What is a Gravel-grinder?
The new 'All-road' category is for those who like a little bit of adventure but don't want to have a garage full of bikes for every occasion. Gravel-grinders have large tyre clearance, long wheelbase, relaxed geometry and enough performance features to excel on and off-road.
Here's a brief description of a 'gravel-grinder' from Reid: Simply put, Gravel-grinders (AKA All-Road, Adventure Road or Dirt-Road-Racers) are like a CX (Cyclocross) bike built for Endurance riding. The features that make these bikes perfect for dirty distance racing across varied terrain also make them perfect for all conditions commuting.
We tested the new 'gravel-grinder' from Reid, the Granite, to see how Reid's new breed of 'all-road' bikes perform.
Frame and fork
The Granite frame is made from 'Hydroformed Aluminium Alloy' and is paired with a custom Reid carbon fibre fork, complete with rack and mudguard mounts. To aid comfort the Granite's tube lengths are longer, the headtube angle is a lazy 70.8* (for the medium / large) and the wheelbase is over a metre. In addition to the endurance geometry of the frame, the Granite appears to have taken a leaf out of the aero road bike category by dropping and thinning out the seat stays to create extra ride compliance and comfort.
The frame comes in four size options (49/52/55/58) catering for a large range of heights from 161cm up to 203cm.
The front and rear rack mounts are designed for those keen on touring, travelling or making the daily commute a little easier. To further aid comfort, the Granite comes equipped with Continental 700x35C Cyclocross Speed tyres, but has enough clearance for 40c tyres. A couple of big ticks there.
The overall weight of the bike is 11.5kg, a pretty impressive stat when you consider the elongated alloy frame, large tyres, disc brakes and price tag.
The Reid Granite drivetrain is Shimano Claris, a 16-speed entry level groupset that sits below SORA in the Shimano groupset hierarchy.
The Claris crankset is a standard compact set-up, 50/34T, the perfect choice for a part commuter, part off-road, part endurance bike. The 50T large chainring will be more than enough for any riding on the road, and having the 34T small chainring means you'll be able to tackle any incline no matter how steep. Riding predominantly on gravel will obviously take more work to overcome the additional rolling resistance, so having a larger lower range of gears than a typical road bike is essential.
The Claris cassette is an 8-speed 11-32 set-up, providing great range but, being only an 8-speed cassette leaves large gaps as you work through the gears. The 32 sprocket is the maximum gear the Claris can tolerate which tells you the Granite is trying to cater for any terrain you can think of trying to cover. It is possible to get a Claris 8-speed cassette in a 12-21, 12-23 and 12-25, which could improve shifting performance, albeit by potentially sacrificing significant low-end gear range. Equipping the Granite with SORA or Tiagra would obviously cost a little more, but would really take the performance element of this bike to another level, obviously more important for those looking to use this bike predominately for road riding.
The large gaps between the gears does create a clunky feel to shifting at times. This is especially noticeable when working through the lower gears. Through the mid-range of the cassette, the shifting is surprisingly smooth, requiring very little effort on the front lever and having no lag, the hallmarks of a much higher level group set.
The metallic grey frame with subtle blue features, which is consistent across the rest of the bike onto the Alex MD17 rims, Reid MTB seat and Reid Shockproof Microfiber BarTape, is a great look and very suitable for this type of bike. That is the only colour option available at the moment, but no doubt additional colourways will emerge soon. This highlights that Reid have really taken the time to put this bike together and it's not simply an endurance frame with patchwork components. It is clear the bike was created as a whole package and every detail was well considered.
From a purely aesthetic point of view, cleaning up the cables at the front of the bike would make a huge difference. The Granite would look cleaner, tidier, certainly a more high-end sophisticated look, which is what Reid are searching for, but that is a very simple after-market process.
The Granite handles very well for a 12kg Gravel-grinder bike. Thanks to the carbon fork, the front end feels light and can easily be lifted over curbs, branches or rocks. The lighter front end makes the Granite feel and handle like a road bike as opposed to an off-road hybrid, a compliment to the cockpit and carbon fork. It does however make the bike feel like all the weight is in the rear, making it a little slow off the mark and especially noticeable when trying to accelerate hard out of a corner.
The medium / large we tested had a relatively long 1,033mm wheelbase which adds to the Granite's stability but compromises the sharpness of its handling. Although, when you consider the bike is $799 with 35c Cyclocross tyres and an alloy frame that is meant to perform just as well off-road as on, its handling is pretty remarkable.
