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GT Grade Alloy 105 review

10 Apr 2018
Verdict:

Staking GT’s claim to the gravel road market comes the Grade Alloy 105, which manages to offer something to everyone

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1000
For 
Phenomenal ride character and overall package
Against 
Sturdy build adds kilos

Without doubt, gravel bikes are an interesting proposition: just how do you describe the purpose of a gravel bike, or in GT speak ‘EnduRoad’, to the uninitiated? The difficulty is that the more you try to narrow it down the more you realise that a gravel bike is only one of two things: either the only bike you’ll ever need or one big compromise.

We put the GT Grade Alloy 105 through its paces to find out which. 

So just what is the GT’s aluminium Grade for? ‘The alloy Grade is a well-rounded road bike to commute on and rip up the beaten path with,’ say Patrick Kaye, GT’s senior product manager. Sounds like an all-you-can-eat buffet with something for everyone, so there must be a catch…

Buy the GT Grade Alloy 105 from Wiggle here

Sizing

Getting the ideal bike fit isn’t the dark art it once was, yet riding dirt requires a somewhat different fit. Thankfully GT has adopted the ‘stack and reach’ measurement system to make size comparisons easier.

This 58cm alloy version of the Grade has a stack of 627mm and a reach of 382mm. By way of comparison a Cannondale Synapse is 611mm and 394mm, making the Grade shorter and higher than its well-respected American cousin.

In practice this reduced, and lifted, reach meant slightly more elbow bend and a shallower angle of the back. Perhaps to those finely honed racers out there this might be a deal breaker but once you get the Grade off the tarmac it all makes perfect sense.

Geometry

With the opportunity to hit the dirt just ten meters into the first ride, it would have been rude not to immediately test out this set up and the bridleway in question quickly illustrated that the shorter reach was a wise design choice.

The front end of the bike gave us enough confidence to take on larger obstacles off-road, which was often followed by a thump up the backside by the saddle.

We found lowering the saddle by 10mm prevented this and evened out a capability gap between the front and rear ends of the bike.

Lower saddle, shorter reach and higher bars allow greater articulation of elbows, and knees, meaning more bump absorption without seeming to compromise muscles that are more used to a road biased set up.

Handling

When it comes to handling GT has really nailed it with the Grade - fire roads and gravel paths can be ridden hard and fast. ‘The design process was really fun,’ says Kaye.

‘A handful of geometry mules, a ton of mix matched components… We wanted a bike that was straight up fun.’

As you’d imagine there are limits and these are mostly based around the choice of tyre, and physics of friction. The standard 28mm Continental Ultra Sport II’s tyres did a phenomenal job of soaking up the bumps, as well as providing adequate traction.

The result of GT’s hard work is a happy balance where high speed is possible on all manner of surfaces and with bucket loads of confidence thanks to the 72degree head angle and 2.5cm longer (43cm) chainstays.

Take it off-road and throw in roots, rocks or loose stuff and you’ll make good use of the capable TRP Hy/Rd disc brakes as ‘shredding’ is definitely on the menu.

If you stick to tarmac or well-prepared trails you’ll find the factory package to be astoundingly good and, if you enjoy the even rougher stuff, the frame will accommodate a set of 32mm knobbly tyres.

As an overall package, the Grade 105 is a very comfortable ride with dynamics that put far more expensive bikes to shame. While ‘we wanted a road bike that encourages the rider to get loose and shred’ are not exactly words we’d usually use at Cyclist, we wholeheartedly agree with GT in this case.

Yet one thing you can’t hide is that the Grade has got a bit of excess mass to it - our test machine tipped the scales at 10.1kg.

All the same if you are keen on a bike that’s capable of expanding your ride options, doubling up as a commuter or winter trainer with ‘guards then you really couldn’t do better.

In fact the Grade 105 far surpassed our expectations and had us thinking someone had got their sums wrong such is the value of the overall package.

Depending on what else you might have in your garage probably dictates how the Alloy Grade could fit into your life as what’s so pleasing is that it’ll suit a number of us in differing ways.

As a great exploration bike to get out on your local paths with - it’ll do a fantastic job. Equally, fit some mudguards and it’ll carry you through some long winter miles too. In fact, we’re struggling to find something it can’t do.

Buy GT Grade Alloy 105 from Wiggle here

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed
Top Tube (TT) 580mm
Seat Tube (ST) 605mm
Head Tube (HT) 207mm
Head Angle (HA) 72
Seat Angle (SA) 72.5
Wheelbase (WB) 1035mm
BB drop (BB) 70mm

Specification

GT Grade Alloy 105
Frame Grade alloy frame with smooth welds, hydroformed (TT,DT), Tapered 1 1/8"-1 1/4" headtube, standard BB
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes TRP Hy/Rd mechanical/ Hydraulic disc road brake, 160mm rotor
Chainset FSA Omega Mega EXO Semi-Compact 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-32
Bars GT DropTune Super Light alloy, 16degree flair
Stem GT Design 3D forged 6
Seatpost GT One bolt aluminium
Wheels Alex ATD470 on Formula Ultralight 6 bolt disc hubs
Saddle GT Grade saddle
Tyres Continental Ultra Sport II 700 x 28
Weight 10.3kg
Contact www.cyclingsportsgroup.co.uk 

NB. The bike we reviewed was fitted with Ultra Sport tyres, not Ultra Sport II.

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