The 19.5-pound Grevil F Ekar build I tested, and the only build that will be available in the United States until September, comes with alloy wheels and Campagnolo Ekar components, the first gravel groupset from the iconic Italian company. The mechanical 13-speed is a 1x, which means the bike has one front chainring instead of two. The advantage to a 1x is that it provides simpler, more efficient shifting and has fewer parts to replace should it go haywire. It’s also lighter, especially in this case—the Ekar drive train is a mere 5.29 pounds which, according to Campagnolo, is the lightest gravel drivetrain on the market. The disadvantage is that cyclists who live in mountainous states, or those competing in an endurance race over varying terrain, will likely need more gears.
So how does this package add up? Overall the bike is whippy, responsive, and fun to ride. I’m 5 feet, 9.5 inches and tested a 53 cm frame—3 cm smaller than my own gravel bike, but the size Pinarello recommended. With the upright and super responsive feel of the more compact cockpit, my body felt poised to execute powerful, efficient pedal strokes. But on strenuous climbs out of the saddle, I found that my thighs grazed the front handlebars and the rear wheel spun out, which indicates that I was too far over my front wheel and the bike needed some adjusting for a better fit. I could have used a longer stem; one of the pitfalls of testing a bike sent from the factory is the inability to completely customize a fit.
For shifting gears, Campagnolo employs a thumb lever on the inside of the right handlebar. It took me a few miles to find it, and a few more to get used to it. The advantage to the thumb shifter is that it’s easier to use while riding on the top of your bars, the position gravel cyclists tend to be in most of the time. The mechanical drive train left me with enough gearing for most of the gradual ascents and descents on 30-plus-mile rides in and around hilly Duluth, Minnesota, where I live. However, on very steep, short climbs—like 30 percent gradient—over soft gravel, I found I was a few gears short, which made the climbs painful, if not impossible.