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Gravel Bike - Aluminum GRX400 Groupset vs Full Carbon Shimano Claris Groupset?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbround Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Gravel Bike - Aluminum GRX400 Groupset vs Full Carbon Shimano Claris Groupset?

Old 02-20-21, 12:23 PM
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jonathanf2
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Gravel Bike - Aluminum GRX400 Groupset vs Full Carbon Shimano Claris Groupset?

I've been offered two gravel bikes, one is an aluminum bike w/crmo fork with, hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano GRX400 2x10 speed groupset + average wheel set. The other is a full carbon bike with mechanical disc brakes, Shimano Claris 2x8 speed groupset, but with better wheel set. The aluminum bike is a bit cheaper and I was thinking I could always swap out the frame later on to something more of my liking (like a Reynolds steel frame). The carbon bike is a bit more expensive, but it might be easier to upgrade the components and keep the frame and wheel set as-is. I'm not doing any hardcore biking, but I'm planning mostly uphill rides on fire roads and some light trail riding.

Saying all that, I probably won't be doing any upgrading for at least a year, so which frame/group set would you lean towards? Thanks any opinions!
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Old 02-20-21, 12:37 PM
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tyrion
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Given the limited info provided, I vote for the aluminum frame with GRX 400 groupset.
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Old 02-20-21, 01:01 PM
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I would go for aluminum over cheap carbon, that's just my bias though. I didn't know there was 400 level GRX
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Old 02-20-21, 01:04 PM
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Agree with the above two, especially since it has hydro brakes.
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Old 02-20-21, 03:33 PM
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I would pick the one that fits best. Given how different both frames are, I bet there are some geometry differences which will impact fit and ride feel.

If price and fit are the same, aluminum frame. A 400 with hydraulic drivetrain will probably be more fun than claris with mechanical.



Really curious what aluminum frame comes with a steel fork and grx drivetrain. Thats a rare trio for spec.
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Old 02-20-21, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I would pick the one that fits best. Given how different both frames are, I bet there are some geometry differences which will impact fit and ride feel.

If price and fit are the same, aluminum frame. A 400 with hydraulic drivetrain will probably be more fun than claris with mechanical.



Really curious what aluminum frame comes with a steel fork and grx drivetrain. Thats a rare trio for spec.
Yes, that is a really strange combination. Did teh seller trash the fork and put on a steel one as a replacement?
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Old 02-20-21, 10:53 PM
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Agree with the above assuming we're talking new bikes. Entry level carbon isn't all that special compared to aluminum but even GRX 400 level with hydraulic disc will be worlds better then claris with cable disc. Can always upgrade either but I haven't had a comfort issue or felt like performance was lacking with an aluminum frame, cheap parts just feel cheap.
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Old 02-21-21, 01:21 PM
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Thanks for all the feedback so far! Also sorry for the late reply. Yeah, I'm starting to lean towards the alloy frame with GRX400 groupset. From what I read, the 400 is similar to Tiagra (GRX 600 = 105 and GRX 800 = Ultegra).

Regarding the brakes, I'm a bit more confident tuning mechanical disc brakes, but I have no experience with hydraulic brakes. Are they easier or more complex to deal with?
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Old 02-22-21, 10:01 AM
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There are no complexities with hydro discs that I'm aware of. You'll have to bleed them every few years... maybe. Otherwise you just replace the pads and adjust as usual.

I'd definitely go with the GRX bike. 8 speed Claris seems like it would be really limiting, and it seems like an odd choice to put on a carbon fiber frameset.
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Old 02-23-21, 02:52 PM
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Modern hydroformed AL is as good as carbon these days. The carbon can be made into fancier shapes. Anyway....the better groupset and brakes all day here.
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Old 02-23-21, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Thanks for all the feedback so far! Also sorry for the late reply. Yeah, I'm starting to lean towards the alloy frame with GRX400 groupset. From what I read, the 400 is similar to Tiagra (GRX 600 = 105 and GRX 800 = Ultegra).

