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Fezzari Shafer AL Review

An entry-level gravel bike that is relatively lightweight, fairly well-rounded, and reasonably priced
Fezzari Shafer AL
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $1,899 List
Pros:  Affordable, reasonably lightweight, fairly versatile
Cons:  Somewhat harsh ride, stock tires aren't great in loose conditions, tubeless conversion required re-taping on both wheels
Manufacturer:   Fezzari
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 12, 2022
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 7
  • Downhill - 30% 7.0
  • Climbing - 30% 8.0
  • Versatility - 20% 7.0
  • Weight - 10% 6.0
  • Build - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

If you're looking to get into gravel biking without breaking the bank, the Fezzari Shafer AL is a solid option to consider. The entry-level model in their line of Shafer bikes is the only model with an aluminum frame, and it has a slightly more conservative geometry than the more expensive carbon versions. The result is a very comfortable and approachable bike that works well in a wide range of situations. Due to the nature of the stiff aluminum frame and carbon fork, it feels most at home on smooth gravel and pavement where it feels efficient, lively, and responsive. It's also a spirited climber with a very respectable weight given its aluminum frame and price. While far from flashy, the build is well sorted and gets the job done. With mounts for fenders and a rear rack, the Shafer also seems like a sensible option for commuting or bike-packing adventures.

