The original Fezzari Shafer gravel bike admittedly wasn’t too much to get excited about. However, the all-new Fezzari Shafer 2.0 has taken that bike and burned it to the ground in favor of a modern, fun and relevant gravel bomber. Since its introduction, the new Shafer 2.0 (as I call it) has gained praises from media and riders alike and — spoiler alert — I’m going to lump a bit more praise onto that growing pile.
2022 Fezzari Shafer 2.0 Elite Ekar 1×13 Features:
- MonoForm™ CleanCast™ Carbon
- Campagnolo Ekar 1×13 gravel groupset
- 10-44t 13-speed cassette with 40T chainring
- Fulcrum Rapid Red 5 gravel wheelset
- Fezzari XrT carbon seat post
- 12mm front and rear thru-axles
- Mechanical or electronic groupset compatible
- 68mm English threaded bottom bracket
- 700x50c max clearance
- Frameset tested to XC mountain bike standards
- 30-day returns and limited lifetime warranty
- MSRP: $3699 complete (all builds range from $2299 – $4199)
All-new Shafer 2.0 makes waves
Over the years, I have experienced a front-row seat to the growth and evolution of Fezzari Bicycles. From the barn days to their amazing new digs just up the street, the hype and excitement has always beat a steady beat. Admittedly, Fezzari’s initial offerings started out quite pedestrian with a head-scratching “Ferrari-like” brand and alloy bikes that were only one step above department quality (hey, they had to start somewhere). But, over time, as I have watched the brand evolve, their bikes have become more and more technologically advanced and modern in every way. Fezzari is now even leading the industry with their proprietary carbon molding processes all packed into affordable packages.
In short, this direct-to-consumer brand out of Lindon, Utah is now hitting their stride right in the middle of the bike boom and the all-new Shafer 2.0 is a shining example of just how far the brand has come.
Along with the Fezzari Empire SL, the new Shafer utilizes Fezzari’s own “Monoform” one-piece frameset layup and molding process. Unlike every other brand, Fezzari is laying up the Shafer and Empire SL frames as a single mold — thus eliminating excess material and labor steps. That’s right, the “monocoque” carbon frame you have in your garage is made in multiple pieces. Usually the front triangle is one piece and the rear stays are another. They are then glued together before final finishing. Fezzari has cracked this nut and figured out how to make a frameset all in one pass. It’s pretty astounding, really.
That being said, Monoform isn’t something you can necessarily “feel” but I do know that the frame is stronger (tested to XC mountain bike standards) and should be more responsive as a result. And, fewer assembly steps results in an affordable $1699 frameset to boot. Certainly, the Shafer isn’t built to be the lightest or fastest bike of the bunch. With a frame tipping the scales at 1160 grams (medium) and a full build hitting 20 lbs. (Campagnolo Ekar), I wasn’t expecting it to zip up local climbs, but instead, I had expected wide grins and dusty shins.
With enough mounts to keep every bikepacker happy, the new Shafer can hold three water bottles inside the front triangle and another underneath. In addition, mounting points galore will accommodate whatever racks or fenders you want to adorn it with. Go out, go long and tell great tales with the Shafer.
My test build was a little off spec with a Vision SMR System stem, Zipp XPLR gravel bars, Ergon SR saddle and Maxxis Ramber 45c tires, but it’s close enough to be representative of the one that will ship to your door, ready-to-ride. And, Fezzari was kind enough to outfit my test bike with my preferred bar and saddle combo (it pays to be neighbors, but your bike will also arrive to your personal spec). Like everything in bike land these days, expect at least a 5-week delay after your order is placed.
Calling all the local gravels
This time of year, I don’t have big rides planned, so the testing has consisted of my local mixed gravel routes that have seen thousands of miles of testing gravel bikes. With that, the Shafer has seen plenty of smooth and chunky gravel, singletrack and road over the past month. Yes, that test period is a little shorter than I would like, but it didn’t take long to discover the best attributes of the new Shafer gravel bike.
For starters, the 700x50mm tire clearance opens the doors wide open to 700c bliss. That kind of clearance almost makes me forget my love affair with 650b gravel bikes. Since the Shafer has such massive clearance, stick with 42-50c tires for maximum fun factor. With that, the 45mm Maxxis Rambler’s were just right for traction and comfort on everything I threw their way. And, they are plenty fast on gravel.
