Covered in bags and water bottles: that’s how Wilier present the Adlar, promising to be the ultimate bikepacking and exploring bike. So it should make the cut for our adventure gravel bike group test, right? We took a close look at the bike to find out if it’s more than just a tough shell.
This bike was tested as part of our 2023 adventure gravel bike group test – you can find an overview of the group test and test field here:
The Wilier Adlar has only just launched, and it’s already been faced with the biggest adventure bike group test of all time. And with a concept designed for bikepacking, the bike also seems to have really good chances, standing out from the test field for more than just its wealth of mounting points. The specially designed bags and luggage racks also offer plenty of storage space, which should serve well for self-supported long-distance adventures. But there’s more to a good adventure gravel bike than that – so how does the Adlar fare in our group test and what’s up with the eye-catching cockpit?
Ready for big adventures? – The build spec of the Wilier Adlar
Good question, but it’s not that easy to answer with the Wilier Adlar. Wilier themselves describe the bike as “something different”, saying that the geometry was inspired by mountain bikes, which you can see when looking at the bike. True to Wilier’s design philosophy, the frame is skinny and features their classic head tube shape – it even looks slightly aero. You can see what the bike promises to be capable of, especially at the rear. To cope with heavy panniers on the rear rack, it has relatively burly stays, so it should remain stiff, stable, and predictable under load. As for the colour, the Adlar is rather discreet with its subtle grey frame and yellow fork, giving it an understated, almost timeless look. Unfortunately, the Vittoria Terreno tan wall tires don’t quite match the look. Compared to the Wilier GranTurismo SLR from our all-road group test, the paint job on the Adlar doesn’t offer the same level of detail, preferring a uniformly purposeful look.
The components, on the other hand, are not quite as discreet. The unusual Ritchey handlebars are particularly eye-catching. Measuring 450 mm wide on the hoods, they’re not the widest on paper, but the extremely flared drops push them to the limits of what’s considered reasonable. The drops provide a lot of control and, in theory, should work brilliantly off-road, but the brake and shift levers are difficult to reach from that position, which isn’t great when you’re hurtling down a trail. The complete SRAM Rival eTap AXS XPLR groupset ensures smooth and reliable shifting while offering the best ergonomics amongst SRAM AXS components. The mounting points have also been very carefully considered: wherever you look, you’ll find a detailed luggage carrying solution, and Wilier’s tailor-made racks also look promising. The fork of the Wilier Adlar even features a internal cable routing hole for clean integration of a hub dynamo. All set for big adventures!
– a shorter stem to turn it into an off-road machine
– a compliant seat post to turn it into a touring bike
– skinnier tires for more efficient rolling on smooth, compacted gravel
Fork rigid fork
Seatpost Ritchey Trail
Brakes SRAM Rival 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Rival eTap AXS XPLR 1x12
Stem Ritchey x Wilier 110 mm
Handlebar Ritchey 450 mm
Wheelset MICHE GRAFF XL
Tires Vittoria Terreno 29"
Size XS,S,M,L, XL
Weight 9.4 kg
Fat mountain bike tires
Dynamic aesthetics with off-road performance
Mountain bike geometry
Mounting of custom Wilier racks and bags is possible
Off-road adventurer or gravel racer? – How does the Wilier Adlar fare in the real world?
Even riding the Adlar, there’s no denying its intentions. With its fat tires and incredibly wide cockpit, it promises a lot of control, even when fully loaded. That said, the bike is more playful than expected and can navigate corners with ease and precision, even on rough terrain and winding descents. So, more mountain bike than gravel racer? Actually, yes, but it’s not all good: notably, the compliance is rather mediocre. The stiff frame is designed to cope well with heavy luggage, but this comes at the expense of comfort, which in turn can be a problem on extended rides. To compensate for this, your only option is to drop the tire pressure, and thanks to the 53 mm wide tires, doing so is very effective. However, this comes at the expense of efficiency, making it feel like you’re riding into a constant headwind, though it does offer tons of grip. On winding and fast trails, on the other hand, the Adlar doesn’t just offer a lot of grip, but plenty of fun too.
The SRAM Force XPLR groupset is configured for fast gravel. With a relatively small 10–44 t cassette and 40 t chainring, the Adlar is well positioned for normal gravel, but it doesn’t have the kind of easy gearing that you would expect from a bike that cries out for adventure and bikepacking. A mullet setup like that on the GIANT or MERIDA would be the right choice here, so you can make it over the pass with all of your goods. Wilier also offers the bike with a mullet setup, which would be our preferred option. As such, the purpose-built Wilier isn’t always as fun to ride as it could be, and the overall concept doesn’t seem entirely consistent. With a little more compliance, and a different handlebar, however, the Adlar could become an excellent bikepacking companion.
Wow, the Wilier Adlar doesn’t just look the part, it’s also got the potential to back it up!
The perfect Wilier Adlar gravel adventure
Speed, off-road performance, and bikepacking? The potential is there, but the Wilier Adlar doesn’t really cater consistently to any of the above. The Vittoria tires tend to hold it back on fast surfaces, but they generate lots of compliance and grip off-road. However, the frame itself is too stiff for long rides and relies on the big tires to provide the necessary compliance. On the other hand, the frame is equipped with mounting points and proprietary solutions from top to bottom – arguably the best bike on test in this respect. All said and done, it’s hard to find the perfect use case for the Adlar, though the bike could be capable of so much more with a few tweaks and adjustments, maybe even claiming the adventure throne.
Our conclusion on the Wilier Adlar
Equipped to the hilt, the Adlar stands out in the test field, but Wilier didn’t quite follow through on the concept. It has the mounting points, matching bags, and racks, but the fast gearing, lack of compliance, and limited efficiency don’t realise its full potential. With a few adjustments, it could make for a very capable bike, but, unfortunately, this burden falls on you. Those who don’t mind spending the extra time and money to get it dialled in will be rewarded with the ultimate adventure buddy.
- excellent basis for an adventure and bikepacking bike
- sturdy frame
- sporty Wilier look combined with off-road performance
- ample clearance for 29
- design could offer a little more Wilier glamour
For more information visit wilier.com
This bike was tested as part of our 2023 adventure gravel bike group test – you can find an overview of the group test and the test field here:
All bikes on review:Argon 18 Dark Matter | BMC URS 01 ONE | Cannondale Topstone Carbon 1 Lefty | Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail | Falkenjagd ARISTOS TRAIL GRAVEL | Focus Atlas 8.8 | Ghost Asket Advanced | Giant Revolt X | Merida Silex 10k | Mondraker Dusty XR | Orbea Terra M21e Team Custom M | Ridley Kanzo Adventure | Rose Backroad AL Plus | Santa Cruz Stigmata | Scott Solace Gravel eRIDE 10 | Specialized Diverge STR Pro | Trek Checkpoint SL 7 AXS | Wilier Adlar | YT Industries Szepter Core 4
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Words: calvin Zajac Photos: Jan Richter, Mike Hunger