The latest offering from Revel Bikes uses modern geometry and perfectly tuned suspension to hit the sweet spot for today’s XC bikes. Goldilocks have just found their new shredded sleigh.
Revel Bikes is still very new to most industry standards, but the brand’s third bike stinks of bike vets who know how to get loud. He and his Revel team were founded by Adam Miller in 2018 and have partnered with CBF Suspension to build the absolute best full suspension mountain bikes – as always.
The first two motorcycles, Rascal and Rail, received high praise and even received some best-of-the-year awards.
But when Revel released that rangerAs an XC 29er with the same bottomless CBF suspension design, I was extremely intrigued. Especially on trails in the Midwest, I find that most full suspension motorcycles either have too much travel to toss around on our tight, winding, tree-lined trails or so little that it’s not worth the weight penalty or maintenance to get a rear one Justify shock absorbers.
The perfect bike for me would be a short-range 29er that would allow me to ride some larger trails in Duluth, Minnesota or Marquette, Michigan without feeling like I was pushing around something too big for my local trails.
When I received the email that an XL Ranger was on my way, I was curious to see if this bike would be my Goldilocks.
In summary: The ranger exceeds its specifications in almost every category. The short trip 29er likes to go downhill and never flinches when you take a bad line or push it hard. Sure, it’s a bit heavy and the XL tends to suffer more from pedal hit than I’d like, but this thing tears up. It’s high on my list of my favorite bikes for 2020.
Revel Ranger XC Mountain Bike Review
The Ranger was immediately ready for use (in this case EVOC bike bag) and was characterized by performance and quality. The unique green, called Johnny Green Jeans, and clean, slim lines go perfectly with the subtle graphics and double gloss / matte finish. I found myself sneaking into the garage for one last look before hitting the pillow at night. With motorcycles, it’s not just about looks. So let’s get to the good things.
My demo bike was equipped with a 12-speed SRAM XO1 drivetrain and G2 RSC brakes. Revel RW30 rims were attached to Industry Nine 1/1 hubs. The 120 mm RockShox SID Ultimate fork at the front and a 115 mm SIDLuxe Ultimate rear shock. The structure is rounded off by an ENVE M6 carbon handlebar and the Crank Brother Highline 7 dropper post.
All said: this build is right in the middle of the price range at $ 7,399.
After adjusting the sag to 25% on both the RockShox SID fork and rear shock, I pocketed and hit the dirt. But of course it wasn’t love at first sight. Still, I could feel the potential. The ranger wanted to go quickly and get loud.
It happened somewhere in the middle of my third trip. Rotating and fine-tuning the dial resulted in a perfectly balanced bike that could comfortably handle both loose, rocky climbs and descents. And I was impressed by how little my pedal stroke affected the performance of the chassis.
No matter where I was in the travel, the power transfer felt constant. That is the “perfect pulp” behind this machine: the Canfield Balance Formula chassis with two links.
Canfield Balance Formula Suspension
I’m not going to dive too deep into the magic of Canfield Balance Formula (CBF). I’ll let you investigate the details Revels page. But CBF is a big part of why this bike is so good. It’s not a new design and has been used on Canfield motorcycles since 2016. However, when Miller wanted to make the best motorcycles, he knew CBF was the ticket.
According to Revel, the patented CBF focuses the center of curvature in a very limited area on the chain line at the top of the chainring and directs the pedaling forces right where you want them to be. This creates a step platform that is as efficient as possible, yet still active, completely independent of sag, suspension travel, and drive and braking forces.
And after spending a lot of time biking in different areas, I can confidently agree that it works.
CBF in action
Revel Ranger Review: The Heights
The playful, modern geometry combined with the CBF suspension design to deliver a bike that feels safe on the descents, fast in the apartments and punchy on the climbs. I also really appreciated the true XL size. I’m on the big end of XL at 6’4 ” with long legs and arms.
The effective top tube length (ETT) of 667mm and reach of 498mm felt great even with a short stem. And I never felt cramped, not even on extra long journeys. The head angle of 67.5 degrees and the chainstays of 436 mm are a perfect combination of fast driving and hard driving. I was never afraid to go downhill and release the brakes.
The CBF really works. It’s almost unbelievable how well it isolates pedaling and braking from travel. With the SID shock absorber, I blocked it for longer climbs because it lacks the set-up of something less race-oriented. I would recommend upgrading to the FOX shock or ordering the bike with a lock – or both.
Up front, the SID fork was surprisingly pliable and felt great most of the time. At 230 pounds, I was a little scared that it wouldn’t be able to handle my weight and my driving style. Really, the only minor problem showed up when I repeatedly encountered bumps at high speed – the fork tended to bottom out despite my attempts to tune it. But that was very rare and by no means a deal breaker.
Is the bike perfect? No, but I really had to choose that ranger aside from finding something negative worth mentioning.
I’m a tall guy with long legs so I’m the worst case scenario on pedal strokes with an extra long wheelbase and 175mm cranks. I found myself kicking my pedals a little more than normal. I had to think more about clearing rock gardens and making sure I was choosing good lines and pedal positions.
When I mentioned this to Revel, they quickly sent the FOX FLOAT DPS Factory shock for me to try. The FOX improved the pedal stroke, but did not completely eliminate it. But the bike felt even better. This is an upgrade option that I would recommend. With more tuning and a trail mode in addition to being fully open and locked, I could leave it in trail mode and never wish for more or less trips.
The XL weighed 28.5 pounds with pedals. It’s not bad for an XL full sus bike, but not the lightest out there. While this bike was not designed to be a full-fledged racing bike, I can see that it is a viable option for someone who wants to ride it on Saturday and ride some rowdy trails on Sunday.
Another note: At about 150 miles I noticed the rear end felt a bit sloppy under hard turns, which was a great contrast to how it had felt up to that point. After speaking with Revel, the brand took the bike back to find the problem. Revel found the rear wheel was out of spec and quickly addressed it.
This was an issue the brand believed was resolved in early quality control, but my bikes were sneaking by. Although I had addressed this issue before, the brand announced that they plan to go through all the wheels again. The customer service at Revel is amazing and I am not worried that this could be an issue in the future.
How much do I really like this bike? Enough to buy. Sorry Revel, this one is not coming back. The check is in the mail.
Bottom line (less)
This thing is tearing apart. If you’re looking for an efficient, high-performing XC bike that can get a little noisy when going downhill, this is the bike for you.
Some bikes are a little too big. Others a little too small. But the Revel Ranger is juuuuust correct.