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The Revel Rascal is a good-looking, playful machine that will back you up when the going gets tough, whether that’s uphill or down. It offers a new take on suspension that performs as well as it claims. Teamed up with a sprinkling of finishing kit that will catch the eye of the enthusiast, you’ll know you’re riding something a bit different.
This review first appeared in Singletrack World Magazine issue 135
- Brand: Revel
- Product: Rascal XT Built
- Price: £6,799
- From: Cyclorise
- Review by: Singletrack World Magazine Issue 135
Hannah first saw Revel’s bikes in early 2019, in a car park outside a bike shop in Tucson, Arizona, when they were supposed to still be secret and were still a month or so away from launch. At that time the range consisted of two models: the Rail and the Rascal. Since then Revel’s range has expanded to include another bike – the Ranger – plus their own brand made in the USA recyclable carbon wheels. Oh, and tyre levers, which they also make in the USA, from the prototypes of those wheels.
Since Revel’s launch back then, the Colorado-designed, Chinese-made bikes have been available for worldwide shipping from the company’s Colorado base. That said, sales have been focused in the USA, where the reception has been so positive that demand has outstripped supply. UK distributor Cyclorise will no doubt be hoping that the Revel bike range proves as popular here, and UK customers will likely find the prospect of customer service in the same time zone reassuring. What we have here is the Revel Rascal, a 140mm forked, 130mm rear travel 29er with all-rounder intentions – longer in travel than its sibling the Ranger, but shorter in travel than the 27.5in wheeled Rail.
Our Revel Rascal build reflects Cyclorise’s UK distribution position. It’s broadly the mid-range ‘XT’ build with Burgtec bar and stem, Hunt Trail Wide wheels rather than Revel’s own, and RevGrips grips – another of the brands Cyclorise distributes. We have an upgrade from stock ‘Race Series’ to ‘Pro Series’.
Covid impacts on distribution did change our spec slightly from standard – we have the slightly heavier Hunt Enduro Wide wheels and Shimano two-pot brakes instead of four-pot. Future builds will come with tyres from Cyclorise’s newest brand – Onza – instead of the Maxxis we have. We also had the addition of clear Slicy frame protection – another Cyclorise product – to protect the all-carbon frame.
Step down a touch to the £5,899 SLX build and you get DT Swiss wheels and lose the RevGrips and 140mm ‘Ultimate’ Pike – step up to the £7,799 XTR build and you get RevGrips Pro and Hunt Carbon H-Impact wheels. Plus, of course, the groupsets match the build names. A frame and shock only option is £3,799 if you want to build your own.
Revel’s range of bikes are all carbon fibre front and rear, and all feature the Canfield Balanced Formula (CBF) suspension platform, which first appeared on the Canfield Riot in 2016. Canfield is a name that you might only have heard of if you were around in the ’90s, and riding in the USA. If you are familiar with it, you’ll probably conjure up mind’s eye images of some funky elevated rear triangle/shock interfaces under the Canfield Brothers brand, on bikes often designed with the big hits of their Utah home in mind. When the Canfield brothers went their separate ways, Chris Canfield retained the rights to the CBF and it’s licensed here to Revel Bikes.
There’s none of the funky oddity of the old Canfields, and tucked into the neat frame shape are five pivot points which deliver the CBF suspension. The key claims of the platform are that it delivers maximum pedal efficiency and that it decouples the suspension from braking forces, keeping the wheel tracking the ground. We took to the trails to see whether the hype (and if you look on the web, there’s quite a lot of it) is real.
Riding the Revel Rascal is an interesting experience. There’s a lot of forum hype about the suspension platform – or is it just another carbon bike? It’s not noticeably heavy until you pick up something like a YT Izzo. Then, lifting your bike, you might wonder where all the weight is from. Turn the pedals, however, and the weight seems irrelevant.
The suspension does seem to live up to the hype. It feels like the wheels are tracking along the ground and retaining traction despite any shifts in body weight you might be doing. Whether you’re sitting, standing, or doing a little one-two shuffle up and round an obstacle, the rear wheel just crawls up the terrain, leading to a lot of ‘I didn’t expect to get up/over there’ moments. This is particularly noticeable on the kind of steep-edged upward steps and ledges where you can often find that the front wheel gets caught up just as you lose traction at the rear – with the Rascal, the suspension works to keep the power transferring through the pedals and into your rear wheel without losing grip on the ground, even as you shift your weight rapidly through the bike. It’s a fun experience that led to a certain amount of riding up trails we’d normally ride down, just to see if we could. We never felt any need to flick the shock from ‘open’, and on bumpy off-road climbs it felt more goat-like than others in this test.
