Undercover E-Bike: Desiknio X20 Gravel Review

31 views 10:20 pm 0 Comments January 24, 2024

Some seem to favor bikes made for novice riders who mostly spend their time in the saddle heading to or from work or darting around on quick trips. Many of these include features like fat tires that can chew up any terrain while folding bikes make storage easy. Finally, large cargo compartments can accommodate a full grocery run. The idea is to bring as much versatility to the consumer as possible.

Desiknio Cycles’ latest X20 Gravel model is anything but that. The Spanish e-bike manufacturer dipped a toe into the North American market last year. Its new all-carbon gravel rig is poised to make a splash.

Desiknio focuses on designs that cater to more experienced riders who favor sleek lines, low weight, and top-tier components. The brand is well-known in Europe for its Pinion gearbox and belt-driven models.

The X20 Gravel e-bike applies that know-how directly to the burgeoning gravel category.

The company offered to let me take an X20 Gravel for a spin for a few weeks. After stacking up dozens of rides in mixed terrain, the bike proved to be as tough as it is stylish and technically advanced. It provides a powerful push and thrives in uneven, rocky terrain.

In short: The Desiknio X20 Gravel bike’s focus on clean lines and low weight made it an ideal e-bike for more experienced gravel riders who want an extra push. The bike’s components and geometry combine into a comfortable and capable package that made the bike a joy to ride even with the power off. At an MSRP of about $6,500 to $8,100 (the price on our Campagnolo-spec version), it’s pricey, but it’s made with high-quality components that won’t let you down.


Desiknio X20 Gravel


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Desiknio X20 Gravel studio image

” data-image-caption=”

(Photo/Desiknio)

” data-medium-file=”https://s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/images.gearjunkie.com/uploads/2024/01/Desiknio-X20-Gravel-300×200.jpg” data-large-file=”https://s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/images.gearjunkie.com/uploads/2024/01/Desiknio-X20-Gravel-700×467.jpg” />(Photo/Desiknio)

Specs

  • Frame material
    Carbon
  • Fork material
    Carbon
  • Motor
    MAHLE ebikemotion X20, 55 Nm torque
  • Battery
    MAHLE ebikemotion Inner Battery / Panasonic 18650GA – 10S/2P
  • Battery capacity
    236 Wh + 500 Wh optional water bottle battery
  • Claimed range
    >100 Km on flat terrain under low power, <50 Km on hilly terrain under high power
  • Drivetrain
    Campagnolo Ekar 13-speed
  • Wheels
    DSK black aluminum
  • Tires
    Pirelli Black 45

Pros

  • Indistinguishable from a standard gravel bike

  • Very light for an e-bike

  • Full carbon chassis

  • Great gravel riding characteristics for an e-bike

Cons

  • Assisted top speed is low for pure road riding

  • Expensive compared to some other e-bikes

Desiknio X20 Gravel Spec and Controls

Desiknio X2 Gravel e-bike integrated tail light.
Desiknio’s X20 Gravel e-bike features fully integrated electronics and lights; (photo/Mark Wilson)

The Desiknio X20 Gravel bike features a monocoque carbon fiber fork and frame with fully integrated electronic features. The MAHLE ebikemotion X20 Hub Motor and inner battery power the bike with 55 Nm of torque, along with the Campagnolo Ekar 13-speed gravel groupset.

The bike’s battery fits snugly in the downtube and can operate with an additional water bottle-style battery pack to increase its range from up to 60 miles on a single charge to a little more than 100 miles, albeit with added weight. The bike took about 2-3 hours to fully charge.

The bike has a claimed weight of about 26.5 pounds. With stock flat pedals, my large test sample weighed almost exactly 28 pounds. This is very light for an e-bike of any variety. It has integrated head and tail lights and a power and system control button embedded in the top tube.

Desiknio X2 Gravel e-bike power gauge and control button.
The Desiknio X20 Gravel e-bike features an integrated control button and battery monitor on the top tube; (photo/Mark Wilson)

The single-button system allowed me to turn the bike on or off, cycle through three different levels of pedal assistance on the fly, and control its integrated head and taillights. I also connected to the MAHLE MySmartBike app to view additional data, including battery level, range, and routes.

Desiknio X2 Gravel e-bike hidden seat post screw.
The X20 Gravel saddle mounts through a hidden screw under the top tube; (photo/Mark Wilson)

Finally, as a Class 1 e-bike, it does not have an on-bike display to monitor speed or other metrics. Instead, a control bar beneath the power button is illuminated in a different color depending on the pedal assist level. It also displayed the relative battery life. It was a one-touch system that was a breeze to use even while traversing coarse gravel.

Desiknio X20 Gravel First Impressions

Stealthy Looks

Desiknio’s X20 Gravel bike doesn’t even look much like an e-bike. Aside from integrated lights, the obvious rear-hub motor, and an extremely slight hum that usually gets lost in the buzz of tire tread rolling at speed, most people never clocked it as a motorized machine. I immediately appreciated the choice of components on the bike.

Desiknio X2 Gravel e-bike top view.
The X20’s light frame and sleek design make it nearly indistinguishable from a normal gravel bike; (photo/Mark Wilson)

The stock Ritchey Ergo Comp drop bars and the Campagnolo Ekar thumb shift lever provided a great ergonomically dialed platform with multiple hand positions that kept me comfortable for hours in the saddle. These components also match higher-end “standard” gravel bikes, which added to the incognito factor.

Main Specifications

Desiknio says the top pedal-assisted speed of the X20 Gravel sits at about 15 mph or so. I found that to be a bit of a low estimate. I comfortably pedaled the bike in the upper teens frequently. And, with some effort, I got into the mid-20s on flat or downhill terrain.

