So I had been looking for a do-it-all sorta all season blaster bike and came across the Gravity Zilla on BikesDirect.com. I know there are alot of CX purists that will inevitably poo poo this bike, but being on a tight budget and a bike wrench with 20 plus years of working experience, the Gravity seemed like a good bet. I should mention that this bike makes my 3rd purchase from BikesDirect.
Frame Choosing the correct size frame is key here. Do your homework! If you are not familiar with bike sizing have someone who knows help you out, or skip this bike and visit your LBS. I am a hair under 5'11" and chose the 50cm frame. Theses frames are described as semi compact and recommended by BD that they be chosen based on that description. BTW, the 50cm frame fits me like a glove.
The bike arrived well packed and intact without any injury to the carton. This is a good thing considering that UPS has a propensity for handling packages like the Samsonite Gorilla. Upon unpacking the bike and initial inspection I noted a few small dinks on the top tube with one down to bare aluminum. I determined that this as a factory flaw as the area had been covered with cardboard tubing packing material. Not a deal breaker for me, but I will admit that I like to be the one applying the dinks and scratches.
The frame overall is very nicely constructed with its hydro formed top tube and integrated, cupless head tube. The welds are top notch throughout. and the added machined rear drops and 135mm spacing were welcomed features. The Fork is a lackluster straight ga. cromoly affair set up for disc only. Nothing to write Aunt Edna about, but decent enough.
Tire clearance is said to accommodate a 29x1.75 size. That seems accurate. The frame geometry is also tweaked to accept a 80-100mm 29er suspension fork. Cool!
The cockpit components are clunkier aluminum and are decent enough to use as is. I may consider swapping them out for some race face stuff down the line.
The drive train component selection on this bike is hard to beat at this price point. While no single piece is top shelf, the overall spec reflects a well thought out and sturdy parts pick. The shifters are Sora brifters that are what they are and work admirably. It will remain to be seen how they fair in the rough. I am guessing that after a season or two they will be baggy enough to want to change out. The front derailleur is also Sora bottom pull rigged with a pulley to be actuated via top pull. This too could be suspect as to it's long term durability. The rear derailleur is a 9 speed compatible Deore MTB unit. Deore sets itself about middle of the road in Shimano's MTB groups. It has nbee my experience that Deore is plenty tough and unless you NEED to have an XT derailleur, the Deore will prove it's worth in the rough. The crankset is a Truvative splined unit attached to a cartridge sealed BB. Nice, stiff and sturdy! The gearing is ala hybrid with 28/38/48 removeable chain wheels. The cassette is SRAM PG-950 11-34T 9speed with low enough gearing to tackle some hefty climbs IMO. The chain is a KMC 9 speed compatible silver unit with a quick link. Adequate if nothing else.
The wheelset is a sturdy mix of WTB 29 All Mountain speed disc rims laced to kinda cheapo but fully serviceable Formula hubs. Nothing to get too excited about here, but nonetheless a decidedly sturdy spec for a wheel set on a bike at this price range!
Tires are kevlar beaded 29x1 5/8" Kenda Happy Medium CX and roll well on pavement as well as gravel and hardpack dirt.
The Tektro Lyra Brakes on this bike are some of the crappiest discs I think I have ever had the displeasure of using! Totally useless (as of right now) if you are in a stop or die situation. I am still trying to get these things dialed. my opinion may change a little, but not enough to keep me from slapping a set of BB7s on post haste!
Overall impression of this bike is favorable. Look, if you can find a better parts spec in a bike in this price range anywhere then go for it. The bike performs nicely in a wide range of scenarios. Could you use it as a part time CX steed? Probably if you bag the atrocious Tektro disc brakes and upgrade a component ot two down the line. The weight of the bike stock as shown for a 50cm frame is 26# and some change. Not a feather weight by any stretch, but light enough to carry up a flight of stairs to your apartment.
If you are looking for a competition ready CX racer, look elsewhere. If you are like me and want a bike that will tackle a wide variety of uses including some singletrack without folding in half or flattening your wallet, then this could be what you have been looking for.
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