The Tifosi Cavazzo is a highly capable carbon-fibre gravel bike that's a blast on loose and uneven road surfaces and also quick across the tarmac if you want to use it as an all-season all-rounder.
If you start at my place you can get a good ride that takes in pretty much every type of road surface you're likely to encounter and be back for coffee and a chocolate digestive (singular; I'm not made of chocolate digestives you know) in about an hour-and-a-half.
You head through the village, past the house with the skip in the garden, and go down the bridleway. You know, that muddy/dusty (depending on the weather) descent that turns into a rutted and chalky climb that's always wet even in summer. I think we all know it, right? There's a park bench at the start. Cool. Just as long as we're all on the same page.
The Cavazzo can handle this kind of thing fine. The drier the surface, the more it likes it, but you're probably going to get your arse kicked by anyone on a mountain bike across this stuff, especially on the downhill and/or technical bits because their wider handlebar is going to give them better control than you get with a narrower drop bar, and suspension is going to take the judder out of the ride. Knobblier tyres will give them more traction on the climbs too.
Where the ground is wet, the Cavazzo's 30mm-wide Schwalbe S-One shallow tread rear tyre can occasionally whirr if you don't keep enough weight on the back of the bike, so you sometimes find yourself needing to stay seated when you'd really like to get out of the saddle to boss it. Still, if you want to take on a bit of mud, the Cavazzo will certainly manage, although the gloppier it gets the more likely you are to find yourself picking your way through rather than pinning it.
You could always fit wider and/or grabbier tyres if you wanted to do a lot of riding on mud. There's no brake bridge (this is a disc brake bike so there's no need for one) and there's clearance in the fork for you to go up to 35mm if you like.
Up at the top you get back on to the road where I overshot the corner and ended up in the ditch that time, and from there it's two or three miles until we hit the gravel. This is when the real fun begins. The Tifosi is a blast here.
The road is wide, almost two lane, and it's full of potholes. Or, rather, it's full of potholes for a bit, then it's relatively even for a while, then there's another pot-holey section, and so on. The trick is to remember where the holes are or at least to spot them early. The gravel is sometimes almost sandy, sometimes stoney, sometimes non-existent, giving way to mud, and the only consistent thing about the camber is its inconsistency. It's all a bit random.
The Tifosi is a real buzz across this stuff. Weighing 9.27kg (20.4lb), it accelerates pretty well, responding keenly when you kick some power through the pedals into the Shimano Tiagra chainset. You'll find yourself accelerating a lot if the roads you ride are anything like the ones here because no matter how much weaving around or bunnyhopping you do, you'll need to slam on the brakes occasionally when some big old pothole field appears where you didn't expect one.
The Tifosi's Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes are up to the job but, let's face it, they're a cheapskate option on a bike costing nearly £1,500. Granted, they were the benchmark mechanical brakes for a while but we'd expect to see hydraulic brakes at this price.
The BB7s lack the lever feel of a hydraulic setup but they're far from wooden. When things get bumpy it can be difficult to apply pressure accurately so you occasionally find yourself over-braking to be on the safe side, but they've provided me with a reasonable amount of confidence in both wet and dry conditions.
As the road starts to drop away a little and you pick up speed, the ride inevitably becomes more shaky. Whether you find this fun or alarming depends on your mindset and which side of the bed you got out of, I guess! Either way, the Cavazzo handles it well, the mid-width tyres helping to smooth over the cracks and the slim seatpost and super-skinny seatstays flexing just a touch to provide more cushioning.
As I said, if you want a larger chamber of air between you and the road you can fit wider tyres to the Weinmann XC180 Disc wheels, although I was pretty happy with the 30mm rubber fitted as a decent all-round option. If you're one of those Rockefeller types who can afford to have more than one set of wheels on the go, you could run one pair with skinny tyres for the road and another set with something chunkier, and just swap between them according to the riding you're doing. That would be a whole lot more convenient than arsing around with tyre levers.
I got on pretty well with the Selle Italia X1 Flow (this means it has a cutaway centre) saddle too. I've ridden a couple of bikes with a standard (non-Flow) X1 fitted recently and not found it particularly comfortable, but the cutaway centre makes all the difference to me on this particular model. As ever, saddle comfort is a personal thing.