Regarding the brakes, I'm a bit more confident tuning mechanical disc brakes, but I have no experience with hydraulic brakes. Are they easier or more complex to deal with?
nothing to offer on the comparison, but I've had to replace a rear hydro caliper, which required disconnecting, reconnecting, bleeding, etc. Not terrible, but doable (especially with the stuff from these guys: https://epicbleedsolutions.com/ ). MUCH better than dialing in cantis in my experience. I hate cantis. Once bled, they're set and forget.

and on discs, generally (ish), hydro > mechanical. So I'd go with the GRX group too.
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Old 02-23-21, 05:13 PM
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Curious about the brands and models of the 2 different frames. Pictures even better if you have them. The carbon frame may not be as low spec therefore picking up GRX later might really work once your budget allows.
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Old 02-25-21, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Wilbur76 View Post
Curious about the brands and models of the 2 different frames. Pictures even better if you have them. The carbon frame may not be as low spec therefore picking up GRX later might really work once your budget allows.
I've decided to pass on the carbon frame. The GRX 400 equipped bike I'm looking at is a Motobecane Gravel Pro X, but now I'm also looking at the Poseidon X bike which is currently in-stock new. The Motobecane is used, but with minor scruffs but it almost has a complete GRX 400 groupset, with some cheap BB and FSA crankset 30/46t. The Poseidon X seems to have reviewed well, but with pricing going up, I'm not sure the value is still there where it was a year ago when it was $600 USD (now $699 + $50 shipping and $50 tax). I basically just want to do some light gravel and uphill riding mainly for fitness, nothing too extreme. Both will come out to about $800 USD with tax and shipping. Between these two bikes, I'm not sure which direction to go?

I'm totally open to other recommendations as well, given the current bike stock. I've also looked at the State Off-Road and Pure Cycle Gravel bike, but those bikes with tax and shipping are hitting the $1000 USD price point and I'd rather put that money in other accessories (like better clipless shoes, pedals, etc.) I ride anywhere from a 50-52mm, but my current single speed is a 49mm, which I partially like since I can ride a longer stem and handling seems more responsive.

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Old 02-25-21, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
I've decided to pass on the carbon frame. The GRX 400 equipped bike I'm looking at is a Motobecane Gravel Pro X, but now I'm also looking at the Poseidon X bike which is currently in-stock new. The Motobecane is used, but with minor scruffs but it almost has a complete GRX 400 groupset, with some cheap BB and FSA crankset 30/46t. The Poseidon X seems to have reviewed well, but with pricing going up, I'm not sure the value is still there where it was a year ago when it was $600 USD (now $699 + $50 shipping and $50 tax).
Unless you buy used, you will be challenged to find a new bike for less than the Poseiden X.
I put Microshift Advent on an old mtb for my wife and it is a great setup for the price. Whats on the Poseiden is the same thing, just with drop bar shifting.

The Poseiden X geometry is goofy as hell though. No recreational cyclist that is 6'5 is being fit on a gravel bike with 588mm of stack and 385mm of reach. Thats absurd. And why wouldn't they have a geometry chart that lists head tube angle and seat tube angle?...its 2021, listing those is a bare minimum.

Both bikes only fitting up to a 40mm tire is surprising too. Reference the year we are in- it isnt asking much for even entry design to clear more than a 40.


Between the Poseiden and BD bike- of you think both will fit equally well, pick which you like the look of more. The BD bike is spec'd nicer, but costs more so I can see going either direction.
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Old 02-25-21, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
IThe GRX 400 equipped bike I'm looking at is a Motobecane Gravel Pro X,


Poseidon X bike which is currently in-stock new. .
Motobecane Gravel Pro X, - this is a pretty simple AL frame with a steel fork with a level top top (short seat post exposure). All that is fine at the price point, but I would not want to ride that bike with 25c road bike tires. That's going to be on the abusive end of the frame ride scale. At this price point new, it's worth spending another $100 in my opinion. But used for the right price and level of maintenance, a decent buy.

Poseidon X bike - This is an offshore company that is selling an odd product. It's interesting that they are selling a hydroformed frame as the tooling is expensive. Nothing wrong there, but...yeah the sizing is two sizes off. Keep in mind, you'll need to pony up another $100 for shipping.
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Old 02-26-21, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by jfranci3 View Post
Motobecane Gravel Pro X, - this is a pretty simple AL frame with a steel fork with a level top top (short seat post exposure). All that is fine at the price point, but I would not want to ride that bike with 25c road bike tires. That's going to be on the abusive end of the frame ride scale. At this price point new, it's worth spending another $100 in my opinion. But used for the right price and level of maintenance, a decent buy.

Poseidon X bike - This is an offshore company that is selling an odd product. It's interesting that they are selling a hydroformed frame as the tooling is expensive. Nothing wrong there, but...yeah the sizing is two sizes off. Keep in mind, you'll need to pony up another $100 for shipping.
The Motobecane Gravel Pro X I'm looking at is being sold used, but in demo condition. Both will come out to the same price with shipping and tax ($800 USD). Poseidon's shipping is actually $50 or I could save that amount if I pick it up from their warehouse (I live about 45 minutes away). I'm totally open to other suggestions as well. I'm currently riding two single speed gravel bikes one with low gear and other with high gear, but now I'm thinking I should sell one of them and add a geared bike to the mix.
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Old 02-26-21, 12:18 PM
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The best way to think about this here is to see what the impact is of spending more or less. Fortunately-for your decision making - there arent many "real" sideways or half step up/down choices.