Reid are quick to point out on their website, "Both Gravel bikes and CX are built tough for harsh treatment, and feature clearance for the bigger tyres and front/rear rack mounts for bike trekking and loaded commuting. Although similar to Cyclocross bikes, Gravel-grinders feature more relaxed geometry with a slacker head tube angle, a lower centre of gravity and longer tube lengths for a more comfortable ride over longer distances."
Reid Granite Geometry
The Continental 700x35C Cyclocross speed tyres give a good feel of the road, regardless of the terrain. On bitumen, they roll over bumps like they are nothing, and have enough cushion to make most off-road terrain manageable. Obviously without the extensive shock absorbing elements of a mountain bike, I wouldn't be taking it through any rock gardens, or on really fast technical descents, but it performs perfectly well across packed or unpacked gravel roads and other rough unpaved surfaces.
The brakes on the Reid Granite are mechanical TRP Spyre C disc brakes. The dual piston design results in both pads actuating the rotor, 'providing even and precise clamping force'. Disc brakes offer much better performance in rugged conditions, especially handy when you go off road. Braking performance in rain, mud, dirt and grit, will not be compromised to the same extent as caliper braking would be, giving you confidence regardless of what mother nature can throw at you. The TRP Spyre C brakes come with a barrel adjuster making it easier for you to adjust them on the go.
The braking power is impressive, as you would expect from disc brakes, and conveniently works with any cable actuated road levers. Disc brakes are the perfect choice for the Granite. At a little under 12kg, it requires more power than traditional caliper braking to stop in a hurry.
Reid has 5 retailers in New Zealand and provides a lifetime warranty of frames and a two-year warranty on parts. A pretty comprehensive package when you consider the bike is a very economical $799.
Frame: 6061 Hydroformed Aluminium Alloy with front/rear rack & mudguard mounts
Fork: Reid Carbon Fibre, integrated rack mounts
Gearing: 16-Speed Shimano Claris
Crankset: Shimano Claris FC-2450 50/34T Compact
Shifters: Shimano Claris ST-2400
Front Derailleur: Shimano Claris FD-2400
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Claris RD-2400
Brakes TRP: Spyre C Mechanical Disc
Brake Levers: Shimano Claris ST-2400
Hub: Reid Alloy Quick Release DiscHubs
Wheelset-Rim: Alex MD17 Double Wall Alloy, Disc Specific, 14G Stainless Spoke w/ brass nipple
Tyres: Continental 700x35C Cyclocross speed
Chain: KMC Z7
Cassette: Shimano 8-Speed Cassette (11-32t)
Bottom Bracket: Shimano Octalink Splined - 113mm
Handlebars: Reid 31.8mm Compact Oversized Butted Alloy Dropbar, Reach 72mm, Drop 120mm
Stem: Reid Race 1-1/8" Threadless Alloy, Oversize 31.8mm, 6°
Grips: Reid Shockproof Microfiber BarTape
Saddle: Reid MTB
Seatpost: Reid Alloy 27.2mm, Micro Adjust, 15mm offset, 2 Bolt Clamp
Pedals: Fibre reinforced composite platform, 9/16" steel axle
RRP - $799.99
A little bit about Reid
We spoke with Reid Cycles Marketing Manager David Hannay about Reid's new breed of bikes.
Reid Cycles began in a Melbourne garage in 2009, Reid is now a global brand with distribution in 13 countries, across four continents.
As we’ve grown and expanded internationally it has become increasingly important to have total confidence and control over the product from conception to final delivery. Product quality is critical for us as we have always offered our Australian customers unbeatable warranty terms, and we depend on reliability to strengthen business ties with our international distributors. Our SAI Global ‘5 Tick’ product safety certification was the first big step for us toward controlling QA, but this deepening relationship with a leading Taiwanese manufacturer takes it further.
Our new ranges of bikes are now coming from the one supplier in Taiwan that specialises in mid-high end bikes for the European market (with a particular focus on high-end alloys, carbon technology and eBikes development).
This team has been a long time in the making and incurred considerable investment. While keeping our focus squarely on unbeatable value, the new ranges of bikes coming through are a clear step ahead and we’ve been seeing a very enthusiastic response from Australian and international markets. We see that the process is working and expect big things for the brand as these new bikes come through in 2016.