Want to know what the best component, gearing and cockpit setup is for your gravel bike? Shimano is taking the opportunity to answer all your gravel related bike, component, clothing, and gear questions later this week! If you haven’t done so already, submit your question through the form at the bottom of this post.

Easily one of the biggest cycling buzzwords of the past few years, ‘gravel’ covers a lot of ground. The term spans everything from race-ready bikes meant to cover 200 miles of rough gravel in the middle of Kansas, to bikes that are more capable than early XC mountain bikes. Because of that, there are a lot of new components specifically tailored to gravel riding, with a lot of different build options. How do you know what’s right for you?

AASQ Callout: Ask Shimano a stupid question about Gravel cycling, bikes, gear & more!!
Kristen Legan and Parker Bloom Gravel Road biking in Kamloops, British Columbia

That is precisely why Shimano has stepped up for the next AASQ installment. They want to answer your questions about gravel. That covers anything from their new GRX component group, gearing, gravel ergonomics, brake set up, dropper posts, bags, even clothing, footwear, handlebars, and handlebar tape to help with the comfort aspect of gravel riding. There is a lot to cover, and Shimano is ready to answer just about anything.

So, if you’ve got a question about gravel (stupid or otherwise), submit your questions through this form, and we’ll round them up with the answers soon!

45 COMMENTS

  1. Shimano, are Hollowtech Ultegra and Dura-Ace cranks suitable for gravel, and can you address the reported failures with them?

  2. At first, thx Shimano for the top qualitiy of your products!
    My question to you is. Whats the real problem with your brake point wandering?

    • I’m not Shimano, but:
      I think the biggest issue is that different people are lumping different symptoms into the same term “wandering bite point”. I own a lot of Shimano brakes and have worked on countless more, and I have yet to experience it. So, my guess is that there are two things.
      One is that if the caliper is allowed to sit unused for a bit, the caliper seals will stick to the pistons and over-retract. So you have one squeeze with a lot of lever travel and the second squeeze, if done quickly enough, will have much less lever travel, as the caliper pistons did not have enough time to fully retract. Solution is to work the caliper pistons in and out once or twice.
      The other is if there is air in the reservoir. Everything is fine, you start going down a steep hill, squeeze the lever a couple times, and each time the lever takes a small gulp of air from the reservoir and the lever goes closer and closer to the bar. If you point your bike up with the front wheel off the ground and actuate the lever several times, the air goes back into the reservoir. Solution is to bleed, removing the air out of the reservoir. Air likes to hide behind the master cylinder piston, so it takes some work.
      If anyone has had some situation that isn’t covered by one of these two scenarios, I’m all ears.

      • I’d love to hear an honest explanation from Shimano as to what they think causes all the wandering bite point complaints. Greg, since you asked about situations not covered by your scenarios, I figured I’d list a few I’ve heard tell of, both in case they are helpful for you, and for Bikerumor to formulate their question in case they are really able to get Shimano to address this topic.

        Your second scenario, of air in the reservior can certainly simply be a matter of a bad bleed due to user error, but I have seen accounts of people who seem to constantly have to burp their master cylinder/reservior, as it seems to have a never ending supply of air. Reasons for this have been listed as:

        – Fine cracks in the ceramic caliper pistons, leading to air intrusion into the caliper.
        – Shimano doesn’t anodize their master cylinder bodies after boring them out, which leans the MC piston is sliding against bare aluminum. Over time this can wear, leading to a sloppy fit, and allowing air intrusion at the master cylinder.
        – Mineral oil has some % of dissolved air out of the bottle, and with their standard funnel bleed procedure there is not the opportunity to pull a vacuum and de-gas the fluid, unlike with Sram’s pro bleed kit.

        In regard to this AASQ, it would be wonderful if Shimano addressed these scenarios honestly and said what % of times they see these problems, for example, how many pistons with cracks have they had to warranty, or what is the expected service life of a MC body before the bore has worn to an unacceptably sloppy fit?