That said, the climbing isn’t perfect. On climbs where you just sit and spin and grind it out rather than worry too much about bumps or obstacles, the 75° seat tube angle seemed a little slacker than ideal, particularly if you ride flat pedals, where your foot is more forward relative to the end of the crank. Looking down on the Rascal, there’s the feeling that the BB is more under your nipples than under your belly button. This puts the strain more through your knees than your glutes, which got tiring on long seated climbs. If you’re a flat pedal rider with cranky knees, the position might bother you – if your knees are fine or you ride clips, you might not notice so much. However, all our testers – clipped and flat pedal riders – found themselves putting the saddle forward on the rails and wishing they could get a bit further forward still.
On the descents it only takes a few turns of the pedals and you suddenly realise that you’re going really rather fast on what is not in fact an enduro race bike but actually a 130mm/140mm rear/front travel trail bike. It pays to take time to tweak your fork and shock settings as, thanks to the CBF, it’s only on the descents that you’ll really notice you’ve got them set up wrong. Had those four-pot brakes been available, they’d have been a welcome addition to keep this spritely bike under control. If you like to choose lines and playfully skip round your obstacles, this bike will put a grin on your face but still forgive you when your brain’s decision-making processes are outrun by the bike.
Away from straight-line rocky chatter, find yourself some turns to carve and the balance and agility of the bike is again apparent. It encourages you to play, rather than plough. Sure, you can hang on and get to the bottom by balance alone, but you’ll be missing out that sensation of having figured out the trail rather than just surviving it. That said, it’s not such a lightweight thing that you need to pick a line. You could slim things down here and there if you wanted to, but if you’re looking for lighter and less bike then you should probably be looking elsewhere in the Revel range – the Rascal invites an emphasis on more aggressive descending.
Despite the Slicy frame protection, we did manage to scratch the Revel Rascal in a totally innocuous tumble. More extensive rubbery frame protection wouldn’t go amiss, and we did note that the chainstay protection was starting to peel loose at one edge (and we haven’t been jet washing it). The tight clearances around the linkage gave us no trouble in respect of mud and wintery filth. We’ve not had the bike for long in the scheme of things, but we have done our best to give those pivot bearings a hard time. Everything was still working smoothly, though we did nip a couple of the pivots up tighter after we’d been riding a while. In doing so we clocked that the bottom two pivots aren’t very easily accessible – you have to move the chain guide out of the way to get to one, and with a 30T chainring you can only just get into the other between the teeth. If you wanted a 32T this would become inaccessible. Not an issue for most mortals, but if you like to do a lot of servicing – or race-day fixing – then you might well wish for non-drive-side accessibility.
The CBF suspension elevates the Revel Rascal from ‘another carbon fibre bike’ to a genuine all-rounder. If you’re looking for something that is fun almost everywhere and you want the weight savings – or just prestige – of carbon fibre, then this should definitely be on your shortlist. Between its mountain goat pedalling qualities and its ‘gobble up the descent’ speed, you’ll be hard pushed to find terrain where you’ll wish you had another bike.
Revel Rascal XT Build specification
- Frame // Carbon, 130mm travel
- Shock // RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate Air
- Fork // RockShox Pike Ultimate Black 140mm travel
- Wheels // HUnt Enduro Wide
- Front Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHF 29″ x 2.50″
- Rear Tyre // Maxxis Aggressor 29″ x 2.3in
- Chainset // Shimano Deore XT 12-speed 30T
- Shifter // Shimano Deore XT 12-speed
- Rear Mech // Shimano Deore XT 12-speed
- Cassette // Shimano Deore XT 12-speed 10–51T
- Brakes // Shimano Deore XT 2-pot
- Stem // Burgtec Mk3 42.5mm
- Bars // Burgtec Ride Wide Carbon 800mm
- Grips // RevGrips Pro Series
- Seatpost // BikeYoke Revive 160mm
- BB // Shimano
- Size Tested // M
- Sizes Available // S, M, L, XL
- Weight // 14.15kg (31.2lbs)
Geometry of our size M test bike
- Head angle // 66°
- Effective seat angle // 75°
- Seat tube length // 415mm
- Head tube length // 107mm
- Chainstay // 433mm
- Wheelbase // 1,202mm
- Effective top tube // 610mm
- BB height // 335mm / 38mm BB drop
- Reach // 444mm
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|Product:||Rascal XT Build|
|Tested:||by Singletrack World Magazine for Singletrack World Magazine Issue 135|
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