I don't think you'll find a "great condition" used option or new in stock,, delivered w/ tax. The next step up would be $1000 (Giant Revolt comes to mind) + tax - that extra $$$. For that, you likely lose 1 gear (9sp v 10sp) in back and a nicely packaged brakes (in particular the Giant system works, fine looks insanely stupid). You gain a much nicer frame design with the longer exposed seat tube and a well engineered hydroformed AL frame, which should ride MUCH nicer on road tire pressures and bumpy terrain.
I'd take that frame difference here every single day. Basic AL < Steel < Fancy (hydroformed) AL / entry level carbon < carbon with fancier features (for this segment). The $200 might not name sense to you.

A step down would be a $500 junky CX bike. There's not much in the middle in the real world.
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Old 02-26-21, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jfranci3 View Post
The best way to think about this here is to see what the impact is of spending more or less. Fortunately-for your decision making - there arent many "real" sideways or half step up/down choices.

I don't think you'll find a "great condition" used option or new in stock,, delivered w/ tax. The next step up would be $1000 (Giant Revolt comes to mind) + tax - that extra $$$. For that, you likely lose 1 gear (9sp v 10sp) in back and a nicely packaged brakes (in particular the Giant system works, fine looks insanely stupid). You gain a much nicer frame design with the longer exposed seat tube and a well engineered hydroformed AL frame, which should ride MUCH nicer on road tire pressures and bumpy terrain.
I'd take that frame difference here every single day. Basic AL < Steel < Fancy (hydroformed) AL / entry level carbon < carbon with fancier features (for this segment). The $200 might not name sense to you.

A step down would be a $500 junky CX bike. There's not much in the middle in the real world.
Thanks for the Giant Revolt suggestion, I'll keep an eye out. A few months ago, I bought a single speed gravel just for fitness, though I used to MTB extensively as a kid. Now I've been bitten by the bike bug again, but talk about bad timing with the lack of inventory and trying to find the right geared bike for my needs. On the plus side there are so many resources on bike maintenance, I've been picking up a few new skills on the way.
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Old 02-26-21, 01:42 PM
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You'd have to put an order in with your dealer. If you want to search, I'd pull the UPC codes from the bottom of the bike dealer site. eg 04712878579880 or 04712878608931 and then search google. https://www.google.com/search?client...2878579880+%27 That might help should you go that route.
IF the Giant doesn't put you off, the Contend "AR" now takes 38c tires - https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/contend-ar-4-2021 It seems to have more stock. 8sp rear, but less stupid brakes. The frames are basically the same, but the Revolt takes tires that are 1 size wider (there are about 2 tires on the market here), sits a .5 in higher, and the steering will have a touch more (stability / self-centering / caster). The Contend will allow you to lower the handlebars (for road aero ness) 10mm more and 'feel' more nimble.
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Old 02-28-21, 07:27 AM
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(Making the assumption that any of these bikes will provide a good fit for up)

Between the Motobecane and the Poseidon and the carbon frame, I'd go with the GRX equipped bike all day every day. It's just a great system. The design behind GRX400 is no different than 600 or 800 other than the # of gears. You'll never know it's "only" 10 speed while riding (my gravel bike has 10-speed Tiagra 4700 - I never notice or think about it having one less cog than my Ultegra road bike). The FSA crank set is the low end of FSA's offerings but perfectly reliable. If you care about it in the future, the GRX 10-speed 2x crank + BB is less than $200. Personally, I still prefer a 2x set up on my gravel bike. The 46/30 with 11-34 cassette will give you plenty of gear range. And I wish my bike had hydro brakes; it's just too expensive to upgrade that (just last week I missed out on a used full Tiagra hydro group for $100....errrgh).

One thing to note is that none of these has tubeless ready rims or tires. So that's a wash on the comparison. But going tubeless at some point will make any of these bikes ride better because of the technology but you would also by default end up with better wheels and tires than what these bikes come fitted with. I'm not saying you have to run out right away and upgrade the wheelset, but that's where I'd start saving up my money. I say this from experience on my generic Performance Bike house brand aluminum frame gravel bike. The switch from clincher-only base-level Scwalbe tires to a tubeless set up was huge. Anyway, I got off topic there a bit didn't I.

