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25 Sep 2020Jacopo Vigna

Campagnolo Ekar groupset is out: the 13-speed revolution starts from the Gravel

Campagnolo presents its revolutionary 13-speed groupset dedicated to the sparkling world of the Gravel: the Campagnolo Ekar 1x13 groupset.

The Campagnolo Ekar 1x13 (dedicated to specific use on Gravel bikes) has arrived as one of the most interesting 2021 news in the entire cycling panorama.

Gravel is one of the fastest growing trends in the world cycle in recent years and for 2021 the growth shows no signs of decreasing, indeed. More and more models dedicated to Gravel use are presented by bike manufacturers, but not only.

Campagnolo returns to off-road

Campagnolo, the historic company producing groups and components for cycling, has recently presented a real technological revolution: the first groupset in history with a 13-speed cassette. It is no coincidence that an important brand like Campagnolo has chosen the Gravel segment as a test bed for this innovation. The Gravel is in fact classified as a sub-category of the road bike (segment where Campagnolo has been among the market leaders for decades), but the use of these bicycles in off-road conditions puts nowadays these components at a stress level very close to the world of mountain biking; an excellent test bed for strength and reliability before (perhaps next year?) to move on to the launch of a 13-speed groupset dedicated to the real mass market of racing road bikes.

Campagnolo has abandoned the production of MTB groupsets for about 30 years now, and who knows if this return to Gravel is not also a prelude to a future commitment of the Italian manufacturer to reappear with proposals dedicated to mountain biking.

Ekar is the name of a mountain that is located above Bassano del Grappa, in the province of Vicenza, near the Campagnolo headquarters. An iconic name for a group designed for use on gravel roads that can also become real MTB trails.

Overview of components and main innovations at a glance


Let's start with the cassette, which is the interface around which all Campagnolo 13v technology revolves. Finding space for 13 sprockets is not trivial, but Campagnolo has solved the problem by taking to the extreme a technical solution already used in some 12-speed MTB models: the cantilevered last sprocket. Thanks to a new body, the last sprocket (the smallest) is mounted cantilevered thus allowing a housing that does not require to modify the space of the frame or the stops of the hubs.

The box is supplied in three versions:

  • 9-36 (for more sporty use on non-steep terrain)
  • 9-42 (intermediate solution)
  • 10-44 (for extreme off-road use or long journeys)

An interesting feature of this cassette is that it has been designed to be compatible with most wheels that already use the 12v system. This choice immediately opens up the great potential of the aftermarket for the Ekar 13v.


The chain, necessarily thinner than the previous 12v, has no reliability or resistance problems even in the heaviest use on mountain trails, as reported by several testers who have used the Ekar 13v group for weeks.


The controls have undergone a major redesign to improve ergonomics, in particular as regards shifting with low hand grip. In gravel, this grip is in fact essential to maintain maximum control of the bike on rough terrain, which is why particular attention was paid to this aspect by Campagnolo engineers.

The new Campagnolo lever has a C (or S) shape that allows easy operation even with the lower handlebar grip.

This interface allows you to change up to 5 gears up with a single deep stroke on the lever, while to go down the lever is designed to be operated one gear at a time to avoid mechanical problems and improve the traction.

The shifting of the Ekar, in full Campagnolo style, always remains very sharp and precise, while also remaining fluid despite its racing character.


The full carbon crankset of the Ekar is a very valuable piece, so much so that it comes out of the mold already with its final finish, without requiring any other processing. Given the prevalent off-road use, the crank arms are supplied with two rubber socks, in order to protect the ends arm-ends from debris and accidental hits on stones and rough terrain.