Revel’s Ranger, a 115mm bike that claims to be ready for anything from XC to trail, is definitely a downhill bike, if I wanted to use a trending term. This will be my long-term test bed throughout 2022.
After spending all of last year on my trusty Marin El Roy long term bike and the Lauf True Grit, I was keen to jump to the other end of the mountain bike spectrum and get my hands on something nice and light, and all was well, much friendlier in the hills!
UK Revel distributor Cyclorise sent me a frameset for the year, which I’ve fitted with a range of components that I think will suit the bike well.
Revel Ranger Custom Build Specs & Details
I originally designed this build as a fairly light XC-DC (cross country-downcountry) bike. That means thin forks, light wheels and fast-rolling rubber.
The bike is happy to take a 120mm fork, and so Fox’s 34 SC Performance takes center stage. The SC stands for Step Cast – it’s the stepped lower legs that reduce weight and create the fork’s narrower stature. The 34mm uprights remain though, so chassis stiffness isn’t affected too much.
The Performance-level fork gets the relatively basic GRIP damper—it’s not as externally adjustable as the FIT4, but its sealed cartridge works well. Plus it’s upgradable in the future if I want a little more control over the performance of the fork.
I went to Silt for the wheels. Silt is an emerging brand, offering value-for-money wheels with their own (very noisy!) freewheel.
The XC Carbon model I have is £800, which is very cheap for carbon hoops, and yet weighs 1400g on my scale for the pair. Their 27mm internal width gives plenty of volume to the Schwalbe tires I’ve hopped on so far – a Nobby Nic up front and the excellent Wicked Will out back.
I wanted a fast rolling rubber set that still has some bite in the mud. While the Addix Speed compound isn’t the stickiest, I hope the Nobby Nic’s new tread pattern works on the hill, and I know the Wicked Will does its job pretty well.
We all know transmission availability is limited right now, so I rummaged around the office for some gears. If I had found a GX or SLX drivetrain, I would have been really happy. However, I found an XTR crank, shifter and derailleur, and thought it would be rude to say no.
That left me looking for a few finishing parts—Unite pulled a 34t direct-mount chainring for the cranks, while Hope provided me with a threaded bottom bracket. I also hopped on Hope’s lightweight XCR brakes which I reviewed in 2021.
Just like the transmission, I dug around for the rest of the build. A PNW Loam dropper holds a remarkably light Fabric ALM saddle that had been on my road bike for a few years, and I found a 50mm long Race Face stem and 800mm Nukeproof bar in the garage.
Revel Ranger Custom Build Specification
- Sizes (*tested): S, M*, L, XL
- Framework: Carbon
- Fork: Fox 32 SC Performance, 120mm
- Joysticks: Shimano XTR
- Derailleurs: Shimano XTR
- Cranks: Shimano XTR, 34t Unite chainring
- Pair of wheels: Silt XC Carbon
- Tires: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29×2.4 Addix Speed (f), Wicked Will 29×2.4 Addix Speed (r)
- Brakes: Hope XCR 180/160 Rotors
- Bar: Nukeproof Horizon 800mm
- Stem: RaceFace Aeffect 50mm
- Saddle stem : PNO
- Saddle: ALM fabric
Revel Ranger custom build geometry
The geometry of the bike is modern, without being excessively “out there”.
This means the reach is good at 473mm (wide) and there is a short seat tube measuring 439mm, allowing for longer droppers.
The head angle isn’t super slack at 67.5 degrees and the 75.3 degree seat angle isn’t too steep – although with the saddle pushed forward and back not too saggy, it’s a comfortable place.
Revel Ranger Geometry
Why did I choose this bike?
The Ranger is a 115mm downhill bike. I tested a complete Ranger earlier in 2022 and loved its cheeky demeanor on the trails, with punchy pedaling performance and still just enough bank to get me out of trouble…most of the time!
