Fezzari Shafer Gravel Road bike review

Built for all-road travel — and capable of winning races

Gravel
Spec on the final production model will include a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain. Proce is set at a reasonable $3499.

Spec on the final production model will include a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain. Price is $3499.

Lowdown: Fezzari Shafer Gravel Road Bike

The gravel bike has found considerable traction in the U.S. bike market over the past couple years. And for good reason. Here at my Oregon test HQ, as is the case across much of the country, there are far more miles of unpaved road versus maintained tarmac. Additionally, unimproved roadways often remove the worry of sharing the road with cars.

That’s the perfect place for the Fezzari Shafer Gravel Road, a true all-terrain vehicle that will be available for purchase starting in December. Named after a renowned dirt road through Canyonlands National Park in Fezzari’s home state of Utah, the Shafer is built for adventure. So what better way to put this bike to the test than to sign it up for two of Oregon’s premiere gravel grinders, the 120-mile Ochoco Gravel Roubaix and the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic. Read on to see how bike and rider fared and be sure to check out upcoming Black Friday deals on this capable bike.

Stat Box
Frame: Fezzari Racing Design GR-5 disc Drivetrain tested: Shimano 105
Fork: Fezzari Racing Design F5GrT-Disc Brakes: Shimano Hydraulic Disc
Headtube angle: 71.5 degrees Bars: Easton EC70 SL Carbon Compact
Wheelbase: 1040mm Stem: Fezzari 3D Forged Alloy
Standover: 31.5” Wheels tested: Mavic Ksyrium Pro All-Road
Saddle: Fezzari R1 Ti Rails Tires: Maxxis Refuse 28c / WTB Nano 40c
Crankset: Shimano 105 Chainstay length: 440mm
Cassette: Shimano 105 11-32t Price as tested: $3499
Sizes: XS-XL Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Pluses
Minuses
  • Lightweight carbon frame
  • Shimano 105 not best groupset
  • Fully customizable build packages
  • Stigma of direct-to-consumer buying/brands
  • Flat-mount disc brakes standard
  • Internal cable routing
  • Integrated rack and fender mounts
  • Damped carbon ride feel
  • Tire clearance up to 40c
  • Great overall value

Review: Fezzari Shafer Gravel Road Bike

The Fezzari Shafer Gravel Road came to us at the tail end of the summer as a pre-production model ready for some serious last-minute product testing before it hits the market. That necessitates a quick caveat before diving into this review. The spec on our test bike differs from what will be available starting in December — and that is a good thing. The Shimano 105 drivetrain we tested was a tad on the slow and sloppy side, which resulted in a few dropped chains, and forced over shifting to find the right gear. This bike deserves much better, and fortunately that’s just what it’s going to get in the form of a Shimano Ultegra 6800 drivetrain. To see complete final spec on the final production model of the Shafer Gravel Road, scroll through the photo gallery at the end of this post. Now back to the review.

To give this new model a fair shakedown in its intended application, we could think of no better trial than two of the Pacific Northwest’s burliest (and most divergent) gravel grinders. Prineville, Oregon’s Ochoco Gravel Roubaix, featuring 8300 feet of climbing over 118 miles, was an excellent test for this bike’s abilities on mixed terrain in some of the driest conditions imaginable. Waldport’s Oregon Coast Gravel Epic, held about a month later in a notably wet part of the region, offered a contrast in conditions, testing a riders’ grit over just 71 miles, with over 9000 feet of climbing in sloppy and slippery roads that many of the race’s top competitors chose to tackle aboard 29er mountain bikes.

A subdued paint scheme allows this bike to blend in with just about any environment, providing aesthetics to match its ride quality.

The subdued paint scheme allows this bike to blend in with just about any environment, which matches its ride quality.

Ride Feel and Performance

Let’s just start out by saying that the Shafer is a champion at both extremes. Be it in the dust, slop, dry tarmac, or mossy, potholed backroads that are only “paved” in the loosest definition of the word. This bike was able to keep up with whatever we threw at it — and helped yours truly win both races.

What’s more, the bike’s performance in both scenarios didn’t require a lot of compromise. The long-distance Ochoco course was not only different from its counterpart in terms of conditions, it also played out much differently in a tactical sense. After 6.5 hours of racing, a three-up blacktop sprint separated the podium finishers. I’m guessing this won’t be a typical application for the Shafer Gravel Road, but it’s comforting to know that a bike can handle whatever you ask of it.

In contrast, the early separation at the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic resulted in an all-day solo test ride. Pushing a bike’s limits always feels a bit more dangerous when alone. But in a race scenario, even in the muck and the moss, what other option is there?

Shimano BR-RS785 Hydraulic Discs had all the stopping power and modulation we could ask for.

Shimano RS505 105-level hydraulic disc brakes provided all the stopping power and modulation we could ask for. The final build will have the higher end Shimano RS685 Ultegra-level, though.

The Shafer was comfortable all day long in both events, be it on extended climbs, steep rollers, high-speed dirt descents, relentless headwinds on long stretches of blacktop, or even in the unexpected sprint scenario.

Responsiveness was predictable and direct without the need for a whole lot of familiarization. The comfortable geometry, disc brakes, and large-profile tires offered a more relaxed position than a traditional cyclocross bike, and was easy on the back in long-haul settings, but also extremely confidence inspiring when the going got rough or the pace picked up.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Fezzari Shafer Gravel Road bike review »

About the author: Dillon Caldwell

Dillon Caldwell is a native of Bend, Oregon with a big heart for the sport of cycling. He grew up to be a successful junior cross-country racer but got hooked on road racing during his time at the University of Oregon, where he ran the school's club cycling team for several years. He now spends the majority of his time as a road racer for both the Audi and the Canyon Bicycles - Shimano racing teams on the regional and the national scales, respectively. On the side, he is a mountain bike tour guide for Cog Wild, a cycling coach for Wenzel Coaching, a member of the board of directors for the Tour des Chutes cancer charity, and a passionate writer.


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  • dan says:

    I don’t think there is a stigma with consumer direct. Not in this day and age for many mid-highend buyers. The issue that has been written many times is the company’s branding, specifically the name.

  • Heffe says:

    440 chainstays, that thing must handle like a boat!

  • spokey says:

    Whether you like the name or not, it makes people talk about it and gives the company spotlight and discussion. Like Surly. It’s such a weird name, i like it. Sure, girly. Surly.

  • JtotheA says:

    Fezzari is a pretentious sounding name and is too close to Ferrari. Surly, on the other hand, means unfriendly and ill tempered. I like that. I can relate to that.

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