More Than It Seems: A 2024 Revel Rascal Review

After its first top-to-bottom update, the new 2024 Revel Rascal may be the most versatile mid-travel 29er Travis has ever ridden. But does versatility matter when you’re just here to have fun?

I’ve gone through a lot of phases in my three decades as a capital-C “Cyclist.” They never feel like phases, of course. They feel like divine paths I’d follow forever. Nevertheless, they come and they go. Like my dirt-jumping phase, my enduro phase, or my every-ride-starts-from-the-house phase. And optimized for each phase, there’s always a particular style of bike. That includes the phase I’m in right now, which I suppose is my trailwork phase.

I’m obsessed with clear sight lines, obstruction-free wall rides, and juuust the right amount of jank. Without question, the bike for this phase is the aggressive mid-travel 29er. The category is pretty broad. Sometimes they’re overbuilt XC bikes like the Yeti SB120. Sometimes they’re mini enduro bikes like the Chromag Darco. Or sometimes they’re tacked onto the end of a list of three things so a lazy writer can finally get to the damn point … like the new 2024 Revel Rascal.

Quick Hits:

  • 130 mm rear travel, 140 mm front
  • Carbon frame only
  • 29 ” wheels front and rear
  • CBF dual-short-link suspension platform
  • 65.5-degree head angle
  • 498 mm reach, 1256 mm wheelbase, 76.5-degree claimed effective seat tube angle (size XL)
  • Five sizes, SM thru XXL
  • XL test bike: 31.9 lbs without pedals
  • $9,199 as tested with FusionFiber Revel carbon wheel upgrade
  • Available as a frameset with RockShox Super Deluxe for $3,599, Fox Float X Factory for $3,749
  • Starting price for cable-actuated GX Eagle build: $6,000
  • Made in Taiwan, assembled in Colorado
  • Sold through Revel retailers or direct through

This is technically the first bike in Revel’s lineup to undergo a full redesign since the brand launched in early 2019. Sure, their long-travel Rail was given a big-wheeled big brother, and the marathon-ready Ranger now has a fresh carbon layup and new rear triangle. And they’ve introduced new models like the Tirade titanium hardtail John’s been raving about. But the second-generation Rascal is so far the only Revel to get a good old-fashioned iterative update. Praise be, it hasn’t adopted thru-headset cable routing. But it also hasn’t added a mixed-wheel or coil-sprung build. It hasn’t donned downtube storage or flip chips. It’s just a better version of the Rascal.

And not gonna lie, part of me was kinda hoping this milestone update would bring some sort of whiz-bang novelty befitting a premium brand like Revel. It wouldn’t take much. Like, that lumbering XXL got an under-the-top-tube accessory mount. I might be satisfied if they’d just ported those down to a few more sizes. After all, once you peel back the electronic components and ultra-high-modulus carbon, the performance gap between budget and boutique is narrower than ever. But underneath all that, there’s a lot going on with the Rascal.

To be clear, I’m not using “premium” or “boutique” as doublespeak for “overpriced.” More like “high-floor,” if that makes sense. There are no inexpensive Revel bikes. But this is a tricky conversation to have in 2024. First, there’s the ol’ brick-and-mortar versus direct-to-consumer discrepancy. Compare the new Rascal to the new Canyon Spectral 140 (which is full of whiz-bang novelties), and the Canyon will appear to be a better value. But that’s apples-to-oranges in several ways, including that you can buy a Revel from an actual bike shop if you choose to. Then, zooming out, there’s the fact that new-bike buyers are still surrounded by irresistible discounts on perfectly good 2023 models. A brand new bike whose price was set after the inflation spikes of the past couple years can sometimes feel like a shock. And look, I normally wouldn’t waste your time telling you things you already know about bike-industry economics. But I don’t want to ignore the fact that this bike starts at $6,000, especially when I’m about to speak passionately about how much I loved this bike, and why it is totally worth it.

First, let’s go into some more details in pricing, but I want to keep it brief. My XO Transmission test build goes for $8,000, plus $1,200 for an upgrade to the US-made Revel rims and Industry Nine hubs. Pay no attention to the TranzX wireless dropper. It comes with a Bike Yoke Revive. For comparison, an XO Transmission Yeti SB140 with carbon rims is $9,800. A similar Pivot Switchblade is $9,900. Not trying to say this Rascal build is affordable, but compared to its small-brand peers, it’s definitely not out of line. I’d even venture to say that the $6,000 cable-actuated GX build is pretty impressive, with a focus on suspension performance and zero compromises in the frame quality.

That frame features a number of beneath-the-surface features that show a lot of attention to detail. I appreciate the tube-in-tube internal routing, the titanium shock-mounting bolts, and the very ample room for full-sized bottles on all frame sizes. The pivot hardware was beefed up for this go-around, with larger-diameter bearings and axles, aiming to improve durability and add stiffness. And alongside those pivot improvements, the tube shape and carbon layup were also updated with stiffness in mind. As Revel judiciously puts it, “Depending on how lateral stiffness numbers are used, this frame is approximately 20% stiffer than its predecessor.” It tracks with the Rascal’s pedigree as a daily driver that’s also shred-ready.

