Did you ever have one of those mix-and-match picture books when you were a kid? They were tall skinny spiral-bound treasure chests of cartoon characters or monsters or robots. But each page was divided into a head, a torso and legs so that you could create wacky hybrids that, somehow, would always make an odd sort of sense. It's the kind of thing we often wish we could do with bikes. Of course, you can mix and match components, but that's several steps short of putting a mummy head on Dracula's body with the wolf man's legs. I'm talking about, for example, a bike with Yeti's Switch Infinity but Pole's machined aluminum frame. Or one with Evil's DELTA linkage but Guerrilla Gravity's Revved carbon. Or there's another combination we'd considered back when we tested the Canfield Balance late in 2016. Its CBF linkage is pretty remarkable, but Canfield's frames tend to be remarkably heavy. What if you could get Canfield's CBF on a lighter carbon frame whose construction was orchestrated by, oh maybe, a co-founder of Enve composites?
The co-founder of Why Cycles and the groundbreaking fat-bike brand, Borealis had the same idea when he founded Revel Bike Co. Adam Miller's team consists of the above mentioned co-founder of Enve and more recently Trust Performance, Jason Schiers, as well as Jeremiah Starkley, whose credits include RockShox, Selle Royale and Trust Performance.
Before launching Revel, Adam Miller's creations had exclusively been hardtails. He hadn't found a linkage that did everything he wanted a linkage to do until he rode the Canfield Balance. He approached the Canfield brothers about licensing their CBF linkage, and after two-and-a-half years of design and development, Revel Bike Co was born.
Revel is launching today with two platforms: the Rail and the Rascal. And by "launching," that means these bikes actually exist and are actually in stock in Revel's web store at this very moment. Both the Rail and the Rascal are built around carbon front and rear triangles. Each use threaded BSA bottom brackets and standard Boost 148×12-millimeter rear axles. Every frame pivot on each bike uses the same standard bearings, which are doubled up everywhere but on the shock wishbone.
And of course, each frame is suspended by Canfield's CBF linkage. The goal of the parallel-link design is total isolation of pedaling and suspension forces. That's not entirely unique, and at first glance, neither is CBF. But a peek under the hood shows what sets CBF apart. The suspension's "instant center," which is sort of another way of saying its "virtual pivot point," is far more stationary than on most parallel-link designs. And that center is far closer (both vertically and horizontally) to the point where the chain meets the chainring while pedaling. That allows the anti-squat values to stay near 100 percent through most of the stroke and most of the gear range. In the case of the Canfield Balance we tested, it works. We'll be getting time on the Rail and the Rascal in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, let's take a quick first look at each of them.The Rail is a 27.5-inch, 165-millimeter rear travel, 170-millimeter front travel enduro machine. None of its numbers are out of the ordinary, implying this bike might want the suspension to do the talking.The Rascal is a 29-inch, 130-millimeter rear, 140-front trail all-rounder. Its geometry numbers tell the story of a bike meant to do a bit more thrashing than most mid-travel 29ers.
Revel's build kits are heavy with rider-driven brands. Every one specs a DVO fork, with other options in the higher end. There's also a lot of Industry Nine, Crankbrothers and even Orange Seal in the lineup. In both models, a bare frame and RockShox Super Deluxe goes for $2,600. A GX build goes for $5,000, X01 for $6,500, XX1 / Enve for $8,700. But you get a little bonus when you buy a complete bike from Revel.
Because this is 2019, Revel sells consumer-direct. Once you've picked your bike, it will arrive to you in an EVOC travel case. Not only does that make the build experience easier for you, it cuts down on the huge amount of packaging it takes to ship a bike to you. In fact, Revel took steps to lessen its environmental impacts whenever possible.
Right now, there are just two pins in Revel's dealer network, which isn't exactly a network. That could change in the future, but it's clear Revel is focused on dealing with its customers personally. That allows for some custom build options, including an assurance you'll get the longest dropper post your inseam will allow.
Revel is hitting the demo circuit hard, and will be at the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival this weekend, at Moab Thaw from March 8 thru 10, and at Sea Otter Classic from April 11 thru 14. Or, if you're in Revel's back yard of Carbondale, Colorado, you can always stop by and try one out.
We'll be trying one out in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for our take on what the new kid brought to class.