Over the past few months, I’ve been accumulating bits and pieces to put on it. The goal is to build a fairly light and fast bike, and I will try to use parts from smaller brands whenever possible. Over the course of the year, however, I might see how far I can push the downcountry credentials—can it take and revel in big forks and grunt tires? Time will tell us.
An efficient crankset deserves long rides, so between local trails as close as possible, I have a few long-distance tricks up my sleeve.
It will be seated in a stable of three regular rides. A Lauf True Grit (my long-term BikeRadar 2021 bike) provides adventurous fun at the curly bar, while a Marin El Roy will take center stage when I need a bike with a wheelbase that stretches. extends until next week. As such, the Ranger should be the perfect “medium” vehicle.
Revel Ranger Custom Build Initial Setup
Since the bike is still fairly new to me, it is largely set up according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
I run about 22 percent sag in the rear, which I found to be the best balance of comfort and pedaling efficiency when I tested the complete bike.
I stuck a few more psi in the forks, compared to the sticker on the rear – just for personal preference.
The brakes are set relatively low angle, which is my preference, but with only the adjustable lever reach, I had to balance the bite point and the lever reach – it’s still not perfect.
The tires are inflated to 22 psi in the front and 24 psi in the rear, with 60ml of any sealant I could tinker with in my garage closet!
I’m swapping between Shimano XTR Race and Crankbrothers Mallet pedals, as I’m testing shoes right now and want to test each shoe with both pedal systems (as well as the Nukeproof Horizon CL pedals, to see how they interact with a flat -larger shape).
As someone totally averse to bike maintenance, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the bike was to build. Internal cable routing was spot on, with minimal jerking needed to get all the exteriors and hoses from the bar to the rear triangle or dropper. I’m also a die-hard fan of threaded bottom brackets – big tick, Revel.
Revel Ranger Custom Driving Impressions
Thanks to ongoing testing of the Bike of the Year, I didn’t spend as much time on the bike as I would like. However, I certainly had a few opportunities to open the throttle and get a good idea of how the year is going to unfold.
As I noted in my first ride review of Revel’s complete Ranger, getting the suspension sag just right is a little trickier than on long-travel bikes, especially when balancing pedaling performance. and smoothness through the pedals.
I set it up pretty well, though. In power, the Ranger doesn’t give many excuses. Efforts from a standing position result in punchy acceleration, encouraging you to push a little harder until your lungs give out. There is a bit of rear tire scrabble when you do this, but it’s a harder compound rubber, so it’s forgivable in wet winter conditions.
Sitting down, the suspension doesn’t rob power, but allows the rear wheel to roam over jarring stretches of rock. This means it’s easy to keep the pedals going.
Downward performance also looks strong. The shape is good for a bike with so much travel. It’s not a super long hitter, so you have to go back to your expectations on the steepest and most difficult descents, but throw it in a wooded trail or rally it on a descent in the center of the trail and it comes back ask for more.
In terms of kit, there is not much to complain about. Shimano’s XTR drivetrain is, in my opinion, the best cable actuated gears out there. The Hope XCR brakes are good, if not the most punchy, and aside from the freewheel volume, the Silt wheels are wide, comfortable and inflate easily.
The Fox 34SC is also a decent fork. I really like the simple GRIP shock – it has a lighter tune than the GRIP2, so it doesn’t feel as harsh on loud descents.
Revel Ranger Custom Build Upgrades
As I specified the bike, hopefully I won’t need to upgrade much.
There are rumors of a new suspension being released later this year, and it looks like I might get a new pair of forks sooner.
I’m really happy with the Ranger in a lighter build with 120mm forks, but Revel says the bike can take 130mm. So at some point I think there will be 10mm more squish up front, in a sturdier chassis.
As such, as we get closer to summer, I anticipate the Ranger to get a more advanced build into trail bike territory. This will cover the forks, maybe the shock and the tires. Everything else should be more than capable of dealing with whatever the 130mm forks can throw up.
As one of the technical writers for BikeRadar and MBUK I will inevitably get some kit to try on the bike, so keep your eyes peeled for that.