2023 Revel Ranger Review
The 2023 Revel Ranger was just revamped and rereleased, and we had the chance to put this short-travel full-suspension 29er through its paces before today’s launch. Find out what’s changed and dig in to the full review here…
Initially released in 2020, the Revel Ranger integrated the Canfield Balance Formula (CBF) suspension linkage into a short-travel cross-country bike, promising efficiency and high-level performance. We didn’t test the original version, but we heard good things from a handful of people who did. One bit of feedback that stood out was that its capability went well above what its relatively conservative geometry might lead you to believe. The new 2023 Revel Ranger got several significant changes, so I’m glad we waited until now. We’ve been testing the revamped Ranger on trail rides and loaded up during a bikepacking trip in Moab. Watch the detailed video review of the new Revel Ranger below, and scroll down to find specs and details about what’s changed and more.
In summary, the Revel Ranger is a true short-travel 29er with a full carbon frame built around 115mm of rear travel and a 120mm fork. For 2023, the Carbondale, Colorado-based company reworked the Revel Ranger with increased tire and chainring clearance and a one-tool linkage system for easier serviceability and longer bearing life. They didn’t change any geometry numbers on this version, but they updated the rear triangle with an improved carbon layup that they claim achieves 20% more stiffness with no added weight. They also added all new linkages, made the bike Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH) compatible, and replaced the shock mounting hardware with fancy titanium bits. The frame continues to come with an integrated headset, a threaded bottom bracket, and chainstay and downtube protectors. Revel also introduced a new color and made some changes to the build kit. Here’s the full spec list with changes from Revel:
- Updated Paint and Decals: Now available in “Tang” which is borrowed from the Rail 27.5, and the classic “De La Coal” color, with new copper/gold decals.
- New Rear Triangle on the new Ranger has an improved carbon layup that achieves 20% more stiffness with no added weight!
- All New links
- All New hardware package: Titanium shock mounting hardware
- SRAM UDH derailleur hanger and Electronic Transmission drivetrain compatibility
- Custom shock tune from RockShox
- Bolstered Frame Protection: A rear triangle debris guard now comes standard on every New Ranger frame along with robust chainstay protection, as found on Rail29, which makes for a quieter ride
- Threaded Bottom Bracket
- Integrated IS 52/42 standard headset
- Fully guided internal routing
- Multiple bottle and accessory mount options: 3 sets (2 on size small)
Canfield Balanced Formula (CBF)
Like all of their full-suspension bikes, Revel uses the Canfield Balanced Formula pivot and linkage design on the Ranger. The brainchild of Canfield Brothers, CBF was created to perform well though the entirety of the bike’s travel, as opposed to having a sweet spot for a particular point in the travel, as some other designs claim. They approached this by aligning the pivot with the center of curvature instead of the instant center while also dialing in the anti-squat and anti-rise characteristics. Through all this, they claim that the CBF design balances the bike, providing efficient pedaling capabilities but not at the expense of quality descending.
It’s an interesting design, but there’s no way to fully understand it until you ride a CBF bike. I was excited to test out the bike to try to understand what the hype was all about. Even after my first ride on the 2023 Revel Ranger, it was clear that CBF offers a unique set of ride characteristics. Most importantly, it pedals very nicely in a wide variety of conditions. The key word here is pedal. The bike seemed to encourage me to keep pedaling through obstacles and tricky sections where I might normally get hung up. It’s like it kept pushing me forward and helping me maintain momentum. The Ranger kept me on top of the pedal stroke instead of working behind it, so to speak.
All that said, this isn’t a defining feature of CBF, as I’ve also had the same experience with some Split Pivot designs and other full-suspension platforms. Still, with the Ranger, I found that I almost always preferred keeping the shock fully open. It’s a much more comfortable ride but still extremely efficient. It almost felt like I was able to exit technical bits with as much momentum as I entered. And when out bikepacking all day, that efficiency goes a long way, saving you fatigue and time. I’ll add that the Ranger is very stiff when locked out—paired with the RockShox SID Luxe and a medium frame. I occasionally flipped the lockout on well-graded gravel roads or pavement.
