What happens when you infuse a gravel bike with mountain bike DNA?
Words MATTHEW LOVERIDGE
There’s a thought gnawing at me, scratching gently at the bit of my brain where really good thoughts come from.
I’ve got a dropper post, two-inch tyres and a squishy air fork. I’m riding serpentine singletrack.
But my thumbs are pointing forwards rather than down, and my hands are closer together than perhaps they should be.
The thought is this: I am riding a mountain bike but also I am emphatically not riding a mountain bike.
The Giant Revolt X is the Giant Revolt (see issue 54) but more so.
A chunk more tyre clearance and commensurately more substantial rubber is accompanied by a Fox suspension fork offering 40mm of travel, and a dropper post that adds 25mm of squish at the back.
X marks the sport
The Revolt X is aimed at riders with a zest for genre-blurring, says Giant global category manager Nixon Huang, who’s responsible for a lineup that includes the TCR race all-rounder, the slippery Propel and the standard bouncefree Revolt – all bikes Cyclist rates highly.
It’s for ‘mountain bikers that hate wasting time driving’ (because the Revolt X can be ridden to the trails) as well as the ‘experienced gravel rider that who to explore more terrain, and mountain bike trails’.
Achieving this wasn’t a radical exercise, according to Huang, but the bike’s designers did look to XC mountain bike standards, adjust the geometry for suspension, and selectively ‘beef up’ the frame compared to the standard Revolt.
The X feels less compromised on the road than you might assume.
The rolling resistance penalty of the 50mm Maxxis Rambler tyres isn’t terrible while the riding position is more ‘tall endurance bike’ than fully upright cruiser, with 576mm of stack for a medium, plus 389mm of reach married to a stubby 70mm stem.
Leave the Fox air fork in its fully open setting and it will bob merrily when you get out of the saddle.
You can lock it out but doing so deadens the front end completely, leaving you hauling around a heavy fork for no good reason.
Nose the Revolt X onto gravel and you quickly feel the Fox doing its thing. It lacks the ultrafine small bump sensitivity of the Specialized Diverge’s coil-sprung Future Shock, but the effect is transformative on rutted, rocky sections that would rattle you senseless on a rigid fork.
Likewise, the dollop of travel provided by the seatpost helps smooth the way and doesn’t impact on pedalling, although the firm bottom-out
slightly detracts from the plushness.
Underbiking over hill and dale
To explore the mountain bike credentials of the Revolt X, I rode an intermediate section of my local trails, one that features sweeping berms and a series of small jumps that’s enjoyable on the most modest of hardtails.
With the saddle slammed on the Revolt X, however, it was more scary than fun, because the riding position just isn’t well suited to getting truly adventurous.
And herein lies the rub. The Revolt X soaks up rough terrain in a way most conventional gravel bikes won’t, but it’s better suited to the flowy, non-technical stuff where wheels stay on the ground.
Drop bars don’t lend themselves to truly gnarly riding.
Tackling proper rough stuff on the hoods feels precarious; hunkering down in the drops is more secure and gives better purchase
Model Giant Revolt X Advanced Pro 0
Weight 9.9kg (medium)
Groupset Sram Force eTap AXS/X01 Eagle Fork Fox 32 Float AX Performance Elite 40mm travel
Wheels Giant CXR 1 X1 carbon
Finishing kit Giant Contact SL XR D-Fuse bar, Contact stem, Approach SL saddle, Post Moderne dropper post, Maxxis Rambler 50mm tyres
- The Revolt X pushes tyre clearance up to 53mm at both ends with the rear axle flip-chip in the ‘long’ position
- Post Moderne supplies the dropper post, which offers 100mm of travel, as well as 25mm of butt suspension
- The Fox 32 is exceptionally light for an air fork at just over 1.2kg