Masi Brunello: At The Finish – by Grannygear
Well, the Masi Brunello GRX22 has gone back to the Masi Mother ship but not before I had time to ride it a lot of miles over multiple outings in my typical Southern California conditions, culminating in a gravel event in Central Cal that covered 57 miles of mixed surface riding with over 5000’ of climbing in the first 25 miles.
It was a fitting farewell ride for the Brunello GRX22.
What I was left with, after all these rides, was a sense of hope for gravel bike buyers in that lower cost bikes like this one…sub 3 grand…can be very good. Very, very good. And as this economy is trending toward high inflation and slow economic growth, that is good news. Of course, the difficulty might be simply getting a bicycle at all, but that is another issue.
The Masi Brunello reminds me of the Cannondale Topstone, the first gen aluminum version. That was a very good bike too. And the cost was right about where this Masi is. It’s a good trend.
I know that we look at high end bikes and covet them, maybe we even buy them if we can write the check, but at the end of the day the difference between a $2000.00 bike and a $12,000.00 bike is mostly $10,000.00, and not the fun you will have on it or the longevity of the parts or even how fast you will or will not be.
As far as the parts on the Brunello, I did not use the stock wheels after a few rides but they rolled well enough. Of course, the spoke tension was a bit uneven, and they needed a compressor to seat some used tires. As far as the hub durability, that typically falls outside the duration of a review, so even if I rode them throughout, I would not have expected to have any issues. A year of hard use? No idea.
GRX hydraulic brakes have to be the best disc brakes ever for a road bike/gravel bike setup. Wow! I never got them to make noise and they had the best feel ever. I did not like the square-ish lever bodies though. They bothered my hands when standing and climbing with pressure on the hoods and the brake levers felt odd to me. I remember people raving about the new shapes when they came out but that was not my finding.
I really appreciated the even handling of the Masi Brunello GRX22. It was just solid and agile and stable across the board, none of those being more than one or the other. For instance my Lynskey GR250 is more stable and better at higher speeds in poor conditions but it is a bit lazy on the road. It’s a trade off I accept.
But the Masi seemed to walk the line pretty well and it made for a better all-road bike than the Lynskey does. The snap forward under hard efforts ‘felt’ better on the Masi although I am not sure if I could take a stopwatch to it. It did make for closing the gaps in the gravel peloton easier when we were on the road, so there must be something there.
if I could tweak one thing it would be to add some bottom bracket drop to it just to settle it down on sketchy turns at speed although that does tend to dull out of the saddle sprints a bit. I would take the slight trade there too.
I did tend to hit my left heel on the frame at the brake caliper area as it sticks out a bit and my left foot turns in at the heel more than normal (old injury).
I also felt the frame and fork kicking me a bit during that last gravel event where I was descending a five mile run on washboard gravel roads at 25+ mph. That is where the Lynskey really stands out, as the frame AND the fork on it are just a bit more compliant, and the extra chain stay length and increased bottom bracket drop work for me.
Titanium is still my go to material for general gravel stuff. How you use it is key of course, but still….
The gravel event I used for my last ride began with a multi hour climb on old fire roads, including a fat middle section of high speed descending on both dirt and paved roads, then it tossed in some jeep-type roads with embedded rocks and whoops, then ended with a 15 mile or so ride on a winding paved road around a lake.
With the lake to my left, the road rose and fell and rose and fell, encouraging out of the saddle efforts over the top to the next swooping corner. The Masi was a willing partner for the whole day, getting me up the hill with proper gravel bike gearing, keeping me intact on the descents with solid handling, and amazing brakes, and now responding like a fat tired road bike on the lakeside course.
At The Finish: I will miss the Masi and I hope there are many more bikes like this for us to buy and enjoy. Bikes that are solid and of good value; bikes that don’t break the bank. Yes, I upgraded the wheels, I changed to a few different tires along the way, and swapped to a nicer riding saddle and seat post. My choice there. And I added the Redshift stem. Also my choice. But I did not need to. None of the other parts were junk, they just were areas where I improved my experience with the bike.
And since I did not pay a lot for the bike (so to speak) those incremental changes would be part of the somewhat normal path of upgrades most of us do with a bike. Any bike. And I still would not be too far in the hole pocketbook wise.
Here is to inexpensive, unpretentious wines, food truck burritos, and bikes that offer a lot for less of our hard earned cash. I’ll take one of each and make mine red please. The wine, not the bike.
For more details on the Masi Brunello see the webpage for this bike HERE.
NOTE: Masi Bikes sent over the Brunello GRX 22 for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.