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105 2x11 vs GRX 2x10

Old 05-26-20, 02:52 PM
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simonsez
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105 2x11 vs GRX 2x10

So after much thought (first looking at hybrids), I think I've narrowed my choice between a Trek Checkpoint ALR 4 vs the Cannondale Topstone 105. Both are available from reputable bike shops (the Cannondale is closer however). They seem to offer similar geometries as well, although if you have your opinion on these 2 please share!

So my question, the Topstone is $50 and comes with the 105 2x11 and the Trek has the "gravel drivetrain" GRX 400 series which is 2x10.

I'm thinking I'd be doing more pavement than gravel (in the beginning anyways) so is the 105 worth the $50 difference?

Any other advice would be great, sorry I'm still new at bike tech stuff!

Thank you.
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Old 05-26-20, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by simonsez View Post
So after much thought (first looking at hybrids), I think I've narrowed my choice between a Trek Checkpoint ALR 4 vs the Cannondale Topstone 105. Both are available from reputable bike shops (the Cannondale is closer however). They seem to offer similar geometries as well, although if you have your opinion on these 2 please share!

So my question, the Topstone is $50 and comes with the 105 2x11 and the Trek has the "gravel drivetrain" GRX 400 series which is 2x10.

I'm thinking I'd be doing more pavement than gravel (in the beginning anyways) so is the 105 worth the $50 difference?

Any other advice would be great, sorry I'm still new at bike tech stuff!

Thank you.
So the price is a wash - non-factor.

That leaves the choice to other metrics. In this case, I'd lean heavily on which one "speaks" to you. Feature wise they are very similar.
Which one fits better?
Which one has the better paint job?
Which one comes from the bike shop you like better?
Do you like to work on your own bikes? (I'm guessing not, so refer back to your favorite LBS question).

The full carbon fork, threaded bb, 11s, and slightly better wheels of the Topstone sway me more in that direction, but I like the paint job on the Treks better .
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Old 05-26-20, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by simonsez View Post
So after much thought (first looking at hybrids), I think I've narrowed my choice between a Trek Checkpoint ALR 4 vs the Cannondale Topstone 105. Both are available from reputable bike shops (the Cannondale is closer however). They seem to offer similar geometries as well, although if you have your opinion on these 2 please share!

So my question, the Topstone is $50 and comes with the 105 2x11 and the Trek has the "gravel drivetrain" GRX 400 series which is 2x10.

I'm thinking I'd be doing more pavement than gravel (in the beginning anyways) so is the 105 worth the $50 difference?

Any other advice would be great, sorry I'm still new at bike tech stuff!

Thank you.
I am in the process of upgrading my Tiagra 11-34 2019 Checkpoint ALR4 to 2x10spd GRX. Excellent platform for wide wheels tires, and excellent gearing for steep dirt and gravel. Very pleased overall with its performance and would not prefer 11 speed 105 for the steep grades I use this bike for. Good luck in your decision.
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Old 05-26-20, 04:40 PM
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Not a big difference in drivetrains, but I have 105 with a 46/30 crank and I really like the 11-12-13 cog spacing, vs grx400 you will lose that 12t. My mtb is missing the 12t and it's noticable when I'm grinding gravel with it. On my xc mtb and gravel machine, for my area, a clutched derailleur isn't a big deal. I have one on my mtb and ride my gravel bike without a clutched derailleur. Don't miss it.

I love the color of the Treks, but I like the Topstone 105s wheelset and tire choice better. The stranglehold dropouts on the Trek are nifty if you need that option.
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Old 05-26-20, 04:41 PM
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Topstone has a BSA bottom bracket. Trek uses a press fit on an aluminum frame when there’s absolutely no need to do so.

As well the Topstone comes tubeless ready, all you need to do is install the valves (provided) and sealant.

And for $50 additional, 105 is a great group.

Note that I own the 105 Topstone, it’s a great bike so have a bias, but ride both and then make a decision.
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Old 05-26-20, 05:44 PM
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What is the gearing on both? What kind of gear range do you need? Are you willing to spend a bit more money to put wider range gearing on the 105 bike? I'm not looking but I'm assuming the 105 bike has standard roadie gearing while the GRX bike has more appropriate gearing for gravel riding.
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Old 05-26-20, 06:02 PM
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Clutch vs no clutch, that is the question.
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Old 05-26-20, 06:02 PM
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The Cdale Topstone 105 comes with a 46/30 crank and 11-34 cassette. I got one for my girlfriend recently, and it's been great for her. Checkpoint looks to be the exact same gearing - so non-factor (except 11sp vs 10sp)

