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With its mountain-bike-like 96mm bolt circle diameter (BCD) for tiddly 11-speed chainrings, Miche's Graff subcompact chainset offers super-low gearing. It's just what gravel bikes need, but roadies on well-loaded bikes, beginners, and lovers of seriously steep climbs will find much to enjoy as well. It's a little heavy and basic, but the Graff is a no-nonsense route to meaningful gearing change at an attractive price.
The Graff comes with either 46/30 or 48/32-toothed CNC alloy rings, and slots straight into a Shimano Hollowtech bottom bracket (it doesn't come with its own). Miche doesn't offer any larger tooth-counts if you find you've gone too low, and third-party options are currently hard to find.
It's also worth checking that your front mech is free to drop low enough to accommodate it. While Miche doesn't list the chainline offset, it's presumably standard as the Graff works fine with a regular road mech. Many gravel-orientated chainsets offset the rings another 2.5mm, to accommodate the larger tyres, and consequently need a new mech to work.
Fitting is extremely easy, with only an 8mm hex key required, though a torque wrench is a very good idea (the rating of 45-47Nm is handily etched onto the left arm) to accurately eliminate play. Removal is just as simple, as the self-extracting bolt pulls the crank off the splines as you undo it. It takes a fair bit of force in both directions, so invest in a long key.
Those cranks may look quite Hollowtech-y, but they're actually solid, with a large scallop in the back. They're plenty stiff – I couldn't honestly feel any difference between these and the Shimano 105s they replaced – and account for the relatively high weight of 789g (without a BB). It's available in 165mm, 170mm and 175mm lengths, with a 172.5mm in between. In use, the gearing benefits more than pay for the mass.
Fitting the 46/30T Graff for this test in place of a 52/36T made a world of difference, even though I threw on a larger cassette (11-28T) at the same time. The 30T inner is basically the granny ring from a triple, and finally let me clear a hideous 30-minute test climb that starts with a 500ft, 0.8-mile, 11 per cent nightmare that at times reaches over 23 per cent gradient. I can't do it on a semi-compact without stopping halfway to think about my life choices and not exploding. The 30x28 combo lets you ride down to around 4mph without stalling.
One downside, though, is the limited top speed of around 32mph which – at least on my hilly Welsh terrain – arrives pretty quickly and for some fairly extended periods on descents. In flatter areas with shorter ups and downs, it wouldn't be that much of an issue. The ups would still have to be steep, however, as this is overkill for enthusiastic road riding on anything much below a 10 per cent gradient.
More of a problem was that the changeover between inner and outer rings sits at around 16-18mph, which really is quite a common place to find yourself. I found myself shifting rings far more regularly than normal, searching for a straighter (and quieter) chainline as my speeds wavered through this area. While that's rarely going to be a problem on gravel, where averages are a little lower, it's inconvenient on the road.
The attractive matt black paint is thick, showing only minor scuffing during the test period, with no bare metal showing despite my heels tending to go through cranks like oxy-acetylene torches. The low-key graphics make it look more expensive than it is, and I like how Miche writes necessary info (sizes and torque ratings) so clearly on each component. They arrive protected well, too, in sturdy but not excessive cardboard packaging.
We're only going to see more sub-compact chainsets in the future, but for now, the Miche Graff is up against the likes of the Praxis Works Alba M30 at £150, which manages to cram 48/32 rings onto a five-arm 110mm BCD, or FSA's Energy Modular 386Evo chainset, which has some neat design ideas but is twice the price of the Graff.
At £130, the Miche subcompact represents great value thanks to its strong build, tough finish, meaningful drop in gear ratios and reasonable – if not fantastic – weight. It's easy to fit and plays well with your existing road mech. In fact, it might be tough going back to a semi-compact afterwards...
Simple and well-made subcompact crankset that adds zest to hard climbs, heavy tourers and adventure riding
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Miche Graff Chainset
Size tested: 46/30
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's a subcompact crankset that's not purely aimed at gravel bikes, and feels at home on road bikes too. The super-low gearing is ideal for steep climbs or heavy bikes.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Miche lists these specs:
Compatibility of all derailleurs
Weight 733g W / O BB (42T - 165 mm)
Lengths 165 mm - 170 mm - 172.5 mm - 175 mm
48/32T or 46/30T gearing
Chainrings are CNC 7075 T6 aluminium
Compatible with Shimano Hollowtech BBs
Solidly made, well finished and neatly designed, if unspectacular in all those areas as well.
Stiff enough under power, and make up for the weight with very climb-friendly gearing. Not so useful on the way back down, though.
Chunky build and good finish should last well.
Solid arms and tough build mean it's no lightweight, but it's perfectly acceptable for the price, and lighter than cheaper gravel options.
Should last well and easily do double duty in gravel bikes as well as road, plus it's a little better specced and lighter than some at this price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good shifting, stiff under power and a boon on very steep climbs, but more suited to heavily laden tourers or gravel bikes than pure road use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Strong build and super-low gearing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Limited chainring sizes thanks to small BCD; weight.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It does well against those we've tested recently, and only £10 more than Shimano's 11-speed GRX (which requires a dedicated front mech).
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes – for a dedicated climbing machine, adventure or touring bike.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Simply and solidly made, and offering gearing few cranksets can accommodate, the Graff deserves a high score. The high weight and solid arms (and, in the 46/30T tested, slightly-too-low gearing for anything but the most extreme road climbs) are minus points that leave it settled on a firm 'good' with a 7.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mountain biking