Revel Ranger Geometry
There’s nothing too surprising in the Ranger’s geometry numbers. With a conservative 67.5° head tube angle, 436mm chainstays, and a 1170mm wheelbase (on the medium), it’s clearly an XC or “downcountry” bike. The 453mm reach was a touch shorter than I would like, but it complemented the 75.3° seat tube angle, putting me in a pretty good position for most of my riding. However, I found myself on the front end of the saddle or standing up when I needed to tackle a steep uphill section of trail.
As a 5’ 9.5” rider, The bike actually fit me very well despite the fact that I find myself in between Revel’s sizes. I sized down to ensure I wasn’t losing any of those cross-country characteristics while also having a slightly smaller bike to maneuver. Something you might notice right off the bat is the relatively short standover numbers; 699 millimeters on the medium looks a little strange when you see that it has a lot of exposed seat tube. But the seat tube comes in at 403mm and has plenty of space to run a pretty long dropper post. The medium came with a 150mm post, but I could go bigger if I wanted.
2023 Revel Ranger Build Kit
This test bike was specced with the Eagle X0 Transmission build kit. Find the components list below and some thoughts on the kit underneath.
- Build: XO EAGLE TRANSMISSION
- Frame: Revel Ranger 29″ 115mm Travel
- Fork: RockShox SID Ultimate 120mm
- Shock: RockShox SID Luxe Ultimate
- Wheelset: Revel RW27 28H Rims, Industry Nine Hydra Hubs
- Headset: Cane Creek 40-series
- Tubeless: Stans No tubes Single shots x2
- Front Tire: Maxxis Dissector 29″ x 2.4″ EXO
- Rear Tire: Maxxis Rekon 29″ x 2.4″ EXO
- Bars: RaceFace NEXT R 35 800mm x 20mm Rise
- Stem: RaceFace Turbine R 35 x 40mm
- Dropper: Crank Brothers Highline 7SM, 31.6mm x 150mm
- Saddle: WTB Volt CroMo Black
- Brakes: SRAM Level Silver
- Rotors: SRAM HS2 6-Bolt 180mm Front / 160mm Rear
- Shifter: SRAM AXS Shifter Pod Ultimate
- RearDerailleur: SRAM X0 ET
- Chain: SRAM X0 ET T-Type
- Cassette: SRAM X0 ET T-Type
- Crankset: SRAM X0 Eagle T-Type 170mm 32t
- Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB BSA Wide
- Grips: Lizard Skins Charger Evo Grip Black
- Seatpost Collar: Revel 34.9mm Dia
As mentioned, the Revel Ranger is now built around the SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger, and this particular XO build came with the new Eagle Transmission reviewed here. After 150 more miles on the driver, I’m not only more amazed by its ability to shift under load, but I’m surprised how well it worked in really crummy conditions.
I was impressed with the SID fork and shock, and not just because of their minimal weight. The fork is nothing like an older version I tried, which I found to be a bit of a noodle. Rather, it felt similar to my Fox 34. Both the lockouts on the shock and fork make the bike impressively rigid too.
The Ranger builds have a few wheelset options, but the bike we tested came with Revel’s own RW27 wheels made with epoxy-free, recyclable carbon. The bike as a whole felt very comfortable, and I assume the wheels have something to do with it. Still, I would love to see the 30mm rims on this bike, because, yeah, more volume, please! I’ve been on a 2.6” tire kick over the last two years, and anything smaller feels weird these days. That said, I love the tire choice Revel made here. Not only are the Dissector and Recon beefier than most tires typically specced on shorter-travel full-sus bikes, but they’re also a testament to what the bike is built to handle. And despite the beefy-looking front knobs on the Dissector, this thing rolls surprisingly well, and I love the Rekon’s predictability as a rear tire.
