence inspiring, stable ride. A shorter stem should make the handling “on the agile side of neutral”, according to Boardman.
With 700c x 38mm tyres, Boardman says the zippy build is intended to "balance efficiency on the road as much as off it”; although for some extra robustness, Panaracer's Gravel King SK tyres are specced front and rear to “strike an excellent balance between rolling resistance on smooth surfaces and grip when things get looser”. Tubeless valves are supplied as standard for easy conversion, and the subtly flared bars should provide plenty of technical control without compromising too much aero efficiency when you're bombing it along the road.
Someone has to make do-everything gravel bikes at sensible prices, and who better than Trek? The Checkpoint ALR 5 has a mix of GRX 600 and 800 on an aluminium frame that boasts clever details like the Stranglehold adjustable dropouts that let you tweak the rear wheel position to adjust the ride.
Tester Stu really liked this bike's 202 kid brother, saying "Not only does the Revolt look purposeful with its boxy carbon fibre tube profiles, it rides that way as well.
"The harder you ride it, the more you get back. I spent huge sections of my rides through wooded trails or twisty gravel byways knowing that I was so close to the bike's limits that it could all go pear-shaped in an instant.
"I just couldn't stop it, though – it was addictive."
With a lighter frame in a higher grade of carbon fibre, the Revolt Advanced Pro 1 should be more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
Lots of the bikes in this list are quite spendy, but here's Merlin Cycles with the antidote to top-dollar GRX-equipped gravel bikes in the aluminium-framed, GRX600-equipped Malt G2X.
The Malt boasts "neutral and balanced handling, which makes it ideal as a first graveller, or a bike for those who enjoy spinning for hours offroad without having to focus too much on what's going underneath the tyres. You can just kick back and enjoy the scenery."
Probably the biggest bargain out there, this gravel bike from French-based sports superstore chain Decathlon has a mixture of GRX 800 and 600 driving a 1X transmission for simplicity. Decathlon claims frame and fork weights of just 1,020g and 340g respectively, making the EDR CF an enticing prospect for long-term upgrading.
It caused a shock when it launched, the 3T Exploro dared to be different, bringing aerodynamics to the gravel bike market. For 2021 3T have turned it up to 11 with the Exploro Max, an aero gravel bike that'll accommodate whopping great 650B 61mm tyres, a size that not very long ago meant you were looking at, well, a mountain bike. What the Exploro Max really resembles is the home-grown 'monstercross' bikes various tinkerers have been creating in their sheds for the last few years, cramming the fattest possible tyres on to drop-bar bikes, some of them built on frames that did start life as mountain bikes.
British company Genesis wasted no time in equipping its very lovely titanium Croix de Fer bike with the latest GRX groupset, but for 2021 they're really pulled out the stops with a revamped Croix de Fer Titanium aimed solidly at everyone who wants to travel light and fast. Wherever you like to mount bikepacking or touring luggage on your bike, the Croix de Fer Titanium probably has a mount for it — there are at least 20 mounting points on the frame and we keep losing track when we try and count them.
The components are all from the GRX810 hydraulic line, with a 2x setup, using the 46/30 chainset paired to an 11-34t cassette. Tyres are 40mm wide Kenda Boosters.
The Shand Stooshie is a comfortable and relaxed-handling all-road and occasional gravel bike with enough versatility to serve multiple uses.
This is a bike that feels right at home cruising along country lanes, with a big route planned that may or may not include some forays into the wilderness via forest tracks and abandoned byways.
It's a comfortable bike for going the distance, the skinny steel tubes and big tyres helping to soak up vibrations effortlessly. It still impresses us that despite modern material and technology advances, a really good steel frame can be so silky smooth.
Alongside the 'classic' Silex with 700C wheels, Merida now offers a version with 650B wheels, allowing for fatter tyres for more adventurous off-road shenanigans. The platform "offers quick handling, making it feel superbly controllable on demanding terrain," according to tester Mat Brett. "Quite an upright riding position helps here too. Rather than going into technical sections head first, you feel like you're sitting high, easily able to survey everything ahead of you and react accordingly."
With GRX 800 Di2, the Silex + 8000-E is the top model in the range. If you want something financially more conservative, check out the £1,400 aluminium-framed Silex 400 with GRX 400 components and 700C wheels.
Here’s Scott’s race-ready Addict cyclocross with a GRX600 2X groupset, using a 46/30t chainset and 11-34t cassette. Tyres are the excellent Schwalbe G-One 35mm tyres on Syncros RP2.0 wheels. And that paint job — it's almost too pretty to get muddy.
