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GRX vs. Ultegra

Old 08-29-19, 09:18 PM
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bonsai171
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GRX vs. Ultegra

I'm in the beginning stages of planning the next gravel bike. It will be used for multi-surface rides and eventually bikepacking, but I also have a dedicated road bike for regular road duty. Been looking at building up a bike from scratch, and need some help deciding between a GRX groupset and a 105/Ultegra mix. I would like a clutch rear derailleur, so that will be either Ultegra or GRX. The big question is whether GRX would be worth it (suspecting it will cost more than a 105/Ultegra mix) or if I can save a few bucks and skip GRX.

So far I speced out a Niner RLT 9 steel with a GRX groupset (46/30 crankset, and 11-36T cassette) which came out to 3k. Also found Excel sports has a Niner RLT 9 RDO already built with Ultegra for 3K. Haven't really decided on a budget for this bike yet, but some input would be appreciated on whether to go with GRX or 105/Ultegra. Maybe some other frames to look at would be helpful (also saw the Jamis Renegade which might work but is a similar price to the Niner RLT 9 steel frame).

Dave
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Old 08-29-19, 10:13 PM
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Some early "spy" shots/info on the 2020 Renegades leaked over on ****** and they've got a real solid lineup it looks like with GRX-based bikes.

/r/gravelcycling

I echo the poster's comments that the $1499 MSPR S3 looks like a hell of a deal.

Are you primarily interested in a steel frame? Or carbon?

There's not a lot of GRX bikes equipped bikes out there (yet) but based on your purchase timeline there probably will be. You'll probably still be able to build a 105/Ultegra RX with your 46/30 crankset for less, though.
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Old 08-29-19, 10:23 PM
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My opinion is that the deciding factor is going to be low vs high gearing.

Assuming only Shimano supported configurations, GRX is going to support a slightly lower gear which will help when hauling tents, food and sleeping bags on hilly or mountainous terrain.

Ultegra will be higher geared for go-fast rides. Climbing the really steep stuff up in the Blue Ridge or Cohutta Mountains will be difficult however.

Going beyond Shimano supported systems, there is no doubt that I'm slower with the 46/30 ultra compact cranks than I was with Ultegra 50/34 compact road cranks but there is now way I could haul camping gear on repeated 5000 foot days without the very low gears. In fact, I don't think GRX is really low enough for bikepacking in the mountains. My low gear is 30f/42r or about 19 inches and it is nice. GRX and Ultegra are in the mid and high 20 inch range.

Once you start hauling 35 lb gear up in them hills you will likely need a very low gear.


-Tim-
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Old 08-29-19, 11:12 PM
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I was looking at the Niner RLT steel but didn't like any of the Niner offerings. I thought I'd go a different direction but I have not yet pulled the trigger there. the Excel steel RLT frame price almost has me coming back to it. Especially considering I want GRX.

on test riding the Niner steel and RDO. they are both fun, but for multiday long distance riding I'd go steel first of those 2 bikes. Plus the steel version has room for 650 plus. I only throw that in because tubeless WTB horizons, bullet proof!!! A guy rides from Canada to Mexico without a flat on Horizons. WTB Horizon Road Plus ? Spoke'n'Fly

as for GRX, the big selling point for me is the new levers. different pivot point. different grip.


the Giant revolt is at the top of my list because of the 70 mm BB drop + carbon + front rack use + 700x45 or 650x47. How ever I do want GRX. So do I drop to Number 2 on my list Niner RLT steel and build it?

If I want a Niner RLT steel and GRX I'd probably just build it, because I can guarantee that I won't like what Niner chooses to offer as a GRX package built bike. *cough wheel choice* etc....
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Old 08-30-19, 02:30 AM
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Originally Posted by softreset View Post
Some early "spy" shots/info on the 2020 Renegades leaked over on ****** and they've got a real solid lineup it looks like with GRX-based bikes.

/r/gravelcycling

I echo the poster's comments that the $1499 MSPR S3 looks like a hell of a deal.

Are you primarily interested in a steel frame? Or carbon?

There's not a lot of GRX bikes equipped bikes out there (yet) but based on your purchase timeline there probably will be. You'll probably still be able to build a 105/Ultegra RX with your 46/30 crankset for less, though.
At least put the pictures of new renegade here if you dont want to put the whole link...
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Old 08-30-19, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by b0rderline View Post
At least put the pictures of new renegade here if you dont want to put the whole link...
https://imgur.com/5CVrj8o
https://imgur.com/4nrjwTH
https://imgur.com/aJIfvpj

Images for the people that can't be bothered to go to ******.

Last edited by softreset; 08-30-19 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 08-30-19, 09:10 AM
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From what I can see, an ultegra group with GX rear derailleur and an adventure crank from FSA or Praxis is effectively the same as GRX from what I can see.
For all intents and purposes.
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Old 08-30-19, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
My opinion is that the deciding factor is going to be low vs high gearing.

Assuming only Shimano supported configurations, GRX is going to support a slightly lower gear which will help when hauling tents, food and sleeping bags on hilly or mountainous terrain.

