The gravel grinder category is a tough one, as the bikes that fall into this niche are expected to perform on paved roads just as well as dirt, gravel, and any other other terrain you’d encounter as you leave the comfort of sealed roads.
At first glance, the Reid Granite all road adventure bike looks like something from a big name brand that will cost your left arm and first born child. On closer inspection you’ll realize it comes from Australian consumer direct brand Reid, and despite its $899 / £600 / AU$799 price tag, the Granite is a whole lot of bike. In the past few years Reid has stepped up its game, and the Granite is further proof of that.
Dirt road ready
It’s quite a suprise to see carbon fork on a sub 1k bike:
Yes that is a carbon fork on a $899 / £600 / AU$799 bike
As you’d expect at such a low price point the frame is alloy, though Reid has employed subtle hydroforming that helps to stiffen up select areas, and allowing a bit of ‘give’ in others. Most surprising however is the carbon fork, complete with rack mounts, which shaves some grams off the front end, and does well to damp some of the vibrations coming through the bars.
It’s worth noting that the weight saving at the front does makes for a somewhat unbalanced bike, with considerably more poundage at the rear. Either way our size medium sample tipped the scales at 11.5kg / 25lbs, which considering the fat rubber, disc brakes, components and the price is actually an impressive figure.
Geometry wise the Granite is pretty relaxed with a long 1028mm wheelbase and slack 70.2-degree head angle. The more relaxed geometry slows down the steering a bit, and with a relatively low bottom bracket this is a bike that inspires confidence on rough-and-tumble unpaved descents.
When things get smoother the you could argue that the Granite’s handling comes over a bit boring, but this isn’t designed for performance riding – it’s all about sitting back and enjoy the scenery. Although it’s built for putting in long miles on unsealed roads, we think the Granite will do great service as a commuter, with the relaxed riding position and front and rear rack mounts making it ideal for your trip to and from work.
Ovalsed seat stays are flat on the top and bottom to promote some flex and a more comfortable ride:
Flat seatstays are designed to flex under impact
The mainframe itself is rock solid, and we weren’t able to detect any vertical or lateral flex under pedaling force. At the back, flat seatstays promote some deflection to take the sting out of larger hits, but don’t succumb to any unwanted twisting.
As mentioned above, on smoother tarmac the Granite is a perfectly capable road bike, but when the pavement ends it really proves its worth. As you’re still riding a rigid drop bar bike, when you hit the bumps, holes and washboard of a gravel road you’re going to feel it, but nowhere near as much as if you’d done the same ride on a conventional road bike.
It’s the Continental 35c Cyclocross Speed tyres that bare the brunt of the bikes comfort, and the wide rubber takes the edge off the bumps as your ride over them. The file-tread tyres are ideal for gravel grinding as the minimal knobs don’t add much rolling resistance, but there’s enough tread, especially on the shoulder of the casing, to offer a bit of extra confidence on variable road surfaces. Despite the wide rubber, there’s plenty of clearance, and we’d say you can confidently fit up to a 40c model.
The 20mm wide Alex MD17 rims spread the casing nicely, and despite our best efforts remained true throughout our testing period. They’re not particularly light but roll along nicely, and the colour-matched decals are a nice aesthetic touch.
The TRP Spyre mechanical brakes provided consistent stopping power no matter the conditions
Disc brakes on a gravel bike are a given, and the TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes brought the Granite to a stop with haste. Even in the wet and packed full of grime, the dual-piston design remained untroubled providing loads of power and good modulation. Given the price it’s no surprise to see front and rear quick-release skewers, but we had no trouble with brake rub, wheel alignment or flex under braking throughout our testing.
The claris 8-speed cassette proves plenty of range, but there’s some pretty big gaps between the gear ratios:
The wide-range cassette made a bit difference going up hill, but the large gaps between the gears made it tough to find a comfortable gear
Shifting duties are left in the hands of Shimano’s entry level 8-speed groupset Claris Groupset, which still sees the older style Shimano shifters and gear indicators. When the road points to the sky, you’ll be thankful for the wide range 11-32t cassette, although with only eight speeds on hand there’s some pretty big gaps between gears which made for lots of back and forth shifting in an effort to find a comfortable cadence.
These big gaps in gearing also lead to somewhat clunky shifting as the chain moves up the cassette to the larger sprockets. At the front the compact Claris 50/34t crankset added to the massive range of the rear cassette, and fostered reliable and quick front shifting.
Externally routed cables will please any home mechanic, and full length housing should keep things running smoothly for eons.
We would have like to see a saddle with a bit less padding:
We weren’t particularly big fans of the highly padded saddle
The rear contact point is a Reid-branded highly padded saddle, which is okay for shorter outings, but over time becomes uncomfortable. As for the rest of the finishing kit, it’s all unbranded and quite generic, but gets the job done no less.
For the money, this Reid is pretty tough to beat. It performs well above its price point, and it’s great-looking too. Whether you’re looking to get into gravel grinding, or are just after a budget-friendly commuter that can handle everything from dirt paths and bump shared pavement to smooth tarmac, the Granite is worth a look.