Last edited by fourfa; 05-26-20 at 06:03 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 05-26-20, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Canker View Post
What is the gearing on both? What kind of gear range do you need? Are you willing to spend a bit more money to put wider range gearing on the 105 bike? I'm not looking but I'm assuming the 105 bike has standard roadie gearing while the GRX bike has more appropriate gearing for gravel riding.
Topstone comes with an 11-34 11 spd. cassette and an FSA 46/30 crank. Reasonably low and about the only way to get lower (with Shimano) is go to a GRX rear derailer plus shifters/front derailer/crank/bottom bracket. The 10 spd will likely handle an 11-42.
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Old 05-26-20, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by gus6464 View Post
Clutch vs no clutch, that is the question.
If they ride terrain where that matters.
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Old 05-26-20, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Topstone comes with an 11-34 11 spd. cassette and an FSA 46/30 crank. Reasonably low and about the only way to get lower (with Shimano) is go to a GRX rear derailer plus shifters/front derailer/crank/bottom bracket. The 10 spd will likely handle an 11-42.
Nawwww... Shimano are so conservative with their stated limits. 11-36 is easily doable - her 105 cage is the same 9cm length as my RX800-GS cage that happily runs 11-36 + 46/30. I put the 11-36 on her bike and didn't even need to change the B-screw. Many people have successfully run 11-40 on the stock GS-length Shimano derailleurs. Entire drivetrain swap?! get outta here
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Old 05-26-20, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
Nawwww... Shimano are so conservative with their stated limits. 11-36 is easily doable - her 105 cage is the same 9cm length as my RX800-GS cage that happily runs 11-36 + 46/30. I put the 11-36 on her bike and didn't even need to change the B-screw. Many people have successfully run 11-40 on the stock GS-length Shimano derailleurs. Entire drivetrain swap?! get outta here
Good advice.
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Old 05-26-20, 09:21 PM
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Well given gearing unless there is some fitment issue it is a no brainer. 105 topstone, you are gaining a lot of PROs for $50 with the only minor CON being the lack of a clutched RD. A clutched RD doesn't cost much if down the road you decide you want one. A chain catcher costs only a couple bucks and works pretty well on my non-clutch gravel bike.
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Old 05-26-20, 10:19 PM
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OP here. Thank you to all that replied! This is quite an active forum. So I think some of you guys lost me at the gearing jargon but I believe that they're identical save for the 2x11 vs 2x10 in favour of the Cannondale. I also noticed that a few of you mentioned that I should go out and test ride these bikes to get a feel and see which one I prefer. And this is where the problem starts, because of Covid, our bike shops here (at least where I live - Greater Toronto Area) are not allowing any tests, in fact most won't even let you touch the bike. So essentially you're buying sight unseen and hope for the best. Compound this one problem with the lack inventory everywhere and it's making my bike shopping a sad affair.

UPDATE: As mentioned above, bike inventories are quite low at the moment so most shops are selling at full MSRP (which sucks) however I had a discussion with the local Trek dealer and although he's still planning on receiving a small shipment of the 2021 Checkpoint ALR 4 in a few weeks he offered me his last Checkpoint SL 5 (2020) for $3000 ($650 off) - that's Canadian dollar btw. So the SL 5 would give me a carbon frame, 105 drivetrain and the ISO decoupler (not sure if that's worth it?). There would be no discounts on either the Topstone 105 ($2300) or the ALR 4 ($2250).

Crap! I wasn't planning on spending this much but now I have a new conundrum, would the SL 5 be worth the extra $700? Who said buying a bike was easy? I think I'm over thinking this process!

Thank you again for any responses!
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Old 05-27-20, 10:15 AM
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I can't even find the SL5 on the websites of the local shops, only one I found was at the Trek Bicycle Superstore where it's priced at $2900 US. That's $1100 more then a typical US list price for a Cannondale Topstone at $1750, so $1150 more for carbon. Your difference between the 2 bikes from your local shop is $700 so you are getting a break.

That said, one major difference is the Trek SL5 has a 105 crank with 54/30 rings, so a road oriented full group. If you were primarily road, that's a fine group, but may not offer as low a gearing you would want for hilly gravel. As well, if it's going to be primarily a road bike you might want road tires so budget another $100.

Which begs the questions as to your needs, since you state "So after much thought (first looking at hybrids), " and "I'm thinking I'd be doing more pavement than gravel (in the beginning anyways)".

There's a few other bikes that are "almost gravel" in that they can take larger tires that make dirt and gravel roads doable. Trek Domane comes too mind. Might give you some options in what is a very difficult time to buy a bike.
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Old 05-27-20, 10:43 AM
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You may also want to consider the new Specialized Diverge Elite E5 and Jamis Renegade S3 (steel) bikes as well. They both check more boxes, but it's also understandable if you like the shops that are selling the other bikes more.
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Old 05-27-20, 02:12 PM
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Maybe I'm missing something, but what is the benefit of a clutched RD on a 2x setup? I thought the whole purpose was to help keep the chain from dropping on 1x since there was no FD?
Reduced chain slap?

Unless there's a good answer to this, I'd probably go with the 11sp 105 over the 10sp GRX400.
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Old 05-27-20, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
Maybe I'm missing something, but what is the benefit of a clutched RD on a 2x setup? I thought the whole purpose was to help keep the chain from dropping on 1x since there was no FD?
Reduced chain slap?