The Cavazzo's front end can feel a little jagged over the really rough stuff but no more so than other bikes of a similar ilk, the full-carbon fork and the Tiagra lever hoods, when you're resting your hands on them, helping to filter out vibration to keep everything controllable. Flicking the bike around is simple when you need a last instant line change, and you can hit quite big, square edged dips and bumps without any drama.
From the bottom of the descent you lean the bike over to the right and then quickly over to the left to start the longest climb of the ride. Everyone knows this bit, yeah? Just checking. The bottom section is sketchy because gravel from the top has gradually washed down and accumulated, so you need to go steady through here if you want to stay rubber-side down. Then there are ruts all over the place thanks to little streams that form when it rains so you need to pick your line carefully or you'll end up in a groove you'll struggle to get out of, and that's never a good thing.
Negotiate that lot and you'll find yourself on the climb proper. You just need to get your hands on the tops, get your head down and get to work, and you'll gradually grind it out. It's one of those. Little tip for you: nip along the lefthand-side of the road, almost in the verge, for the smoothest surface. No need to thank me. At the bottom it looks like the righthand-side will be best, but it isn't. I went up the right once and... well, nothing bad happened, but it was quite bumpy. True story.
The Cavazzo gets on with the job efficiently, the lack of weight helping to keep you moving upwards at a decent pace. It has a 50/34-tooth compact chainset and you'll certainly want to be in the little ring on this climb. The cassette is a wide-ranging 11-32-tooth option so your smallest gear is titchy-tiny. You probably won't spend a whole lot of time using it but, on the other hand, you might be glad it's there when things get really tough. You know, like income support or Channel 5, but more bike related.
Shimano's fourth tier Tiagra groupset is 10-speed whereas the higher level groups are 11-speed, but it works just as reliably and doesn't feel much different. It would be cool to have next-level-up 105 at this price but hey!
Up at the top and you can either nip back down the road way or barrel along the ridge to the woods. Obviously, option B is correct. What you get up to in those woods is your own concern. I don't want to know, you weirdo. Normal people like me, on the other hand, simply enjoy seeing what their bike can do.
I like to test myself on the mega-steep climb where the mud or the dust (depending on the season) can make the back wheel spin if your pedalling is too choppy. The Tifosi is well up to it, it's just a question of being patient and keeping off the loosest ground because if you put a foot down here it's impossible to get back on. You have to go back to the bottom and start again, snakes 'n' ladders style.
The Tifosi really steams along the Land Rover tracks. The geometry is similar to that of a road bike but with a taller front end – so, like an endurance road bike, then. This means you can get into a fairly low and aggressive ride position on the drops to make the most of flat sections, and the all-weather performance of the disc brakes allows you to rag it on the descents in the knowledge that you can come to a quick halt if required.
If you want to take on the mountain bike trails, the Cavazzo can handle most of them although the tyres fitted will struggle in mushy mud, as you'd expect. It can handle steep descents if you're careful to keep your weight back but that stuff the downhillers have built: forget it. Gravel bikes aren't built for flying or, more to the point, landing from great heights. I mean, fill your boots if you want, but the warranty won't cover it.
Once you've had your blast around the woods, it's time to head home. The quickest way is down the hollow and back on the tarmac. If you take the shortcut on the knackered road through the farm, don't tell the farmer I sent you because you really aren't allowed along there. Plus, his dog is an annoying little ba... basset, and his wife isn't much better (the farmer's wife; the dog isn't married, as far as I know).
I reckon many people are going to use their Cavazzos on tarmac a lot of the time, and that seems perfectly legitimate to me. As mentioned, the geometry is essentially that of an endurance road bike and it's simple to swap the wheels over to ones shod with skinnier tyres to add a bit more speed. The hubs are thru axle rather than standard quick-releases but you'll still manage to change both wheels in a minute or two. Even with these tyres fitted, you'll not be all that much slower on tarmac than a standard road bike; noticeable but not massive.
