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Conway GRV 1200 Carbon

Conway GRV 1200 Carbon

26.07.19 10:41 92Text: Luke Biketalker Photos: Erwin HaidenSomewhere between granfondo and gravel, the comfortable Conway GRV 1200 Carbon is searching for its way in numerous conditions. We put its versatility to the test.26.07.19 10:41 92

Conway GRV 1200 Carbon

26.07.19 10:41 92 Luke Biketalker Erwin Haiden Dieser Beitrag ist auch in Deutsch verfügbarSomewhere between granfondo and gravel, the comfortable Conway GRV 1200 Carbon is searching for its way in numerous conditions. We put its versatility to the test.26.07.19 10:41 91

Adaptable and erratic like a flag in the wind, regarding environment and field of application. What has long become a steadfast vice in politics in the 21st century, is a virtue in the gravel scene. Accordingly, Conway’s engineers were trying to not build a dedicated specialist but a versatile generalist to bridge the gap between marathon, anyroad, gravel and cyclocross. For 2019, the carbon version of the GRV has been completely redesigned. The GRV 1200 is spearheading the Germans’ lineup.

Frameset

The GRV’s lines – with exception of the GT – are quite a contrast to the rest of the market. The triangle configuration at the junction between top and seat tube serves more than an optical difference; on one hand, it should offer a comfortable contact point for the shoulder in case you’ll have to carry your bike off-road, on the other, the emerging kink and slimmer extended top tube are supposed to offer more flex all the way to the saddle. Apart from the small extra triangle, the GRV is ruled by strictly geometric shapes. Without too many flourishes and curves, corners and edges are dominating the form.

Slightly bent are only the dropouts at the rear end and fork. A slight curve in the chainstays is probably supposed to deliver a ‘leaf spring’ effect, as much as the curve on the fork. Because of the backwards-bent dropouts, the fork blades’ positioning is slacker than used to from regular forks, delivering more vertical flex and more comfort for the rider.

All cables and guides are routed internally, supporting both 1-by and 2-by drivetrains. Rather unusual for a gravel bike are the GRV’s limited, yet sufficient, amount of mounting points for water bottles & co. On the other hand, fenders are quickly mounted, thanks to the removable fender bridge – the part where bikes with rim brakes used to mount their rear brake. The matching mounts at the dropouts are well hidden to maintain the sportive look. Speaking about well hidden: the battery pack for Di2 – in case you should run one on your GRV – is located inside the frame. Just like on the XC Hardtail RLC, a cover behind the bottle cage on the down tube can open up to reveal a mounting area for the battery. In total, the frame (without fork) is said to weigh around 990 grams.

Inside and Out

Calculated at a fair price of 3,000 euros, Conway is equipping the GRV 1200 with a high-quality parts mix. Drivetrain and stopping power are handled exclusively by Sram’s Force CX1, which has proven itself thousands of times. In detail, a single 40-tooth ring is matched to a 10-42 cassette for the necessary range. It goes to show that whoever equipped the GRV seems to be spending a fair amount of time in the saddle himself, looking at the 160 mm disc diameter on both wheels that offer durability in the steeps and during continuous braking. Lightweight and especially robust aluminum wheelsets from DT Swiss – the ER 1600 Spline 32 – are rolling on Schwalbe’s G-One Speed tire in 35 mm width. With accessories from FSA, the official weight for the GRV 1200 is 8.6 kg. Our test model in size large came to a stop at 8.7 kg.

Tech Specs

Frame: Conway Gravel, Carbon Bottom bracket: Sram Pressfit
Fork: Carbon "DU", full carbon Brake: Sram Force, 160/160 mm
Stem: FSA Energy Seatpost: Conway Patent, 31.6 mm
Handlebar: FSA Adventure Gravel Compact Saddle: Conway 1489 sport superlight
Grip tape: Conway Gel Tape Wheelset: DT Swiss ER1600 (12 x 100/12 x 142 mm)
Rear derailleur: Sram Force 1, Type 2.1, 11-speed Tires: Schwalbe G-One Speed, 700 x 35 mm
Shift/brake levers: Sram Force1, hydraulic Weight: 8.6 kg
Cassette: Sram PG1130, 11-42 t Weight BB: 8.7 kg (size large)
Chain: Sram PC 1170 Price: € 2,999.95
Crank: Sram Force, 40 t

Cut

Conway wants to place the GRV between marathon, gravel and (hobby-) cyclocross. The geometry is mirroring that sentiment: bottom bracket height, wheelbase, seat and head angle are situated in the grey area between gravel and cyclocross. Especially with the growing number of ‘American' crossers that zone has been broadened quite extensively. The slightly higher stack (597 mm, large) as well as the shorter reach (388 mm, large), compared to a race-oriented model, rather caters to comfortable and relaxed gravel or marathon applications. But numbers are just general pointers; their interaction with each other define how the GRV feels like.

The test bike in size 56 still fits the 180 cm test rider with 86 cm inseam, but regarding personal taste (compact and agile) rather ends up at the larger end of the spectrum. It wouldn’t hurt if the seat angle was steeper (or at least if the seatpost had no setback). All in all, the sitting position is quite upright, almost comparable to a hardtail, but still somewhat sporty – and especially absolutely long-distance capable. A feeling that can be offset significantly by changing hand position from the upper bar to the drops. In general, the GRV’s grip position is making a much higher impact on the ride experience compared to other bikes with a race bar.

