Noble Bikes GX5 Gravel Bike: Checkpoint- by Guitar Ted
It’s been some time since our introduction of the Noble Bikes GX5 bike. The bike has been getting ridden in regular rotation here and now it is high time to get back to the review and let you all know what I think about this new brand’s gravel bike so far.
Ride Performance: The Noble Bikes GX5 carbon fiber gravel bike being reviewed here could be summed up in two quotes I generally say to myself almost every time I ride it. “This bike is pretty dang light“, and “Wow! This bike is smooth riding!” But, of course, this is a review and there has to be more words than that, right? So, here they are….
The smoothness is really a function of the entire bike as a system. The rear stays, the extended seat post, and to some degree, the front triangle and fork, are all lending to this feeling. As I think about this bike, and the connection it has to the Raleigh Tamland and Roker, I can’t help but compare the bikes to each other.
The Tamland and the GX5 share a lot of similarities in geometry. While there is the whole “Forward Geometry” thing, (see the introductory post), I just don’t see a lot of measurements in the geometry of the GX5 that are different enough from the Tamland to make me mention them here. Essentially, I fit the same on both bikes. The Roker was Raleigh’s carbon take on the Tamland, and in my opinion, it was a disjointed attempt. The front end was super-stiff while the back end was very compliant. The bike just didn’t seem well composed. At least the GX5 doesn’t have this disparity in feel from front to back. It does seem to be more composed and stable across a variety of road types, and the front end does a good job of not being overly stiff.
Another thing that struck me about the GX5 is how far that front wheel seems to be out in front of you. That longer fork offset that Noble used does jump out at you in this way, but it does not make the bike handle in an unstable way at all. It also is nice from the standpoint of feeling a bit more secure as you drop off something a bit steeper since your chin isn’t out over the front wheel already.
The kit the GX5 comes with has been flawless in performance so far. The SRAM Force 1X gearing, while not my favorite, hasn’t hiccuped or needed tuning at all since the bike was built up. The conditions have varied from wet and gritty to dry, but all throughout I haven’t had to adjust anything. That includes the brakes which have been a one finger operation and have been more than adequate stoppers.
One other thing I wanted to touch on again was tire clearances. The “official” word here from Noble is that it only can take 700c wheels and up to a 40mm tire. However; as mentioned in the “Getting Rolling Post“, there is room for slightly bigger 700c rubber and 650B X 47mm tires and wheels. I did slide in some WTB Venture 650B X 47mm tires on Irwin Cycling rims with an internal width of 24mm. These fit the GX5, but I wouldn’t go out riding a muddy course with that set up. The point here is, the wheel and tire recommendations from Noble are CPSC mandated and the reality is……..slightly different. Take that for what it is worth and understand also it probably would void the warranty if you pursue using non-recommended wheels and tires. My point is that by barely missing being able to use different wheels and bigger tires due to the mandated recommended clearances, Noble has a bike that is a bit off the back in this regard as new bikes coming out are being made to fit bigger rubber.
So Far…… The Noble GX 5 is not a bike or brand you would think of as having a history in gravel bike design, but in fact, they do. It shows up in the geometry and details that the GX5 has. All that doesn’t mean a thing though if it doesn’t look good and ride well, both things the GX5 has done so far. With a design that does not support a front derailleur, the GX5 is bold and uncompromising in its purpose. (Update- It will support the new SRAM AXS electronic front derailleur)
The GX5 is pretty smooth, but the fork isn’t quite up to steel fork feel. That said, it handles in a stable, but not sluggish manner, over choppy roads and deep gravel. The light weight is very nice and the total package is fun to ride on. The wheel and tire limitations are somewhat of a bummer, as is the slightly too stiff fork, but this bike is very impressive so far.
Stay tuned for the final verdict coming in our “At The Finish” post coming in a few weeks or so.
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.