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Giant has been one of those brands which consistently comes out with a vast range of bicycles every year. This year was no different as the 2016 range of bicycles across all categories showcases a wide range of collection. The Revel series of recreational MTBs from Giant have always been successful in the market. We got the opportunity to review the Giant Revel 1 2016 and here is what we thought.
Giant frames always seem to be slightly superior to most of the opposition at a given price. The Revel 1 2016 comes with the ALUXX grade aluminium frame. The tubes are manipulated to achieve exactly the right balance of low weight, drive stiffness and strength where it matters. The most notably reinforced section is the down tube, which has been massively triangulated and ovalised into the back of the head tube and almost box-sections into the bottom bracket shell. The low top tube is like an ovalised triangle too, flared out around the head tube to achieve a big weld contact area.
The stock Giant suspension fork can be a bit of a handful on rough trails. It does not offer a lockout which sometimes can lead to the spring being uncontrolled, rebounding with a resounding bounce after every big bump.
The Revel 1 2016 which we test ride came in a full black colour with turquoise blue and orange shades in many parts of the bicycle. The Revel series is known for its funky graphics and designs and the Revel 1 does not disappoint in this category. When examining the design from a utility stand point, the rear stays offer plenty of tire room and there are mounts for a rack, two sets of bottle cage holders and even a kickstand.
The¾Shimano¾Altus/Acera groupset on the Revel 1 2016 means rear shifting is always faster and accurate, but the Suntour crankset isn't as smooth-shifting as on Shimano rings. The Shimano Altus at the front did experience a lag in gear shifts especially during fast descents during the test ride. This gearing performance was the minimum required need for a recreational MTB but the difference in performance at the front and rear derailleurs are common amongst mixed Shimano groupsets.
Giant's own linear pull alloy V-brakes are powerful enough after a short bedding-in period on the Revel 1 2016, but they feel a bit wooden in function compared to the slightly better modulated feel of low grade mechanical disc brakes. Luckily there is plenty of control and quick reaction time in the V-brakes and the Shimano EF51 levers to give you a fighting chance of staying upright in slippery conditions.
Giant's house-branded handlebars are all decent, and we like the fact that the stem comes with a 1+inch of stack height adjustment washers on the steerer.
The Giant GX02 aluminium rims on the Kenda K1052 26'' x 2.1'' inch wheels are just above average for a bicycle at this price well built, not light, but shod with good all-rounder capabilities that roll fast on tarmac and grip in all but the most slippery off-road conditions. There is massive tire clearance behind the small cross-brace between the chainstays, so it won't be a problem if you size up from the already generous 2.1 inch Kenda's with something fatter or more toothily treaded. But the wheel weight on the Revel 1 2016 is a concern. Tipping the scales above average for the wheelset pair and that can be felt even during gradual climbs. The stock saddle on this bicycle was nothing more than a well-rounded cushion which might seem comfortable at first but won't feel the same on a longer ride.
The Revel 1 is one of those relatively rare recreational MTBÈs that oozes performance. The over-all weight can be felt a bit, but it is still as sorted a trail hardtail, handling-wise, as you are likely to throw a leg over. DonÈt be surprised by i's comfortable commuter side as well which makes it an actual multipurpose MTB. If you are someone looking at an entry level hardtail which can be also be used in the city during the week then the Giant Revel 1 2016 is a good choice to consider.