If you’re a fan of Revel bikes, you know the anticipation has been high for a longer travel Revel 29er! If you’re not familiar with Revel yet, we strongly suggest checking them out and keep reading for our insiders review of the new Revel Rail 29.
Revel is a young brand out of Carbondale, Colorado, quickly making its mark in the carbon trail bike world.
Here at Thunder Mountain Bikes, at least half of our staff has the Revel Rascal 29 as their personal bike.
The Rascal is also a high-end staple in our rental fleet, leaving the same impression that riders typically have for the likes of Ibis, Evil, or Santa Cruz. That’s quite the testament for Revel from our perspective!
Having spent quite a bit of time riding and wrenching on Revel bikes, we are super confident this new Revel Rail 29 will have the same impact on our staff and customers!
Why the Revel Rail 29 is a New Favorite
Let’s review the basics. The Revel Rail 29 has 155mm rear suspension travel and 160mm up front in the fork. Not too much travel, but just enough to put this bike in the big travel category.
Once again, Revel has incorporated Canfield’s CBF suspension platform, which is basically a short dual-link system similar to more popular platforms like DW Link. Revel has done a fantastic job with CBF, and it’s right up there with the best of them.
Another nice upgrade with this new Rail 29 is bigger bearings in the links for increased durability, and every linkage bolt uses a 6mm hex key. That may not sound like a big deal, but if you ever need to work on this bike, requiring only one size hex tool is a nice touch!
Intended use and geometry
The Revel Rail 29 is the model we’ve been hoping for as a perfect fit for the technical trails here in Sedona, Arizona.
Our first impression is that Revel nailed it for technical terrain, with the right amount of suspension travel combined with a modern yet neutral geometry that rewards the majority of trail riders rather than the enduro racer.
What do we mean by this?
Many of the aggressive big travel 29ers coming out these days have extremely slack head angles paired with an extremely long reach and wheelbase measurements.
While this works to give more stability at higher speeds, it’s less agile and maneuverable on tight techy trails - the kind of trails here in Sedona or even Moab. These types of trails are less high speed and more about keeping momentum and balance through rocks, drops, and steep rollers.
The Revel Rail 29 was smartly designed with a 65-degree head angle to be up-to-date with modern bikes but not as extreme.
The reach for a size large is 470mm, which also fits in with up-to-date geometry without being so long that it takes a super aggressive rider to make it come alive.
The best way we can put it - It’s comfortable to ride in uncomfortable terrain!
Climbing and Descending
No review is complete without going over the uphill and downhill performance.
Revel has some magic going on with their CBF suspension tuning, as we found with the Rascal. It’s remarkably efficient while pedaling yet active and smooth on the downhills under braking.
The standout feature to me is that CBF has just the right amount of progression through the suspension stroke.
I realize that is what every bike company is trying to do these days, but Revel may just be the best I’ve ever felt, especially straight out of the box with minimal tuning or fussing over tiny adjustments.
With the Rail 29, our first ride review confirms that magic is still there, all while having more suspension travel to take those bigger hits where the Rascal came up short.
Climbing-wise, the Rail 29 is not the lightest, but it has a light feel while pedaling - most likely because the suspension doesn’t over sag while pedaling through bumpy terrain. And the extra travel does a heck of a job maintaining traction on tricky uphills, which is more important than weight for Sedona-style climbing.
On the downs, the Rail 29 feels confident and intuitive. It’s easy to position for corners and easily tracks through the rough stuff.
The way it soaks up the small chatter is what really sets this bike apart, and if the small chatter feels smoother, you’ll be better set up for the crux moves ahead!