For all those cycling enthusiasts who are looking for something more, for those who want to explore new routes and get closer to nature, for those who prefer to get lost on gravel tracks rather than roads, for those cyclists who don't give up on top performance and riding at a good pace for endless rides, for all of them, we Explore Beyond with Shimano GRX.

rediscovering adventure with shimano grx

THE PREPARATION

After several weeks of trying to match a day in our schedules, we finally managed to agree to testing the Shimano GRX, the first gravel-specific group on the market. In our case, the RX810 series, both in mechanical (single 42 with 11-40 cassette) and electronic (double 48-31 with 11-34 cassette) versions.

FIRST IMPRESSION

We decided to approach the Sierra de la Paramera, an extensive mountain area located in the province of Avila, north of the Sierra de Gredos. A fantastic place where the high mountain peaks contrast with the rolling valleys less than two hours from Madrid.

The GRX group attends to the demand of the cyclists themselves to explore new routes, away from the road and with an approach to nature, to the gravel tracks to cover kilometres with the maximum performance, different from the road.

The Shimano GRX group is designed for riders who want to explore new and get closer to nature and prefer gravel tracks to roads. Cyclists who don't give up on top performance and riding at a good pace for endless rides. The first thing that catches our attention when we ride the bikes is the ergonomics of the levers, the specific design of the front, raised to prevent the hands from slipping, and the rough texture of the rubbers that makes it easier to grip.

It should be noted that the levers are mounted on the Discover Carbon handlebar from the PRO Discover range, which is specific for gravel bikes and optimized for the GRX, which is characterized by its lightness, comfort and absorption capacity. In our case, one bike was 40cm wide (size M) and 42cm wide (size L), both with a 20° flare (handlebar slopes outwards).

rediscovering adventure with shimano grx

AMAZING FEATURES

We had planned to make a circular route of about 70 km, with just over 800 meters of elevation difference, starting from the small town of Niharra, crossing the river Adaja, reaching the base of the Zapatero peak, with a technical provisioning station in Mironcillo.

From here to Riofrio we had a long and fast descent of loose rocks that forced us to make our best effort not to get scared. Thanks to the carbon PRO Discover dropper post with the integrated button in the handlebar of my bike (and compatible with my Di2), it allowed me to make a fun and controlled descent.

Well, thanks to the dropper post and thanks to the GRX group's RX810 brake levers, which has a drive shaft raised by 1.8mm from the road levers. This allows for easier operation with less force from up to a single finger, providing safety and control. I would even go so far as to say that these feeling are closer to the MTB than to the road cycling.

The heat was giving us a break and even though we still had some kilometers left, a very pleasant breeze was blowing that would not leave us until the end of the route.

rediscovering adventure with shimano grx

DETAILS MATTER

At the moment, the Shimano GRX 810 group was behaving perfectly. It allowed us to drive a smooth shift like we were used to on the road but incorporating the Shadow+ technology of mountain shifting. This technology includes a locking mechanism that helps improve chain retention.

Even in the case of the 2x drivetrain, the specific design of the front derailleur creates a 2.5mm wider chain line optimal for using wider tires.

In the track we still had some "ambush" like the ascent to the top of Cabañas (1454m) where we made the last feeding station, solid and liquid. At this moment we took the opportunity to take our lights out of the PRO Discover bags, optimized for the gravel geometry of the bikes. I think the one with the horizontal tube especially comfortable, since it has the perfect size and comes well compartmentalized to keep the phone, some cash and the nutrition for emergencies.

We finish the day enjoying the landscape and the views of the Sierra de Sotalbo, spending the last kilometers among cattle and high mountain vegetation.

OUR EXPERIENCE

Without a doubt an unforgettable day in which we could test the Shimano GRX group in favorable conditions and get the most out of it.

If I had to highlight something from the groupset, I would choose not only the design and ergonomics of the brake levers, but also the incredible brake cooling system with Shimano's Ice Tech technology and the lighter flat mount with brake calipers designed to dissipate mud.

As for the PRO components, I was very pleasantly surprised by the PRO Discover handlebar tape, which is longer than what we are used to on the road and made of 3mm silicone to favour absorption and improve comfort.

Even though the double offers a relationship of gears wide enough to attack the steepest slopes, perhaps for another more demanding route we would opt for some more conservative range; 46-30 in double and 40 teeth with the single.

After a long time practicing this discipline on tracks and trails, even before it was called gravel, we finally had the opportunity to try out specific products to this discipline. The performance of the Shimano GRX has been sensational, robust, smooth, reliable and with the full technological development that Shimano gives us in its other mtb and road components.

Gravel is here to stay, a fresh and fun alternative that will only win fans over the next few years.

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