If you do want to use the Cavazzo for commuting or for winter use, it comes with inconspicuous mudguard eyelets and you can fit a little gizmo between the seatstays to act as the anchor point up there. It's a really neat solution.
I've had a great time on this bike over the past few weeks to the point that I feel I need something like it in my life. Personally, I'm not looking for cutting edge performance and marginal gains on a gravel bike, I'm after something that's ruff 'n' tuff enough to handle whatever type of road surface I fancy on any given day, comfortable enough to take the edge off the bumpy bits, and quick across the tarmac. The Cavazzo delivers on all of those points. Hydraulic brakes would be certainly be an improvement, but this bike is still a lot of fun.
Solid gravel/all-season bike that's a lot of fun; hydro disc brakes would add to the appeal
road.cc test report
Make and model: Tifosi Cavazzo
Size tested: 57
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
FRAME Unidirectional carbon-fibre
FORK Unidirectional carbon-fibre
Groupset Shimano Tiagra
Brakes Avid BB7
Handlebar X-Road Compact ONE Race
Stem X-Road Compact ONE Race
Seatpost X-Road Compact/ONE Race
Saddle Selle Italia X1 Flow
Wheels Weinmann XC 180 thru axle
Tyres Schwalbe S-One 700x30c
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
The Cavazzo is billed up as a gravel bike but how many of us have enough gravel roads around to justify a bike dedicated only to this type of surface? We imagine many people will see this as a bike that can handle both tarmac and non-tarmac roads. The mudguard mounts might attract those who want a year-round training bike and/or commuter.
"Originally we wanted to tap into the whole gravel bike trend, with clearance for mudguards, bigger tyres and so on," said our man at Tifosi.
"But we've always tried to maximise the usage for each bike and maximise the value, so we decided to continue that with the Cavazzo and we're pitching it as an all-season bike.
"So I guess it fits into the adventure/gravel bike section, but we don't want trend to influence us too heavily, we just want to make good bikes. If this bike never saw a gravel path, the chunky stiff tubes will allow you to hammer down the roads, but take it off road, and it's perfectly suited to that too!"
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The finish is good and I quite like the restrained graphics.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame and fork are unidirectional carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
We have the large sized Cavazzo here, coming with a 530mm seat tube (shortened because the top tube slopes), a 570mm effective top tube, and a 180mm head tube. The head angle and the seat angle are each 73°.
The stack height (the vertical distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) is 599mm and the reach (the horizontal distance between those two points) is 387mm.
That gives you a more upright riding position than you'd get on most road bikes. The equivalently sized Tifosi Andare performance-focused road bike, for example, has a head tube that's 20mm shorter. The stack is 561mm (38mm lower than the Cavazzo's) and the reach is 398mm (12mm longer than the Cavazzo's).
In short, the Cavazzo offers a more relaxed riding position than most road bikes, but it's not as upright as some gravel bikes.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
About normal. As mentioned, the height/reach of the Cavazzo give a more relaxed riding position than most road bikes, but it's not as upright as some gravel bikes.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yeah, there's certainly a degree of give in the back end of the frame although it's the 30mm tyres that really provide the comfort. If you find the aluminium stem and handlebar too harsh when riding on rough surfaces, fit some gel inserts under the handlebar tape.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
I didn't notice too much flexibility anywhere.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, the centre of the bike felt rigid enough, as did the wheels.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? On the lively side of neutral.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The tyres provide plenty of comfort. You can fit tyres up to 35mm if you want more.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
There's nothing wrong with 10-speed Shimano Tiagra but 11-speed 105 would make this a more attractive buy.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so, what for?
They're budget disc wheels from Weinmann but I didn't have any trouble with them at all. They ran smooth and the rims stayed perfectly straight, and they don't hold you back noticeably on the climbs.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what for?
The Schwalbe S-One tyres are great for a variety of conditions, and you can run them tubeless if you like.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, although swapping cable for hydro brakes would swing it for me
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? As above
Use this box to explain your score
The frame and fork are great while the components are okay but you might want more for the money. Tiagra and BB7s are both fine, but 105 and hydro disc brakes would be better. I'm really torn between an overall score of 7 or 8. I'll go with 8 because the frame and fork are certainly upgradeable.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.