No question, the new Shafer is built for fun and is along the lines of the BMC URS, Canyon Grizl and new Orbea Terra. It has a sprinkle of mountain bike DNA to go along with an efficient frameset that allows the Shafer to respond well when pushed hard. Now, don’t expect road bike responsiveness, but you can hop on the road and get it to play nicely. Not surprisingly, the Shafer is most at home on dirt. The second you slip off the road it perks up and begins to shine.
With no aerodynamic queues, the Shafer is unabashedly a journeyman’s gravel bike. It’s not considered a race gravel bike (like the Ventum GS1 or 3T Exploro RaceMax), but is instead it’s a versatile gravel bike with stable characteristics and mounts galore for short or long adventures. Gravel handling is good and it skates through rough terrain with more panache than most gravel bikes. On singletrack or curvy gravel roads, you will have to stay on top of it for best handling. A little anticipation and extra body english goes a long way, so be prepared when hitting singletrack at speed. Tight switchbacks can also require a clip-out to maneuver.
On prototypical gravel terrain, the Shafer feels right at home. In its current spec, I can climb up just about anything, however I can see how a 38T front chainring could make climbing a little easier. The 40/44 combo does provide good low-end, but demands that you stand up on the steepest pitches. When pitches head into 10%+ territory, the front end will wander just a touch (on par with other bikes and totally manageable). And, with 430mm chainstays, the front wheel stays on the ground a little more than bikes with shorter stays.
Since rough terrain doesn’t faze the Shafer, I’m able to get out and not be too selective in my line choices. I have been surprised by how fast the Shafer really is. There’s nothing aero and it’s not touted as a race bike, but if you push it hard on rolling gravel tracks, you can definitely achieve respectable times. Still, this is a 20 lb, non-aero bike so crushing that PR may not be in the cards, but you can certainly try and get close. That being said, it’s not a knock on the bike at all because it remains so darn fun to ride.
Maybe you could try to outfit the new Shafer with faster-rolling tires and lightweight carbon hoops to maximize speed, but that’s just not what this bike is really made for. That said, I would have done at least a little bit of wheelset swapping, but unfortunately I don’t have any Campagnolo-compatible wheelsets just hanging around. And, the included Fulcrum Rapid Red 5 wheelset is pretty good with their 23mm inner width and 1650 gram stated weight. I would have no worries putting those wheels through the wringer.
What about Campagnolo Ekar?
Of course, components are tough to come by these days, but Fezzari has a variety of builds available — including the gravel-oriented 13-speed Campagnolo Ekar. As a dedicated 1x system, this is a unique offering for the fabled Italian brand. I have quickly appreciated the simplicity of a mechanical drivetrain. And, with all those gears, the jumps between the cogs are nice and gradual.
The shifting pattern works well with or without gloves, but it’s not without some quirks. I love that the large thumb paddle can be hit from the drops, but it does require some thumb gymnastics to hit it from the hoods. I can feather the shift paddle to achieve a single shift or push hard to dump 2 or 3 gears at a time. However, the paddle does get caught on the brake lever sometimes upon return — disabling the thumb shifter until rectified.
At the end of the day, the best part about Campagnolo is their ergonomic hoods and brake levers. The design fits well in-hand and offers the most comfortable braking in the drops I’ve experienced. That classic lever shape is part of what makes Campagnolo special and the Ekar group continues that. Braking from the hoods isn’t quite as comfortable as in the drops though. Modulation is also industry-leading, but power is not. So, you need to anticipate hard stops just a little earlier, but for everything else that modulation is superb. Of course, the clutched rear derailleur keeps things quiet on even the roughest terrain.
- Versatile and fun to ride
- Mounting points galore
- Offered in a variety of builds
- Campagnolo Ekar offers consistent shifting and killer brake feel
- Monster tire clearance
- Stable and predictable handling
- Industry-leading carbon molding process
- Very competitive pricing
- Fezzari brand has come a long way
- Lifetime warranty
- Rattle-free cables
- Requires a little extra muscle on twisty terrain
- You can’t swing a leg over one (but they offer a 30-day return window)
- Could be a little more playful (shorter chainstays might help)
- I hate flat mount adapters — just make frames that fit 160mm rotors without them
The Bottom Line: Fezzari Shafer Elite Ekar Build
The Shafer has all the trappings of a modern road bike. It doesn’t break any molds (Monoform carbon aside) in the frame’s attributes — with dropped stays, internal routing and a stiff/responsive carbon layup just like everyone else. The frameset does look great and the entire package comes together well and rides wonderfully on the roughest terrain. It’s not as nimble as the racier gravel bikes on the market, but it hits the middle of the market head-on with an instantly-likable ride quality and calm demeanor.
Buy Now: Available from Fezzari.com