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Fezzari Shafer AL
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Fezzari Shafer AL
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $1,899 List$4,599 List
$4,599 at Backcountry
$2,699 List$2,499 List$1,849 List
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Pros Affordable, reasonably lightweight, fairly versatileLightweight, nice build, excellent blend of frame stiffness and complianceReasonably priced, lightweight, outstanding price to build ratio, easy assemblyReasonable price, suspension fork, great on the descents and rough surfaces, nice component spec, comes in both carbon and aluminum frames and multiple buildsInexpensive, versatile, many frame mount options
Cons Somewhat harsh ride, stock tires aren't great in loose conditions, tubeless conversion required re-taping on both wheelsMore expensiveProprietary handlebar, limited handlebar adjustability and accessory compatibilityFairly heavy, longer reach, fewer accessory mounts than rigid fork versionHeavier than the competition, budget build
Bottom Line An entry-level gravel bike that is relatively lightweight, fairly well-rounded, and reasonably pricedThis lightweight, high-performance gravel bike boasts a well-rounded performance and quality build that's ready for anythingAn affordable, capable, and versatile carbon-framed gravel bike with a great build and solid all-around performanceA reasonably priced gravel bike with front suspension and great build perfect for rough gravel and adventure riding, but with a slight weight penaltyAnyone interested in dabbling in the world of gravel riding should check out this versatile and affordable model
Rating Categories Fezzari Shafer AL Santa Cruz Stigmata... Canyon Grail CF SL 7 Canyon Grizl 7 Susp... Salsa Journeyer Ape...
Downhill (30%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
10.0
7.0
Climbing (30%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Versatility (20%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Weight (10%)
6.0
10.0
9.0
4.0
4.0
Build (10%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Fezzari Shafer AL Santa Cruz Stigmata... Canyon Grail CF SL 7 Canyon Grizl 7 Susp... Salsa Journeyer Ape...
Measured Weight (w/o pedals) 21 lbs 11 oz 19 lbs 2 oz 19 lbs 14 oz 24 lbs 12 oz 24 lbs 5 oz (with tubes)
Frame Material Aluminum Carbon CC Carbon Fiber Aluminum Aluminum
Wheelsize 700c 700c (tested) or 650b 700c (Sizes S-2XL). 650B (Sizes 2XS-XS) 700c 700c (tested) or 650b
Frame Size Tested Large 58cm Large Large 57cm
Available Sizes XS-XL 52, 54, 56, 58, 60cm 2XS-2XL S-2XL 50, 52, 54, 55.5, 57, 59.5cm
Wheelset Alex GD24, Tubeless Ready WTB Asym i23p 700c rims with DT 370 hubs DT Swiss C 1850 Spline Wheelset DT Swiss Gravel LN WTB ST i19 TCS 2.0 700c rims with Novatec hubs
Front Tire Maxxis Receptor EXO, 700 x 40c Maxxis Ravager EXO 700 x 40c Schwalbe G-One Bite 700 x 40c Schwalbe G-One Bite 700 x 45c WTB Riddler Comp 700 x 37c
Rear Tire Maxxis Receptor EXO, 700 x 40c Maxxis Ravager EXO 700x40c Schwalbe G-One Bite 700 x 40c Schwalbe G-One Bite 700 x 45c WTB Riddler Comp 700 x 37c
Shifters SRAM Apex SRAM Rival 1 Shimano GRX RX600 Shimano GRX RX600 SRAM Apex 1
Rear Derailleur SRAM Apex 1x11 SRAM Rival 22 Long Cage 11-speed Shimano GRX RX810 GS 11-speed Shimano GRX RX810 GS 11-speed SRAM Apex 1
Front Derailleur N/A N/A Shimano GRX RX810 Shimano GRX RX810 N/A
Cassette SRAM PG1130, 11-speed, 11-42T SRAM PG-1150 11-42T 11-speed Shimano HG700 11-speed, 11-34T Shimano HG700 11-speed, 11-34T SRAM PG 1130, 11-42T
Crankset SRAM Apex 1, GXP Easton EA90 175mm Shimano GRX RX600, 172.5mm, 46/30T FSA Gossamer, 46/30T SRAM Apex 1 X-Sync, 40T
Bottom Bracket SRAM GXP English BSA Easton BSA Shimano Pressfit BB72 Token Ninja Lite BB4124 PF86.5 not specified
Fork Fezzari Gravel Carbon Santa Cruz Carbon Canyon FK0070 CF Disc Carbon RockShox Rudy XPLR Base, 30mm Fantail Deluxe Carbon
Seatpost Fezzari XrT Carbon Easton EA50 27.2mm Canyon SP0043 VCLS CF Carbon, 20mm setback Canyon SP0057 VCLS Carbon, 20mm setback Alloy 27.2mm
Saddle Selle Italia Model X Superflow WTB Silverado Pro Fizik Argo Tempo R5 Selle Italia Model X WTB Volt Sport 142mm
Handlebar Fezzari GR Alloy, 18-degree flare Easton EA50 AX flare Canyon CP07 Gravelcockpit CF Carbon Canyon HB0050 Ergobar AL Salsa Cowbell
Stem Fezzari Alloy Easton EA50 Integrated with handlebar Canyon V13 Salsa Guide
Brakes SRAM Apex Hydraulic Disc SRAM Rival 1 flat mount Shimano GRX 600 hydraulic disc Shimano GRX RX600 hydraulic disc TRP Spyre-C mechanical
Measured Effective Top Tube (mm) 550 573 576 588 568
Measured Reach (mm) 386 390 402 409 380
Measured Head Tube Angle (degrees) 71 72 72.5 72 70
Measured Seat Tube Angle (degrees) 74 73.5 73.5 73.5 73
Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm) 292 285 278 279
Measured Wheelbase (mm) 1045 1038 1040 1055 1060
Measured Chain Stay Length (mm) 435 425 425 435 440
Warranty Lifetime Lifetime 6-Years 6-Years 3-Years

Our Analysis and Test Results

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - the shafer al has an attractive aluminum frame that's stiff...
The Shafer AL has an attractive aluminum frame that's stiff, responsive, and relatively lightweight.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Frame Design


The AL in the name Shafer AL stands for aluminum, and unsurprisingly, this bike is built around an aluminum frame paired with a Gravel Carbon Disc Fork. Fezzari also makes the Shafer frame in carbon fiber, but due to long wait times resulting from supply chain issues, we opted to purchase the affordable AL model for testing. The frame has a classic look with nice clean lines and internal cable routing through the front triangle and fork with flat mounts for disc brake calipers. There are two bottle cage mounts within the front triangle along with one on the underside of the downtube, as well as mount points for front and rear fenders and a rear rack. The fork has standard 100mm spacing and uses a 12mm thru-axle while the rear uses a 10 x 135mm quick-release axle (carbon frames have thru-axles front and rear). The fork on the AL frame does not have additional accessory mounts, although the forks on the carbon frames do. Both the frame and fork have claimed clearance for tires up to 40mm wide (carbon frames have clearance for tires up to 50mm wide).

