The £2,699.99 GT Grade Carbon Ultegra has just arrived at road.cc for review, so let’s take a good look before we take it out on the road.
The Grade range is aimed at more than just asphalt. Dave summed it up like this when he reviewed the GT Grade Alloy Tiagra last year: “GT’s Grade is one of a new trend of road bikes (some call it gravel and adventure, GT calls it EnduRoad) built with the intention of providing the capability to tackle more than just smooth roads, because with its relaxed geometry and bigger tyres, the Grade is as happy hurtling through the woods on a thin slither of singletrack as it is chasing wheels on the Sunday club run. Fit some mudguards and it can be pressed into service as a daily commuter.”
Seeing as we’re slinging quotes about, here’s GT’s own take on it: “The EnduRoad series bikes are built for the long haul, and especially love it when you take the path that brings on dirt. Comfortable geometries pair up with a stiff frame and the durability you’ve come to love in our mountain bikes for the ultimate in go-anywhere road (and off road) riding.”
So you get the idea. The Grade bikes are designed to be versatile.
The big difference between the Grade that we reviewed last year and this one is the frame material. Rather than aluminium alloy, this model is carbon (the clues are in the names).
The head tube is tapered, taking a 1 1/8in bearing at the top and a 1 1/4in bearing down below, while the bottom bracket shell is oversized (BB30 standard) fitted with a Praxis Works conversion bottom bracket to take a Shimano Ultegra 52/36-tooth chainset (with a 24mm axle rather than a BB30’s 30mm axle). The design keeps the cartridge bearings outboard of the frame.
Of course, the frame is built to GT’s ‘Triple Triangle’ design, meaning that the seatstays meet the seat tube quite low and then just keep on going up to the top tube. GT claims that this frame layout reduces unwanted lateral frame flex and improves acceleration, although we suspect that it’s as much to do with brand identity as anything else.
Like the frame, the fork is carbon, including the steerer, and both are 15mm thru-axle designs.
We have the 56cm frame here which comes with a stack height (the vertical distance between the centre of the bottom bracket and the top of the head tube) of 601mm and a reach (the horizontal distance between those points) of 381mm. Those figures suggest a far more upright riding position than you get on a standard road bike, although we’ll find out for sure once we pump up the Grade's tyres and get out there.
The GT Grade Alloy is available in five different builds while the carbon model is offered in Shimano 105 and Ultegra options. You'll probably know that Ultegra is Shimano’s second tier road groupset, sitting below only Dura-Ace in the hierarchy.
Both derailleurs are Ultegra and, as mentioned earlier, so is the semi-compact chainset, while the hydraulic brakes and levers are non-series RS685.
The wheels comprise DT Swiss 240 hubs and Stans No Tubes Grail Disc specific rims. The tyres are Continental Grand Sport Race in a 28mm width, although there’s plenty of clearance to spare if you want to swap to something larger for more grip and comfort in future.
Speaking of comfort, we’re guessing that the narrow (27.2mm) FSA K-Force Light carbon seatpost will provide some give to improve the ride quality. The saddle that sits on there is a Fizik Aliante with a carbon-reinforced nylon shell and magnesium rails.
The flared handlebar and stem are both aluminium alloy, and the complete bike weighs in at 8.78kg (19.4lb).
Of the gravel/adventure bikes that we’ve reviewed on road.cc in the past, the closest in price to the £2,699.99 GT Grade Carbon Ultegra is the Jamis Renegade Elite. This was £2,500 when we reviewed it this time last year and it’s now £2,699.
The Renegade Elite is also built around a carbon-fibre frame and fork, and it has a Shimano Ultegra groupset, just like the GT, although the chainset is compact rather than semi-compact, so you get some lower gears. The hydraulic disc brakes are Shimano 685.
Jez loved the Jamis, concluding, “Brilliant do-it-all bike. Light, tough, very well-specced and grin inducing,” and it’s our current Adventure Bike of the Year.
That means the GT Grade Carbon Ultegra is going to have to do a lot to impress us. It’s time to get it out on the road to see how it performs. We’ll be back with a review on road.cc soon.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.