FAVALORO GX CARBON REVIEW
As the cycling industry works to evolve and grow, there are still a few determined artists that maintain their handcrafted work. Sure, producing modern framesets that are offloaded to Taiwan, China or a handful of other countries is easy enough, but, thankfully, Italian frame builder Michele Favaloro still prefers to do it the old-fashioned way—by hand. The GX Carbon is his latest creation, mixing gravel and road with passion. Like all the bikes that come out of the Favaloro workshop, they are custom built, purposeful and innovative works of art that you can truly enjoy.
The GX Carbon has been a project that Michele has been working on for some time. The frameset is 100 percent handmade in Italy and is only available in custom sizing. Favaloro has settled on a modern but classic look with oversized round carbon tubes. The downtube is 57mm, while the top tube is 42mm. Both are straight and are bonded to the 35mm seat tube. Our bike is essentially a 55 and has an oversized, straight 1.5-inch head tube that is 12cm long at 71 degrees. The frame and headset also use the FSA ACR system to completely hide all hoses and cables internally through the bar, stem and headset.
The wheelbase on our test bike is 102cm with 43cm-long chainstays. The rear dropout uses the Syntace X12 thru-axle dropout that is held in place by a clamp bolt at the end of the carbon chainstay. The whole rear triangle has very dynamic molding, unlike the majority of the other tubes. This is to make room for up to 45mm tires. There is a press-fit BB30 bottom bracket with a 73mm drop. Our frame has a stack of 55.1cm and a reach of 38cm.
“While the brand and production seem traditional, Favaloro is delivering a modern work of usable art.”
The frameset is compatible with either electronic or mechanical drivetrains and fits flat-mount brakes. The brake lines exit the frame just before the caliper, and for our mechanical build, the shift cable exits the chainstay about 1cm from the rear axle. The cable exit is along the top, making for a smooth and even cable loop to the rear derailleur for consistent shifts.
Since each GX Carbon is built to order, so, too, are the parts. The Campy Ekar 1×13 drivetrain on our Favaloro GX Carbon offers great range. We have a 38t chainring matched to the 9-42t 13-speed cassette. The one-lever action shifter and brake controls mean no mis-shifting when things get rough. There is an FSA alloy ARC stem with alloy FSA A-Wing bar. The Stem is 110mm while the bars have a reach of 88mm and width of 46cm.
Since the frame uses a 35mm seat tube, there is a 31.6mm alloy seatpost topped with a Selle SMP Dynamic saddle. The seatpost, stem and fork are all painted and color-matching. Our GX rolled on Campagnolo Shamal carbon wheels with a 21m internal width. The front rim is 35mm deep while the rear is 40mm deep. They are paired with a set of 38mm Vittoria Terreno Dry tires.
Like any custom bike, the setup and final geometry are subject to a lot of personal preference. While we didn’t choose anything on our build, we would say that Favaloro and Albabici (the US importer) got most of it spot on. The Campy Ekar drivetrain is simple and offers greater range than any other 1x system. The 38t chainring matched with the 9t cog is equal to a 46t chainring and 11t cog. This means on the road you don’t spin out when things get going fast downhill. Then the 38t front with 42t cog offers a great gear for the steep relentless climbs we find on gravel adventures.
For us, the bike fit was a little long, and we would blame some of that on the component selection. The 110mm stem and 88mm-long bar reach left us stretching over the front end. Since the bike uses the ARC internal system, swapping either was a monumental task, so we did our best to compensate. On the fire roads the longer fit wasn’t bad but when things deviated to the path less traveled, the steep downhills became eventful. Thank goodness we had what we would say are the industry-leading Campagnolo disc brakes.
“Italian frame builder Michele Favaloro still prefers to do it the old-fashioned way—by hand.”
The wide brake levers are comfortable, but the real star is the modulation. Simply, the Campy brake system is consistent, reliable and allows you to easily maintain braking pressure without skidding. On the technical descents we felt like the front end was fighting us a bit. The GX Carbon has a trail of 72mm, which we think is the culprit behind the issue. We might opt for a fork with a different rake to reduce the trail number.
Overall, the frame is comfortable and the combination of large carbon tube diameters damp vibrations extremely well. The tubes also seem to offer great response and performance when efforts are high. The SMP saddle might look funky, but all of our test riders were impressed at how well it felt. We did have a few issues with the painted seatpost slipping on our first ride but a bit of extra carbon fiber grease for added friction solved the issue.
The Favaloro GX Carbon is the real-deal Italian bike. It is handmade in Italy and completely custom, just the way they should be. So, while the brand and production seem traditional, Favaloro is delivering a modern work of usable art. We like that in the rear they use the Syntace X12 thru-axle dropout with tapered end that makes lining up and threading the rear axle much easier.
While the GX might not be the most common bike at a gravel event, that’s what we love about it. When you build one, there is not another that looks or fits like it. For us, there were a few component choices that were not ideal, but when purchasing, that is completely up to you.
Though mechanical, the Campagnolo drivetrain worked flawlessly and offered the best gear range of any 1x drivetrain. The semi-deep wheels were a perfect pairing for the race-oriented geometry that the GX offers. If we were going to build a GX Carbon for ourselves, we would go shorter on the stem and bar reach, and potentially see if we could get a fork that offers a trail between 67mm to 64mm.
Handmade in Italy
Not the cockpit we would choose
Perfect blend of modern and tradition.