New for 2018, the CXGRc is considered the premier model in Masi’s growing gravel bike lineup. It features the same MC9 carbon frame used in the company’s cyclocross bikes, which gives you a hint at how this bike rides. The frame is built around 12-millimeter thru-axles front and rear, a BB86, and a 1.5-inch tapered steerer.
The 135-millimeter head tube length keeps things low and aggressive up front, which is somewhat of an odd choice for a bike seemingly built for the long haul. For those who are familiar and/or comfortable with a traditional ’cross geometry — the Masi has a 72-degree head tube angle, 1,016-millimeter wheelbase, and 68-millimeter bottom bracket drop), you’ll be right at home. For those looking for something that offers a more upright or relaxed position, you may prefer to look elsewhere.
Again, maybe this doesn’t sound like a bike made for all-day adventures, but there are some distinct differences that set this bike apart from Masi’s ’cross lineup.
First, the SRAM Rival 1 Hydro drivetrain is complimented by a Praxis Works Alba crankset with a 40-tooth chainring and Sunrace 11-42-tooth cassette. It offers plenty of gear for any climbs you may encounter on your adventures. And you’ll need all the range you can get, as this bike tips the scales at a hefty 21.2 pounds. Climbing always takes effort, but with this frame, the plush tires (more on those in a second), and the added weight of the 23-millimeter wide, double-walled Brev.M wheels, it can feel like riding through molasses.
The 40-millimeter Kenda Flintridge tires offer gobs of traction and built-in suspension. They make easy work of whatever surface you’re gliding over and help you keep the rubber side down when you mash into loose gravel or powdery dirt. Even with such wide rubber, the frame offers massive clearance, so consider mounting even more tire for rougher surfaces, or rest assured that if you come across a mud bath the tires will keep on turning.
Other gravel-specific accouterments include removable fender mounts, which offer a level of versatility that most ’cross rigs can’t. The Brev.M Adventure flared drop bar (12 degrees) allows for more leverage when crushing through loose surfaces or descending technical terrain.
Overall, the CXGRc is an interesting blend of ’cross geometry and gravel bike build. For those who see the glass as half full, that’s a good thing, for it means versatility. Others will see it as a bike of compromises — not great at anything, but pretty good at a couple things.
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