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Old 02-28-21, 09:00 AM
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I picked up the poseidon redwood, mostly for a frame that can fit 2.1 29" tires for doing some serious adventure riding. The Advent group is nice and will go on my kid's bike, the bike is something of a boat anchor. The frame is a decent weight but they really do use some seriously budget parts and my redwood arrived, sz xs, at 30lbs. A swap over later with tiagra parts and a nice wheelset has it at 25.25lbs with 2.1 tires, so right where I'd like it. I'll be swapping the post to carbon for my wife and expect it to hit sub 25 but don't expect a lightweight. I would expect that Motobecane to arrive at about 23-25lbs and probably closer to the 25lb mark which is fine for a bike of this style and price point. But 30lbs is heavy; still a decent bike though
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Old 02-28-21, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by telebianchi View Post
(Making the assumption that any of these bikes will provide a good fit for up)

Between the Motobecane and the Poseidon and the carbon frame, I'd go with the GRX equipped bike all day every day. It's just a great system. The design behind GRX400 is no different than 600 or 800 other than the # of gears. You'll never know it's "only" 10 speed while riding (my gravel bike has 10-speed Tiagra 4700 - I never notice or think about it having one less cog than my Ultegra road bike). The FSA crank set is the low end of FSA's offerings but perfectly reliable. If you care about it in the future, the GRX 10-speed 2x crank + BB is less than $200. Personally, I still prefer a 2x set up on my gravel bike. The 46/30 with 11-34 cassette will give you plenty of gear range. And I wish my bike had hydro brakes; it's just too expensive to upgrade that (just last week I missed out on a used full Tiagra hydro group for $100....errrgh).

One thing to note is that none of these has tubeless ready rims or tires. So that's a wash on the comparison. But going tubeless at some point will make any of these bikes ride better because of the technology but you would also by default end up with better wheels and tires than what these bikes come fitted with. I'm not saying you have to run out right away and upgrade the wheelset, but that's where I'd start saving up my money. I say this from experience on my generic Performance Bike house brand aluminum frame gravel bike. The switch from clincher-only base-level Scwalbe tires to a tubeless set up was huge. Anyway, I got off topic there a bit didn't I.
After doing a bit of reading, I ended up going with the Motobecane Gravel X Pro purchased used from Bike Island. I've bought twice from them in the past. The first time the bike I ordered didn't come as-described so they sent a FedEx return shipping label (which worked out fine since I live near a FedEx shipping hub) and I received a full refund no questions asked. The second time I bought from them, the bike came as-described. I built that bike up nicely and it came out much cheaper than new. It's a bit hit or miss, but I learned from that first experience to email to get as much information about the bike before buying and they'll respond quickly regarding any inquiries.

Anyways, it was the GRX groupset of the Motobecane that sold me. The other bikes in my budget were the Poseidon X and State All-Road. I actually like the looks of the Poseidon X and prefer the steel frame of the All-Road, but they both use budget or in-house components. At least with the Motobecane the components are known. From my prior experience with Motobecane frames, while nothing special in the lower end, they hold up just fine. I'll definitely consider new wheels as a future upgrade. Though for some of the trails I plan to ride which includes creek crossings and rocky trail passes, I don't mind using cheap alloy rims, since they'll see considerable abuse!
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Old 03-05-21, 12:03 PM
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I just wanted to update everyone. I received my Motobecane Gravel X Pro from Bike Island and put it together last night. Description said the shifters were scratched, but on closer inspection, it was just some sticky residue that I wiped off. After cleaning that, the bike looked completely brand new. My initial thoughts was that the frame would be junky, but surprisingly it's quite solid with quality welds and matches the geometry of other Bike Direct frames so it was easy to gauge my ride fit. Frame is made in Taiwan, so I'm guessing it's from Kenesis Industries. The Shimano GRX 400 derailleur, FSA tempo crankset, shifter and brake setup are great. The hydraulic brakes are especially nice making my mechanical disc brakes on my other bike feel like loose sponges. Saddle, drop bars, cheap alloy rims and even the front fork could benefit from replacements, but those are fairly easy upgrades that I wouldn't consider an upfront necessity. I notice Poseidon X owners tend to upgrade the gear components to things the Gravel X Pro has stock. Also looking at the tire spacing, I'm pretty sure this frame/fork combo can accommodate bigger tires over 40c, perhaps 45c? I also bought the bike in dark grey with black Motobecane frame logos. I removed the front badge and gaffer taped the seat post tube badge, so it's pretty low key now. I'll post some pictures soon, once I take it out for a real ride over the weekend.

Between the Motobecane Gravel X Pro, Poseidon X and State All-Road I think this bike definitely comes out on top based on features alone.

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Old 03-05-21, 10:08 PM
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Have fun, hope you enjoy the new bike.
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