What’s New

And I’d say the same about the geometry updates, which for the most part were relatively modest. The head angle slackened by a token half-degree, the chainstays lengthened by three millimeters, and reach numbers crept up by about seven. This nets about a 20 mm increase in wheelbase. There’s also the addition of an XXL size. At 6’2”, I still only rode an XL, but it always seems wrong that I usually fit the largest size most brands make. Glad to see Revel is looking out for the taller folk. That’s also true of the seat tube angles … at least according to Revel’s geometry chart.

The new Rascal’s effective angles start a degree steeper than its predecessor, and get steeper in XL and XXL. Bra-vo! There are several reasons why taller people need steeper seat tube angles, which I won’t bore you with here. But I will bore you with this: Revel’s effective seat tube angles aren’t calculated with the saddle at an estimated height appropriate for each frame size, but instead “at stack,” or horizontal from the top of the head tube. Nobody pedals with their saddle that low. Once the saddle is at ride height, it’s slacker than the geo chart claims. In my case, about 20 mm if my C- in freshman trigonometry serves me. That’s why I slammed my saddle forward. I suppose I do that on all my bikes, but it was a must on this one. I appreciate that the new Rascal’s actual seat tube angle steepened by more than four degrees to minimize its diversion from the effective angle, but if Revel really wanted to give most riders 76-degree effective seat tube angles, they could have. Ok. Rant over. Like I said, I loved this bike.

CBF Suspension Linkage

Much like its geometry, the Rascal’s suspension linkage was given only subtle refinements. I probably could have started this review with a rundown of CBF, the suspension platform Revel licenses from Canfield Bikes. But I wanted to get the formalities out of the way. Things only get really exciting when we start talking kinematics. CBF is similar to DW-Link, in that both are dual-short-link platforms uniquely focused on keeping the suspension active while pedaling by limiting the impact that drivetrain forces can have on suspension movement. That’s in contrast with the other leading dual-short-link platform, VPP, which has historically been more concerned with using drivetrain forces to keep the suspension supportive while pedaling.

Without getting too deep in the weeds, this is primarily about how the chain force interacts with the axle path, though there are other factors. The degree to which chain force is used to keep the rider high in their suspension while pedaling is called “anti-squat.” Both DW and VPP do increase anti-squat for efficiency in their own ways, and there’s been a slow race to the middle as each adjusts their formulas in search of the perfect balance. But I find that the patented CBF linkage has cracked something that neither DW nor VPP quite has. And you know what that means! It’s time to talk about ride impressions.

Ride Impressions

The Rascal, like all CBF bikes I’ve ridden, gave me the surreal sensation that I was pedaling a calm but responsive little cloud. It didn’t matter how forceful or poorly timed my pedal strokes were, or where I was in the travel, or how steep my ascent. The rear suspension would yield dutifully whenever the climb got choppy. But at the same time, I never felt that rhythmic dip of the shock skimming my watts as they peaked. To be clear, though, this bike could not perform miracles. The suspension would still react to my input, and the bike would still sink if I mashed. It’s not the same as the energy-sapping bob of a poorly designed faux-bar, where chain force is directly sucking you deeper into the travel. But it still does sap some energy.

That’s one reason so many rely on an increased anti-squat value at some point in the travel to add support. Another reason is that the factors that can cause that sinking are numerous and complex. What gear you’re in, the depth of your sag, and even your center of gravity will play a role, making it very difficult to design a linkage that truly isolates the drivetrain from the suspension … But CBF kinda does isolate drivetrain from suspension, and the new Rascal’s take on it does it more effectively than any other CBF platform I’ve ridden.

Revel isn’t in the habit of sending leverage-curve or anti-squat charts with their bike launches, and I guess I understand. Statistics can implant a confirmation bias that might have clouded what I was feeling on the Rascal. And what I felt was significantly more get-up-and-go than I felt on the previous Rascal. Those charts might have told me whether this was because of a more supportive leverage curve, more aggressive anti-squat values, or a little of both. But it didn’t matter.

The proof was in the pudding. A lot of my time on the Rascal was spent getting to and from a remote worksite where we have tools stashed. It’s a long climb, but at least I only have to carry water and OSHA-approved work gloves. And late in that climb is a winding section of ever-shifting loose rocks. There’s a two-mile-long stretch of silky-smooth hardpack leading up to it, and I tend to use a lockout there because why not. I always dread the sudden mushyness when I open the shock back up for the rock section, but the Rascal wasn’t mushy. Not only would it float indifferently over those scattered three-to-four-inch rumble strips, it would deliver consistent power as I spun my way through them.

