Gravel drivetrain upgrade

I was going to buy a new gravel bike this year but all the bikes I want are backordered for at least a year. So I settled on trying to improve my current situation. I don’t want to spend too much but I’d like to make my current gravel bike better. I run mechanical road Ultegra components on the bike but when I ride on rough terrain my chain sometimes drops and always slaps around. I’m wondering if just changing to a RD-RX800 derailleur, which I believe has a clutch, would make my group set similar to GRX without spending $1500. Any other changes that might make sense?

This is definitely the cheapest and best upgrade you’ll get. GRX isn’t all that fancy. I like the hood ergos, but hate the “pleasure ribbing” on them, can’t ride without gloves.

1 Like

GRX a mechanical is largely the same stuff as Ultegra mechanical, with a few tweaks. For example, the STI bodies are the exact same, but the levers are shaped slightly differently.

So getting the RX-800 RD is basically getting you the same functionality as the GRX 800 group. I think it may not have quite as much gear range as the GRX RD, but you can still get a 36t rear cog to work on it.

That RX clutch rear mech will make a big difference imo. Also take care to make sure that your chain length is spot on, a 12 speed Shimano chain can be used too.

Iirc the GRX hood rubbers will fit on the mech Ultegra too.

Correct….they are the same body. I am currently running an Ultegra right shifter and a GRX 1x left brake lever. Other than some shape difference on the lever blades, I would never know they are from different groups.

But maybe I’ll get a GRX right hood now that I think about it….there are some texture differences.

I really like the rubberized matte finish on some of the GRX lever blades, but it’s a small difference

Shoot, that’s a problem because I have 11-40 cassette

Would I need a longer chain then with my current ultegra?

I have this setup. Ultegra with the RX rear. Minimal chain slap with the clutch and no chain dropping. Even on rough terrain.

Definitely worth it

Just get the Wolf Tooth adapter…I run it on my Ultegra RD and used a 40t at The Rift last year, no problems. I just leave the adapter on all the time and have gone back to my normal 32t cassette.


Spot on, I’ve got a Wolftooth Goatlink for my GRX mech to boost its range, it’s a 30second job to swap out.

1 Like

I ran my RX rear derailleur all last year with an 11-40 cassette without a Wolf Tooth adapter and didn’t have any issues at all. Shifting was great, and I’m doing the same this year.

1 Like

You could also just get the GRX RD instead of the Ultegra RX.

do you know if it would be the “goat link” or the road link??

Depends on which RD you have….if it is the R8000 (direct mount style), then you need the Goat Link.

For the Ultegra RX, it would definitely be the Goat Link.

i’m going to get the RD-RX800 so will add the goat link

1 Like