New Wilier Adlar first ride thoughts after 150kms of technical Italian gravel

Capable geometry and stellar tire clearance make the Wilier Adlar a great choice for rough riding and bikepacking

Wilier Adlar gravel bike
(Image credit: Mirror Media)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

Wilier has really succeeded in creating a bike with an exploration focus. Surefooted handling designed for bike packing totally translates into a confident bike on all terrain, perfect for the technical end of gravel riding. All this at a relatively low weight, on a stiff frameset. There could be a touch more rear-end compliance, but overall the Adlar is a true contender for those who love to explore.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Excellent geometry for technical riding and bikepacking

  • +

    Stiff bottom bracket makes the bike feel planted

  • +

    Tire clearance up to 700x52mm gives you lots of options

  • +

    Designed to carry 35kg of luggage

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Frameset could benefit from some more rear-end compliance

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As someone who is partial to the occasional bikepacking excursion, it’s safe to say my interest was peaked by the release of the new Wilier Adlar gravel bike. The new bike from the Italian bike brand is characterized by slack geometry, rugged tire clearance and a certified carrying capacity of 35kg.

The Adlar represents Wilier’s exploration-inspired vision of the ever-diversifying gravel genre, favoring comfort reliability, and handling over out and out speed. This is a formula that we think, however, has more application than just bikepacking alone.

After a stint in Italy putting 150 kilometers on the new Adlar, we share our first thoughts on what could be one of the best gravel bikes for those who love adventure.

Wilier Adlar: Construction

The aforementioned slackened geometry may share some heritage from our knobbly tire'd friends in the mountain bike world, but that doesn’t mean Wilier has disregarded performance. The new Adlar frameset comes in at 1100 grams which is slightly more than the likes of the Specialized Diverge, but Wilier’s frameset does clear 52mm tires and a full 29x2.0” wheel setup - once again great for the rough stuff.

The picture below also shows the plentiful room between the top of the front wheel and the down tube. Wilier says this makes installing a suspension fork even easier if you want to further improve the bike's off-road capabilities.

Wilier Adlar gravel bike

(Image credit: Mirror Media)

From a geometry standpoint, Wilier has opened up the reach and slackened the head tube down to 70 degrees - which, interestingly sits pretty much directly in the middle of the 72.5-degree head angle on the Wilier Filante SLR race bike, and the 67.75-degree head angle on the Umsa SLR mountain bike. This directly translates to the Adlar’s playful personality, which excelled even on single track, which we will come onto. 

Wilier Adlar bike with bags against a rock face

(Image credit: Wilier)

Groupset wise, my test bike was shod with the latest 12-speed Shimano GRX groupset. A single-ring setup coupled with a 10-45t cassette left me with plenty of gear range - though if I was loaded up with luggage I think the 10-51t cassette may have given me an easier ride! 

For my thoughts on the shifting of the new GRX, keep an eye out for my first ride review which will be coming soon!

Wilier Adlar: The ride

I mentioned earlier that the Adlar even saw some single track action - but that doesn’t do justice to the multitude of testing trails I encountered at the weekend along the Grinduro Italy route. After a shakedown ride that included some gnarly rocky downhill sections, larger gravel, and plenty of dust, I attacked the 100km route of Grinduro’s first Italian edition.

The route consisted of pretty much everything you could imagine - around 20% tarmac, single-track descents through the trees, cobbles, fire roads, and technical climbs. So how did the new Wilier stand up?

Joe riding the new wilier aldar down technical trail through the woods

(Image credit: Mirror Media)

On more ‘traditional’ gravel surfaces, the Adlar was hardly challenged. The equipped 50mm Pirelli Cinturato gravel tires expectedly ate up tarmac roads and compact gravel with ease, doing a good job of suppressing vibrations. The Adlar has an imposing ride feel, which is slightly slower than some of the more dainty gravel bikes on the market like the Cannondale Topstone, but this is certainly by design. 

The true character of the Adlar became abundantly clear as soon as we hit the more technical sections. Steep climbs were made short work of, with great power transfer to the bottom bracket which was noticeable even with the wider tires. I was also able to throw my weight super far back on the climbs which allowed me to clean even the trickiest climbs on the course. 

Wilier Adlar being ridden head on shot on gravel road

(Image credit: Mirror Media)

The event threw up a whole host of different descents, wide loose sections as well as steep technical riding, all of which were handled well by the Adlar. The head angle is a full 1.2 degrees slacker than my current favorite gravel bike, the Cannondale Topstone Carbon 3, and this really helped out when the going got steep. 

With the fork further out in front of me I was able to keep my weight back which allowed me to ride the descents confidently and slowly when needed - as opposed to sketchy full-send tactics! 

Wilier aldar being ridden down technical trail head on shot

(Image credit: Mirror Media)

I always say that no bike is perfect however, and being particularly nit-picky, I did find the rear end to be slightly firmer than the likes of the Topstone or Trek Checkpoint. While the rigidy improves the direct feeling on the descents, the Adlar is slightly harsher than gravel bikes which feature suspension systems. 

The caveat here, however, is that I did run relatively high tire pressures (40psi) for the tire width, and playing around with this could certainly yield more comfort when required. 

Wilier Adlar: Value and conclusion

To summarize, I think Wilier has truly succeeded in its brief to create a gravel bike that is truly aimed at those who love exploration and freedom - arguably the most fun part of gravel riding, for myself at least.

The ride is engaging, and the bike is practical for a whole host of applications. In a world where bikes under three figures are hard to come by, I always say that versatility adds value, and that is certainly true for the Adlar. Starting from €3,700/ £3,860 (that's around $3,950), you get a premium frameset with capable groupset.

The one slight hitch is that the bikepacking bundle, which includes proprietary racks and bags, currently retails for €600 (~ $640 / £515). For me this is just a touch steep - or at least the option for purchasing just the racks alone, particularly for those who already own paniers, would be welcomed.

All in all however, the Adlar should be on the short list of anyone who enjoys technical gravel riding, and bike packing alike.

Wilier Adlar: specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Price€4,000/£4,170/~$4,275Row 0 - Cell 2
Sizes availableXS, S, M, L, XLRow 1 - Cell 2
WheelsetMICHE GRAFF XLRow 4 - Cell 2
TyresPIRELLI CINTURATO ADVENTURE 700X45 (50mm on test)Row 5 - Cell 2
GroupsetShimano GRX 1x12 R820Row 6 - Cell 2
StemWILIER STEMMA SRow 8 - Cell 2
SaddleWILIER SADDLE ROAD TITAN RAIL M 245-144Row 9 - Cell 2
Seat postRITCHEY COMP 2-BOLT V2 ALURow 10 - Cell 2
Bottom BracketSHIMANO BB-RS500-PB R+L PRESS FITRow 11 - Cell 2
HeadsetWILIER CUSTOM SUPERSLIM BEARING 1"1/4 - 1"1/2Row 12 - Cell 2

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