Shimano GRX Carbon Wheels: At The Finish – by Guitar Ted
The time has come to give my final verdict on the Shimano GRX Carbon wheel set which I have been testing for a few months here. The intro to our three-part review can be seen here and the mid-term review is here. Please be sure to check those previous review links as they may answer a lot of your questions which are not addressed here. Now, on to the final word on the GRX Carbon wheel set.
My expectations for a carbon wheel set for gravel riding rank as follows; First, the wheel set has to be easy to use, set up tubeless, and not have any frustrating quirks. Second: It has to be a wheel set that makes riding gravel more enjoyable, easier, and trouble-free. Third: It should be lightweight, but it doesn’t have to be completely focused on lightweight.
That third thing is most people’s ‘first thing’, but I feel that isn’t wise. Getting too light of a wheel is actually detrimental in that it takes less force to knock it out of line on looser gravel, and typically, something has been compromised to get to that amazing lightweight wheel set that seems so attractive. I think a reasonable weight for a carbon wheel set is under 1500 grams and probably not less than 1300 grams, but that is not in any way a ‘hard-and-fast rule I hold.
My number one expectation may be there because I have been a professional bicycle mechanic for a quarter century. One of my biggest pet peeves is an expensive, fiddly, hard to live with bicycle component that is focused on lightweight, aerodynamics and not much else.
My second expectation is probably where we all should focus- That being the ride. How does it ride? Is this wheel a good wheel in terms of cornering, climbing, acceleration, braking, and just plain “feeling good”?
These are the things I measured the new GRX Carbon wheels by. If there were any deficiencies listed in my review, it would be due to the GRX Carbon wheel not measuring up in one of those previously mentioned ways.
At The Finish: So, here you go- The GRX Carbon wheel set did very, very well in terms of my expectations. The GRX Carbon wheels set up and went together with my tires quite nicely, and that proven Shimano free hub, bearing system, and overall wheel design was a refreshing step in the right direction for ease of maintenance and peace of mind. Now, I will point out that I did have an early hiccup- a feeling that the freehub may have skipped a ratchet, or that there was some internal free hub issue, but that only happened to me twice and within the first few rides. It has not happened since over hundreds of miles. But it should be mentioned in the review.
In terms of riding performance? I have no issues at all. The GRX Carbon wheels are a bit on the stiff side, but I’d rather have that and the lateral stability than not. I’m not one to be a big believer in “vertical compliance” when it comes to carbon wheel sets with only two or three exceptions I can name which are big departures from a “standard wheel build’ perspective.
In terms of lightweight? I think that- dollar-for-dollar – this wheel set is a very good value. This wheel set weighed in well below 1500 grams taped up and with tubeless valve stems installed. I thought that was pretty impressive. So, with the internal rim width being a bullseye for gravel at 25mm, and with the weight, I think the GRX Carbon wheels have an edge on most of the competition in this category.
My final take is that this wheel set is one of Shimano’s better designs. With Shimano’s focus on durability, ease of ownership, and with the vast support Shimano has across the retail network, it is hard to find anything to complain about here. I’d nick the product down a notch if it were an off-brand free hub that had given me those two hiccups early on, but this is Shimano. They have a leg up on the competition due to the fact that they are pretty much ubiquitous world-wide. In the rare instance that you’d need to warranty a Shimano wheel like this, you won’t have a hard time finding a pathway to getting the issue rectified, and that is value that many companies cannot claim to have.
I can find no good reason not give the GRX Carbon wheels a high recommendation. They aren’t flashy, but they will get the job done reliably and with a high degree of performance.
For more on the Shimano GRX Carbon wheels see the webpage for them here; https://bike.shimano.com/en-US/product/component/grx-11-speed/WH-RX870-TL-F12-700C.html
Note: Shimano sent over the Carbon GRX wheels to Riding Gravel at no charge for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.
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