Revel Rascal: First Ride Review
enduro-lite — full flavor with half the calories
Revel is a brand new bike brand with an impressive pedigree. That’s why their first offering in the full-squish MTB market doesn’t suck. In fact, it’s downright impressive, especially on the downs (see what I did there?) We’ve all heard the really annoying “it rides like it has way more travel than it does” phrase. In this case it’s kind of true — and kind of not. It rides big, but still feels like a mid-travel trail bike — most of the time. The times when you spend 2 hours climbing above 7000’ it feels just like you’d want a trail bike to feel. But, the times when you pull up, huck to flat, get off line and the bike saves your derrière, it feels like a big, forgiving bike. Maybe a better way of saying it is, the Rascal has no business descending as well at it does. All the numbers say “trail bike.” However, after giving it a proper thrashing, I’d say its more enduro-lite. Full flavor with half the calories.
The Rascal likes getting loose.
Sizing and build kits
I rode the XL Rascal. I’m 6’2” and pretty lanky. The fit is comfortable — I wouldn’t consider going to another size. The reach felt nice and roomy for a trail bike, giving the Rascal its confident demeanor. The overall wheelbase is long without being extreme. That means when you hop on the Rascal it just feels like a mountain bike. You don’t have to change the way you ride to get it around a corner or tight switchback. The seated position felt a little on the slack side, but then again I've been riding the Ripley, Ripmo and Megatower recently. All three of those bikes are in the new wave of steep seat tube bikes — something I’ve really come to appreciate. The Rascal’s 75° seat tube isn’t really all that slack, but it’s noticeable when compared to those other bikes. The head tube angle feels about spot on for a bike meant to go both up and down mountains. It didn’t leave me feeling outgunned on the steeps, but it kept cornering and climbing easier. All in all I’d have to say the geometry just felt balanced.
I rode this bike blind. I didn’t research geo numbers before throwing a leg over it. I really like doing this as it lets me get a feel for how the bike actually rides without preconceived notions influencing my opinion. I also like to guess what some of the numbers might be. Based on my guesses you can see how I felt the bike rode. I guessed the reach and wheelbase were longer than the actual numbers because the bike felt so stable in the chunk. I guessed the head tube was slacker because I didn’t feel nervous in the steeps. These guess charts can tell you a lot about how I felt about the bikes ride characteristics.
Let’s talk build kits. I rode the XO1 Eagle kit with the optional upgrade to Enve M6 wheels. The build leaves nothing to be desired. Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything out of the box. I especially appreciated the Ergon contact points. The high-end saddle and grips are a very nice touch. That build in XL weighs a respectable 30lbs. Now, you might be saying to yourself “Self, 30lbs is a little portly for a 130mm trail bike.” You wouldn’t be wrong. The Rascal is a tad on the heavy side — especially compared to the Ibis Ripley, which on paper is very similar to the Rascal. In the real world they are very different bikes. I’d argue the Rascal is much closer to a Ripmo or Hightower. When you put it in that category, 30lbs is rather respectable. Now to address why I’d lump it in with longer travel, big hitters.
Let’s set the record straight. The Rascal does not climb poorly. It climbs much like you’d imagine a trail bike should. You hit the gas and it moves forward without any fuss or excessive bobbing. It’s not “Ibis” efficient but its much better than other bikes with the same descending chops. The geo puts you in a comfortable climbing position — not too cramped and not too stretched out. The seat tube is slightly slacker than its contemporaries, but not by much. At 75° it is comfortable without making the cockpit feel too cramped or tight. The Rascal is more of a sit and spin style climber than it is a stand and sprint bike.
The Rascal starts to impress with tougher terrain— the rockier and rootier the better. When climbing steep, technical pitches, it glides over the top of all the obstacles in your way. I’d love to give it a spin on the technical climbs on Captain Ahab. I think it would really shine there. On my test track I was able to clean sections I’m about 80% on usually. These sections have tight switchbacks, steep punchy pitches littered with pedal grabbing rocks and plenty of roots. I didn’t have any pedal strikes in the rocky bits and there was great traction over roots and steep punchy climbs.
Oh my loam
The descents are where the Rascal shows its true intentions. It really comes alive the harder you push it. Dropping into the first rough descent of the day, I was completely caught off guard by how hard the bike wants to push. I wasn’t expecting a 130mm trail bike to handle the roots and bumps as well as it does. It’s tough to describe, but the best comparison I could come up with is it feels like an enduro bike that has a firm suspension setup. Not in a pogo, get rattled around kind of way — more of a snappy tune that gets off the ground easily. The Rascal doesn’t hug the ground as well as say the Megatower, but it is surprisingly planted. By the second descent of the day I felt pretty confident holding it open on tough sections of trail. I even tried some spicy inside lines that I had eyed up for a few years, but had never hit.
In the tighter sections of trail I really appreciated the way the Rascal was quick to respond to steering input. It wasn’t difficult to get the bike to lean over and get it around a corner. On the upper rooty bit of the first descent (in the video above) I was easily able to pump in and out of corners generating speed. When the trail got steeper and bumpier I could feel the back end bouncing around a little. Not an unmanageable amount of bouncing but more than a plush, long-travel bike would have. I guess that’s to be expected with only 130mm of travel. In fact, I’d expect a lot less of that planted feeling than the rascal provided.
The Rascal’s suspension felt very progressive. It ramped up nicely and I never once noticed a harsh bottom out. I ran the bike right at 30% sag and was barely able to reach full travel. I’d even consider removing a spacer or going to a smaller one. I wouldn’t want to reduce the air pressure to reach full travel though. Right at 30% the pedal performance was good, not great. Any more sag and I think things would be way too squishy.
The praises to sing & the nits to pick
Progressive Suspension Platform
High Quality Finish
A Tad Portly
Only Fits a Small Bottle