        • Thanks for your input.
          Regarding the air dissolved, you can always degas in the syringe prior to bleeding. I think the air clears much, much faster than with DOT fluid.
          The master cylinder thing, aren’t people having issues like right away though? I read the occasional Pinkbike review and a tester complains about it on a brand new bike.
          I dont think it’s cracked pistons either. Pistons seem to be either very cracked or not at all, and it’s pretty obvious when resetting pistons.
          I’m still leaning on the air not being worked out of the reservoir. I’ve had “experienced mechanics” supposedly bleed three times, and then I come over and actually hang the caliper off the frame, and push fluid through with the lever at various clamped angles, etc. And air magically works its way out.

          • It still seems like poor design if to get an effective bleed you need to try that different stuff. (This coming from a guy who’s still on BB7s, though, so I don’t know if that’s necessary on other brakes, too.) Also, I think the cracks in pistons that people are talking about are micro cracks- although if that is the case, I am not sure how people found out that they were there.

      • Lots of folks wont touch Microshift with a 10 foot pole, and are thus left aksing the same question as above, but thanks.

        • Those “lots of folks” are actually just a few internet pundits who have more of a political/vanity problem with Microshift than actual real world experience with it. So sell your soul to the devil for a minute and use the barcon until Shimano inevitably brings 12s to GRX. Promise I won’t tell anyone as to not bruise anyone’s fragile ego about what parts they use, even if temporary.

          • Easy tiger!
            ‘Lots of folks’ like proven reliability, crisp shifts over many years, predictable wear, availability of parts, etc…
            Also, ‘lots of people’ dont simply say that Shimano or SRAM are bad per se simply because there are commercially successful.
            I have tried different variations of micro shift, and prefer otherwise. Also I like my knees, and they are sensitive to unwanted impacts in rough terrain, i dont like crap sticking out of my drop bar ends.

            to each their their own, no need to get all bent out of shape just cuz some folks admit they like shimano.

          • Interesting to see what you have to say about phroboi’s comment below about Microshift’s shifters being sloppy out of the box.

            • Sounds like user error. No idea how someone can screw up a simple barcon set up, but to each his own. I set mine up last week and shifts perfectly.

  3. I’ve had two Ultegra Hollowtech 6800 cranks fail in the last 3 years. The outer shell comes apart from the rest of the structure. Both were 2-3 years old. I’m not a super strong sprinter or anything. I’ve seen lots of these online, though my LBS says it’s rare. Any thoughts on causes or prevention?

  4. When will the new road groups (9100, 8100 and 7100) come out, and will they have 12 speeds, Microspline and Hyperglide+?

  5. Why did Shimano not expand on its Capreo , (folding bike group with 9t high gear), ratio to increase gear range and cut weight, before the whole 1x thing took off?

  6. GRX, in all it’s various permutations is an excellent gravel groups for unladen gravel riding, however for the terrain where I ride I need lower overall gearing for loaded bike packing. Shimano make the perfect drivetrain for this purpose in the XTR 2×12 group with 38/28 chainrings and a 10-45 cassette, but please make some drop bar shifters / hydraulic brake levers that will pull the correct amount of cable for the XTR 12 speed rear mech and the side swing MTB front mech. It does my head in that the drop bar shifters won’t play nicely with MTB drivetrains, because that is exactly what some of us need.

    • Here, here! Specific crankset and front derailleur would be needed, though, to get the proper chainline for a roadbike, and to account for the differences in mounting height of the FD tab.

  7. Shimano – can you please come out with an XT level drivetrain with 9 or 10 speed (max) 10-50 cassette and have it install as easily and shift as well as that Acera set I have on my kid’s bike?

  8. There is carry-over in GRX of the cable-pull asynchronicity that has existed between 10spd and 11spd road and mountain groupsets. Are there future plans to make all groupsets align in terms of cable-pull ratios to allow for better mixing/matching of equipment?

    SRAM continues to use their 1:1 cable pull ratio across the board, allowing for high levels of compatibility between their mountain and road groupsets without the use of 3rd party ‘hacks’ like Wolf Tooth’s Tanpan that work, but do impact the efficiency of the drivetrain.

    Will this consumer-friendly strategy be adopted by Shimano? Will all mechanical components (mountain/road/gravel) within a speed category (e.g., 12-spd) adopt a single cable-pull ratio?

