Dream Build: The All-Italian Gravel Bike

Mamma Mia! This month's Dream Build might be the most Italian gravel bike ever conceived. 

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
Bikes

What is it about Italian bikes? When you ride them, you can almost feel the passion of this great cycling nation. It seeps into your blood like a hearty marinara and before you know it, you’re sipping espressos, listening to opera, and acting like a regular Enrico Gimondi

Okay, maybe I'm getting carried away, but if every bike in my quiver was Italian, I’d be one happy bambino. It's easy to find Italian road bikes. But things get a bit tricky once you head off the strada. That’s why I decided to challenge myself for this month’s Dream Build by putting together a gravel bike that will make all the Italophiles cheer “molto bene!” Here’s what I came up with. 

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Gravel frame 

[product-block handle="2020-pinarello-grevil-s"/]

This matte black Pinarello Grevil has plenty of sharp angles that make it look like a Ferrari F8. And it isn’t all just for show. The aggressive, aerodynamic lines are borrowed from the Tour de France-dominating Dogma road bike. For gravel, the Grevil adds relaxed geometry and clearance for big 42mm 700c tires or 2.1” 650b tires. (It may be a 47cm, but remember that Pinarello sizing is odd, so 47cm is equivalent to what most brands would call ~52cm.)

This Grevil+ model takes things a step further. The “+” means it uses Torayca T1100G carbon (vs. T700 on the standard Grevil) with “nanoalloy technology.” This expensive, higher-grade carbon allows for thinner, lighter frame walls, while also increasing vibration-damping, stiffness, and impact resistance.

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Drivetrain

Campagnolo EkarCampagnolo Ekar Ergopower Right Brake Caliper/Shifter - $349.99
Campagnolo Ekar Ergopower Left Brake Caliper/Shifter - $299.99
Campagnolo Ekar Crankset 172.5mm 44t - $329.99
Campagnolo Ekar Rear Derailleur - $239.99
Campagnolo Ekar Cassette 13 Speed 9-42T - $244.99
Campagnolo Ekar Chain - $42.99

Campagnolo has always been the connoisseur’s choice, and if I ruled the world, Italian bikes equipped with anything but Campagnolo would be illegal. Thankfully, I can stay on the right side of the "law" with Campy's lightweight 13-speed Ekar group. It is the company’s first gravel-specific 1x group. The 13-speed cassette provides a wide range (I chose the 9-42t with a 44t chainring) to handle tough climbs and smooth one-tooth steps between the six smaller sprockets to help riders find the perfect cadence when things get flat and fast.

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Wheels & tires


[product-block handle="miche-swr-dx-rc-olt-38-38-sh-wheels-set"/]

Miche Campagnolo N3W 12/13s SWR Freehub Body - €45.00 (~$50.83) 
Vittoria Terreno Zero TLR G2.0 Tire 700x38c Tan - $59.99 (x2)

When I was a broke college kid, I spent everything I had on a set of Miche track wheels for my spray-painted Cinelli fixie (this may be where my own Italophilia started). So when I saw a new set of Miche’s carbon tubeless SWR RC 38 wheels arrive at TPC, I had to have them. To handle the Ekar cassette I’ll need to swap the Shimano freehub to Campagnolo’s N3W freehub. Fortunately, I can order one. From Italy, naturally. 

The wheels will be shod with Vittoria’s ultra-fast Terreno Zero gravel tire. The slick center tread is perfect for my local roads, which are mostly hardpacked gravel. Of course, they’re tan walls. A proper dream build needs to have tan walls. 

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Cockpit

ENVE SES AR

[product-block handle="enve-ses-ar-handlebar-carbon-black"/]

Cinelli Cork Ribbon Handlebar Tape - $14.99
Fizik Tempo Argo R3 Saddle - $149.99

The Grevil+ frame includes a MOST stem, so I just need a set of handlebars. The aero ENVE SES AR bars have mild flare, which I prefer, and are the only non-Italian component on this build. If we had carbon 3T bars in stock, that would be the ticket for my all-Italian theme, but I’m not going to complain about riding some of the best handlebars on the market, even if they are — gasp — American. 

I’ll wrap the ENVE bars in some classic Cinelli cork bar tape. For my backside, the only option is the Fizik Tempo Argo. The Italian saddle-masters at Fizik have been comfortably cradling my butt for over a decade and I won’t ride anything else. Their snub-nosed Tempo Argo is my current favorite.

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Total cost: $6,718.70

This Dream Build is nearly $7,000, but since a new Pinarello Grevil+ frame retails for $5,000, this bike actually seems like an astounding deal. I'm also really enamored with the groupset. Regardless of what bike it’s put on, I think Campagnolo Ekar is a great option for gravel riders who are not interested in electronic shifting. Campy nailed the gearing with Ekar, bringing us closer and closer to the grand 1x utopia I've always dreamt of. 

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