Revel Ups The Stoke: Revel Rail 29 First Impressions

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Photo Cred: @natalierstarr

Revel ups the stoke with the new Rail 29. What can I say? The moment I threw a leg over the slightly sparkly “Shred Velvet Cake” Rail 29 I became a fan. Look at it. Look at it right now. No ifs, ands, or buts about it; it’s a visual masterpiece.

If you’ve been following Revel, you’ll recognize the name Rail. The “OG Rail” as I will henceforth refer to it, was released in 2019 as a long-travel 27.5er and quickly became a crowd favorite. The crowd, however, wanted more. It seems that much like the prevailing Texan idiom says, bigger may be better, especially when it comes to long-travel suspension and wheel size. The Revel Rail 29 is the solution. Revel has been working tirelessly, three years to be exact, to create the correct geometry, “bigger bearings, beefier hardware, and an absurdly well-tuned CBF suspension platform” plus 1.5 inches of added wheel circumference (you’re welcome Texas) to re-invent the Rail. As an added bonus, they’ve accounted for extra seat post insertion to accommodate longer droppers in all sizes, and added coil shock options along with a universal derailleur hanger.

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Photo Cred: @natalierstarr

Reveling in the ride

The Rail 29 seems to hit that sweet suspension spot that many bike manufacturers adore; 155mm rear travel and 160mm up front. It’s not HUGE, huge, but it’s also not small. However, if you find yourself having travel envy, the front suspension can accommodate 170mm. Other measurements to mention include: 65° head tube angle and 436mm chainstays, standard throughout all sizes, and a reach ranging from 437mm on the size small to 494mm on the XL. Those aren’t quite downhill specs and that’s perfectly fine with me.

I had the opportunity to ride this beauty the day prior to the Arizona sleet fest, also known as the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival. Fortunately for me, the day prior to the start of the festival was 70°, sunny, and lovely, which made for far fewer layers and a rather pleasant test ride on the Revel Rail 29. Unfortunately, I’m not going to touch on specific components because the test bike I rode was comprised of what was available and reasonable for comparison, not what is spec’d on the Rail 29 builds that are currently available. I hope to take this bike out for a long term review in the future.

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Photo Cred: @natalierstarr

Revel Rail 29 Enduro Bike

The Rail 29 is an Enduro bike by definition, though it does have less travel than its Rail 27.5 counterpart. It descends like a stable, traction heavy monster truck, yet it climbs like a wayward butterfly, almost floating up the trail with each pedal stroke.  The traction I experienced both uphill and downhill on this bike was incredible. Perhaps this was due to the moderate wheelbase and head tube angle, allowing precise line choices while still carrying speed and not sliding off trail. Whatever the case, this combination is desirable for me personally. However, if you prefer to ride full turbo mode downhill and require more stability at high speed for your local trails, this is something to consider.

The suspension stayed active throughout descents, even during hard braking and in tight technical switchbacks, of which there are quite a few of in Sedona. The Fox 38 fork was an added bonus to my enjoyment, and the O-ring suggested that I did, indeed, use most of the travel, and despite dropping it like it was hot, there were no noticeable bottom out or “oh shit” moments, as I’ve come to call them.

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Photo Cred: @natalierstarr

Revel Rail 29 Suspension

The shining star of the Revel Rail 29 is the CBF suspension platform. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the CBF linkage from Canfield is, excuse my French, the shit. This linkage system wants you, begs you, DARES you to climb up and over chunky, technical obstacles. It really is a magnificent climbing platform. No matter how hard or square I hit obstacles, or how bad my timing was, my body kept moving forward. The bike feels nimble and planted, almost floating up the trail. There seems to be less pedal bob when climbing, which is a nice surprise. For comparison’s sake, I have a bike with the exact same travel and a DW-Link and I typically experience more bobbing than I experienced on the Rail 29.

Even though I only had one day with this bike, I considered making a deposit on the spot. It’s the perfect combination of playful, stable, and traction compliant. The CBF is a major selling point and has become my favorite linkage system for the type of technical riding I do. One downside to such an amazing pedal vehicle is the price. Complete builds at revelbikes.com range from $5,999 – $10,999. It’s an investment for sure. However, if you only own one bike, this could be the one you’re looking for. Can you really put a price on happiness?