Gravel Grinder News: Shimano Clutch Derailleur, Wheels, & Locks

Gravel Grinder News: Shimano Clutch Derailleur, Wheels, & Locks- by Guitar Ted

As we approach Sea Otter later this month, the press releases start flowing with news of new products coming down the pike. Some things we cannot talk about just yet, but here are a few things we can show you now.

RX Ultegra
The mountain bike technology crosses over to the gravel side. The new RX Ultegra rear derailleur features the clutch mechanism for chain stabilization.

Shimano Introduces RX Ultegra: We saw a post on social media on April 1st showing an Ultegra rear derailleur which showed a clutch mechanism, a feature on Shimano’s mountain bike derailleurs. We were cautiously optimistic that it was true, but considering the date of the post, it could have been a hoax. Fortunately, it was true, and Shimano has now made it official. The new RX Ultegra will come in both mechanical and electronic versions (RX800/RX805) and will feature what Shimano calls “Shadow RD Plus”, or in other words, it sports the clutch mechanism which stabilizes the derailleur’s cage and helps prevent clatter and, maybe more importantly, chain drop. While SRAM has this technology for road 1X groups, Shimano’s will presumably work with 2X drive trains. 

Shimano claims this derailleur was an offshoot for gravel and adventure bikes. This makes sense when you look at the specs which claim compatibility with Shimano’s new wide range 11-34T 11 speed cassette. Here are the specs from Shimano’s website:

RD-RX805-GS and RD-RX800-GS

–       Chain Stabilizer mechanism adopted from mountain bike         design

–       ON/OFF switch

–       Compatible with current road DUAL CONTROL LEVER

–       Shimano Shadow RD Plus technology

–       Max. front difference: 16T

–       MSRP – $109.99 (RD-RX800-GS),        $284.99 (RD-RX805- GS)

Our take is that this will become a common feature on gravel and adventure bikes in the future. It also points to the possibility that Shimano may be toying with the idea of a 1X system, most assuredly for cyclocross, but possibly for gravel and adventure cycling as well, since many companies are pushing for wider tires in the 2″ plus range, especially in the 650B range. The chain stays and crank ring clearance issues could be done away with as in mountain biking if 1X was widely assimilated into this category.

For more chit-chat about this development, there is a thread concerning this subject in our Riding Gravel Forums Here.

Rolf Prima’s Astral Brand Announces Wheelsets: You may have heard about Rolf wheels in the past, the brand most well known for their paired spoke technology. Last year they announced a new brand, dubbed Astral which offered more traditional rim designs and now has announced a complete wheel set line up. Among the new offerings are some wheels aimed at the adventure/gravel cycling set.

Astral has opened up the possibility for designs in a more traditional style which Rolf Prima wasn’t going to do under their brand. The new wheels will benefit from Rolf’s 15 years of building wheels and will feature US made White Industries hubs to start out with. Other hub offerings may be made available in the future. All wheel sets will be hand built in Eugene, Oregon and will all be assembled with Astral’s tubeless ready rim designs.

Astral will be at Sea Otter showing the complete line. For more on Astral wheels see their website:

Hiplok Z LOC COMBO: We were pretty stoked on a zip-tie like lock we reviewed on here recently , and now there is another choice out there in a similar vein. The new Hiplok Z LOC COMBO. It works similarly although the form factor is a bit different. The Hiplok version features a combination locking system, is 8mm wide with a steel reinforced core, and Hiplok claims it is the “ultimate cafe’ lock”.

We like locks like this because they are quick and easy to use but tough to just clip off with end cutters or small bolt cutters. These can also be used as auxiliary locks to secure bikes to car racks or other equipment to the bike. The Hiplok Z LOC COMBO comes in black, teal, or yellow and has an MSRP of $24.99. 

For more information on this lock and others in the Hiplok line see their website: 



Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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8 thoughts on “Gravel Grinder News: Shimano Clutch Derailleur, Wheels, & Locks

  1. Is there a reason more gravel riders don’t just use mtb derailleurs? I’ve been running a sram x1 on my black mountain Cycles monstercross with no issues. You can’t run integrated shifters but it’s really not an issue if you’re not racing.

    You could run 2x with mtb derailleurs or get a 500% range with eagle gx.

    Also i feel like the mtb derailleurs are probably more durable.

    Do you lose something using mtb derailleurs on a all-road style bike?

    1. @Kenny Cyphers- The road derailleur here works with current road shifter technology, (Di2 and mechanical) which is more familiar on drop bar bikes and highly refined in terms of function. Also worth considering is that many cyclists prefer the closer ratios of a road cassette which preserves cadence better than the bigger jumps between gears on some 1X cassettes.

      The durability point is well taken, but hopefully Shimano has addressed this in the RX design. That part wasn’t clear from the information I have seen.

  2. I’ve been wondering when the clutch would show up on a Shimano “road derailleur” now that I know it’s out there, I will grab one but am wondering about going to 1X instead of the Utegra 2X. What is the common crank and ring system to use on a 1X Gravel set up. I run 1X on both MTB’s and would never go back, but not sure of the set up for endurance events. Whats the 411? Thanks for any tips.

  3. Now if Shimano will introduce a sub compact crank, say 46/30 or 44/30 with the RX rear derailleur. That would make a near perfect gravel set up.

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