Brandon meets Shimano GRX
Well, well, well. If you were curious about all the techno-babble from last time, about the Di2 magic and the 1x’s, you are in luck this go around. Because Shimano themselves stopped by the shop last week to show us all the latest and greatest. I got my hands on the Di2 electronic integrated shift platform with the new Shimano GRX component group, that also included a set-up for a 1x (pronounce “one-by”) single chainring. You’re getting 2-for the price of-1 in this week’s post!
Ok, I guess I have to get the sales spiel out of the way, and then I’ll hop to what I learned. Shimano developed the GRX line as a dedicated gravel component groupset. Instead of compromising to road or mountain bike components for your adventure cycling, the GRX line hits that sweet spot of durability and ruggedness, while still being supple and comfortable for those long dirt roads. The bikes we saw had full GRX setups with hydraulic disc brakes, front and rear derailleurs, STI levers, and cranks. For the cranksets, they showed us both the 2 chainring setup and the 1x setup (single chainring in the front). The derailleurs they brought included a mechanical set AND a Di2 electronic set. The Di2 was what I was excited to see and share with you all here.
It took me a minute to wrap my head around using Di2, not because of any new complexity, but because the electronic system does most of the thinking for you on the road. Of course, with the 1x setup, there’s no worrying about shifting a front derailleur: it’s just gear up or gear down. But even in a 2 chainring setup, there was no thought needed of, “Oh, when do I shift into my big chainring?” You can have the shifters themselves take that into consideration, shifting into the large chainring automatically as you shift up to maximize your gear efficiency. It feels like it’s shifting sequentially, so all you have to do is click gear up or gear down. And the motors in the derailleurs moving the chain for you are strong and responsive—they just shifted, no matter what, no hesitation.
Oh! And Shimano was able to answer my 1x question from last week, too. I’m so used to having a front derailleur to keep the chain in line when switching gears in the back, that it always made me wonder how one front chainring could encompass upwards of eleven gears or more. They pointed out the design in the teeth on their chainrings called a “narrow wide” chainring. The teeth alternate between a wide tooth and a narrow tooth to exactly fit the alternating wide and narrow gaps between the chain’s links. The next time you see a 1x system, take a look at the chainring; it’s quite pronounced. There you go, easy as that!
So how soon can you see bikes with the GRX groupsets? How about September 24, 2019, 6:30pm, here at the shop! Shimano will be back for our gravel ride around the levees that evening. It should be a great time with Community Beer Company, and a few of our friends at Shimano are going to be grilling food for us! RSVP for the event here.
Bicycle Mechanic, Local Hub Bicycle Company