The bike industry is in an arms race right now in the battle to conquer the gravel market. We’ve seen bikes, tires, wheels, shoes and derailleurs aimed at the gravel scene. In 2019, SRAM and now Shimano have launched multiple component groups aimed directly at offroad, drop bar riding.
SRAM launched its electronic eTap Red AXS group in February, with “chain management” and wide-range gearing options designed to handle bumpy, lumpy gravel riding. The Chicago-based component company then followed the Red launch by unveiling the Force version of the eTap AXS group in April with nearly all the same options at a more affordable price point and a bit of a weight penalty.
Today, Shimano fired back with a new GRX family of complete and partial component groups aimed directly at our readers: cyclocross and gravel riders.
That’s right, it’s not just for gravel, as Shimano’s press release states, “New Shimano GRX Offers Wide Range of Options for Diverse Gravel and Cyclocross Riding Styles.”
GRX Breaks New Ground
Shimano’s GRX launch breaks new ground for the Japan-based component giant, with 1x drop bar options, dropper post compatibility, top-mount inline brake levers, wide-range gearing and semi-wide tubeless rims.
Dave Lawrence, Shimano’s product manager said the GRX project has its roots as far back as 2014, when the company noticed the growth in Minnesota’s Almanzo event. The demands of the offroad riding motivated the company to create a group of components tailored to the trend, while leaving its existing road component groups to remain pavement focused.
Here’s our summary of what’s new and notable from the GRX family:
- The GRX is not a group name, but a family of hydraulic disc brake, clutch derailleur components that come in no less than four different levels, with Di2 and mechanical, in 11-speed and 10-speed configurations. The 800 series, 600 series and 400 series of GRX components compare in price and finish to Ultegra Di2, Ultegra mechanical, 105 and Tiagra.
- GRX represents Shimano’s first foray into single chain ring (1x) drop bar drivetrains, but 2x options are still available with a new wide-range pair of chainrings.
- The GRX offers several unique, innovative features for cyclocross and gravel riders, including inline hydraulic brake levers for the tops of the drop bar, a new chainline for better tire clearance and a left shift STI lever designed specifically for dropper posts and 1x drivetrains.
- Shimano’s group offers plenty of gearing options, with 48/31t (810 series) and 46/30t double options (600 series). Compared to SRAM, 1x chainring options are limited, with just a 40t and 42t available in the 810 series, and only a 40t for the 600 series. The 2x relies on a new BCD for the small 31t and 30t inner rings. You’ll likely need different rear derailleurs to run both 1x and 2x unless you don’t need a rear cog bigger than a 34t in your 1x setup.
- The new levers and hoods have a redesigned shape, texture and pivot position for more leverage and a more secure hand position in the hoods.
- Shimano has new 21.6mm wide (internal) GRX tubeless wheelset that retails for $419.99 and weighs around 1600g. It comes in both 700c and 650b diameters.
- The components are not yet available, but mechanical 11-speed starts to arrive in July, with the other variations arriving later. Full weights will have to wait…
Three Levels, Four Variations
The new GRX name doesn’t mean much if you’re looking to buy a bike. “I want to buy a Shimano GRX-equipped gravel bike,” could have you spending anywhere from a bit over $1k to well over $5k. GRX represents three levels and four variants of drivetrains, some of which have both 1x and 2x options.
GRX RX800 (Ultegra Level)
The flagship GRX Di2 RX800 series features the RX815 (2x) and RX817 (1x) electronic rear derailleurs, the RX815 front derailleur, and the RX815 Di2 STI levers.
The mechanical GRX RX800 series follows with RX810 (2x) and RX812 (1x) rear derailleurs, RX810 mechanical STI levers, and the RX810 front derailleur.
Because of the outboard +2.5mm chainline, the 2x cranksets require a GRX front derailleur for indexed shifting. All derailleurs have user-adjustable clutch-based chain security.
