Noble Bikes GX5 Gravel Bike: At The Finish – by Guitar Ted
There are bicycles that get reviewed sometimes where you put in your time and get the written review posted and, to be honest, sometimes I am glad to get that behind me. This Noble GX5 represents one of those times I am not happy the review has come to its inevitable conclusion. That probably says a lot to some and is all you may need to know. However; for those wanting more insight, I’ll offer the following as my final word on this carbon fiber gravel specialist from Noble Bikes.
Over the last two months (!!) that the final part of this review lasted, I have ridden the Noble GX5 as a “daily driver”, taken it out on some of the nastiest roads we’ve seen in years, and ridden it during “normal” Mid-West road conditions. Through it all, I have remained impressed with this carbon fiber bicycle with roots going back to another gravel bike I really like.
That bike would be the Raleigh Tamland, which when released in 2014 was the most dialed design for gravel on the market. Since then other trends and influences have conspired to turn “gravel bikes” into forms which more closely resemble road racing bike designs- short chain stays, a bit higher bottom brackets, and less stability in looser conditions as a result. The Noble GX5 did not go down that path, and because of this, it presents a more “all-around” feel with a nod to the “go faster” crowd in terms of its light weight and lateral stiffness.
Of course, there is a place for all out racing design in the gravel scene, and many will be drawn to some of these newer designs. However; for the vast majority of folks who just want to have a great adventure on a bike, that actually would make a fine racing platform, the GX5 is a better choice. The ride feel is well composed and smooth. The frame is damped nicely, but still stiff where it needs to be. While the bike is not outfitted with crazy, lightweight parts, it still goes under 20lbs stock and it would be easy to dump even more weight if one wanted.
At The Finish: While the GX5 could be the “one bike” that could replace your road, commuter bike, and be a gravel rig, it isn’t quite “all there” in terms of versatility. For instance, there are no fork mounts for things like a bottle cage, or panniers, but I do think the GX5 is perfectly suited to light bike packing, and overlanding on this platform, as comfortable as it is, would be pretty smooth. That said, other bikes have hard mounts for top tube bags, and rack mounts, which the GX5 lacks.
However; for its obvious omissions I still really like the GX5. Yes, it could have a tad better muck clearing ability behind the seat tube and above the bottom bracket. Yes, it is carbon fiber, and I am an avowed metal frame fan. Yes, this particular model of the GX5 is 1X specific and I do love a 2X drive train. But every time I ride this bike, I have a great experience, and I have grown fond of it despite all the things I thought I wasn’t going to like about this bicycle.
Now I should mention that this particular GX5 model will support a SRAM AXS electronic front derailleur, that Nobel Bikes does have a steel version of the GX5 in the pipeline, and that, maybe in the future, a carbon GX5 variant will exist that is 2X compatible. So, if you are anything like me, but definitely have to have the front derailleur, or a metal frame, then Noble should have you covered, albeit maybe in the future.
This bike will handle, (barely) the 650B X 47 tires out there, and you might be able to squeeze in slightly bigger rubber than 40mm on 700c rims. So, it isn’t a one trick pony, necessarily. However; if your plan is to have big, fat 650B’s on one ride and poofy 700c’s on another, you should look elsewhere. But if your riding consists of a varied palette of smooth to rough stuff, looser surfaces to hard, and if you want a stable, light bike to attack all of that, the Noble GX5 is one of the best in the game.
Note: Noble Bikes sent the GX5 over for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.