Ultegra will be higher geared for go-fast rides. Climbing the really steep stuff up in the Blue Ridge or Cohutta Mountains will be difficult however.

Going beyond Shimano supported systems, there is no doubt that I'm slower with the 46/30 ultra compact cranks than I was with Ultegra 50/34 compact road cranks but there is now way I could haul camping gear on repeated 5000 foot days without the very low gears. In fact, I don't think GRX is really low enough for bikepacking in the mountains. My low gear is 30f/42r or about 19 inches and it is nice. GRX and Ultegra are in the mid and high 20 inch range.

Once you start hauling 35 lb gear up in them hills you will likely need a very low gear.


-Tim-
This is unrelated to the topic of the thread, but may be of interest to bike packers willing to spend on comfort.

https://zpacks.com/products/plexamid-tent

That's the lightest solo tent available with bug mesh etc. It's waterproof, roomy for one person, packs small, and comes in under a pound. PCT thru hikers attest to its quality and durability.
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Old 08-30-19, 09:46 AM
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The clutch is nice if you have a long cage and big gear range in the rear. Ultegra doesn't really need a clutch if you keep it stock, but that limits the size of your cassette.
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Old 08-30-19, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
This is unrelated to the topic of the thread, but may be of interest to bike packers willing to spend on comfort.

https://zpacks.com/products/plexamid-tent

That's the lightest solo tent available with bug mesh etc. It's waterproof, roomy for one person, packs small, and comes in under a pound. PCT thru hikers attest to its quality and durability.
The whole topic of ultralight gear is fascinating and the only thing which stopped me from getting a Plexamid was the need for a trekking pole. In hindsight, the external frame on my Nemo Hornet is cumbersome and I should have gotten the Plexamid with a carbon pole instead.

To the point of this thread, after tent, bag/quilt, pad, food, stove etc, it is easy to pack 25 lb and 35 lb is more likely for a multi day trip. Fully outfitted my bike is easily 45 lb and close to 55 lb set up for a five day trip as seen below.



The question I would ask is how likely bikepacking is to start, or is this going to be ridden unloaded on normal gravel rides for a time. Bikepacking in the mountains of the southeast will require a gear down in the teens. If bikepacking is a future goal rather than a today need then it makes sense to do a normal GRX group to start and then look at lower gearing as needed when bikepacking enters the picture.


-Tim-
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Old 08-30-19, 10:36 AM
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I'd say get the Niner RLT RDO 4 star build from Excel for under $3k, but I'm biased! The Ultegra works flawlessly, and it has the clutch if you choose to engage it. For that price, I'm beyond happy with this bike. At under 3k, you're basically getting the entire bike for what a frame/fork normally runs.

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Old 08-30-19, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by csrpenfab View Post
I'd say get the Niner RLT RDO 4 star build from Excel for under $3k, but I'm biased! The Ultegra works flawlessly, and it has the clutch if you choose to engage it. For that price, I'm beyond happy with this bike. At under 3k, you're basically getting the entire bike for what a frame/fork normally runs.
Well, Jenson USA had Niner RLT 9 RDO frames on sale for $1750 a while back.

I do agree that 3k is a nice price for the four star build and IIRC some of Excel's "Demo" bikes are actually new in box, never been assembled or ridden.

The Jamis is a killer deal as well.


-Tim-
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Old 08-30-19, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Well, Jenson USA had Niner RLT 9 RDO frames on sale for $1750 a while back.

I do agree that 3k is a nice price for the four star build and IIRC some of Excel's "Demo" bikes are actually new in box, never been assembled or ridden.

The Jamis is a killer deal as well.


-Tim-
Agreed. My "Demo" Niner from Excel was brand new in the box, sealant never added to the pre-mounted tires.
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Old 08-30-19, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
The whole topic of ultralight gear is fascinating and the only thing which stopped me from getting a Plexamid was the need for a trekking pole. In hindsight, the external frame on my Nemo Hornet is cumbersome and I should have gotten the Plexamid with a carbon pole instead.

To the point of this thread, after tent, bag/quilt, pad, food, stove etc, it is easy to pack 25 lb and 35 lb is more likely for a multi day trip. Fully outfitted my bike is easily 45 lb and close to 55 lb set up for a five day trip as seen below.



The question I would ask is how likely bikepacking is to start, or is this going to be ridden unloaded on normal gravel rides for a time. Bikepacking in the mountains of the southeast will require a gear down in the teens. If bikepacking is a future goal rather than a today need then it makes sense to do a normal GRX group to start and then look at lower gearing as needed when bikepacking enters the picture.


-Tim-
Tim,

It is probably unlikely that I would start out bikepacking, but it would be nice to start out with something that doesn't have to be changed later on. From what i can tell, if the GRX RX-812 rear mech is used in the initial build, the only swap that might be needed later on is a cassette. The RX-812 supports up to a 42t cassette. With a 11-36 cassette and a 30t chainring that would be 23 gear inches. Would that be low enough for bikepacking? Got about 26 gear inches on the current bike.