The Shafer AL has a fairly moderate geometry while the carbon frames are somewhat more progressive with a slacker head tube, longer reach, and longer wheelbase. Since we tested the aluminum version, that's what we'll focus on here, and if you're interested in the carbon models, we'd suggest checking out Fezzari's geometry charts for yourself. The AL frame's dimensions suit its entry-level position in the lineup quite well, giving it an approachable and comfortable geometry that's quite easy to get along with and lends itself to a versatile and well-rounded performance. Large and XL frames have a 71-degree head tube angle (S and M frames are 70-degrees) with a 74-degree effective seat tube angle. Our size large test bike had a 550mm top tube length and a somewhat compact 386mm reach. Chainstays are 435mm long across all sizes with a 292mm bottom bracket height and a 1,045mm wheelbase on our large. The Shafer AL comes in 4 frames sizes, S-XL, while the carbon models come in 5 sizes, XS-XL. Our test bike tipped the scales at 21 pounds and 11 ounces set up tubeless and without pedals.

Design Highlights

  • Available in aluminum (tested) and carbon frames
  • Tire clearance up to 40mm (50mm on carbon frames)
  • Internal cable routing
  • Compatible with dropper seatposts
  • Compatible with gravel-specific suspension forks
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • Sold as a carbon frame only for $1,699
  • Available in five carbon builds with prices ranging from $2,299 up to $4,199

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - there's nothing particularly mind-blowing about the shafer al on the...
There's nothing particularly mind-blowing about the Shafer AL on the descents, but it's easy to get along with and performs well when kept in its element.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Downhill Performance


The Shafer AL performs admirably on the descents with intuitive handling and a fairly easy-going demeanor. Its moderate geometry is comfortable and easy to get along with, striking a happy middle ground between aggressive/racy and too relaxed. The frame and fork are stiff and responsive, and the component specification comes together nicely. Our only real complaint is that it can feel a bit harsh over rough surfaces, but that's not too surprising given that it's a rigid framed gravel bike.


Like most gravel bikes, the geometry of the Shafer AL is on the relatively conservative side of the spectrum. Interestingly, the carbon version of the bike has a completely different geometry that is a fair amount slacker, longer, and lower. As the least expensive model in the line, we assume that Fezzari intends the AL to be the entry point for many riders with an easy-going geometry that works well in most situations and is easy to get along with. We found that to be the case, as this is a bike you can hop on for your first ride and feel right at home. Its handling is intuitive, sharp, and responsive and the rider position is relatively casual. Depending on your preferences, however, the shorter reach, 386mm on our size large, could feel a bit short, but we feel it will probably work well for most people just dipping their toes in the gravel pool. The bottom bracket also sits a little bit higher than all of the other bikes we've tested, and while it is fine at moderate speeds, we found it feels marginally less stable at higher speeds than other models.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - we found the shafer al to perform best on smooth gravel where its...
We found the Shafer AL to perform best on smooth gravel where its stiff frame provides a responsive ride and the nearly slick stock tires make it easy to kick up some dust.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

