Gravel Gear

Campagnolo Ekar ushers in 13-speed era — on gravel

Campagnolo's Ekar drivetrain ramps up the gear options to 13 speeds, and it's made specifically for gravel riding.

At this point, if you’ve been paying attention to patents and buzz, you probably already know Campagnolo has been developing a 13-speed drivetrain. But you’d really have to have your finger on the pulse to predict the Ekar groupset was developed for gravel riding. Welcome to the world beyond pavement, Campy.

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Campy announced today that it’s getting into gravel in a big way, with a 13-speed (!) Ekar drivetrain, which includes a tiny 9-tooth cog cassette option. And the set is super light; It’s an impressive entry into the gravel market for the Italian company that often sticks close to tradition. Kudos to Campy for taking a leap here and committing to the burgeoning gravel segment.

The rear derailleur combines carbon and aluminum, and Campy says it’s designed with chain retention in mind. A Nickel-Teflon-plated 13-speed chain runs through it; it’s Campy’s narrowest chain, but it’s supposedly super strong and developed to handle the rigors of both off-road riding and the wide-ranging drivetrain. There’s no front derailleur; the Ekar group is 1×13 only.

The cassette is a two-block design; one part is steel and the other is aluminum. The latter helps reduce overall weight on the big cassette. The cogs are spaced to provide smooth transitions between gears. There are three gearing options: 9-36, 9-44, and 10-44. Each cassette fits on Campagnolo’s N3W freehub body. The chainring options include 38, 40, 42, and 44 teeth, to create a wide variety of overall gearing options.

The crank itself is carbon while the spider is a polyamide-carbon composite. The crankset is a two-piece system with a steel axle, and large external bearings for durability.

The Ergopower controls were also redesigned for the Ekar group. The thumb lever is more easily reachable from the drops to make quick shifts possible. Hood ergonomics have also been adjusted to provide a stable and solid platform for your hands. And the shaped brake levers connect to Ekar hydraulic disc brakes; there’s a 140mm rotor option, or a 160mm option.

All told, Campagnolo has created a lightweight (2,385 grams) groupset that the Italian company says is the lightest on the market. And it sure is a beautiful drivetrain to behold. On top of that, it’s a wise entry point for Campagnolo’s foray off pavement; the company’s road expertise lends itself to a gravel drivetrain and offers something truly different for discerning gravel riders and racers.