The Wilier Rave SLR is a race-focused gravel bike that doubles up as a convincingly competent road bike.
This is reflected in the available builds for the Rave, which cover both road and gravel riding, with groupsets and wheels to suit. I tested the Campagnolo Ekar build, which is paired with Campagnolo Shamal Carbon C21 wheels and Wilier’s own finishing kit.
The Rave is a very road-like gravel bike on paper and while riding.
The handling is notably nippy and planted for a gravel bike. It’s a very reactive bike that feels eager to be ridden hard on fast gravel tracks. The relatively upright position (more on this in a moment) means hunkering down in the drops out of the wind for long periods is also comfortable.
It’s also a perfectly pleasant bike to ride on the road. While it’s by no means difficult to ride any gravel bike on the road, some feel more reactive and fun to blast about on. The Rave SLR definitely falls into this camp.
The stock near-slick 38mm-wide Vittoria Terreno Dry tyres help here. These are absolutely useless in muddy conditions but feel very fast on hardpacked gravel and the road.
If you tend to ride in wetter conditions it is, of course, possible to fit gravel tyres with a more aggressive tread. Tyre clearance is slightly more limited than the other bikes on test, with a maximum quoted clearance of 42mm for 700c wheels.
No figure for 650b tyre clearance is supplied by Wilier, but fitting chunkier tyres doesn’t really feel in keeping with the go-fast ethos of the Rave SLR.
Wilier Rave SLR spec details
All gravel builds of the Rave are supplied with the pictured J-Bar integrated cockpit. This uses a V-shaped split stem that’s reminiscent of the bullmoose bars seen on early mountain bikes.
The cockpit uses a normal steerer and is currently available in just two sizes. Both feature a zero-degree rise ‘stem’, which places the bars higher than a typical -6 or -17-degree stem.
The overall shape of the cockpit is good for gravel riding and offers a generous rise without looking as ungainly as a conventional two-part cockpit.
At 570mm, the stack of my size large test bike is fairly short, even for a racy gravel bike. However, when combined with the cockpit, it has a fairly lofty front end.
Personal preference plays a part here, but this feels ever so slightly unwieldy when climbing out of the saddle on the hoods – it just doesn’t have that connected feel a lower and more aggressive position offers.
As the cockpit is fixed, it’s not possible to flip the stem around into a negative rise position.
However, this upright fit does, of course, provide a very comfortable position when smashing along flat trails in the drops – swings and roundabouts.
For those who aren’t satisfied by the fit the J-bar offers, I would like to see Wilier offer the option to spec one of its regular two-piece cockpits (such as the Stemma range) on the Rave to broaden fit options.
Wilier Rave SLR ride geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||75||74.5||74||73.5||73||72.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||70||70||71||71||71.5||72|
|Seat tube (mm)||450||480||500||520||540||560|
|Top tube (mm)||510||527||545||561||579||597|
|Head tube (mm)||98||118||134||154||172||189|
Wilier Rave SLR ride impressions
For a go-fast road-adjacent gravel bike, the Rave is surprisingly comfortable when rattling along at high speeds, though the sceptic in me questions exactly how much the ‘liquid crystal polymers’ that are infused into the frameset have to do with this. Nonetheless, it’s no unyielding I-beam and the fork visibly flutters in a cosseting wiggle when riding over rough terrain.
Unusually, the bike is only specced with two water bottle mounts and no top-tube bag mount. A third water bottle (at minimum) and bento box are commonly used in the gravel racing world, where long unsupported rides are the norm.
Missing both, particularly the third water bottle, is a significant omission in my book.
If you want to take additional bottles, you could fit something like a Wolf Tooth B-RAD, but that feels like a bit of a bodge on an £8,860 bike.
The matt finish is also very delicate, to the point that Wilier gives specific washing instructions that suggest a pressure washer shouldn’t be used. A band-on bike light mount fitted to the bar left visible marks after only two rides.
I also found the integrated seat clamp fiddly in use.
Integrated clamps are not uncommon on high-end gravel bikes – and can work perfectly well – but the access port for the 4mm hex bolt sits quite close to the seatpost. This makes access very tricky with a standard multi-tool.
It also required a fair bit of torque to stop it from slipping, even with lashings of carbon paste.
I recommend investing in a small ratcheting multi-tool if you envisage making regular tweaks to saddle height while out riding.
Wilier Rave SLR bottom line
If you’re after a high-end gravel bike that will double up as a genuinely nice ‘all-road’ bike, you will be well served by the Wilier. It’s a thrillingly fast gravel whip.
However, if you want something for truly long days out, or for bikepacking, either of the other two bikes on test are a better choice.
How we tested
We set out to test three of the latest gravel race bikes – a fast-developing sub-genre of machines aimed at covered varied ground quickly.
The Trek Checkpoint has been redesigned for 2022 as a versatile gravel bike capable of turning its hand to racing or multi-day riding.
The Specialized S-Works Crux, meanwhile, has been reimagined as a super-light gravel machine aimed at go-fast riding.
Finally, the Wilier Rave SLR arrives as the Italian firm’s take on gravel, with road and off-road builds available.
Our testing involved skittering over the hardpacked Fosse Way in the Cotswolds, cruisy loops on local roads and getting bogged down in the mire of claggy mid-winter byways.
Bikes on test
|Price||EUR €8300.00GBP £8680.00|
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL|
|Bottom bracket||Campagnolo Ekar, BB86|
|Cassette||Campagnolo Ekar, 9-42t|
|Cranks||Campagnolo Ekar, 40t|
|Frame||Carbon HUS with liquid crystal polymer|
|Rear derailleur||Campagnolo Ekar|
|Saddle||Prologo Dimension AGX|
|Seatpost||Rave SLR custom|
|Tyres||Vittoria Terreno Dry Folding, 38c|
|Wheels||Campagnolo Shamal Carbon C21|