You don’t have to suit your new gravel bike with a ‘gravel-specific’ groupset like Shimano GRX. Riders seeking to transfer from the tarmac to somewhat gentle off-road may fairly fortunately spec a knobbly-tired journey bike with a sturdy street groupset like 105.
So which to decide on then: Shimano GRX or 105?
Your intrepid veloreporter, er me, considers your choices (I’m good like that).
What Is A Groupset?
Broadly talking, the time period groupset describes nearly all of mechanical (and someday digital) elements connected to your bike body.
It’s generally used as shorthand for a motorbike’s ‘drivetrain’, the chain rings, rear cassette, entrance and rear derailleurs, but additionally extends to the shifters, brakes, backside bracket and chain.
The main international groupset producers, spanning street, MTB and now gravel biking are Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM.
However on this submit, our groupset glare might be shining on Shimano.
The place In The Vary Do GRX/105 Sit?
105 sits within the center the Shimano street vary, under Ultegra and above Tiagra. It’s typically characterised as Shimano’s first ‘correct’ efficiency groupset.
Certainly, Shimano attracts an precise (moderately than figurative) line on its web site separating 105, Ultegra and Dura-Ace from the worth choices additional down the vary.
GRX is a broader description that covers elements that correlate with street equivalents from Ultegra (larger spec than 105) and Tiagra (the tier under 105).
** Hypothesis alert ** One imagines that after a couple of years, notably if gravel continues to develop (can gravel develop?), GRX will separate out into extra distinct households, focused at completely different rider sorts (with differing quantities of cash to spend…).
Shimano 105 has been round for a lengthy time. The primary 105 collection groupset was launched in 1982. I assume we’re now on to the ninth era. Shimano has had loads of time to hone 105 to satisfy the wants of its goal market.
GRX is newer (clearly!). In keeping with Google Tendencies, searches for the time period ‘Gravel bike’ solely began in 2015. I perceive the little rocks themselves are barely older.
Shimano had been fairly fast to leap on grandwagon (er, gravel bandwagon) then, launching the GRX groupset in Might 2019.
While the GRX represents a comparatively new set of elements, clearly it attracts on Shimano’s many years of velomechanical expertise.
What Are The Present Mannequin Numbers?
On this planet of Shimano (a spot the place all of us aspire to stay), it pays to spend somewhat time attending to know the mannequin numbers of the varied groupset households.
In the event you per-pe-pick the fitting elements (Granville), elements from one mannequin household might be appropriate with these of one other and may be combined and matched.
The present era of 105 is called the R7000 collection and is an 11-speed system (as was the prior 11-speed 5800 collection).
As alluded to above, GRX encompasses three sub-ranges: RX800 (high finish; 11-speed); RX600 (mid-level; 10- or 11-speed); RX400 (decrease finish; 10-speed).
Mixing and matching between the tiers is kind of required as a result of not all the sub-ranges has all the elements you’ll want.
The principle factor to keep in mind (like when choosing from completely different Shimano street ranges) is to choose both 11- or 10-speed elements – don’t attempt to use a mixture of the 2.
Disclaimer alert: this part doesn’t start to cowl all of the complexities of blending and matching elements between completely different ranges. If you’re happening this path, search particular steering from somebody that is aware of (like a motorbike mechanic or skilled retailer).
How Many Gears?
Which looks as if such an unsophisticated newbie bike owner query. In truth, in a dialogue of 105 vs GRX, it kind of will get to the guts of the matter.
For 105 there may be a straightforward reply, the quantity is 22 (a minimum of for the present and prior generations of the groupset). It’s an 11-speed cassette paired with two chain rings.
For GRX, the reply is both 22 or 20.
[Whispers] Or 11.
GRX is available in each 10-speed and 11-speed codecs (outlined by the variety of sprockets on the cassette). Paired with a double chain ring on the entrance, this implies 20 or 22 gearing combos to select from.
However what occurs when you’ve got a pathological concern of entrance derailleurs?
There’s Solely One Alternative For ‘One By’
Not like 105, GRX may be fitted to your bike in a 1x configuration.
Adopting a single chain ring setup reduces weight, removes the necessity for a entrance derailleur and makes cleansing your bike simpler.
You do clear your bike…. proper?
It additionally means it’s a must to use cassettes with a far wider vary of sizes with a view to obtain a usable set of drugs combos (usable by the common rider, versus the gigantic-thighed professional).
And likewise a rear derailleur that may deal with transferring a sequence round over a bigger ‘sprocket space’ (a time period I could have coined).
GRX will take a cassette that goes as much as 42 enamel on its largest cog (offered you go for the RX812 rear derailleur) whereas 105 caps out at 34 enamel (once more, with the fitting ‘cage’ derailleur).
For completeness (and I do know you had been itching to ask), the 1x possibility is just accessible for the 11-speed model of GRX. The ten-speed arrange is just accessible with a double chain ring on the entrance.
