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“Who’s this joker on the road bike? Looks fit, but a Pinarello? At a gravel race?!” That’s what we thought at mile 5 of the 2017 Gravel Worlds when we saw a guy on a black Pinarello cruising up the left side to the front of the peloton. At mile 40, when the “joker” on the Pinarello attacked, the supersonic shockwaves of his acceleration detonated in the peloton and he and his Pinarello imposed their will on the event. Less than eight hours later, Colin Strickland would be crowned gravel world champ—and, somewhat later, after we crossed the finish line we went looking for that Pinarello.
This story is from issue 76 of PELOTON Magazine, to get your own copy head to our store: pelotonshop.com
It wasn’t just any Pinarello; it was the new GAN GR, a gravel bike based on the original GAN, a race bike with a slightly less aggressive personality than the Dogma. We’ve been dying to throw a leg over the bike since we saw Strickland motor to worlds victory. Our chance came this spring, but it wasn’t just the GAN GR, it was the GAN GRS Disc, which adds Pinarello’s Dogma Suspension System 1.0 to the new gravel platform.
The DSS1.0 system was created for the Dogma K8S Paris–Roubaix machine of Team Sky, a bike which the GAN GRS has more in common with than the actual GAN. To help the single centimeter of travel offered by the elastomer DSS1.0 unit, Pinarello brings over the Dogma K8S flattened Flexstays chain stays, which operate in a similar fashion to Cannondale’s SAVE stays, offering vertical deflection while maintaining a stout pedaling platform.
To give the bike real gravel credibility, Pinarello has put a premium on stability with a long rear end by gravel race standards: 430mm. That’s up to 22mm longer than a GAN rim bike and 15mm longer than a Dogma K8S. The front end is also considerably longer than either of the other bikes. That extra stability becomes very important when tire clearance is plugged into the equation. Pinarello claims 38mm, but we wouldn’t run more than 35mm—certainly if any wet weather is in the forecast. With the limited tire volume, the extra stability in deep, soupy gravel is welcome. The bike doesn’t have a super-low bottom bracket either, so the extra wheelbase again becomes doubly important for stability.
Where the GAN GRS does follow in the footsteps of the original GAN is carbon modulus, with a more mid-modulus—at least by Pinarello standards—T900 carbon recipe. It keeps the cost down and when you’re turning big tires on a sketchy surface much of the liveliness of a higher modulus is lost anyway. The bike also retains the Dogma F10-inspired aero tube shapes. We know what you’re thinking, “Aero gravel?” Sorry, it matters. Strickland’s Gravel Worlds win was executed with a pace over 20 mph for seven hours and 18 minutes, including 11,000 feet of climbing. The doubters can throw all the shade they want, but the GAN GR saved Strickland serious time over the 150 miles. It’s science.
The bike weighs 8.96 kilograms (19.7 pounds) in 56cm. Not light, but the main culprit is the budget Fulcrum wheels, which unfortunately means the weight is in exactly the wrong place. If that’s the build’s low point, the high point may be the MOST Gravel bars that, with a significant flare, have been just right on challenging surfaces. The GAN GRS in this build costs $5,550.
The rear end of this bike is quite magical. There is nothing groundbreaking about the DSS1.0 system or even flattened chain stays, but together they create a very smooth rear end, even with skinny road tires, that never feels “bobby” and gets up and goes with alacrity when accelerating. Before we got the tape measure out we would have said the rear end was more like 420mm. It’s that racey. Despite the long wheelbase the GAN GRS channels its road-bike forefathers very nicely. Do not be afraid to ask the bike to do double duty as a road bike.
What you will feel in road mode is a slight imbalance front to back, as the rigid front end can’t keep up with the plush rear. But with 33mm or 35mm gravel tires, the extra volume keeps the overall ride balanced, smooth and plush. Our initial concerns about the bottom bracket being a bit tall for a gravel bike were alleviated thanks to the smooth and stable wheelbase. In fact it goes around technical corners and darts through a tight bunch better than anticipated, thanks perhaps to the taller bottom bracket.
The GAN GRS is a gravel race bike, ideal for the long and rolling days over Nebraska hardpack. It’s a fitting gravel world champ. In the hillier adventure riding of California, the bike’s wide gearing is a great help, but its weight does take a toll. We’d recommend ditching the heavy and uninspired Fulcrum 7 DB wheels for something in the 1,400- to 1,500-gram range if you want to unlock the bike’s full potential in hilly terrain.
PRICE: $5,550 (as tested)
WEIGHT: 8.96kg/19.7 lbs, 56cm (w/o pedals or cages)
BUILD: Shimano Ultegra 11-speed, MOST alloy Gravel bar and Tiger stem, fi’zi:k Antares saddle, Fulcrum 7 DB wheels with Vittoria Terreno Mix tires.