Finally, the bike comes with the lovely new bikepacking-friendly SRAM Level brakes, though in an interesting turn of events, it appears we now need to be concerned of cable rub on the bar itself. I’ll have a full review on these brakes soon. The bike also comes with a 31.6 Crankbrothers Highline 7 dropper, with a highly adjustable lever that I came to enjoy. It comes with a 40mm stem across all sizes and a Race Face Next 800mm carbon bar. Overall, I really love the components, and there’s not much I’d change beyond wider rims and tires.
On the Trail
I felt quite comfortable on the Revel Ranger from my first ride. And while it doesn’t feel exactly like a short-travel XC race bike, it’s not too far off. It’s clear that the relatively safe geometry, in combination with the CBF, results in a quick and efficient ride. I had a blast climbing on this thing and putting the hammer down on a flat stretches of singletrack. It also handled tight corners very well, at least compared to my bigger trail bike. Still, the highlight was the uninterrupted pedal feeling over chundery terrain. Even when I had the rear shock in a faster rebound setting, it seemed to handle things well without wanting to buck me off the bike. I ended up tweaking the rebound on the SID Luxe and found it most comfortable in the middle setting, five clicks from turtle.
The Ranger felt right at home on the descents, too. It doesn’t have quite the confidence of a bigger trail bike, but it’s much more than a standard XC bike. It wants to go fast and still manages to eat up chunky, steep terrain surprisingly well. I ended up setting the suspension sag at 30%, and it was perfect; I used up all the stroke on larger hits but never bottomed out. This may have been a coincidence, but I’ve never had an easier time setting up the suspension on a bike. The SID Luxe isn’t too complicated, and it just felt perfect right out of the gate.
While Out Bikepacking
The Ranger felt grounded and predictable when loaded up with gear. It might sound funny, but when I pack up a full-suspension bike, I often find that it becomes even more capable with the extra weight. The Ranger was no exception. Like other bikes, it’s more planted on descents and climbs with the added weight. The front triangle space is a bit tight on the size medium frame, but another Colorado brand, Bedrock Bags, made a great custom frame bag that maxed it out and fit a cook kit, some water, and a few other odds and ends. The triangle has two pairs of bottle mounts and another on the underside of the down tube for an additional bottle or accessory.
As mentioned, the new SRAM Level brakes make for easy handlebar bag installation. I opted for a rear rack with the Old Man Mountain fit kit and the Old Man Mountain Elkhorn rack. I was a little hesitant to mount anything to the seat stays, but it worked well and didn’t scuff up the bike at all with the included thick frame tape. Stay tuned for more on that in a rack guide in the coming weeks.
- Model Tested: 2023 Revel Ranger, medium
- Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL
- Colors Available: Tang and De La Coal
- Actual Weight: 26.25 pounds (11.61 kg)
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price (as tested): $8,499 + carbon wheel upgrade
- Price (frame only): $3,599
- Manufacturer’s Details: RevelBikes.com
- Efficient suspension maximizes momentum to power through challenging situations that might otherwise cause a hang-up
- Very lightweight; better than most in its class
- Climbs exceptionally well
- Descends better than you’d expect from the geometry and weight class
- Great components selection, albeit expensive
- Despite the claimed 2.6” tire clearance, it’s really tight (I had some rub during a death mud encounter with 2.6″ tires)
- A slightly larger frame triangle space would be preferable
- 30mm rims would be more versatile than the specced RW27s
- The techy/industrial design might not be for everyone
There’s no denying that the 2023 Revel Ranger is a high-end full-suspension bike, and the reasons are clearly evident. They’ve invested in a great suspension design, for starters. And while I’m not the biggest fan of the technical aesthetic as a whole, I do love the two-tone Tang colorway. Plus, it’s hard to beat the impressive weight, coming in at 26.25 pounds (11.61 kilograms) with a GPS mount, bottle cage, and some dirt. If you’re looking for a quick bike that rides like a trail bike on the descents, is agile like an XC bike on the climbs, and can be comfortably pedaled all day over multiple days, the Ranger is a fantastic option.
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