Shimano solely needs to present these cheeky gravel guzzlers a lot gearing flexibility.
Now this is attention-grabbing … whereupon Mont proceeds to state one thing distinctly uninteresting.
Shimano GRX is out there in Di2 format, that means you may have the entrance derailleur (when you’ve got one) and rear derailleur shift electronically (versus mechanically).
Shimano 105, not like its larger spec Ultegra and Dura-Ace brethen, has not but obtained Di2. And it stays an open query as as to whether the ‘but’ in my final sentence is acceptable.
So if you’re swayed by the prospect of digital gears, then this is able to push you to GRX over 105.
It’s not likely a good comparability although. As talked about (MUST I repeat myself), GRX spans Ultegra to Tiagra in equal street spec phrases.
The GRX Di2 elements actually sit on the Ultegra finish of the Shimano equivalence continuum (I assume they name it that). And Ultegra is out there in Di2.
I’m unsure the place that places us. MOVING ON!
Though GRX is visually similar to 105, there are a couple of particular options that speaks to its deal with gravel and lightweight off-road using.
GRX has what Shimano phrases a ‘Shadow RD+ chain stabilizer’ on the rear derailleur. This stabilizer, which may be switched on and off, reduces the probability of dropping your chain when using over tough terrain.
It additionally leads to a quieter drivetrain. Nobody, least of all me, needs a chattering chain.
GRX has a few additional brake lever choices versus a typical street groupset.
For 1x set ups, the lever that will in any other case be used to regulate the entrance derailleur on a 2x (and is only a brake on a 1x) may be changed with one which operates a dropper seat submit (in addition to retaining its commonplace braking job).
So, in case you plan on tackling downhill trails that require you to keep up clear distance between your seat and your ging-gang-goolies, the GRX has you lined.
Is There A Weight Distinction?
There’s not an excessive amount of advantage in choosing between the 2 groupsets primarily based on weight. GRX is designed to be ridden over tough terrain, the place sturdiness issues greater than saving a couple of grammes.
(Additionally, let’s not discuss concerning the additional couple of ‘winter kilos’ you’re carrying proper now).
That stated, selecting a single chain ring arrange, with the resultant eschewing of a entrance derailleur, will result in some financial savings.
The RX600 (closest to 105) 1x chainset weighs 743g, which is definitely lower than the usual 105 double, however 30g greater than the compact model. The shortage of entrance derailleur saves an extra 95g.
You give it again elsewhere although. The upper finish GRX rear derailleurs weigh 20-30g greater than the equal 105 and also you want the heavier, longer-reach model in case you’re operating 1x.
However, once more, we’re speaking weightus differentalis equal to a bag of crisps (gas for health) or a couple of slurps of the bidon. It don’t matter.
What Is The Value?
Evaluating the price of groupsets is an inexact science at one of the best of instances. Most come connected to a motorbike, whether or not new or used, and the worth paid is linked to the general spec.
For a brand new bike, Shimano 105 begins to be fitted to aluminium-framed bikes beginning at a £1,200 value level. For carbon frames, it’s extra like £2,000.
In evaluating 105 and GRX, we’re trying throughout a blended street/gravel biking use case. This muddies our comparability waters additional. GRX-fitted bikes are much less more likely to function (cheaper) rim brakes.
Entry-level aluminium (gravel) bikes with GRX begin at £1,600. Carbon frames appear to kick in at £2,200.
This distinction (GRX costing extra) bears out on a part stage. The lower-spec (Tiagra-equivalent) GRX rear derailleur nonetheless prices greater than the 105 equal (albeit a modest £5).
Aesthetics (Or How Do They Examine In The Appears to be like Division)?
I favor the look of GRX. And I trip 105 nearly on a regular basis. So that is fairly an enormous betrayal.
GRX appears purposeful and rugged. A 1x entrance arrange considerably cleans up the muddle across the backside bracket. The brake/gear levers look clear and trendy (tsk Mont, who cares how the levers look).
Appears to be like present no actual foundation on which to pick out a groupset to your bike. However for numerous us, the aesthetics are vital.
So that you may need to have a look at a couple of photographs (and take a look at to not let it cloud your judgment an excessive amount of).
So Which Is Higher?
Ah, lastly. The important thing query. And one I’m not going to reply with out these two all-important phrases.
It relies upon.
And truly, on this case, the factor it depends upon is fairly essential.
If you’re a street bike owner and also you’re going to remain a street bike owner (a minimum of on the bike we’re discussing), the reply is 105. It’s a street groupset.
However, in case you dabble in gravel and your bike is in any other case set as much as deal with somewhat of the tough stuff, then GRX a minimum of provides you choices.
The choice to run a 1x chain ring, to have a couple of dinner plate-sized cogs in your cassette, to have a rear derailleur that may comprise your chain while the bike will get thrown round.
And truly I feel the title, GRX, sounds cooler than 105. So there’s that.
As all the time: YMMV; do your individual analysis; don’t eat yellow snow.