With rigid-framed bikes like the Shafer AL, downhill performance varies pretty significantly depending on the surfaces you ride. Given the nature of the stiff aluminum frame and carbon fork, there's not a lot of forgiveness, and consequently, this bike performs best on smoother gravel roads, pavement, and the mellowest dirt singletracks. The 40mm wide tires have a decent amount of air volume to help dampen some high-frequency vibration and the flared handlebar provides a comfortable and stable front end with responsive handling. Over rough, chunky gravel or washboard, however, we found it to feel a bit harsh, and controlling speed and choosing the smoothest lines became very important. While this is the case with all rigid bikes, the Shafer felt a little more nervous in these situations than some of the other bikes we've tested. Again, on smooth surfaces, this bike felt quick and precise, but there is quite a bit of rough gravel throughout our Lake Tahoe area test area that really highlighted this aspect of its downhill performance.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - avoid the chunky gravel roads and the shafer al is a pleasant and...
Avoid the chunky gravel roads and the Shafer AL is a pleasant and affordable bike that could be your entry ticket to the wonderful world of gravel riding.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

As the entry-level model in Fezzari's Shafer line, the AL comes with a budget-conscious component specification that helps to keep the price down. Despite the lack of component bling, everything works pretty well on the descents. As mentioned above, the cockpit setup is relatively comfortable and the wide flared handlebar is well suited to gravel riding. SRAM's Apex hydraulic disc brakes provide the speed control, and honestly, we don't notice much of a performance difference compared to the Rival brakes that are a step up in price. The 40mm wide Maxxis Receptor tires are a versatile choice that are fast-rolling and work great on smooth gravel and paved roads but don't provide much cornering, braking, or climbing traction in looser conditions.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - the shafer al is an efficient and comfortable climber that performs...
The Shafer AL is an efficient and comfortable climber that performs well when pointed uphill.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Climbing Performance


With a stiff frame and respectable weight, the Shafer AL is a swift and capable climber. With a fairly conservative geometry, it doesn't necessarily feel like a race bike, but it scampers uphill efficiently and effectively regardless. Despite its budget price point, the components work well and don't hold you back.


We've mentioned it a few times already, but the Shafer AL's somewhat conservative geometry gives it a slightly more relaxed seated pedaling position than some of the racier and more aggressive bikes we've tested. The shorter reach, 386mm on our size large, in particular, results in a more upright upper body that avoids feeling too stretched out. The 74-degree effective seat tube angle lines the rider up nicely above the bottom bracket, and power transfer down into the pedals feels very direct and efficient. The aluminum frame is plenty stiff, with no noticeable loss of power through frame flex. Whether grinding it out in the saddle or hammering out of the saddle, it feels like all of your effort is being transferred into forward momentum. At 21 pounds and 11 ounces, the Shafer AL is respectably lightweight for an affordable aluminum-framed bike, and it certainly doesn't feel portly or sluggish that way some heavier bikes can. In fact, it has a snap and liveliness to it that we weren't really expecting.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - whether you're grinding it out in the saddle or sprinting up the...
Whether you're grinding it out in the saddle or sprinting up the next rise, the Shafer AL feels comfortable and relatively quick.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

This rigid-framed bike feels most at home on smooth surfaces. Choppy roads and rough gravel can feel a bit jarring and the rider tends to get bounced around as you might expect. On the climbs, this can result in a loss of traction and we found our rear wheel to be prone to spinning out a little bit on chunky or bumpy sections. The Maxxis Receptor tires work well enough in most situations, but their relatively smooth center tread doesn't offer the best climbing bite in loose dirt and gavel. Beyond that, we found the 1 x 11-speed SRAM Apex drivetrain to provide crisp shifts and adequate range for all the climbs we encountered during testing. The handlebar offers plenty of hand positions and we found the hoods to be comfortable as well. Selle Italia's Model X saddle also surprised us with its comfort, although the cover material felt a little grabby on our riding shorts.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - like most gravel bikes, the shafer al seems like a versatile ride...
Like most gravel bikes, the Shafer AL seems like a versatile ride that could play multiple roles.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Versatility


The Shafer AL is a fairly versatile bike that could work well for a number of applications. This affordable bike is a perfect entry point into the wide world of gravel riding that's best suited to smooth surfaces. It can be a little harsh over the rough stuff, but can definitely be ridden just about anywhere with a little care. While it doesn't really seem like it's intended to be a race bike, there's no reason you couldn't use it to dip your toes into the race into the race scene or simply participate in various gravel events as well.