Both the Di2 and mechanical groups share the RX810 1x and 2x one-piece four-arm cranksets, RX810 flat mount hydraulic brakes and RX812 inline top-mount brake levers. The crankset is only available with a 48/31t chain ring setup or as a 1x with 40t or 42t single wide/narrow chainrings.
The both Di2 and mechanical variations use Ultegra chains and road cassettes, along with Deore XT cassettes in 1x format.
There are actually four different left brake levers in the RX800 level.
The RX815 is Di2, the RX810 is mechanical shifting, the RX810-LA is for dropper posts, while the BR-RX810 is a hydraulic brake lever for 1x drivetrains without derailleur or dropper actuation.
The existing Ultegra Rx800 and RX805 clutch-based rear derailleurs will continue as Ultegra components outside of the GRX line, even though they were also designed for gravel.
The GRX RX600 components offer a more affordable option for GRX features on a mechanical 11-speed drivetrain.
There’s a two-piece alloy four-arm RX600 crank that comes in a 46/30t double for 11-speed, a 46/30t for 10-speed, and 1x that comes with a 40t single chainring.
There are also RX600 mechanical STI levers in 11-speed, 2x format.
The GRX RX600 components do not form a complete group. GRX RX600 groups will rely on Shimano 105 components (chain, cassettes) and will use RX810 derailleurs and calipers.
The GRX RX400 group is limited to shifters, derailleurs and brakes and relies on an RX600 crankset with a 46/30t 10-speed double and RX810 derailleurs.
The RX400 rear derailleur will take a 36t rear cog, 2t larger than the RX810, but is curiously stated to only work with a 16t chain ring spread up front (the RX810 crankset is a 17t jump, and the RX810/815 rear derailleur are listed with a 17t maximum range. Of course, these are manufacturer stated limits, but YMMV.
The new GRX group offers quite a bit of gearing range, with 479% range for the RX800 double and 474% for the RX600 double (with 11-34 cassettes). Both compare favorably in terms of offering more range than the widest double options (10-33t 46/33 = 460%) of SRAM eTap AXS Red and Force groups. Pair the RX400 10-speed rear derailleur with an 11-36t cassette and 46/30t chain ring combo and you’ve got a whopping 502% albeit with bigger jumps.
The 1x GRX options land right in between where the SRAM eTap AXS groups 1x currently sit in terms of gearing range but with one less cog. The SRAM eTap AXS Red and Force options 1x options, with a 10-33t, are relatively tight, while the Eagle / eTap combo requires an Eagle derailleur and 10-50t cassette.
Shimano’s 11-40t and 11-42t cassettes with 42t or 40t rings split the difference between the two eTap options and mimic the most popular SRAM Force 1, Rival 1 and Apex 1 drivetrain configurations. The two big S component companies are clearly eyeing each other’s bread and butter.
The gearing options offer a range and chain retention that might be attractive be to roadies without dirt ambitions. “It’s a groupset that would be a really great group for people who would never see dirt,” said Shimano’s Nick Legan. “We are offering options. It will be really interesting to what OEs and consumers will do now that we’ve given them this menu of options.”
It’s worth noting that while the 4-arm 110mm BCD used by the 1x rings and outer ring of the double looks similar to existing four-arm road cranksets, Shimano says the rings are proprietary to GRX and GRX crankset won’t work with existing road rings. The 80mm BCD used by the inner rings is also a new standard from Shimano.
Shimano could not confirm that RX600 and RX800 11-speed double chainring setups are interchangeable, and could not recommend using the 1x chainring on the 10-speed chain and drivetrain.
Mix and Match, Mostly
Shimano proudly says most of the new components are compatible with existing component groups, with a few exceptions. Got an Ultegra Di2 or Dura-Ace Di2 hydraulic group and want to run the new rear derailleur and inline brake levers? Go crazy.
Want the new Shimano 1x crank to run with your existing Ultegra RX805 or RX800 derailleur? You can do it. You should also be able to mix the GRX RX600 series with GRX RX810 series components. The GRX RX400 series even relies on many existing Tiagra components, forcing you to mix and match different lines from Shimano.
