Words by: Liam Woods
With modern geometry making mountain bikes of all travel ranges more fun than they have ever been, the new Revel Ranger is a fun and efficient 115mm travel 29” bike designed with CBF suspension. The Ranger is made for the everyday rider while being extremely efficient and fast. You will find more of a trail style build kit offered for the Ranger, putting this bike in, dare I say, the “downcountry” category of XC or trail bikes. If you haven't yet heard of Revel Bikes, you either don't read many of our articles and bike reviews, or you are riding under rocks. Either way, Revel Bikes is still a fairly new brand in the full suspension mountain bike world but they have quickly risen to the top with their Rascal and Rail bikes, both of which we have full video reviews on.
The crew over at Revel Bikes really packed some amazing features into the new Ranger. While having some modern geometry, it's not quite the lowest or slackest, but it is pretty long for bikes in this category. After spending some time on the Ranger, a few highlights that pop up for me are the CBF rear suspension that seems to really have some of the best balanced performance across any suspension design in my opinion, as well as the geometry as a whole package. Sometimes when you ride a bike, there is one part of the geometry that sticks out, whether it's good or bad, be it a slack headtube angle, a short snappy chainstay, or a really steep seat tube angle. For the Ranger, I felt like the bike had a completeness to it that all worked together to give an amazing on trail feeling.
As mentioned above, the Ranger has not only a modern take on short travel geometry, but it also works extremely well as an overall package. We wouldn't expect anything less from Revel as their first two bikes share this same feeling, and we have loved it since day one. The Ranger has some key numbers that make this bike feel so balanced. Starting with the front end, the headtube angle is a modest 67.5 degrees. While that is really slack for this category, this bike is not meant to replace your enduro bike. It's a great short travel trail ripper and the 67.5 headtube angle with the 120mm stock fork is a great number. If you wanted to overfork the Ranger to 130mm, you would get closer to a 66 degree number. It would perform very well, I think, with a 130mm fork, yet we did not test that. Some other numbers that contribute to this balanced feel are the 436mm chainstays and the 75.3 seat tube angle. Both those also fall right in the middle as far as modern geometry goes, but Revel didn't just put things in the middle for no reason. The 75.3 degree seat tube isn't actually all that steep compared to some bikes on the market, but also remember this is not a heavy enduro bike with a long fork you are trying to keep on the ground. While steep is great for those types of bikes, it doesn't actually lend to the best pedal stroke, hence the slightly slacker 75.3 degrees on the Ranger. I found this to put you in a very comfortable position on the bike and your pedal stroke is super smooth while still having your weight far enough forward over the front end for all day riding. The chainstay is also a nice compromise, giving the Ranger a very stable, yet fun feel for only having 115mm travel.
The CBF suspension design is hands down one of the best designs I have ridden. From the Canfield Riot, to the Revel Rascal and Rail, some of the characteristics are almost magical when it comes to pedal efficiency as well as off the top compliance and overall stroke support. With the center of curvature resting right above the chainline, you are able to really get after it while climbing without any bob or loss of power and still deliver traction to the back wheel. We have a full video explaining this CBF suspension design with the man Chris Canfield himself. More on how this bike performs on the trail below.
The Ranger has 115mm of rear travel and 120mm of front travel designed around 29” wheels. Frame spacing is the normal 12 x 148 Boost and it also has a threaded bottom bracket, so everyone can rejoice that most of their current parts will transfer over. Some other great stock frame specs to see are the custom chain guide made for the Ranger as well as large tire clearance in the rear, fitting up to a 2.6 inch tire if you want to go big. Rounding out the specs is a 160mm post mount rear brake rotor if you want to run some small, light rotors as well as a IS42/52 headset size. Nothing funky, everything functional from Revel Bikes. Our test bike with the stock X01 build and Revel RW30 carbon wheels (bike as pictured with front and rear remote lockout, no pedals) weighed in at 27lbs on the dot.
Now the good stuff, how the Revel Ranger performs! As mentioned earlier, we found the Ranger to be a fun and efficient short travel ripper. With modern geometry playing a big role in how short travel bikes feel now, both Jeff and I really like riding this style of bike. Something that is so fast when it comes to pedaling, yet you can really push the limit when going downhill, especially for a bike of this travel range. One of the first bikes that had a similar feel was the classic Yeti SB4.5, with 114mm of rear travel, you could really ride it hard and push the limits.
RockShox SID Ultimate - 77psi, 1 token
RockShox SIDLuxe - 175psi, 1 Token
Maxxis Dissector 2.4 Front tire - 23 psi
Maxxis Rekon 2.4 Rear tire - 27 psi
10mm of spacers under the stem
Bike weighed in at 27lbs as pictured (remote lockout, no pedals)
When I hop on a bike with 120mm of rear travel or less, I like it to be efficient when pedaling...well I like bikes of all travel to be efficient when pedaling, but more so under that 120mm range. The Ranger kills it when it comes to being efficient. Lots of that is to do with the CBF suspension. While climbing on smooth terrain and the suspension is open, there is little to no pedal induced bob. While our test bike had the optional front and rear remote lockout, I found myself not needing to use the remote lockout to get efficiency out of the Ranger. What I found to really awaken the Ranger was the technical and rocky singletrack climbing. The CBF stays planted by conforming to the trail, giving the rear tire tons of traction to clear the hardest sections of trail. The overall geometry package has a lot to do with the way it climbs as well. With the headtube angle at a snappy 67.5 degrees, you are able to make quick movements, making changing direction on trail and making it around switchbacks super easy. If you have only spent time on your trail or enduro bike with big heavy tires and soft, long travel forks, I highly suggest you get on a new and modern short travel bike.
