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Cairn E-Adventure 1.0 electric gravel bike review

Cairn has taken the already somewhat niche electric gravel bike concept, sprinkled a little adventure dust on it and come up with one of the most versatile e-bikes around

Cairn e-Adventure 1.0 gravel bike
(Image: © Nick Odantzis)

Our Verdict

The E-Adventure 1.0 is a great all round e-gravel bike that can be used for local blasts, trips to work or longer multi-day rides, with just the right amount of electric assistance

For

  • Good for longer rides thanks to additional batteries
  • Removable battery and drive pack allow you to ride with less weight
  • Comfortable cockpit
  • Lots of mounts for adding bags
  • Good tyre clearance
  • Good value - less than £3k isn't a huge amount considering the spec

Against

  • Relatively heavy with or without battery
  • Quite a firm ride
  • Looks might not be to everyone's taste
  • Battery charging has to be done off the bike
  • Not many bottle cage mounts

Cairn may not be a name you’ve come across in the cycling scene before, but its parent company - The Rider Firm - is the one responsible for Hunt bike wheels (among other brands), which you’ve definitely heard of before if you’ve thought about upgrading your wheels.

Cairn has created what is possibly the most versatile electric gravel bike we’ve ever seen: the Cairn E-Adventure 1.0. Though ostensibly a gravel bike, with chunky knobbled tyres and loads of clearance (up to 45mm on 700c or 2.25-inch on 650b) and a beefed-up road–type frame, the E-Adventure veers more towards the adventure side of on- or off-road riding, with mounts on the forks and dynamo routing inside. 

So if you’re the type that likes to go on long-distance bikepacking rides rather than heading out for short, intense blasts, this could be the ideal bike for you. It could also be an amazing commuter bike for those riding to work year-round, thanks to the inclusion of mounts for full-length mudguards and a rear pannier rack. 

Thanks to the inclusion of electric assistance at the pedals courtesy of a lightweight Fazua Evation system, it’s also quite a buzz to ride too, and if you do decide to use the E-Adventure 1.0 for longer, multi-day rides, then you’ll be grateful for the boost at the end of it.

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Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

The Cairn E-Adventure 1.0 electric gravel bike (Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

Subjected to roads, gravel roads, and even a few local trails and it seemed to soak up everything it came across with ease (Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

Assistance comes via the Evation drive system from Fazua (Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

The battery and drive pack can be removed to make for a lighter weight bike (Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

The bike is specced with Hunt's well liked 4 Season gravel wheels (Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

The 40mm WTB Venture tyres are left with plenty of breathing room (Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

Cockpit components come from Ritchey, while the bar tape is from Fabric (Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

Fabric also supplies the saddle (Image credit: Nick Odantzis)

Specification

So what does a shade under £3,000 get you then? First of all, let’s talk about the frame - it’s made of 6061-T6 alloy, which might not be everyone’s first choice of frame material these days, and even though it’s paired with a full carbon fork (steer tube too) it’s not particularly light. But, it does allow the E-Adventure 1.0 to come in at a pretty affordable price point, and Cairn certainly hasn’t really scrimped anywhere on the spec.

You get the aforementioned Fazua Evation mid-mounted electric system, which is very light (just 4.6kg for the bottom bracket, battery and drive pack), and the battery and drive pack are neatly integrated into the downtube of the frame - they can also be removed too.

On the groupset side of things, there’s a SRAM Rival 1x11 speed setup in place, with a Praxis Works chainset that’s designed to work specifically with the Fazua system. The 42T front chainring mated to the 10-42T cassette at the rear gives plenty of range even on the steepest of climbs.

Then there are the Hunt 4 Season Gravel Disc wheels (not a surprise given the connection with Hunt) which are mated to WTB Venture 700x40c tubeless gravel tyres - a high-quality alliance that offers a nice balance of grip in off-road conditions and decent on-road speed, along with the wheels' bombproof reliability.

  • Best gravel wheels: Our pick of the best gravel wheels for racing and adventure riding
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Rounding things off nicely is a decent cockpit consisting of a Ritchey Comp stem and Ritchey Comp Butano handlebars wrapped in comfortable Fabric bar tape. At the other end, you get a decent Kalloy Uno seatpost with a carbon shaft and a comfortable Fabric Scoop Elite Shallow saddle perched on top.

