Today Shimano has launched its new GRX gravel groupset – Shimano GRX RX820.
The brief highlights are that it’s now 12 speed and that, by using Shimano’s Microspline cassette, it can now offer a 10T smallest sprocket to give a bigger top gear (or a wider gear range overall).
There’s more to it than that, though. GRX RX820 will now be available in three, very different, versions that should suit the many ways in which riders have interpreted ‘gravel’. There’s a racy, 1×12 10-45T version, there’s a pretty versatile 2×12 (11-34 or 11-36T) and there’s a very intriguing 1×12 10-51T set up.
Let’s get into it then:
Shimano states: “With a focus on the heart and soul of gravel cycling, Shimano mechanical GRX receives this 12-speed upgrade delivering top-tier performance without an over-the-top price. Since gravel is all about personal expression and freedom to choose how and where to ride, Shimano GRX includes three unique 12-speed mechanical drivetrain personalities to cover the full spectrum of riders and rides.”
GRX ‘narrow range’ 1×12, 10-45T
This version of GRX820 is aimed at the ‘American’ or ‘London’ gravel world. With a wide 10-45T twelve-speed cassette, it should give you enough of a range to race on and to make it up and over the rolling hills that you’ll typically find on many gravel races and sportives. The ‘RD-RX822-GS’ rear mech features Shimano’s Shadow RD+ clutch to keep the chain on, paired with a narrow-wide 40T or 42T chainring up front. This is the closest to SRAM’s XPLR gearing and is a popular stock setup for most gravel bikes that you’ll see in the shops.
GRX 2×12, 11-34T
Nope, the front derailleur (still) isn’t dead. While the one-by GRX offers a good spread of gears, what if you want more range? Or closer ratios? Or the same bike has to do road and gravel duties with different tyres? Shimano has you covered here with its 2×12 RX820 setup. It features a single option 48/31T chainset which mates with a 12 speed 11-34 or 11-36T cassette, giving a pretty low low of 31 x 36T. Note that this groupset uses normal Hyperglide cassettes with an 11T small ring.
GRX 1×12, 10-51T
Now this version of new GRX RX820 is going to be of great interest to some people as it pairs drop bar shifters with Shimano’s widest range 10-51T mountain bike cassette, effectively giving your gravel bike the same range of gears as a modern mountain bike. (Albeit with a 40 or 42T chainring)
The rest of the GRX RX820 groupset
The other components are pretty common between the different arms of the groupset. The brakes are hydraulic and still use the excellent and highly praised lever shape and action of the original GRX. For one-by groups, there’s the option of a ‘clean’ left hand lever or one with a ‘shift’ lever that’ll actuate a mechanical dropper where the shifter would otherwise be. Unfortunately the inline hydraulic ‘chicken’ bar top lever seems to have quietly gone away, though we don’t see why you can’t fit the previous generation anyway.
Wheels – you can’t have a Microspline future without the wheels to let you do that. There will be hubs and whole wheels available. Initially, like when Microspline originally appeared, Shimano is the only shop in town, apart from DT Swiss who apparently already have Microspline replacements ready for its CX wheels. Expect the likes of Hope to catch up pretty quickly, though… For now, though, there’s a single option when it comes to wheels – some very smart-looking carbon RX880 wheels with GRX Microspline (or HG for the 2×12 setup).
The elephant in the room – no Di2
There’s no Di2 version. Or at least not yet. For now, though, if you want electric shifting, you’ll have to make like a cyclocrosser and co-opt one of Shimano’s road groups for your devious purposes. And, at least to add to the ‘mechanical is still cool’ vibe, Shimano’s third tier road groupset; Shimano 105 today announces a mechanical version to go with its, oh, Di2 version that came out last summer. Keep hanging in there, electric gear fans!
There is some good news for more budget-minded riders. There’s also a ‘600’-level GRX groupset launching today too. This offers both one-by and two-by chainsets, along with mechanical STI levers and hydraulic brakes. The rear (and front) mechs and cassettes are shared by both groups.
The good news is that new GRX 820 appears to be in stock right now at UK distributor, Madison, so you can get ordering and be 12 speeding by next week…
Here is an idea of the prices:
- GRX RX820 STI Levers – 12 speed mechanical STI lever, bled with hydraulic brake- £349 per side.
- GRX RX820 STI Levers, no brake included – £249.99 per side. Callipers £74 and £79
- GRX RX820 12 speed mechanical rear derailleur (max 36T, max 45T or max 51T) – £119.99
- GRX RX820 12 speed Hollowtech 11 chainset – single ring or double ring – £229.99
- GRX RX880 Wheels – £579 front, £719.99 rear
- GRX 610:
- GRX 610 STI levers – 12 speed mechanical, bled with hydraulic brake – £279.99 a side
- GRX Chainsets £149.99 for all, double or single ring.
And that’s it for the new Shimano GRX RX820 12 speed groupset. Like what you see? Bothered by a lack of Di2? Not bothered by the extra gear? Very excited and already planning a new bike around it? Let us know in the comments…
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