I know I’m really making a meal of talking about how this bike handles bumpy climbs, but that’s because it probably handles them better than any bike I’ve ever ridden. When I was out of the saddle leaning forward, the rear wheel still got right out of the way over obstacles large or small. And in the saddle, even though I do wish the seat angle were steeper, the Rascal was more calm and comfy than a moderate-travel bike has any right to be. And that’s the thing. Usually, bikes like this really lean into their XC-adjacent-ness by trading comfort for efficiency. That’s definitely true of the Canyon Spectral 125 that’s been my main bike for about a year now. But the magic of the Rascal’s linkage gives it an edge for anyone whose climbs are as chunky as their descents, which is a great excuse to finally start talking about descents.

The Descents

I think we pay too much attention to head angles. Maybe I’m part of the problem ‘cause I’m about to talk about the Rascal’s 65.5 degrees. It probably would have been a better marketing move to go a degree slacker. After all, this bike does have a RockShox Lyric fork, a piggy-back shock, and Code brakes. Five years ago, that’d be enduro territory, and an enduro head angle on a 130 mm trail bike is great for grabbing headlines. But as long as it’s surrounded by a well designed bike with well chosen parts, a slightly steeper or slacker head angle doesn’t have the impact we like to think it does.

The Rascal has a plenty long front-center, so I never felt like I was too far over the front wheel. And modern fork dampers do an excellent job of keeping a rider high in the front travel under leaning or braking loads. All this is to say that, for anyone wishing this bike’s numbers had added up more squarely to “point-and-shoot,” you’ll still find plenty to love here.

I mean, you should still worry sometimes. The Rascal very much has the potential to get in over its head. But that’s kinda the point of bikes like this. And it’s why they’re what I get most excited about riding right now. The spec on all Rascal pricepoints is equally capability-focused. That made riding it an exciting, almost cerebral exercise. As I approached sections at the edge of this bike’s capability, there would be a lot of factors working diligently in my favor. The burly, supportive fork, for one. But also the Rascal’s newly stiffened frame. When getting forceful, it responds as assertively as a bigger, heavier bike would. That’s where I most noticed the stiffness. It gave me the confidence that the bike could always handle it, as long as I made the right decisions. I would enter a chunky section, and though I couldn’t brute-force my way through it, I could tell the bike what to do and there’ be no uncertainty or inconsistency in how it responded.

Like, I’m on a years-long journey to lean forward and trust my front-wheel traction in some pretty high-consequence scenarios. The Rascal is an excellent companion for that journey because it meets you halfway and only halfway. When I managed to carry speed through a rocky corner, grabbing traction where I could and micro-swerving around spots where I couldn’t, I’d feel a sense of mastery that would be dull on a bike more capable, and kinda frightening on one less so. And of course, the CBF suspension played a role in this too, but it took a minute to figure out.

I like playing around with suspension volume spacers. Oftentimes, I think optimal air-spring volume is as important while setting up a bike as is dialing in sag or rebound. I did a deep dive into it here a few months ago. And at first, I got along fine with the stock volume in the Rascal, which is two of RockShox’s thinner spacers. In the scenarios where I felt the bike really shined—moderately high-speed technical sections—I found the rear shock had a very composed way of handling big hits. All the travel would work together at once, not to eliminate or necessarily even soften the impact, but to shrink it. Big hits simply felt smaller, and would thus throw me offline a lot less. But after hopping back onto my Spectral 125, I found the Rascal felt almost wooden in comparison. Definitely more capable, and by a margin well beyond the five-millimeter difference in travel. But it wasn’t as dynamic. So, I maxed out the shock capacity by adding two more spacers, dropped my preload by just five PSI, and the bike came alive. I felt something similar about the SCOR 4060, but with more ramp-up, the Rascal felt more interactive, and at no noticeable cost to that magical climbing ability.

It’s an odd thing, making the most out of a given quantity of travel. Every category has its challenges. Short-travel bikes can feel harsh, long-travel bikes can feel vague, but I think mid-travel bikes have it the hardest. They can feel boring. Maybe it comes from having to please everybody. A bike like this could have easily fallen into that trap. Or, maybe I shouldn’t call it a “trap.” The Rascal does an outstanding job at being a mild-mannered trail bike.

Riders who would never change volume spacers or zoom into a leverage-curve chart will still find some very special things to love in this bike. But riders looking for something more nuanced are much harder to please with a platform that, on the surface, might seem middle-of-the-road. That’s why I’m so impressed with what the new Rascal has pulled off. It balances traction and efficiency on the climbs, as well as control and capability on the descents, and puts it all in a package that lives up to the name, “Rascal.” I hope this phase never ends.


  • Outstanding traction and bump-sensitivity on rough climbs
  • Calm and efficient, provided you’re not pedal-mashing
  • Fun-focused travel numbers and frame feel
  • Broad range of five frame sizes
  • Built to handle abusive riding, happy to settle for conservative riding
  • Ample bottle room on all sizes
  • Smart fit and finish on frame and hardware
  • Available at brick-and-mortar independent bike shops


  • High starting price, though more affordable than many of its peers
  • Seat angle could be steeper, though I say that about every bike
  • Not as supportive as some suspension designs
  • No flip chips? No in-frame storage? No gimmicks? Is just being a really good bike enough these days?

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