Sure, these might not be particularly high-end parts, but when other manufacturers choose to cut corners with no-name parts on expensive bikes, it’s nice to see a brand putting together a bike that you can just go out and ride when you’ve purchased it without having to upgrade a bunch of things from the get-go.

Ride and handling

So it’s a nicely specced bike, then. But most importantly, what does it ride like? Well, pretty damn good as it happens.

The geometry is definitely more on the relaxed side of things, which makes sense given that this is a bike designed more for long and comfortable rides than razzing around your favourite gnarled roads. The head tube is pretty slack and the fork trail is quite large (even for a gravel bike) meaning turn-in is a little slower than you might be used to. 

Similarly, the long wheelbase makes for a stable, if not particularly exciting handling bike. At 14.5kg it’s pretty heavy too (more so than similarly specced e-gravel bikes). That’s not to say the E-Adventure 1.0 can’t be hustled around bends, it just needs a little more work.

During testing, the E-Adventure 1.0 was witness to smooth (ish - hey this is the UK after all) roads, gravel roads, and even a few local trails and it seemed to soak up everything it came across with ease. The lower top tube junction gives you increased clearance, making it more suitable for off-road riding. The frame is a little on the stiff side, more so at the rear where there was the occasional pogoing over big bumps. That said it’s a comfortable bike to ride, with the 40mm tyres helping to cushion the ride somewhat.

Electric assistance

The Fazua Evation system which provides the electric assistance for the E-Adventure 1.0 is the same system that we’ve seen in many other electric bikes, and it’s become so popular simply because it works so well. In the case of the E-Adventure it’s mostly perfect, with only a couple of minor setbacks that may or may not bother you - more on that later. 

As we mentioned earlier it’s quite an unintrusive, lightweight system that you probably wouldn’t notice if it wasn’t for the extra power at the pedals. The battery and drive pack (which is basically the entire guts of the electric system) is located in the downtube and can be removed simply by unlocking it and pulling it down. 

At this point, you can either remove the whole thing (3.3 kilos worth) and replace it with a blanking plate which also doubles up as a storage point inside the frame. In theory, this is a good idea as it allows you to ride the bike as you would a regular gravel bike, using your own steam, but personally I can’t see the point of buying an electric bike if you’re not always going to use the assistance; once you’ve tried it, you’ll find it hard to go back.

Alternatively, the battery alone can be removed, keeping the drive pack in place. The benefit here is that you can hot-swap the battery with a fresh one when it runs out, so you can ride even further, making really big trips possible. The really clever thing here is that Cairn sells a Range Extension Pack which can house a single battery pack and be mounted to one side of the fork leg thanks to its Anything Cage mounts. Or you can even mount two, one to each side.

A single charge on the 255Wh battery is good for about 56 miles in Breeze mode (according to Fazua). There’s no charging on the bike, so every time you want to charge the battery you have to remove it - a minor inconvenience, but worth mentioning all the same as other electric bikes can be charged with the battery in situ.

Via the downtube mounted controls you have a choice of three assistance levels: none, Breeze (125W), River (250W) and Rocket (up to 400W). Personally, I felt that Breeze was enough for most types of riding, with River being the one I selected when the hills were particularly demanding. Changing modes is as easy as tapping near the top or bottom of the control pad to increase or decrease the power level.

Unlike some ebike systems that make you feel like you’re strapped to a guided missile when you touch the pedals, the electric assistance in the mid-mounted Fazua Evation system is quite subtle, even at higher settings. You don’t really get a big shove - rather it all feels quite natural as if it’s simply augmenting your pedalling effort, which is what you want really. 

Above the 15.5mph legal limit for electric assistance in the UK, you don’t feel much resistance in the drivetrain. If anything the rolling resistance of the tyres seems to be the limiting factor for building up greater speeds on the road.

The only major downside of the Fazua system is its narrow powerband. Too low a cadence and the assistance doesn’t really kick in, or too much torque in a bigger gear and, again, you don’t get much help. What this means is that you always need to be on the ball with respect to your choice of gears for the terrain you’re riding on, and ready to change gear at the drop of a hat to stay in the power band when the elevation changes.

