The GT Bicycles Grade gravel bike has been one of those sleeper models for years. Not necessarily the first bike that many think of, but it offers good value and rides really well. The previous model was possibly getting a little long in the tooth – it was launched in 2015 – so it’s good to see GT update things.
A lot has changed in the intervening years. Gravel has gone from being a “new” niche to something a little more common. What we expect gravel bikes to do has possibly changed a little as well. Generally, tyre clearances have increased and with it the desire to take our bikes across more mixed terrain. Many people see their gravel bike as a bikepacking mule as well, and want something capable of carting luggage. Having said that, we still want our bikes to feel lively and nippy on the roads and smooth tracks that they were originally designed for. No small order.
GT has redesigned the Grade from the ground up and there’s no surprise that it claims it is built for adventure right out of the box; “more compliant, versatile and adjustable than ever before”. The Grade has a new, leaner look, and a purposeful redesign of the iconic Triple Triangle. Aesthetically, we think it’s possibly a little challenging, but there’s a fair bit of function to that form. The Grade has been “engineered to ride further and faster”, apparently.
“GT went rogue back in 2015 when we introduced the first Grade. GT was at the forefront of this emerging gravel scene and became the first brand to develop disc brake equipped carbon gravel bikes,” says Patrick Kaye, GT Senior Product Manager. “The increased performance and added adaptability that we’ve engineered into the new Grade meets the needs of today’s gravel and adventure rider.”
Let’s tick off a couple of the expected, but welcome changes first: the Grade has improved tyres clearance – although it is still fairly tight compared to some new designs. All bikes are shipped with 37mm x 700c tyres, but the frame will clear 42mm.
The Grade is designed with smart cable routing in mind, which means shifting and brakes are routed externally (hurrah) for easy upkeep, while Di2 and stealth dropper posts are routed internally for a clean look. In addition, no proprietary parts allow riders to modify their stock set up with ease.
More than a few tweaks
The new Grade, features a completely redesigned Triple Triangle with floating seat stays. On the carbon versions of the bike (it is available in alloy as well), those seat stays are comprised of two lightweight fibres – carbon and fibreglass. The solid fibreglass core provides toughness and damping; the carbon fibre outer layers act to control stiffness. GT calls this Dual Fiber Dynamics and the design gives more vertical compliance than the previous generation. The Grade should be a comfortable place to be for long days in the saddle. Should you wish to run mudguards, a bridge can be fitted across those stays.
A flip chip fork (taking a similar approach to the Rondo Ruut) gives riders the flexibility to adjust their ride and geometry and adapt to their terrain, providing extra stability or sharper handling. 15 mm of adjustability lets riders to go from 55 mm to 70 mm of fork offset. GT says the 55 mm offset is perfect for gravel race days while the 70 mm offset or “low trail” setting is ideal when the Grade is loaded up with cargo for a bike packing adventure.
In it for the long haul, the Grade also has all the frame and fork mounts for all the bags and bottles needed for a “never-ending adventure”. This includes top tube feedbag bosses and fork leg “anything cage” bosses. The alloy Grade frame even features bottle bosses on the seat stays.
The all-new GT Grade will be available in 3 carbon models and 2 alloy models. Interestingly, GT has specced 2x across the whole range.
The top of the range Grade Carbon Pro comes specced with Shimano Ultegra Di2 (with an FSA crankset) and Formula/WTB wheels. The Carbon Expert swaps out the Ultregra for mechanical Shimano 105 and cheaper rims. Finally the Carbon Elite comes with (hydraulic) Shimano Tiagra 2×10. All the carbon frames use pressfit bottom brackets, bucking the trend of the many manufacturers that are returning to threaded options.
On the alloy side, the Grade Expert uses Shimano 105 shifting paired with Tektro cable disc brakes. The base level Grade Elite is specced with Shimano Claris. Both alloy frames take a traditional threaded bottom bracket.
- Grade Carbon Pro – £3,900
- Grade Carbon Expert – £2,500
- Grade Carbon Elite – £2,000
- Grade Expert – £1,500
- Grade Elite – £1,000
For more information on the Grade, visit www.gtbicycles.com.