Given the relaxed geometry of the Shafer AL, it strikes us as a good option for longer tours. While it doesn't have the wealth of frame mounts as the carbon versions of the bike, one could easily mount up a variety of frame, handlebar, or seat bags for bike packing missions of any length. Additionally, it has mount points for a rear rack for even more carrying capacity. Both the frame and fork have mount points for fenders, so one could easily add those for riding in varying weather conditions. It also strikes us as a solid option for commuting, with the ability to tackle mixed surfaces without batting an eye.

Like any gravel bike, the Shafer AL can also handle duties on the tarmac. With a stiff frame and reasonable weight, we found it to perform well enough on the pavement for more casual road rides.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - it's not the lightest bike in the world, but the shafer al is...
It's not the lightest bike in the world, but the Shafer AL is surprisingly lightweight for an affordable aluminum-framed gravel bike.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Weight


With a measured weight of 21 pounds and 11 ounces, the Shafer AL is respectably lightweight given the fact that it has an aluminum frame and a budget-friendly build. As the least expensive, entry-level option in Fezzari's line of Shafer models, it doesn't really come as a surprise that it weighs a tiny bit more than higher-end carbon models that cost significantly more. Compared to the other aluminum framed models we've tested, however, the Shafer AL is the lightest by a couple of pounds. We doubt that most weight-conscious riders and racers will be looking into the base model of the Shafer anyway, but those just getting into gravel or getting a utilitarian bike for mixed surface riding should definitely not be turned off by that weight in the slightest.


Build


The Shafer AL is the least expensive model in Fezzari's Shafer lineup and the only option that comes with an aluminum frame. As the entry-level model, it comes with a budget-friendly but perfectly functional build that performs well when the rubber meets the dirt. While it's far from flashy, the details are well sorted and there's really nothing that needs to be replaced or upgraded to get out and start adventuring. Of course, Fezzari also makes the Shafer in carbon fiber with five additional builds to choose from.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - the sram apex 1 x 11-speed drivetrain setup works surprisingly well...
The SRAM Apex 1 x 11-speed drivetrain setup works surprisingly well and offers a fairly large range.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Groupset


The Shafer AL comes equipped with a full SRAM Apex groupset. While it is on the lower end of SRAM's line of components, the Apex group provides all the same features and nearly the same performance as its more expensive siblings. The simple 1 x 11-speed drivetrain consists of SRAM Apex cranks, shifters, derailleur, and an 11-42T cassette that's paired with a 40T front chainring. We found this setup to be very quiet, provide crisp shifting, and offer plenty of range for most situations, although not quite as much as some 2-by options. SRAM Apex hydraulic disc brakes handle the stopping duties, and we found them to work just fine for the duration of our test period.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - the maxxis receptor tires roll fast and work best on pavement and...
The Maxxis Receptor tires roll fast and work best on pavement and smooth, firm gravel, though they can feel a bit squirrely when it's loose.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Wheels/Tires


The Shafer AL rolls on a set of Alex GD24 700c wheels with Maxxis Receptor EXO 40mm tires front and rear. It comes with tubes installed, but both the wheels and tires are tubeless-ready, and converting them to tubeless is an affordable upgrade that we'd highly recommend. That said, our tubeless conversion didn't go as smoothly as planned, as both rims need to be re-taped for them to hold air. Regardless, the Maxxis Receptor tires have a decent amount of air volume, a smooth and fast-rolling center tread, and some small knobs on the shoulders to add a little cornering traction on firm dirt surfaces. We found these tires to perform best on pavement and smooth, firm gravel roads.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - we enjoyed the width and flare of the handlebar and the surprising...
We enjoyed the width and flare of the handlebar and the surprising comfort of the Selle Italia saddle, but we'd be inclined to swap the thin stock bar tape out for something a bit more cushioned.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Cockpit