The Black Pepper update in version 2.0 of the motor software on new E-Adventure 1.0 bikes is designed to address this issue, so Cairn says: “The Evation drive system now provides more efficient assistance at a constant motor output over a cadence range of 50–120 revolutions per minute.”

Verdict and alternatives

The Cairn E-Adventure 1.0 could well be the best all-round ebike that we’ve ever come across. It takes the versatility of a gravel bike, adds in year-round usability thanks to its luggage capabilities, and rounds it off with superb multi-day, long distance credentials. The options to lug additional batteries so you can hot swap them on the move and get greater range is just ace.

That it’s a smooth, confidence-inspiring ride that’s comfortable to sit on all day long is the icing on the cake, and we love the fact that it's well specced out of the box so there’s no need to go swapping out parts as soon as you buy it.

As for the competition, if we’re talking pure electric gravel bikes then even with its affordable price tag and solid spec sheet, the E-Adventure 1.0 isn’t necessarily the first option we’d consider. For instance, the Ribble CGR AL e is around the same price and features a similar setup, with the Fazua Evation system and a 1x11 Rival build, but Ribble quotes an approximate weight of 13.3kg in a size Large, whereas the E-Adventure 1.0 is 14.5kg in, presumably, a medium (as most manufacturers tend to go with). 

That being said, Ribble does make quite competitively priced bikes, and anyway the E-Adventure 1.0 really isn’t an all-out gravel bike, what with its long distance capabilities. A more fair comparison would be something like the Kinesis Range Adventure E-Bike. This bike features a similar luggage-compatible fork, is slightly heavier at 15kg and costs substantially more at £3,500. You do get slightly more tyre clearance here though and the iridescent paint job is a bit more 'spangly'.

Tech spec: Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

RRP: £3,399.99 / €3,799.00 / $3,750.00

Frame: 6061-T6 Alloy

  • Updated down tube FAZUA Touch Remote - See here
  • Bottle Cage Mounts on the seat tube.
  • Anything cage on the down tube.
  • Full Mudguard Mounts front and rear.
  • FAZUA Battery Lock feature
  • Double-walled down tube for increased durability.

Fork: Full Carbon (Including steerer)

  • Anything Cage Mounts on both sides.
  • Internal Dynamo Routing

Wheels: HUNT 4 Season Gravel Disc (Can fit both 700C and 650B wheels)

Tyres: WTB Venture 700x40c

Axles: Thru-Axles, Alloy | 12x100 mm Front | 12x142 mm Rear

Headset: FSA Sealed Bearing

Handlebars: Ritchey Comp Butano | Drop 118 mm | Reach 73 mm | Sweep 4-degrees | Flare 12°-degrees

  • Size S - 42 cm
  • Size M, L - 44 cm
  • Size XL - 46 cm
  • *Width measured centre to centre

Bartape: Fabric Knurl

Stem: Ritchey Comp 4-Axis | ±6-degrees

  • Size S - 70 mm
  • Size M - 80 mm
  • Size L - 90 mm
  • Size XL - 100 mm

 Crankset: Praxis Works FAZUA-specific | Alloy | 42T

  • Size S - 165 mm
  • Size M, L - 170 mm
  • Size XL - 175 mm

 Cassette: SRAM XG-1150 | 10-42T

Chain: KMC X11

Shifters: SRAM Rival Hydro 1x

Rear derailleur: SRAM Rival 1x Long Cage

Brakes: SRAM Rival Hydro, SRAM Centerline | 6-bolt | 160mm

Saddle: Fabric Scoop Elite Shallow

Seatpost: Kalloy Uno with carbon shaft | 27.2⌀ | 350mm

Electric Motor: Fazua Evation 1.0

Included: Fazua Motor, Battery, Battery Charger, Down Tube Touch Remote Control & Mobile App.

Weight:

  • With motor and battery (no pedals) - ±14.5kg (31.9lbs)
  • Without motor and battery, with down tube cover (no pedals) - ±12kg (26.4lbs)
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