As a Class 1 e-bike, its max pedal-assisted speed didn’t exceed 20 mph. So, while I could pedal the bike faster than that with the power on, it took a lot of effort to get it up to that sort of speed and hold it.

I appreciated the integrated lights and large tires. Even with the sun shining, I still liked the added security of having something bright up front and behind. The DSK black aluminum wheels paired with wide 700X45c Pirelli Black tires felt solid and planted while skittering in the dirt. The frame can accommodate up to 50c tires, so it could be even more cushy.

Desiknio X2 Gravel e-bike charge port location.
The charging port of the X20 gravel sits just above the bottom bracket; (photo/Mark Wilson)

Per Desiknio’s website, the X20 Gravel comes equipped with a Brooks C13 carved saddle. Mine, however, came with an Ergon SR Men Pro saddle. There’s no telling why there’s a discrepancy there, but I had no complaints. I’ve used the Ergon SR saddle many times before and have never had a problem with it.

Desiknio X20 Gravel: Ride Report

Campagnolo Ekar 13-speed cassette and derailleur.
The Desiknio X20 Gravel comes with either the Campagnolo Ekar 13-speed gravel groupset or the Shimano GRX 600 groupset; (photo/Mark Wilson)

Power Assist Delivery

Riding the Desiknio X20 was fun. It took much of the physical difficulty out of the trail while still letting me do some work. One of the things I dislike about e-bikes is some tend to fire a rider off and require absolutely no effort. As a cyclist, I still want to pedal and get my heart rate up.

With the X20, I still felt like I was riding a bike rather than a motorcycle with pedals. Since it doesn’t have a throttle, I still had to pedal the whole time. I adjusted the assistance to be as helpful or unhelpful as I wanted with ease.

Campagnolo Ekar crankset.
With the Campagnolo Ekar groupset, the X20 gravel rides well, even without power; (photo/ Mark Wilson)

On the road, I frequently opted to turn the motor off. The Desiknio X20 Gravel was noticeably faster in flats and downhill without it. Since the bike has assisted speed limits, it held me back a bit on smooth flat, or descending pavement. Once the road turned upward, I kicked the motor on and got the helpful push to keep my pace consistent. While that strategy helped me go faster on the road, it also helped conserve battery life.

The Desiknio X20 Gravel features a torque sensor that went a long way in making the bike ride more like a normal bike. Since the motor responded to my inputs, the X20 wasn’t one of those e-bikes that trusted me forward uncontrollably. It rode more like I got a nice, consistent push rather than a jarring jolt.

The power from the motor was consistent, smooth, and supportive. This gave me more time to think about handling a chunky berm or corner rather than mashing the pedals.

Desiknio X2 Gravel e-bike integrated headlight. Front view.
An integrated headlight and wide tires make the X20 ideal for urban riding or off-road adventuring; (photo/Mark Wilson)

I appreciated the battery-saving measures once I moved into more technical terrain where the motor really got to work. Weighing in at a little more than 26 pounds, the X20 carries the same heft as many carbon mountain bikes or commuters. So, while it is heavier than most normal road or gravel bikes, the penalty for pedaling without power was not as severe as it could have been.

Other classes of e-bikes can reach speeds of 28 mph with pedaling assistance. But they also require many more features that add weight and can complicate the user experience.

Were this a true “road bike,” I would have liked to see a little more max speed. However, as this is a gravel bike, I got off road as much as possible. Once I did that, my concerns about speed instantly melted away.

Desiknio X2 Gravel e-bike standing in a creek bed.
The Desiknio X20 Gravel e-bike thrives in off-road conditions; (photo/Mark Wilson)

The motor was incredibly helpful in maintaining speed over terrain that disrupted my cadence. I did not lose speed where I normally would. I could tear through singletrack or coarse gravel at the top end of the bike’s speed range with pretty minimal effort. The 45c tires felt glued to the ground, and the carbon frame and fork felt stiff and responsive through the chatter.

Eventually, I settled into the habit of riding to a trail system without power and then switching it on once I got to off-road sections. Whether on light gravel, single track, or over a considerable chunk, the Desiknio X20 Gravel felt like a rocket. It easily held speeds in the 15-20 mph range over bumpy terrain.

Final Thoughts

Desiknio X2 Gravel e-bike on a single track trail.
Desiknio’s X2 Gravel e-bike includes a carbon frame and fork, along with integrated head and tail lights; (photo/Mark Wilson)

For $6,000-8,000, you’d be right to expect a lot from the Desiknio X20 Gravel bike. In the weeks I spent on it, the X20 Gravel held up extremely well.

While I was a little underwhelmed at the bike’s top speed on the road, it felt right at home on anything other than pavement. This was exactly what it should be. For riders who don’t come from a road or race background or who don’t cruise on the flats at 20 mph or more, the bike will feel as fast as anything else out there.

Additionally, the bike is light enough to ride without power and still have a good time or at least get home without a huge hassle should you run out of battery. Anyone who has ever had to pedal a dead 70-pound e-bike home knows how big of a deal that can be.

I did multiple 25- to 30-mile rides in which the battery never dipped below 50%. So, even without a range extender, the X20 was good for at least 50 to 60 miles, as advertised. It should go even further if you don’t rely on the motor the entire time.

Without the bells and whistles of things like touchscreens and throttle levers, the X20 Gravel felt like a normal bike. This was refreshing in a world of e-bikes that skirt the line between bicycles and motorcycles. The Desiknio X20 Gravel was a highly capable gravel bike at its core. It just gave me that extra oomph when I needed it, and it looked great while doing it.

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Tester Chelsey Magness on the Specialized Globe Haul LT electric cargo bike.

” data-image-caption=”

(Photo/Chelsey Magness)

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