Unless there's a good answer to this, I'd probably go with the 11sp 105 over the 10sp GRX400.
A clutch is good no matter what you got in the front. It keeps the chain from going all over the place like a wet noodle on non-smooth roads. 1x setups have two things keeping you from dropping the chain: clutch and narrow wide chainring.

2x setups can only have 1 thing: clutch

A FD does nothing to keep you from dropping a chain btw, just ask sram.
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Old 05-27-20, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by gus6464 View Post
A clutch is good no matter what you got in the front. It keeps the chain from going all over the place like a wet noodle on non-smooth roads. 1x setups have two things keeping you from dropping the chain: clutch and narrow wide chainring.

2x setups can only have 1 thing: clutch

A FD does nothing to keep you from dropping a chain btw, just ask sram.
But note that we lived without clutches on rear derailers in off road conditions for a few decades without everybody having major chain dropping issues. I get the point but am not sold on the need in a lot of conditions. If your on a gravel bike and the conditions warrant a clutched derailer, perhaps you should be on a full suspension mt. bike, thus I don’t think it a priority on a gravel bike for a lot of users,
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Old 05-27-20, 04:58 PM
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There is something that's new: rear cassettes are getting larger in diameter and rotational inertia. Meaning, sometimes when you go from high cadence to pedals stopped dead, the cassette inertia keeps spinning, chain goes completely slack, and if you start pedaling again at just the wrong time the chain can just fall off the rings. This didn't used to happen as much when MTBs had triples and more compact cassettes. Think about an all-steel Deore 11-42 with no clutch, this will happen a lot. Not hard to imagine some 2Xers using one of those.

If I turn the clutch off on my RX800, I can induce this pretty easily on a midsize 11-36 cassette with aluminum big cogs. I can also adapt around it, pedal slowly to get the chain back on, but it breaks focus. It usually happens when descending pavement for me, a bad time to break focus. It's somewhat nicer to just leave the clutch on all the time.

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Old 05-27-20, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
But note that we lived without clutches on rear derailers in off road conditions for a few decades without everybody having major chain dropping issues. I get the point but am not sold on the need in a lot of conditions.
It's still a nice thing to have on 2x drivetrains because it stops the chain from slapping the stay until things get really severe. If you're riding along miles of singletrack, B roads, big chunky gravel, whatever, endless chain slap can get pretty annoying. I wouldn't consider it much buying a bike, only because its pretty cheap and easy to upgrade if you want it (it cost me $30 to get the Ultegra RX after selling my 105 derailleur).
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Old 05-28-20, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by zen_ View Post
It's still a nice thing to have on 2x drivetrains because it stops the chain from slapping the stay until things get really severe. If you're riding along miles of singletrack, B roads, big chunky gravel, whatever, endless chain slap can get pretty annoying. I wouldn't consider it much buying a bike, only because its pretty cheap and easy to upgrade if you want it (it cost me $30 to get the Ultegra RX after selling my 105 derailleur).
Makes sense and chain slap can be annoying. Back in the 3x MTB days, we just put one of those neoprene protectors on the chain stay. I guess all other things being equal, I'd choose the clutched RD for a gravel bike. I have one on my 1x CX bike and it works well, I just never thought about why it would be useful on a 2x.
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Old 05-28-20, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by zen_ View Post
It's still a nice thing to have on 2x drivetrains because it stops the chain from slapping the stay until things get really severe. If you're riding along miles of singletrack, B roads, big chunky gravel, whatever, endless chain slap can get pretty annoying. I wouldn't consider it much buying a bike, only because its pretty cheap and easy to upgrade if you want it (it cost me $30 to get the Ultegra RX after selling my 105 derailleur).
^ this^

buy the bike you want, like

the price you actually paid will be meaningless in a month or 2.

and the clutched RD can be swapped like Zen said for low cost.
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Old 05-28-20, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
But note that we lived without clutches on rear derailers in off road conditions for a few decades without everybody having major chain dropping issues. I get the point but am not sold on the need in a lot of conditions. If your on a gravel bike and the conditions warrant a clutched derailer, perhaps you should be on a full suspension mt. bike, thus I donít think it a priority on a gravel bike for a lot of users,
I wrap my DS chainstay with an old rubber rim strip to protect the paint from slap(which only happens occasionally on gravel roads here because they are roads). That was enough for plenty of years of riding, but I decided to use my 105 5800 RD on a new frame build so when looking for a replacement RD, the Ultegra RX was an easy choice due to the reduced chainslap design.
Sure we lived for years without a clutch RD, but we also lived for years with pockmarked DS chainstays.
Im not worried about a chain jumping off the cassete or chainring due to road conditions- that just doesnt exist around me. Bumpy gravel roads still need to be driven on by cars, so there are some standards still in place.

I engage the RD clutch probably every 3rd ride and for maybe 10min at a time. Its easy to reach back with my foot and push or pull the lever. What I like more than that though is the design and capacity. Its a wide range RD with Ultegra level build- thats a fantastic combination.

If I were to buy a new bike, a clutched RD would be 43rd on my list of reasons to pick one bike over another.
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