GT wouldn’t let editors at PressCamp in Deer Valley ride the relaxed-geometry Grade before getting a presentation on the bike’s features. It’s not a CX bike nor an MTB with drop bars, it’s an “EnduRoad” bike, and slots in to the growing (in the US) “gravel grinder” road bike niche. But the Grade isn’t an out-of-the-box gravel grinder either. It’s a little bit of almost everything, and most definitely cocks a snook at UCI’s tech regs. The carbon Grade is disc-equipped with a 15mm bolt-thru axle fork, super-thin glass-fibre seat stays wrapped in carbon, and GT’s signature triple-triangle up top. There are seven bikes in the range, with either a carbon fibre or aluminium frame, starting at £699 for Claris-equipped model up to a Ultegra model costing £2,999.
The bikes have space for tyres up to 35mm. GT’s “Drop-Tune” handlebar has an eroica-style 14 degree flair in the drops.
GT says: “EnduRoad bikes are the perfect choice for anyone who wants to go on all-day adventures, race a [sportive], or explore those hidden side roads just outside of town.”
For stiffness, the carbon Grade uses Hi-Mod carbon fibre in the oversized down tube and boxy chainstays. For flex (on unmade roads and so on), there’s been a lot of effort put into the shape and carbon layup of the top tube and seat-tube. There’s also flex from the pencil-thin seat stays which are made from solid composite glass core (glass fibre, not fibre glass, GT stressed) with a carbon fibre outer. GT bills this as “Dual Fiber Dynamics.”
The Grade has a press-fit 30 bottom bracket. Alu models get mudguard/rack mounts, the 950g carbon frame (m) has a neat removeable mudguard mount. All of the cables are external.
The Grade’s relaxed geometry was the reason for the no-ride-before-presention rule. The bike has a long wheelbase, relaxed head angle and tall head tube. Head angle is 71.5 degrees; seat angle is 73.
We got a chance to ride the Grade on some dirt and tarmac roads in Deer Valley. Early bike races – such as the iconic Tour de France – were staged on gravel roads so “gravel grinding” is breaking no new ground nevertheless it was great to be able to throw the bike around on gravel (and grassy slopes) and yet still feel perfectly at home on hardtop.
For many riders, this could be an excellent fast commuter bike, especially for typical British conditions, long sections of poorly surfaced roads. And with the long wheelbase – and 11mm of frame flex – the Grade would also be a comfortable bike for sportives, especially those with, er, long sections of poorly surfaced roads.