Tech Specs

Frame size: S M L XL
Seat tube (mm): 470 500 530 555
Top tube (mm): 528 545 570 590
Head angle (°): 71 71.5 72 72
Seat angle (°): 73.5 73.5 73 73
Chainstays (mm): 420 420 420 420
Steer tube (mm): 140 150 170 190
Wheelbase (mm): 998 1011 1026 1046
Stack (mm): 564 576 597 616
Reach (mm): 361 374 388 402
Bottom bracket drop (mm): 70 70 70 70

It only takes a few pedal strokes in the saddle to realize that the GRV does not share much of the first mentioned sentiment of also being a crosser. It’s not that you couldn’t participate in a cyclocross race with it. But it doesn’t share much of the youthful boisterous, almost nervous agility of a European crosser; you rather immediately feel ready for the long tour. The high steer tube is taking a while to get used to when being used to riding sportier bikes but offers a lot of comfort on the upper bars. You don’t have to be afraid of shoulders tensing up or a cramped rib cage, even with more than 100 kilometers over the rough in your legs. Positioned upright and relaxed, Conway’s GRV 1200 doesn’t want to barrel but roll along and inhale the impressions of the countryside. The comfort at the rear predominantly stems from the voluminous tires. Its promise of a flexing seat tube in the upper area is only somewhat traceable. Maybe an adequate carbon seatpost might generate some more flex than the installed aluminum version. At least you won’t have to worry about a lack of stiffness and steering precision in any situation when packing some extra load – whether at the hips or the bike.

A special treat on fire roads is the stellar routing of the cables. Even with a highly resonant material as carbon you won’t be able to notice any shaking, chafing or rattling. Because of purely personal reasons, I would want to swap bars. Because of the wide flared drops and resulting angle of the STIs, my shoulders are less than happy with the setup. When grabbing the upper bars and the drops, everything is great. My favorite position with my hands on the shift/brake levers unfortunately becomes unrideable, at least subjectively. A small inside tip are the 30 mm tall DT Swiss ER 1600 Spline wheels. Robust with a pleasantly quiet freehub and at 1,760 grams not overly heavy, they represent an excellent alternative for gravel tours but also training rides.

Uphill

During the uphills, the seating position is very comfortable, yet efficient. Only in extremely steep passages does the bike require you to shift weight and change your hand position to the lower bars because of the high steer tube. However, the GRV 1200's limiting factor on the climbs are not your legs or the bandwidth of the gears, but rather the Schwalbe G-One tires. The model is quite capable at taking the edge off of rough gravel; it also performs on dry asphalt with its low rolling resistance. In real off-road situations however, crossing wet country lanes and grass or even on paved wet climbs, Schwalbe's tire is at its limit. Looking for an example? Climbing the ‘Eiserne Hand' in pouring rain, the rear wheel abruptly washed out multiple times - not while pedaling out of the saddle but while seated, mind you. However, if you choose to ride terrain according to the tire or the tire according to the terrain, you shouldn't experience any issues during climbs at marathons or in gravel situations. Also, you don't have to fear the gearing range: any incline that's truly enjoyable to ride can be conquered with a combination of 40-42. If you tend to ride in steeper scenery, a swap to a 38-tooth is always an option.

Downhill

Here, the GRV 1200 is taking full benefit of its high stiffness. In combination with the – on asphalt – very grippy 35 mm tires, the bike is nicely controllable up to higher speeds and willingly circles through or can be pushed into any kind of corner. At that, the steering feels slightly indirect, in a positive way. That way you can put higher pressures over the bar on gravel or slippery passages, without having to deal with a nervous front. You got to give it to Schwalbe’s tires that they do perform downhill off-road much better than going uphill, meaning that they stay on track hitting roots or surprisingly wet passages. However, those heading off-road regularly should still be on the lookout for more profile and better self-cleaning capabilities.

Bottom Line

Conway GRV 1200
Model year: 2019
Test period: 400 km
Price: € 2,999.95
+ Standalone Frame
+ Long-distance-capable
+ Stiff
+ Quiet
+ Verstile
+ Wheelset
o High front
o Handlebar
- Comfort mostly because of tires
BB-verdict: Versatile roller for long distances.

Conway's GRV 1200 presents itself as a comfortable granfondo with certain benefits regarding its off-road capabilities, rather than a hardcore gravel bike. Asphalt in all shapes and forms, fire roads, forest highways and one or the other path - not trail - are the carbon bike's bread and butter. The quiet frame, coherent spec and long-distance-capable upright geometry want to be moved over great distances - and the bike generally asks you to do so. Unfortunately, you are losing some riding comfort at the expense of the frame set's high stiffness. Here, tires have to take over duties to filter some of the unwelcome impacts. Depending on your range of application, you should get a second set of tires next to the equipped Schwalbe G-Ones for rougher conditions.

Banking on its rather stand-alone look, fender mounts and versatile usability, the GRV 1200 with a tag of 3,000 euros is an interesting one-bike-quiver for comfort-oriented buyers. Having said that, it would be a good idea to swap the seatpost right at the dealer for a carbon version.