Product news / Gravel: With the Shimano GRX 12-speed group, the Japanese are bringing a major upgrade to their gravel group. From now on with 12-speed cassettes, and also with an optional front derailleur, it should build on the success of its predecessor.
It's been around four years since Shimano launched the GRX presented the first "real" Gravel group. Today, neither the gravel all-rounders nor the components specially adapted for them are indispensable in the bicycle world. Four years is half an eternity in the fast-moving two-wheeler industry, but the GRX was able to hold its own very well and is still the first choice for many gravel fans today. Nevertheless, it is now time for Shimano to send the successor into the race for the Gravel crown. The Japanese are finally able to eliminate one of the major disadvantages of the "original GRX": the limited bandwidth when there is no front derailleur.
All new GRX components shift in twelve gears. This also directly means that mixing with the “old” GRX components will not be possible. Shimano itself names three basic setups for the new GRX: 1×12 with a narrow gradation, 1×12 with a wide range and 2×12 for those who need a wide range of gears but do not want to do without the narrow gradation.
As with the predecessor, there will also be different categories for the new GRX group. The components of the 800 series are still the spearhead and are aimed at ambitious Gravel riders, whereas the cheaper 600 series components are aimed more at beginners. There are currently (still?) no cheaper components in the 400 series than in the predecessor. Likewise, there is currently no information about an electronic Di2 variant of the new GRX group. However, the latter should only be a matter of time.
Shimano GRX 12-speed: STIs with ergonomic improvements
So far, the STIs have undoubtedly been the highlight of the GRX group, so it is not surprising that nothing will fundamentally change here. According to their own statement, they have made some ergonomic improvements, for example the handlebar clamp has been improved to improve comfort when riding on the hoods. In addition, the STIs should be better optimized for the combination with exposed handlebars. Here we are looking forward to the hopefully timely test so that we can feel these changes for ourselves.
The STIs of the 600 series differ - at least on paper - little from their higher-priced counterparts. This is where the ribbed, textured rubber grip comes into play, which you had to do without on the 600 STIs on the predecessor. Only the newly designed handlebar clamp seems to have been omitted here.
For all STIs, the left lever will be available either as a classic shift lever for front derailleurs, as a pure brake lever or as a variant for the mechanical control of a dropper post.
Shimano GRX 12-speed: Simple in double version
With the jump to twelve gears and wider gears, Shimano can eliminate what is probably one of the biggest disadvantages of the previous GRX group. Those who previously wanted or had to do without a front derailleur (e.g. because many frames no longer have space for it) got a 1×11 setup in the GRX cosmos, but it was far behind the US competition from Sram in terms of bandwidth . That is exactly what will change now.
When it comes to the cassettes used, Shimano sensibly relies on what they already have in their range from the MTB sector. In addition to the broadly graded 10-51 cassette, this also applies to the narrower graded 10-45 version, which is therefore more aimed at ambitious, fit riders who can do without an easy mountain gear. However, switching to the 12-speed cassettes also means that a Micro Spline freehub is required for installation. So if you want to convert your existing bike, you should pay attention - owners of older wheels in particular could be at a disadvantage here. If in doubt, it helps to ask the wheel manufacturer.
Depending on the cassette you choose, either a long or medium cage rear derailleur is used. Commendable: For the first time at Shimano, this cage is interchangeable. So if you want to switch from long to medium length or have a broken cage, you can replace it yourself in the future and don't have to replace the entire rear derailleur. We recently saw a similar approach with the transmission circuits from Sram and welcome this development! Of course, the rear derailleurs are again equipped with Shadow RD+ damping to prevent chain slaps or jumps off-road.
With the cranks used, you can choose between variants from the 800 or 600 series, which differ in weight, the available lengths and also the chainrings.
Shimano GRX 12-speed: gradation or range? 2×12 offers both!
Of course, the derailleur remains an integral part of Shimano's portfolio. In the case of the new GRX, that means you get the best of both worlds with a 2×12 setup. The range is comparable to that of the 1×12 setup with a 10-51 cassette, but offers much narrower gears, which should suit ambitious gravel fans.
As with the configurations without derailleurs, Shimano also uses cassettes that are already in the portfolio. In addition to the 11-34 cassette from the Ultegra series, this also applies to the 11-36 cassette of the new 105 Di2 group. This also means that you don't need a Micro Spline freehub here and the 2×12 setup can also be easily mounted on older wheels, provided the frame is compatible with a front derailleur.
With the cranks there is either a 48/31 gradation for the 800 series or a slightly lighter 46/30 for the 600 series crank. The front derailleur itself seems largely unchanged, it should offer plenty of space for wide tires, although that also depends on the respective frame construction.
Shimano GRX 12-speed: prices and weights
At the moment we only have information about the components from the 800 series.
|derailleur||RD-RX820||For 2x12||270g||134,95 Euros|
|derailleur||RD-RX822GS||For 1x12 (10-45)||288g||134,95 Euros|
|derailleur||RD-RX822 SGS||For 1x12 (10-51)||290g||134,95 Euros|
|STIs||ST-RX820||Left (brake only)||-||264,95 Euros|
|STIs||ST-RX820||Left (front derailleur)||-||284,95 Euros|
|Front derailleur||RX-820||95g||73,95 Euros|
|STI+brake||-||Left (brake only)||-||344,95 Euros|
|STI+brake||-||Left (vario support)||-||369,95 Euros|
|STI+brake||-||Left (front derailleur)||-||389,95 Euros|
|Crank||FC-RX820-1||1-fold||655g (172,5/40t)||254,95 Euros|
|Crank||FC-RX820-2||2-fold||721g (172,5/48-31t)||254,95 Euros|
Shimano GRX 12-speed: First impressions from practice
Before the official presentation, we were able to collect some practical impressions with the new gravel group from Shimano. Specifically, the 1-speed version with the narrowly graduated 10-45 cassette was installed on our test bike. It is noticeable that surprisingly little is noticeable: in the blind test we would hardly have noticed the changes compared to the direct predecessor. The gear changes are still quick and precise, and the ergonomics on the 800 STIs are still excellent. After the short test period, we cannot yet say whether the new clamping leads to less pressure in the palm of the hand.
So no experiments, no revolution - the new GRX 12-speed is a direct continuation of the previous group; with greater bandwidth, more options and small improvements in details. A detailed test will follow soon. We are curious to see whether we will notice any further differences after more gravel kilometers.