This is where Jeff and I really like the short travel bikes. Yes, they get to the top easily, yes they make you feel fast. But if you haven’t pushed what a short travel bike can do within the last few years, it’s a really easy way to put a big, stupid grin on your face. The Ranger excelled at that exactly. With the right balance of fun and stability, I found you could hit all the side lines, or get after it on a trail that most people wouldn't dare riding a 115mm bike on.
One of the larger rides I completed on the Ranger was a four hour backcountry loop behind Santa Barbara. The trails back there are steep, rugged, and fast. While lots of the ride consisted of long climbs and traverses, there are some sweet singletrack descents that if I was just doing those I would have opted for a 130mm travel bike, at minimum. Since it was a four hour ordeal with 6k of elevation gain, the Ranger made more sense. On the last descent of the day, Arroyo Burro singletrack backside, you have a tight and narrow singletrack with a couple steep rock gardens that could put any rider out for a dirt nap. There were two times I went into the section with too much speed and ended up getting a bit rowdy. While I could for sure tell that I was too far in over my head for the bike's travel, the Ranger did surprisingly well and managed to keep me on trail. I did use all the front and rear travel on some of the larger hits. I did not add any spacers to the fork or shock from the way the bike was sent, although I did talk to Revel and RockShox about adding spacers to the new SIDLuxe. There is an option for “0, 1 Token, or 2 Token” spacers, and it is possible to add one more rear volume spacer to help get a bit more ramp up. For my personal setup, I would like to try the larger rear shock spacer, but for everyday riding and how this bike is designed, the rear end was able to handle drops and impacts without issues for the amount of travel it has.
Once you got to open the bike up on some smoother, faster trails, there was a certain comfort and speed you felt while riding the Ranger. The front end picks up easily and the Ranger also feels extremely comfortable when going off decent sized jumps. While I didn't get to try anything too big like at a bike park, the Ranger performed on all types of terrain with confidence.
You may notice this isn't exactly your typical XC build spec, with 2.4 Maxxis tires and SRAM G2 brakes, the Ranger is made for the everyday rider. Yes, you can choose lighter, thinner tires and lighter two piston brakes, but that would limit the amount of fun you can have while riding downhill. I am actually really stoked on the way Revel chooses to spec out the Ranger. It has everything you need and nothing you don't. There is also the option for front and rear remote lockouts if that is your thing.
How does this bike compare to other bikes in this category? Well when thinking about it, there aren’t too many bikes with 115mm rear travel. You have the Yeti SB100 and Mondraker F-Podium that are new, modern 100mm travel bikes, and then you have the Evil Following and Santa Cruz Tallboy with 120mm travel and much more aggressive geometry. I would say it's closer to the feel of the Yeti SB100 or Mondraker F-Podium in the sense they both have 120mm forks and similar snappy trail feel.
The Revel Ranger reach numbers are actually longer across the same size than both the SB100 and F-Podium, with the SB100 having a 453mm reach for a size Large, the F-Podium having a 470mm reach on the size Large, and the Ranger having a 473mm Reach for the size Large. The headtube angle is also slightly slacker than the SB100 yet not quite as slack as the F-Podium. What really shines on the Ranger compared to either of these bikes is how the rear end performs. The Ranger really has more traction while climbing as well as flat cornering, and it is also a bit more comfortable and forgiving as well. While it does have 15mm more rear travel to add to that, I would say that it is just as efficient despite having 15mm more rear travel, so I don’t think there’s a drawback to having slightly more suspension. I found myself able to stay more stable on the Ranger at the end of long rides than the Yeti or the Mondraker, both of which I’ve spent a significant amount of time on. Going downhill the Ranger also feels a bit more capable, again while having more rear travel you would expect that, but the Mondraker was also a bit more slack. I just think the rear end didn’t work quite as well as the CBF equipped Ranger did.
For their third full suspension bike, I think Revel struck some gold in the Ranger. While being a very fun and efficient 115mm travel bike, you can also ride this thing like a hooligan and really push the limits of what a short travel bike is capable of. Being spec’d with proper Maxxis rubber, four piston SRAM brakes and RockShox SID suspension front and rear, the Ranger is a whole lot of fun packed into a small package. Want to get out for an all day ride with some serious climbing? Grab the Ranger. Want to have fun on your typical trail loop? Grab the Ranger. Sending this test bike back is going to be hard as it has quickly become my go-to bike to grab for just about anything.
This article was written / authored by Liam Woods. Liam has been in the bicycle industry for over 10 years as a racer, professional mechanic, service manager and as of late, media and content creator. Liam has ridden thousands of different bikes, ridden countless components, tested endless MTB apparel of all kinds and written reviews on it all. He's a key piece to the Worldwide Cyclery "All Things MTB" content creation puzzle. He also makes consistent appearances on the Worldwide Cyclery YouTube channel and Instagram.