Masi Brunello: Checkpoint – by Grannygear
To begin with, I rode the Masi Brunello GRX22 just as I received it, (See intro post linked there), only adding pedals and a computer mount (and cages of course). I was immediately impressed with how it felt under rough roads and how it responded to pedaling input. Aluminum really has come a long ways.
However I found the 110 stem to be a bit long, not for reach issues, but just how it weighted the front end and moved me forward over the front wheel under faster and rougher sections. I also was not too crazy about the stock saddle, but I won’t make much of that as saddles are such a personal choice. The stock carbon seat post is really stiff, yielding barely at all under bump forces, so in order to remove any minor issues that would take away from the review impressions, I just swapped my entire saddle and seat post off of the Lynskey.
And since I wanted a shorter stem, I swapped to a Redshift Shockstop stem in a 90mm length. I found, like with pretty much all gravel bikes I have ridden, that the carbon forks in this modern age are very stiff riding and transmit a lot of impacts to my aging wrists and shoulders. The Redshift stem should come standard on every gravel bike with a rigid fork…OK…NOT the Diverge.
I really should have used a 100mm stem as I think that would have been better for this bike. It has a 44cm wide bar, not the 46cm width that I use for gravel. But it’s good enough. The shorter stem took away a bit of that ‘roadie feel’, which might be good or bad, depending on your desires. If I was speed centered or was on smoother roads then I would have kept the 110 stem.
Now then, the tires. The stock Kenda Flintridge tires look like a pretty good dirt based tire that should roll well enough on the road but I found them appallingly slow on pavement. I could hear the small knobs ‘grrrriiiippp’ and distort as I rode. Not for me. I do too much road in between gravel-time to have a slow tire. Now then, if I were only on dirt, different story. They seem to have tons of grip and they were designed to be durable. I set them aside.
I have been swapping tires back and forth and lately have been running Panaracer Gravel King GKs in the 38mm or 43mm sizes. Faaaast tire on the road, yet with small knobs. I am expecting a new tire from Kenda that looks to be exactly up my alley, so I will swap those on when I get them.
The stock wheels are decent for the money. I weighed them at 1973g with tape and stems, etc. Hardly light weight, but the offset rim looks nice and they are tubeless ready of course. Like pretty much all inexpensive wheels, the spoke tension is a bit uneven and I did struggle to get the Gravel King SK’s to catch and inflate until I used a real compressor on them. I also have a set of Astral Wanderlust wheels to try on this bike. They take 1/2 pound out of the wheel weight and come with a bomber hub. More on those in a separate post or two. On a bike at this price level, wheels are likely the first worthy upgrade. However, unless the hubs give up early, and I have no reason to think they would, these wheels should do until the upgrade bug bites.
I noticed the 175mm cranks as I run 172.5mm on anything with drop bars. It’s OK, but I can tell each time I get back on the Masi from my road bike. Now, I am really picky and sensitive to contact points and fit. I expect most riders my size will never care.
GRX. This is the most time I have spent on GRX 2x. It’s typical Shimano in how it actually functions, meaning exceptionally well. Not crazy about the squared off corners on levers and hoods, but that seems to get rave compliments. Meh. The brakes are flat out amazing though.
The 46/30 and 11-34 gearing combo is a good start and possibly all you would ever need. I still think I would rather have a bigger range cassette and a larger small ring, but the industry seems to think otherwise, and the Adventure crank in the 46/30 is much more realistic compared to the road compact stuff we first got with gravel bikes. If this were mine I would go with a SRAM 11-36 cassette (and I might just swap one in anyway). One guy I rode with is running a Shimano 11-40 cassette with his 46/30 GRX. Nice! I have yet to be swung to the dark side of 1x gravel gearing. Maybe some day.
I find that I use the 46T a lot more even at more extreme crossover gears when I have a 30T small ring. That 30T really spins out fast and the gap between rings is bigger than I would like. Whatta’ya gonna’ do?
Now then. The bike as a whole. I am very happy with the first few hundred miles I have logged on it. It has been a mix of road and dirt/gravel and the Masi Brunello GRX22 has been all I could have asked for each time. With the moderate drop at the bottom bracket (70mm) and the 425mm chain stays, it has a quite snappy response to out of the saddle efforts and peloton days. It really is a nice all-road bike.
I have ridden twice with the local ‘boyz’ (and girlsz) gravel group and the typical route is a lot of paved road to get to the dirt roads then paved road rides back. So it’s really nice to have a gravel bike that works well and does not feel too laid back. Gravel bike peloton? You bet.
Yet it can swallow a biggy tire and let you strap bags to it and hit the dirt too. Quite versatile. I don’t see it as a hardcore adventure bike like the recent Ritchey Outback, but it’s not far off.
So far the Masi Brunello has been smooth riding, good accelerating (especially with the Astral wheels on there), and quite willing for multi hour rides across varied road surfaces. I do miss the more stable feel of the Lynskey when the road is rougher and more challenging, but that comes from the longer back end and lower bottom bracket and THAT also steals some potential for a snappy response from the Lynskey.
Some bikes really come together and I feel this one does and would likely be all most gravel riders ever need. More to come as the miles pile up and the adventures beckon.
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.