Fantic Passo Giau Electric Road Bike Review

Climbing capability trumps raw power on this lightweight Italian job.

Standing Climb
Fantic’s first electric road bike comes with pedal assist up to 20 mph for the US market, qualifying it as a Class 1 ebike.Jeff Allen

Italian motorcycle brand Fantic launched its first pedal-assist mountain bikes in 2015, and that line currently consists of a half-dozen models covering a range from a 140-millimeter trail bike to a 180-mil enduro offering. While those eMTBs are all equipped with Brose mid-drive motors, Fantic’s first drop-bar road bike introduced last year, the Passo Giau, is powered by the truly novel Fazua Evation mid-drive system.

The bike we tested provides pedal assist up to 25 kph, qualifying under European Union regulations as an L1e-A ebike that requires no registration or insurance. That translates to 15.5 mph in ’Merican speed units. However, the version sold in the States has assist to 20 mph, the limit for classification here as a Class 1 ebike with the corresponding access to bike paths and trails. Still, the Passo Giau is no speed demon compared with electric road bikes coming to market here that are offering assist up to as much 28 mph. But that’s not the point of the Passo Giau, notes Rich Kelly, national sales manager for Fantic USA.

“It’s a regular road bike with assistance where it’s needed, which is primarily on climbs,” he said.

So with that purpose in mind, how does the Passo Giau perform?

Fantic Passo Profile
The Passo Giau is the first production bike with the seamless Fazua Evation center-drive system to be made available in the US.Jeff Allen

What Is a Fantic Passo Giau?

The Passo Giau is a lightweight (31 pounds for our size medium test bike with pedals), Italian-made pedal-assist road bike that’s also intended for gravel and adventure riding. It’s the first production ebike to be made available in North America equipped with the Fazua Evation midmount drive system from Germany.

Fantic Passo Drivepack
A drivepack contains the ebike’s motor and battery. The 7.3-pound unit can be replaced with an empty drivepack for non-electric use.Jeff Allen

The Evation system consists of a gearbox that replaces the bicycle’s bottom bracket and directly connects to a drivepack containing the system’s compact motor and battery. The 7.3-pound drivepack (including the 3-pound battery) is fully integrated into the Passo Giau’s downtube, and can be removed with the click of a single button on top of the downtube.

The drivepack also includes a freewheel that disengages the motor from the bottom bracket when the Passo Giau surpasses its top assisted speed (15.5 mph on our test bike), for what Fazua says is a completely drag-free ride once assist cuts out. The stock drivepack can be replaced with an aftermarket empty drivepack—no motor or battery—for the Passo Giau to be ridden as a regular pedal bike. The empty pack can also stand in when the motor needs service or the battery mistakenly goes uncharged.

Fantic Passo Display
The Fazua Evation system has a simple display to indicate mode selection and remaining battery life.Jeff Allen

The Evation system offers three levels of assist and lights up the handlebar-mounted controller’s LED lights in green, blue, or pink for the modes Breeze (low), River (medium), or Rocket (strong), respectively. Those 10 LEDs also turn off one by one as the battery drains, and an 11th LED at the top of the controller flashes yellow or red when the system requires service.

The 250W motor (peaking at 400 watts) delivers 60Nm of maximum torque and is powered by a 250Wh battery. Stated range is 40 miles when the assist is continuously engaged, but Fantic’s Kelly points out that due to the speed cutoff, the assist will be engaged only a portion of most rides.

In order to extend range, the Evation system is designed to reduce torque by 15 to 20 percent after the battery gets below 30 percent of full charge, so factor that into your route planning and dosing out pedaling effort.

Fantic Passo Sram Group
Component spec includes SRAM Force 22-speed group.Jeff Allen

The Passo Giau’s carbon frame and fork are hung with a SRAM Force 22-speed group, including hydraulic disc brakes with 160-millimeter rotors; an FSA aluminum crankset with 36 and 52T chainrings; FSA Energy handlebar, stem, and seatpost; a Fizik Antares saddle; Vision Team 30 aluminum wheels; and 700 x 28c Vittoria Rubino Pro G+ tires.

The bike can be paired with the Fazua Rider app—the company recently began giving away its premium-level app service for free—for GPS navigation, tracking and trip information, ride sharing with friends, and data including motor power, remaining battery capacity, remaining ride distance, cadence, rider power, and rider torque. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices.

Fantic Passo Seated Climb
Pedal assist feels very natural on the Passo Giau, especially on seated climbs.Jeff Allen

How Does the Passo Giau Ride?

For my first range test, I selected the Evation system’s medium River mode and saved the top Rocket level of assist for the steepest and longest climbs on my route. This resulted in a 49-mile range with 3,600 feet of total elevation gain.

When pedaling along flat roads, the 15.5 mph assist threshold was quickly surpassed, but the Passo Giau continued to pedal well even though the extra weight compared with a non-electric bike was noticeable. If I began to tire or hit a moderate grade, it was easy to dial back effort to rest back at the top of the bike's assist zone and spin a consistent 15 mph before accelerating again.

I switched into Rocket mode on the first significant climb of the ride, and the Passo Giau gave enough of a boost to conquer the hill without lunging into “ludicrous speed.” It’s a somewhat gentle but absolutely helpful level of assist.

When seated and turning a steady cadence, the Fazua Evation system delivers smooth and consistent power to the drivetrain. Standing on the pedals to climb felt a bit awkward at first, as the assist tended to lurch and lag through the different phases of those pedal strokes. But after a bit of saddle time I could adjust my pedaling behavior to minimize that effect, Regardless, a “sit and spin” approach is where the drive system excels.

Heading downhill, the Evation system emits a brief ratcheting sound as the bike starts to coast, but that goes away quickly as the drive’s freewheel disengages the motor and eliminates any perceptible motor drag. Dropping down steep and twisty roads, the bike’s 31-pound weight makes for an extremely fast and confidence-inspiring descender, feeling utterly planted to the pavement. The 28c tires are also much appreciated for their added stability and cushioning effect over 23c or 25c road slicks.

On subsequent rides, I began searching out the steepest hills I could think of—including lengthy 15-plus percent grades that have sometimes ended in surrender or required a rest break for me aboard a traditional road bike. The Passo Giau gobbled up every last one of them. Purpose fulfilled.

Fantic Passo Bike Pose
Available at about 40 US Fantic dealers, the Passo Giau retails for $6,990.Jeff Allen

How Much Does the Passo Giau Cost?

The Passo Giau retails for $6,990 through Fantic’s network of about 40 US dealers. Fantic also offers the Passo Giau WE, spec’d with FSA’s top-end K-Force WE wireless groupset, for $11,990. The bikes come in small (53.5 centimeters), medium (55.5 centimeters, tested), and large (57.5 centimeters) sizes.

Fantic has created a performance electric road bike with an extremely natural pedaling feel and seamless integration of its electronics. The Passo Giau also boasts the versatility to be ridden as a moderately lightweight non-electric with the empty-drivepack option. Consumers will just have to decide if the price point warrants a zippier, higher-torque mid-drive eroad offering to more strongly differentiate their electric experience over a traditional road bike.