I have to preface this love letter - I mean review - by saying that I’m relatively new to gravel bikes and road riding, but I have been riding mountain bikes for the better part of 20 years. However, I think that gives me an opportunity to write about the Revel Rover from a unique perspective that you may have not found on platforms that have reviewed this bike.
I had previously spent some time on an O.P.E.N. prior to getting the opportunity to spend a few months on the Rover. I left my experience on the O.P.E.N feeling slightly awkward on the bike, narrowly avoiding multiple crashes, and with a mild case of brain and bone rattle. Don’t get me wrong, that bike was fast but it just wasn’t for me. It felt like giving a Ferrari to a guy who wanted a truck. Sure, most everyone thinks they would be happy with a Ferrari, but if that’s your only car is that the one you’d want to take an uncharted backroad in? Get muddy? Or get lost in?
From the day I threw a leg over the Rover, I felt at home. I felt comfortable. I felt like I wanted to map routes from my doorstep that became incredible multi-surfaced adventures and quickly became part of my riding routine. Living in the heart of Los Angeles, I would often begin by climbing steep canyons on the road, and then linking them into some amazing fire roads and single track we have around here. Don’t think LA has anything like this? See: Dirt Mulholland, Griffith Park and Backbone Trail in Malibu. All of these were now accessible from my front doorstep. No car needed.
There is a noticeable and incredible ride quality about this bike. Do not confuse that statement to think this bike is too compliant or flexy, because it’s not. It offers so much power delivery. It just doesn’t hurt to ride. Especially when you’re coming from five or six inch travel mountain bikes, this trait was very welcomed. This ended up being one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with this bike. The ride quality inspired me to ride more, ride further, and ride longer. Once I realized I had five mounting points for bottles and bags, all-day rides became possible.
This bike is fast, too. It’s a featherweight by my standards, weighing in at 17 lbs and 13 oz with my egg beaters on, those burly 45mm Maxxis Rambler tires it comes with, and the non-weightweeny-friendly WTB Volt saddle. Toss a road saddle on this beauty, some 32mm tires, some titanium egg beaters and you’d have a sub-17 pound bike, if that’s what you’re into. Compared to my 30 pound trail bike, I was on a bike that was nearly 13 pounds lighter than what I was used to. Admittedly I was spoiled and got to spend time on Revel’s top end spec of this bike. Complete with the SRAM’s Red AXS drivetrain, RED ETap AXS Hydro brakes, and Revel’s own RW23 carbon wheels, laced to i9 Torch hubs. Undoubtedly, it was an amazing build. Sure, the shifting and braking was amazing, but that’s to be expected with these components. But, the magic didn’t come from the build. It came from the frame and wheels. Fire roads, bad pavement, it handled them all with ease and confidence. There were a handful of Sundays I decided I wanted to go to the beach from my doorstep. I’d mount my two large bottles, some snacks, and just go. I also under-biked the Rover multiple times on some singletrack, and with some smart line choice it soaked up more than I thought was possible on a gravel bike. I’d get spit out at the bottom of a trailhead smiling, and catch a paved canyon descent in my best rendition of an aero tuck to get home. I’m still having dreams about those days now that I’ve had to return the bike back to Revel.
I would recommend the Revel Rover to anyone who has a mountain bike background and wants a gravel bike that can go fast, is capable, rides like butter, and can seriously rip. Maybe you’re hesitant and thinking, “What’s all this gravel stuff about?” Just hop on the Rover and trust me, you’ll have fun. I don’t have the race pedigree to recommend this bike to seasoned gravel riders, but if I did, I would because I’m not sure what else you could ask for in a gravel bike. It also served as an incredible training bike for me. I quickly found myself clearing technical sections on my mountain bike that I would previously put my foot down on, and my endurance noticeably improved. One of my most proud moments on this bike was a day where I passed a guy on a road climb in full lycra on a Pinarello. After I dropped him, I then hooked right to a fire road. Believe it or not, this is a true story. I’m not saying I’m pro now, but I am saying I got faster, stronger, and had a lot of fun doing it.
There are so many scientific ways to measure if a bike is “good” in this day and age but my scientific analysis of this bike is that I just purely wanted to ride it. I found myself riding more and by my scientific measurements, that’s what matters.
Photos and words by Patrick Lewey