The Speedster is a more versatile bike with a lower entry price, aimed as a do-everything bike. The aluminium frame and carbon fork have mudguard eyelets and there’s plenty of space around the 35mm tyres. Groupset is a mix of GRX400 and GRX600 with a 46/30t chainset and 11-34t cassette.
Nuroad is German company Cube’s name for its versatile gravel bike platform, available in aluminium or carbon fibre as here. This model uses GRX800 with a 48/31t chainset and 11-32t cassette and 40mm Schwalbe G-One tyres.
Canyon’s radical Grail with the hover handlebar is available in several GRX builds. The cheaper aluminium Grail isn’t yet available with the new GRX groupset.
This Grail CF SLX 8 Di2 here is a range-topping model with the GRX800 Di2 groupset, combining a 48/31t chainset with an 11-34t Ultegra cassette. Reynolds ATR carbon wheels and Schwalbe G-One Bite 40mm tubeless tyres complete the build on this bike.
This the top model of Canyon's aluminium Grail line-up and looks a good choice if you want something less dramatic that the carbon fibre Grail, and quite a lot less expensive to boot. It has the GRX 600 shifters and crankset, and GRX 800 front and rear mechs.
The Áspero was Cervelo’s first venture into the gravel bike market, and it brings all the company’s experience with building fast road race winning bikes to a gravel bike designed, naturally, for winning races. It’s got some interesting details, which you can read all about in our review. This model pairs GRX600 mechanical shifters and derailleurs with a GRX 46/30 chainset and 11-34t cassette.
Here's a bike that's right at the cutting-edge of gravel bike thinking, with front and rear suspension, a 1X GRX 800/600 transmission and 650B wheels for fatter tyres without the need to lengthen everything.
British company Orro offers its carbon fibre Terra gravel bike with the GRX600 groupset in a 1x flavour, combining a a 40t chainrings with an 11-42t cassette.
Famous Italian brand has two Impulso Allroad bikes with GRX groupsets in its latest range. Both models use aluminium frames with wide tyre clearance, up to 40mm, and mudguard and rack mounts.
The pictured bike wears a GRX800 groupset with a 48/31t chainset and 11-34t cassette. Other kit includes the company’s own Reparto Course CDX22 rims with Formula hubs and Kenda Flintridge 35mm tyres.
For those with more modest budgets, there's the Via Nirone 7 AllRoad for £1,155.38.
This carbon fibre gravel bike is a good looking number and is specced a mix of GRX800 single ring chainset and rear mech, paired to GRX600 shifters and a Shimano SLX 11-42t cassette. We’re seeing this mix-and-match approach with a lot of bikes in 2021.
The Fugio is a road plus bike suitable for road cycling, commuting, touring and gravel, and rolls on 650B wheels with WTB’s latest Venture 47mm wide tyres. The groupset is GRX800 with a single 40t chainring and 11-42t cassette.
Ribble offers its popular CGR bike, as suited to commuting as it is to gravel racing, with the new GRX groupset. You can choose from GRX600 1X for £1,599 or GRX800 1X for £1,999.
The most expensive GRX-equipped bike we’ve yet seen, this is the Bokeh titanium from Brit brand Mason Cycles. The company will let you choose 700c or 650b wheels and 1x or 2x drivetrains, based around the range-topping GRX800 Di2 groupset.
The regular aluminium Bokeh brings the price down a lot. This version, in a choice of three frame colours and again a choice of 1x or 2x, is equipped with GRX800 mechanical components.
The American company’s ‘ultra endurance’ bike has been fully updated for 2020 with a new frame, fork and extra cargo capacity. It’s also available with Shimano’s latest GRX groupset in a number of build options.
With Shimano GRX 810 Di2 components it'll set you back £5,800. With mechanical GRX 810 it's £4,200, and GRX 600 costs £3,300.
Enigma's updated Escape titanium gravel and adventure bike is now being offered with Shimano's new GRX groupset, and we've tested the bike pictured above.
Titanium gives a ride quality that is less muted and more alive than a steel frame, and is enough to justify the premium price tag for many people. In the Escape, it offers impeccable ride manners and performance that shines on any road or off-road surface, and the abundance of mounts ensures it's ready for any adventure, big or small, you might have planned.
If you prefer steel, then the brand new Endeavour from Enigma is a good choice. And damn look at that paint job!
The Enigma Endeavour is not only the prettiest looking bike I’ve seen in a while, it’s also one of the sweetest riding, with delightful smoothness and fine handling – on the road and in the woods. It isn’t exactly cheap, but it is handmade in the UK, which might just be enough to convince you it’s worth it.
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John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.