I can’t remember the last time I bought a complete bike that was built for me. I’ve always prided myself on being able to build the bikes I want from the pieces I had but for once I found a complete bike that I liked.
I’d originally wanted to get a proper steel touring bike as I want to use it predominantly for bikepacking and touring. However, once I went to see the bikes in the flesh I realised a proper tourer was overkill for the type of trip I’d be doing. Whilst the tourers were great, the long wheelbase and heavier weight would make it a less rideable bike for general off-road riding I’d like to do.
Seeing the Camino Al in the flesh was the turning point and for once I liked a new colour. The GRX setup was also something I quite fancied so this ticked all the boxes.
I won’t do a review of the groupset or frame as a separate part but the bike as a whole. I’m sure someone has done a great write up of Shimano GRX anyway.
My first ride on the bike was also one of the longest rides I’ve done for a while. I feel this helps me give quite a good review, even if my legs weren’t full up to the task.
The route I rode was 45 miles of nearly all off-road riding – mainly bridleways and canal paths. It was nothing too challenging but it gave a good feel about how the bike would work on trickier terrain.
One thing that stood out was the comfortable riding position. It still felt like a fast bike still but with plenty of stability for off-road sections. The flared bars were something I was apprehensive about initially – they seemed excessive and strange. On the ride they became invaluable though; they offered a new position on windy sections but without being uncomfortable. They also didn’t make shifting any more difficult even though they seemed like they should.
I got an upgrade to tubeless tyres which have always frightened me – what if they go flat? what if I puncture?
The front tyre did have a leak and was steadily going down but lasted for 3-hours before becoming a little too soft. It did what it said on the tin though – even when flat it was rideable. I re-sealed it but using duct tape on the rim. This has worked fine since and I’ve had no issues. Good to know you don’t need anything too fancy to get it working again. I’m now tempted to get my main road bike fully tubeless too.
I love it. The bike is an absolute blast to ride and I genuinely look forward to going on it. I don’t feel like I’ve taxed it so far but its got a great feel every time I’m on it. It rolls incredibly quickly for a gravel bike so doesn’t feel sluggish on the road but also handles great off-road.
There have been no issues with mud clearance so far and I’ve been in some incredibly muddy fields. The disc brakes have been a nice addition as they’re not too sharp and offer a lot of modulation.
Overall, this may be one of my favourite bikes ever. I just can’t wait to take it on a full tour and see how it really handles!