Our first reaction to the Revolt was slight bemusement – out of the box, there’s no getting past the fact that it’s kind of funny looking, with a super compact frame, kinked chainstays and radically dropped seatstays. Giant has rarely disappointed us, though, so we cast aside prejudice and took to the road.
Highs: The quirky frame and slim seatpost offer great comfort levels and excellent handling; huge tyre clearances
Lows: Stock tyres are jittery on wet tarmac
Buy If: You want a fun, multi-surface machine that will do anything with a change of tyres
Turns out we were right to withhold judgement. In spite of its gawky upper appearance and substantial 35mm boots, the Revolt is a remarkably lively ride.
Seen in semi-profile, the revolt’s dropped seatstays don’t hit you in the eye so strongly: Robert Smith
Seen in semi-profile, the Revolt’s dropped seatstays don’t hit you in the eye so strongly
It’s no racer, but there’s little sense of withholding and Giant has combined real sprightliness with a comfortable rear end. The slim 27.2mm carbon seatpost and unsupported upper seat tube allow for a lot of flex, taking the edge off impacts from unseen potholes and helping to smooth out lumpy paths.
Handling-wise the Revolt bridges the road/mountain divide. On our small test bike, the ergo bend bar flared from 41cm at the hoods to a huge 47cm at the ends of the drops, offering – in combination with a short stem and slack head angle – confident and precise handling on tricky terrain when you need it. The bike is long, too, both in terms of wheelbase and top tube, which adds to its planted feel.
On paper the head tube looks short but the elongated fork makes up for it. You won’t get very aero on the Giant, but the position works well for urban riding and gentle rough stuff.
Get over its odd looks and revel in the revolt’s appetite for most surfaces that you can throw at it: Robert Smith
Get over its odd looks and revel in the Revolt’s multi-surface appetite
That extra height up front also contributes to immense levels of clearance – it should be possible to fit 50mm rubber both front and rear, which opens up a realm of possibilities. The default near-slicks are quick on the road but the chunky side knobs, while perhaps beneficial on loose surfaces, can produce jitters when things are greasy underfoot. For actual mud, more aggressive tread is a must.
The Revolt’s boxy tapering alloy tubes meet at visible but neat welds. The carbon fork’s alloy steerer is sleeved rather than tapered to match the 1 1/4in lower headset bearing. It has mudguard eyelets too, although the bike comes ready-fitted with an ingenious bolt-on guard that doubles as a cover for the full length cable outers running along the down tube, a nice touch that reduces the amount of muck directed at the rider.
A bolt-on guard protects cable outers on the down tube – as well as the rider: Robert Smith
A bolt-on guard protects cable outers on the down tube – and the rider
The Shimano R460/R350 10-speed drivetrain is essentially a non-series version of Tiagra, and shifting is crisp and dependable. A 48/34 chainset and 11-34 cassette give a vast gear range, the smaller-than-standard big ring reducing the jump in front shifting. The basic 28-spoke wheels are meat-and-potatoes offerings, as are the Avid BB7 mechanical brakes and inline levers, although they offer slightly more adjustment than their BB5 siblings.
The Revolt is aesthetic Marmite, but the quirky frame design makes for an exceptionally capable all-rounder that will delight in everything from tarmac commutes to endurance gravel grinding.