Sad by the flat mount only nature of the group? Find older Shimano post mount mountain bike or road brakes and pair them with the new levers.
There are a few exceptions in compatibility. The new 2x GRX cranksets require GRX front derailleurs, not just because of the giant 17 and 16-tooth jumps, but because of the outward chainline that sits 2.5mm further from the frame.
The chain rings are a bit more tricky. Shimano could not confirm the RX600 2x chainrings would work on the RX810 crankset or vice versa. And even though it does not have an RX400 crankset, Shimano did not recommend trying the 1x cranksets with the 10-speed RX400 group (and chain).
Lastly, the derailleurs are somewhat chain ring configuration specific. The 1x rear derailleur can’t hand the chain wrap needs of the double crankset, while the 2x derailleur won’t work with the wide-range 11-40t or 11-42t cassettes. They max out at an 11-34t cassette.
SRAM and Easton certainly have more single chain ring options, and we can imagine some creative home mechanics pairing Shimano shifting with a SRAM or Easton crankset to take advantage of the company’s 38t, 44t or 46t options.
New, Wider Hoops
Shimano also unveiled a new wheelset aimed at cyclocross and gravel cyclists. The $420 wheelset is Shimano’s widest road offering to date at 21.6mm internal, but may underwhelm cyclists already used to 25mm-wide rims for road. Shimano tends to be conservative and slow in embracing trends, but the 21.6mm width should offer an improvement in ride quality and air volume with cyclocross and gravel tires over Shimano’s other rims.
The target weight is expected to be around 1,600g, which is relatively light at that price point.
The Bottom Line
GRX represents a major commitment by Shimano in components designed specifically around how our readers like to ride. It’s also the first time Shimano has launched a new name that covers a family of components at several different levels.
While the wide range chain rings help Shimano catch up to or surpass the adventure gearing of companies like Easton and FSA, and the 1x option is a first from Shimano, such configurations were previously possible by mixing in other cranksets or Shimano’s Di2 mountain bike derailleurs. Now you’ve got a group that acts and looks like a cohesive unit.
We might be most excited by the lever options, with redesigned ergonomics, a higher pivot and a left dropper STI lever. The grip and shape look to offer a secure perch during sloppy conditions, while the increased braking leverage may allow for more one-finger braking.
We’re also excited about the inline brake lever option. On dusty group gravel rides, we’ve long craved for the Worlds-winning Runkel levers of canti bikes’ past.
The new RX812 inline levers are compatible with other older Shimano hydraulic drop bar levers, but aren’t expected to arrive until September.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen hydraulic inline brake levers, as an ingenious engineer beat Shimano to it years ago using Magura parts, but Shimano’s system looks clean and particularly useful on the new crop of wide, adventure-oriented drop handlebars.
We’re also big fans of Shimano’s decision to offer an affordable option, even if it’s just 10-speeds. Cyclists on a budget shouldn’t be robbed of proven technology like clutch derailleurs or wide range and low gears. Cyclocross and gravel shouldn’t be just a rich person’s sport, and it’s good to see the GRX group launched without the long wait of trickle-down features.
The biggest bummer is that we’ve written all this without touching, let alone riding any of the new GRX components. With some luck, that will change in a few months. Mechanical components will come in July, with Di2 in August. Aftermarket components will likely arrive before GRX-equipped complete bikes. Stay tuned.
Full pricing and official product images below.