Was able to eek a few more bucks out of the 3K bike build, but not much. More than likely this will be a gradual build, but going with the Jamis frame instead of the Niner would save $250. Going to look at the geometry on both and see if it would make sense to go with the Jamis instead.. If so, maybe putting more $ into wheels would be good? Currently have Mavic Allroad tubeless disc wheels in the plan, not sure if they are a decent set of wheels or not.

Dave
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Old 08-30-19, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
Tim,

It is probably unlikely that I would start out bikepacking, but it would be nice to start out with something that doesn't have to be changed later on. From what i can tell, if the GRX RX-812 rear mech is used in the initial build, the only swap that might be needed later on is a cassette. The RX-812 supports up to a 42t cassette. With a 11-36 cassette and a 30t chainring that would be 23 gear inches. Would that be low enough for bikepacking? Got about 26 gear inches on the current bike.

Was able to eek a few more bucks out of the 3K bike build, but not much. More than likely this will be a gradual build, but going with the Jamis frame instead of the Niner would save $250. Going to look at the geometry on both and see if it would make sense to go with the Jamis instead.. If so, maybe putting more $ into wheels would be good? Currently have Mavic Allroad tubeless disc wheels in the plan, not sure if they are a decent set of wheels or not.

Dave
Are you planning on using the RX-812 with a 2x setup? Has anyone confirmed that works yet?
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Old 08-30-19, 02:43 PM
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GRX has the better hoods. Insanely comfy. The shifters are just better designed overall.
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Old 08-30-19, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
Are you planning on using the RX-812 with a 2x setup? Has anyone confirmed that works yet?
Looks like you're right on that one, according to this link it only works with a 1X11 wide setup:

https://bikerumor-wpengine.netdna-ss...parts-list.gif

Dave
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Old 08-30-19, 03:38 PM
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Looks like the min low sprocket is 40t (not 36t).

https://bike.shimano.com/en-NZ/produ.../RD-RX812.html

Back to the drawing board.
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Old 08-30-19, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
Looks like you're right on that one, according to this link it only works with a 1X11 wide setup:

https://bikerumor-wpengine.netdna-ss...parts-list.gif

Dave
there was some discussion in the original GRX thread in this sub about whether or not it would work in the 2x config, since it seems to be similar in design to the XT M8000 RD which is 2x compatible
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Old 08-30-19, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
Looks like the min low sprocket is 40t (not 36t).

https://bike.shimano.com/en-NZ/produ.../RD-RX812.html

Back to the drawing board.
FWIW you can use the RX800 with at least a 40t despite what shimano claims, I'm guessing the 810 will go that low as well. I'm currently running 11-40 50/34 with the RX800 with a bit of room left of the b-screw
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Old 08-30-19, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by softreset View Post
https://imgur.com/5CVrj8o
https://imgur.com/4nrjwTH
https://imgur.com/aJIfvpj

Images for the people that can't be bothered to go to ******.
Ze brifters are pretty ugly

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Old 08-30-19, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Ze brifters are pretty ugly

The remind me of campy 10 speed shifters, looks like the hoods will be locked in well. function>form
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Old 08-31-19, 10:05 AM
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also looks like they took away the top buttons
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Old 08-31-19, 11:27 AM
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As mentioned already, what is your intended use? That should define what type of gearing you want or need. When you decide that, 1x or 2x, electronic or mechanical can then be worked through. Since you already have a dedicated road bike, a more trail oriented gravel bike with low gearing might be what you are looking for. If low gearing isn't your thing it's hard to beat a 105 with an RX derailleur if you want to ride fast and keep your initial costs low.

The GRX Di2 seems like a nice set up and has peaked my interest. Until I can ride a bike with it and the costs come down a bit I'm not going to bite.
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Old 08-31-19, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Bryan C. View Post
As mentioned already, what is your intended use? That should define what type of gearing you want or need. When you decide that, 1x or 2x, electronic or mechanical can then be worked through. Since you already have a dedicated road bike, a more trail oriented gravel bike with low gearing might be what you are looking for. If low gearing isn't your thing it's hard to beat a 105 with an RX derailleur if you want to ride fast and keep your initial costs low.

The GRX Di2 seems like a nice set up and has peaked my interest. Until I can ride a bike with it and the costs come down a bit I'm not going to bite.
As stated in the original post, it will mostly be used for gravel, and some bikepacking. If I had to put numbers to it, the gravel would be maybe 90%, and 10% bikepacking. That being said, we live in a semi-rural part of Georgia. In our backyard is access to some chunkier gravel riding/singletrack. It would be fairly easy to do 60-80 miles of riding (with a decent % being gravel) just leaving from our front door. Terrain is moderately hilly-most rides consist of at least 2000 ft climbing, sometimes as much as 4000 ft. Going further north into the Cohutta mountains would mean even more gravel and more climbing 10-15% climbs aren't that unusual there. Could easily climb 6,000-10000 ft there. There is a climb in the Cohuttas I did last year which took over an hour to complete, and 30 min just to descend! Haven't seen too many bikes that come stock with enough gears, and the ones they have seem to be more for regular gravel (higher gearing). This is why I'm planning to build something. The more expensive bikes tend to be 1X systems too, which for me, is a negative.




Dave
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