    • Forcing or even tricking people into using their stuff via downgrades and incompatibility among some groups is a deep part of Shimano’s culture and unlikely to change.
      The first example I remember of incompatibility was 90s Dura Ace not playing with any other groups, mountain or road. Then there are the multiple incompatibilities of today that you alluded to. Also, Shimano has at least thrice downgraded its own products, in particular brakes, that use older technology in order to make them less competitive against their newer stuff. The first time Shimano did this was when it released V-Brakes and it removed the Servo Wave feature from its remaining cantilever brake levers. The second time was in 2003 when XTR dual control levers for V-Brakes also had their Servo Wave feature removed because that would have made them more competitive against Shimano’s own hydraulic disc brakes. The final time I know of is in 2007 or so when they downgraded, but did not remove, the Servo Wave feature on their XT V-Brake levers.
      If Shimano hasn’t solved the wandering bite point issue, which has been widely discussed for a solid fifteen years, then they won’t solve the compatibility issues you talk about that relatively few people complain about. Sad but true!

  9. I hear what you are saying Gary, but for my bike the standard mountain drivetrain, cranks, chainline, 73mm BB, clamp on side swing front mech and all will be just fine because what I’m talking about is simply a 29er hardtail with drop bars.

  10. New bar-end shifters from microSHIFT have as much slop in them as my Shimano bar-ends that have 10,000+ miles on them. They have half a shift worth of slop right from the get go.

  11. But… it’s not just all about you gringo. A Microshift barcon with an SLX derailleur is an inexpensive way to go 12s for gravel, and it shifts perfectly fine. You really going to blame a bar end shifter for your woes? Pffft! BTW, I raced CX with barcons for the better part of a decade and never hit my knees on them. Again, it’s not all about you.

  12. Can Shimano make a separate series of groupsets just for Gravel/Cyclocross, XC, and Marathon/stage racing racing? This would be a groupset for cyclists that ride everything from road to trail and requires a much wider range of gearing. This type of riding is significantly different than the hard hitting trail riding, bike park riding, and enduro riding that know seems to define the category of Mountain Biking these days.

  13. Mechanical XT 1x 12-speed 10-45T with Hyperglide+ is fantastic! Since Shimano doesn’t make a 12-speed XT/XTR Di2 rear derailleur, when can we get 12-speed mechanical/hydro brifters for 1x 12-speed gravel? Did I mention that mechanical 12-speed 10-45T with Hyperglide+ is fantastic?

  14. Would like to see hyperglide+ micro spline cross over to GRX / Road. The 10 tooth sprocket opens up alot of opportunity for 1×10 / 1×11. Would love to see a 10-36 cassette? Shimano any future plans to build tighter ratio cassettes for road / gravel using the hyperglide+ micro spline technologies?

  15. What would I need to do tp instalt XT crank arms on my BMX race bike?

    Specs: Bottom Bracket Sealed Press-Fit BB86
    Forged, 24mm Hollow Chromo Spindle
    Pedals 9/16

    Would,like,to,run one 44t sprocket.

    If new BB is needed that’s fine.

    Thank

    • 24mm outboard euro bb. Pressfit won’t work, unless ya have some spendy carbon frame, and even then, there are a ton of pressfit bb’s. But if it is a good old bmx race. First option. If old school american bb.. buy an adapter to euro. Old american is not new pressfit bb.. totally dif.

  16. A grx front ring set of 30×46 (GRX600) is too heavy for my riding. As I want to use GRX though, I am to install a 11-42T and use the RD812 GS derailleur, but swap the gs cage for a long version. Hope this works and according to bike forum it should. Is there any other way Shimano already checked and approved?

  17. I’ve been using MS 10s barcons for >3 years. They index fine but the index click location in relation to the level throw and where the lever settles post shift means the shift is more vague than a Shimano that settles into the click indent accurately. Sloppy may be another way to say that, I’d agree they’re not as accurate-shifting as Shimano by design. So bad that I’d ditch them? Not at all.

  18. Why don’t you offer a 44t, 46t or 48t chainring for the Dura Ace crankset. Shimano makes a 46t Dura Ace chainring but it’s only available to pro athletes. Why not offer these smaller rings to people that would actually pay for them.

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