BH Gravel X 4.0 test: The new gravel bike from the Basque manufacturer is even more sporty than its predecessor, which can be seen not least in the omission of various mounting points. In return, the bike now promises optimized comfort thanks to the softtail rear end, and the frame also has typical features of modern aero racing machines.
The predecessor of the current Graveller from BH was designed for mounting mudguards and even a rear carrier, but that's a thing of the past - even the holes for a small top tube pocket have disappeared. Instead, the 2023 BH Gravel X 4.0 has various aero features: It starts with the top tube, which only slopes backwards imperceptibly, the tear-off edge on the down tube behind the fork head and the carbon post with a D-shaped cross-section, which is now supported by an internal clamp is held. Aerodynamics and comfort meet at the transition from the seat stays to the seat tube: This is where there is a swivel joint that allows the rear triangle a certain degree of flexibility, which the manufacturer does not specify, supported by the open chain stays.
Frame with many aero features
Unusual is the fork with a clear forward offset at the top and a closed dropout on the right side – the end of the quick-release axle does not protrude either here or on the rear triangle. As already known from BH, the axles are equipped with small levers that can be pulled out so that they can be operated without tools.
Following the current trend, the Basques are equipping their new gravel bike with a transport compartment in the frame, which is quite small - it's on a CO2-Cartouche cut, and a mini pump and a hose should also be able to be pushed into the pipe. After all, the flap also gives access to the brake line and shifter cable or cable. The flap sits in a panel that protects the down tube and whose two fine screws can probably also hold a bottle holder. Apropos: A box for tools and accessories can be attached below the bottle holder on the down tube, which then sits in the slipstream of the drinking bottle, which should benefit the aerodynamics.
Smooth surface with integrated cables
Another aero feature is the integrated cable routing from the top of the head tube, combined with a conventional handlebar stem set on the Gravel x 4.0. This combines the best of both worlds, especially since you can easily change the stem and work on hydraulic lines or shift cables is not overly complicated.
According to the size calculator on the website, the test bike was actually one or two sizes too small for the 184 cm rider. However, if you prefer a sporty fit, you can easily "downsize" the bra. The seatpost is long enough, and if you want it even more extreme, you can remove the three 8mm spacers under the stem.
Sporty seating position and handy steering
With 428 mm long chainstays, a wheelbase of around 103 cm and a steering angle of 71°, the BH has a balanced, sporty cut, which is reflected in very pleasant riding characteristics. With pedals a good nine and a half kilos, the bike can be accelerated to cruising speed in no time and then rolls safely straight ahead. It is not a bit sluggish, but pleasantly handy and lively. And also quite comfortable - especially at the rear, of course, where the combination of almost 42 mm wide tires, carbon seatpost and softtail rear triangle offers noticeable vibration damping.
BH has stayed true to the Hutchinson Touareg that was already installed on the previous model – a good choice. Mounted tubeless on the 2023 Gravel X, the tire rolls a little easier; The profile, which gets deeper (and slightly more open) towards the flanks, ensures good grip in slippery corners, making the tire a reliable all-rounder. The Vision wheel set is not exactly light, but it is solid and, with an internal width of 23 mm, is suitable for a wide variety of tire widths.
With the Shimano GRX Di2, the test bike is almost the top version of the BH Gravel X. There is also a model with a Fox suspension fork, which for some reason costs a whopping 1.900 euros more - anyway, you can ask yourself whether it's that sporty geared gravel bike fits a telescopic fork. The electronic Shimano GRX gears always impress with the shape of the levers, which differ significantly from the Di2 grips for road bikes (and also very much from the mechanical GRX). They are slim and fit very well in the hand; the brake levers are smooth-running and have a clearly defined pressure point. The shift buttons are haptically easy to distinguish and deliver fast, precise gear changes. The bike is built with 1×11 gears, but since Shimano always supplies the Di2 levers in a double pack, you could also retrofit the front derailleur and second chain ring - or configure the electronics so that the left lever also shifts.
In any case, the BH Gravel X, which is available in many colors (as well as individual paintwork), represents a clear improvement compared to its predecessor. Anyone who wants to get off the asphalt in a sporty way will have a lot of fun with this bike, and the bike can also be priced with the convince the electronic circuit.