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Wilier Rave SLR Ekar review

Nudging closer to road territory, can this Ekar gravel bike cut it on the trails as well? We get our Rave on

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £8,680.00 RRP | EUR €8,300.00
Wilier Rave SLR Ekar

Our review

A treat to ride, but there are better options for serious racers
Pros: Great handling off- and on-road; light
Cons: Limited cockpit options; delicate paint; only two bottle mounts
Skip to view product specifications

The Wilier Rave SLR is a race-focused gravel bike that doubles up as a convincingly competent road bike.

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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 test bike was built around a Campagnolo Ekar groupset.
Russell Burton / Our Media

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

The integrated J-Bar cockpit has a V-shaped split stem.
Russell Burton / Our Media

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

XSSMLXLXXL
Seat angle (degrees)7574.57473.57372.5
Head angle (degrees)7070717171.572
Chainstay (mm)421422423423425427
Seat tube (mm)450480500520540560
Top tube (mm)510527545561579597
Head tube (mm)98118134154172189
Wheelbase (mm)9971,0121,0171,0311,0411,051
Stack (mm)513532551570589608
Reach (mm)370377384391398405

Wilier Rave SLR ride impressions

There isn’t huge tyre clearance on this speedy bike.
Russell Burton / Our Media

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.

The Rave is a good choice if you like smashing about at high speeds.
Russell Burton / Our Media

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.

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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

Product Specifications

Product

Price br_price, 5, 3, Price, EUR €8300.00GBP £8680.00
Weight br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 7.87kg (L), Array, kg
Brand br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Wilier

Features

Available sizes br_availableSizes, 11, 0, Available sizes, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Bottom bracket br_bottomBracket, 11, 0, Bottom bracket, Campagnolo Ekar, BB86
Cassette br_cassette, 11, 0, Cassette, Campagnolo Ekar, 9-42t
Chain br_chain, 11, 0, Chain, Campagnolo Ekar
Cranks br_cranks, 11, 0, Cranks, Campagnolo Ekar, 40t
Fork br_fork, 11, 0, Fork, Carbon
Frame br_frame, 11, 0, Frame, Carbon HUS with liquid crystal polymer
Handlebar br_handlebar, 11, 0, Handlebar, Wilier J-Bar
Rear derailleur br_rearDerailleur, 11, 0, Rear derailleur, Campagnolo Ekar
Saddle br_saddle, 11, 0, Saddle, Prologo Dimension AGX
Seatpost br_seatpost, 11, 0, Seatpost, Rave SLR custom
Shifter br_shifter, 11, 0, Shifter, Campagnolo Ekar
Stem br_stem, 11, 0, Stem, Wilier J-Bar
Tyres br_tyres, 11, 0, Tyres, Vittoria Terreno Dry Folding, 38c
Wheels br_wheels, 11, 0, Wheels, Campagnolo Shamal Carbon C21