The cockpit consists of a number of house-branded components including an alloy stem and handlebar. The handlebar has an 18-degree flare that we found to be quite comfortable and provides a little extra stability when your hands are in the drops. The handlebar is wrapped in Fezzari cushion bar tape, and although it is quite thin, we found it to be comfy and adequately grippy. At the back of the bike, a surprisingly comfortable Selle Italia Model X Superflow saddle sits atop a Fezzari Racing Design Xrt Carbon seatpost.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - sram's apex group performs quite well with relatively crisp shifting...
SRAM's Apex group performs quite well with relatively crisp shifting along with comfortable hoods and levers.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Build Options


As mentioned previously, the Shafer AL is the only aluminum option in the Shafer lineup and it only comes in the build we tested. There are, however, five carbon-framed builds available, and Fezzari also sells the Shafer as a carbon frame only if you want to put together a custom ride. The carbon options start with the Shafer GRX Comp at $2,299 and top out with the Shafer Pro for $4,199 (as of August 2022). Given Fezarri's consumer direct sales model, all of the Shafer builds are quite reasonably priced compared to most of the mainstream competition.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - carbon seatpost and a quick-release seat clamp? not the most common...
Carbon seatpost and a quick-release seat clamp? Not the most common combination, but it works. There are some minor details that we might change to improve this bike's comfort and performance.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Suggested Upgrades


While the build of the Shafer AL is perfectly functional, there are a couple of upgrades that we would make to enhance rider comfort and confidence. First, we would be inclined to replace the relatively thin bar tape with something a bit thicker and more cushioned. Second, and this will depend on the terrain and conditions where you ride, we would switch to some tires with a more aggressive tread design. The Maxxis Receptor tires are fine and work well on pavement and smooth, firm gravel roads, but for loose conditions, we would prefer something a little knobbier to increase pedaling, cornering, and braking traction. Unfortunately, the model we tested has claimed clearance for up to 40mm tires, although the carbon frames can accommodate tires up to 50mm in width. The quick-release seatpost clamp is also somewhat curious given that most people don't adjust their saddle height that regularly, so we'd probably swap that out for a lighter and simpler collar.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - if you're looking to get into gravel riding, the shafer al is a...
If you're looking to get into gravel riding, the Shafer AL is a reasonably priced entry-level option to consider.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Should I Buy The Fezzari Shafer AL?


The Shafer AL is a quality gravel bike with an approachable price that we feel is a great option for those just getting started in the gravel scene. This aluminum-framed model has a preference for smoother surfaces with a somewhat conservative geometry that works best for more casual riding styles. While budget-oriented, the component specification is perfectly functional whether you're heading out on the local backroads, tackling a weeklong bike packing trip, or jumping into your first gravel event. Fezzari also makes the Shafer in carbon with slightly different geometry in a range of builds at reasonable prices.

What Other Gravel Bikes Should I Consider?


If you're looking for a bike that can handle rough gravel, the Canyon Grizl 7 Suspension is worth checking out. With a gravel-specific suspension fork and high-volume tires, the Grizl handles rough surfaces better than any other bike we've tested. It comes with a great build and is offered at a very competitive price. It's a bit heavier than the Shafer, but it also comes in lighter-weight carbon frames and a range of different build options. Interested in something higher-performance that can work as everything from a race bike to a bike packing rig? The Santa Cruz Stigmata is a lightweight carbon-framed model with a very well-rounded performance and high level of versatility. It'll cost you quite a bit more, but we feel it's one of the best all-around gravel bikes on the market.

Fezzari Shafer AL gravel bike - the shafer al will get you out exploring the backroads without...
The Shafer AL will get you out exploring the backroads without putting too big of a dent in your wallet.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Jeremy Benson
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