More info: gravel.shimano.com
Shimano GRX Component MSRP Prices – RX815, RX810, RX600, RX400
|RX600 2×10-speed crank w/ chainrings||$129.99||RX600||10|
|RX600 1×11-speed crank w/ chainring||$146.99||RX600||11|
|RX600 2×11-speed crank w/ chainrings||$146.99||RX600||11|
|RX810 1×11-speed crank w/ chainrings||$224.99||RX800||11|
|RX810 2×11-speed crank w/ chainrings||$224.99||RX800||11|
|RX400 2×10-speed front derailleur||$36.99||RX400||10|
|RX810 2×11-speed mechanical front derailleur||$51.99||RX800||11|
|RX815 2×11-speed Di2 front derailleur||$226.99||RX800||11|
|RX400 2×10-speed rear derailleur||$62.99||RX400||10|
|RX810 2×11-speed mechanical rear derailleur||$111.99||RX800||11|
|RX812 1×11-speed mechanical rear derailleur||$113.99||RX800||11|
|RX815 2×11-speed Di2 rear derailleur||$286.99||RX800||11|
|RX817 1×11-speed Di2 rear derailleur||$319.99||RX800||11|
|RX600 shifter/brake set w/ ST-RX600(L) & BR-RX400(F)||$301.99||RX600||11|
|RX600 shifter/brake set w/ ST -RX600(right) & R-RX400(rear)||$301.99||RX600||11|
|RX400 shifter/brake set w/ ST -RX400(L) & BR-RX400(F)||$269.99||RX400||10|
|RX400 shifter/brake set w/ ST -RX400(right) & BR-RX400(R)||$269.99||RX400||10|
|RX810 shifter/brake set w/ ST -RX810(L) & BR-RX810(F)||$391.99||RX800||11|
|RX810 shifter/brake set w/ ST -RX810(right) & BR-RX810(rear)||$391.99||RX800||11|
|RX815 Di2 shifter/brake set w/ ST-RX815(L) & BR-RX810(F)||$390.99||RX800||11|
|RX815 Di2 shifter/brake set w/ ST-RX815(right) & BR-RX810(rear)||$390.99||RX800||11|
|RX810 hydraulic disc brake & dropper lever set w/ ST-RX810(LA) dropper lever & BR-RX810 (F)||$364.99||RX800||11|
|RX810 hydraulic disc brake assembled set w/ BL-RX810(L) & BR-RX810(F)||$337.99||RX800||11|
|RX600 left hydraulic disc brake lever||$184.99||RX600||n/a|
|RX800 left hydraulic disc brake lever||$214.99||RX800||n/a|
|RX812 left hydraulic disc brake sub lever||$65.99||RX800||n/a|
|RX812 right hydraulic disc brake sub lever||$65.99||RX800||n/a|
|RX400 2×10-speed left shift/brake lever||$164.99||RX400||10|
|RX400 2×10-speed right shift/brake lever||$164.99||RX400||10|
|RX600 2×11-speed left shift/brake lever||$204.99||RX600||11|
|RX600 11-speed left shift/brake lever||$204.99||RX600||11|
|RX810 2×11-speed mechanical left shift/brake lever||$269.99||RX800||11|
|RX815 11-speed mechanical right shift/brake lever||$269.99||RX800||11|
|RX810 2×11-speed Di2 left shift/brake lever||$269.99||RX800||11|
|RX815 11-speed Di2 right shift/brake lever||$269.99||RX800||11|
|Shimano GRX seatpost dropper left mechanical lever||$244.99||RX800||n/a|
|RX400 front flat mount hydraulic disc brake caliper||$60.99||RX400||n/a|
|RX400 rear flat mount hydraulic disc brake caliper||$54.99||RX400||n/a|
|RX810 front flat mount hydraulic disc brake caliper||$81.99||RX800||n/a|
|RX810 rear flat mount hydraulic disc brake caliper||$75.99||RX800||n/a|
|RX570 650B tubeless disc brake front wheel||$197.99||RX570||n/a|
|RX570 700C tubeless disc brake front wheel||$197.99||RX570||n/a|
|RX570 650B tubeless disc brake wheelset||$419.99||RX570||n/a|
|RX570 650B tubeless disc brake wheelset||$419.99||RX570||n/a|
|RX570 650B tubeless disc brake rear wheel||$224.99||RX570||n/a|
|RX570 700C tubeless disc brake rear wheel||$224.99||RX570||n/a|