KTM might not be the most familiar cycling brand but the Revelator 3500 is a thoroughly commendable package offering a fast ride and full 105 groupset for less then £1,500.
That's a competitive price point with lots of choice, and the KTM certainly stands out. Not just because of the bold orange and black paint finish, but the impressive performance it offers. Anyone looking to get into road racing would be well served by this bike.
It's a fast ride
There may be no engine but the Revelator is no slouch. The carbon fibre frame and fork offer a high level of stiffness such that any pedalling input is efficiently and cleaning turned into propelling you down the road. It's got bags of character this bike, it likes to be pushed hard and revels at high speeds.
It has the looks of a race bike, but the geometry balances the bike nicely between the demands of racing cyclists and those looking for a slightly more chilled ride. The 17.5cm head tube on this 57cm bike, combined with a 56.1cm effective top tube, gives a good reach for tucking into an aero position on the hoods, and the bars are reasonably low without being overly aggressive.
The Revelator 3500 has all the traits that would make it a fine choice for someone wanting to get into racing. The frame is packed with modern standards such as the press fit bottom bracket and tapered headset, and the internal routing will take a Di2 groupset. That makes it a good choice if you want to invest in a decent frame and fork worthy of taking some substantial upgrades. The frame is even UCI approved too, should you find yourself heading towards the Continent.
With some fast wheels there's no reason why the 3500 couldn't hang with the fastest bikes on the market, and those costing quite a bit more. It's an engaging ride, the handling responsive to the merest inputs or weight shifts, and it looks after you on longer rides. The underlying performance shines through, and it's a competitive weight for the money.
UCI approved carbon frame with all the trimmings
KTM design the bike at its Austrian office, it's manufactured in China, and then painted and assembled back at HQ. It's a smart looking frame and much of it is as we've come to expect of carbon fibre frames these days. Which is no bad thing, most bike manufacturers are striving for the same goals; stiffness, lightness and comfort. So the Revelator 3500 has a fat down tube with a tapered head tube (1 1/8in - 1 1/4in) at one end and a press-fit bottom bracket at the other. Along with the oversized chainstays there's a noticeable undercurrent of stiffness when you press on the pedals and make steering inputs.
It's also the same frame that KTM use right up the range to the most expensive, £4,299, offering. That provides a good upgrade path for this bike, you're investing in a top quality race worthy frame and fork.
The top half of the frame, that's the top tube, seat tube and seat stays, follows the contemporary trend for small diameter tubes. The seat stays smoothly blend into the seat tube just below the top tube creating a nice looking junction. The seat tube takes a 27.2mm seatpost which is something we're seeing on most carbon road bikes these days, as it aims to allow a little bit of flex.
All cables are routed internally, and mostly it's very cleanly done. We had a niggle with the rear brake cable routing but we're assured by the distributor that this was an isolated incident with how the bike had been built up and the gear outer casing not installed correctly. The frame is Di2 compatible should you want to upgrade at a later date.
The frame is available in five sizes, from 49 to 59cm. I tested the 57cm, but the geometry suggests it's closer to a regular 56cm frame, with a 56.1cm effective top tube. The head tube is on a par for this sort of bike, neither crazily short or too tall, at 17.5cm. The head angle is 73 degrees with the seat angle 73.5 degrees, which produced a very neutral handling bike, and the 989mm wheelbase keeps it lively and engaging through the bends.
Full Shimano 105 build kit
You really can't go wrong with Shimano's 105 groupset. Yes it may not win any awards for lightness, but by jove the shifting and braking performance is bloody good. The combination of the compact 50/34 and 11-28 cassette is fine for most riding, you'll have no problems on the hills, and you'll have to go some to run out of ratios at the top end.
Mavic's Aksium wheels are a common sight at this price, and they're a fine performing wheelset. They tread that fine line between stiffness and comfort wheel, offering a bit of spring when you push the bike hard through corners. They're not the lightest though. They're wrapped with Mavic's own 23mm tyres which are adequate, but far from the best tyres you could fit. I would upgrade them once they've worn out to something a bit better and deserving of the bike's capabilities.
All finishing kit is sourced from Ritchey. The Comp Alloy handlebar is alloy and well shaped, the ergonomic bend isn't too deep and is comfortable for long rides.. They're wrapped in a two-tone white/black bar tape which I'm personally indifferent about, you may have stronger feelings. It certainly stands out. The Comp 4-axis stem matches the Comp seatpost, and the Selle Italia X1 Flow saddle completes the build kit. Saddles are a personal thing, I didn't get on with this one, but you might. I suggest you give it a go as you never know, it might suit your bum.
While not flashy, the build kit is at least solid and dependable, and there have been no shortcuts to get the bike in at a certain price point. I'm much happier seeing a complete groupset, as it works so well as a whole it's a shame to swap out the cranks or brake calipers for often cheaper items.
Race-ready carbon bike with bags of speed and decent handling.
road.cc test report
Make and model: KTM Revelator 3500
Size tested: 57
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
The Revelator is KTM's highest performance road race super bike. Stiff high-modulus 'Performance' carbon monocoque frame with huge press-fit bottom bRacket junction, making it horizontally fast, yet vertically supple enough to keep you fresh and on the gas all day long. Weighting may be required to conform to UCI race regulations.
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Carbon 3D Dropouts
Internal Cable Routing
Wheel size: 700c
Groupset: 22sp- Shimano 105 or 30sp Shimano 105
Net weight (kg) - 7.90
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Yes very good quality finish and construction, nice attention to details.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
It's a full carbon fibre frame and fork with carbon dropouts and press-fit bottom bracket.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's racey, but not extremely aggressive, so the head tube length isn't too short that non-racers will be put off.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Yes, very good.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Impressively so for one so stiff and responsive.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very good power transfer.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Responsive and engaging.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Handling is what you would expect of a race-ready carbon bike, but it was very easy to ride fast and even good at lower speeds too.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Didn't get on the saddle, but saddles are personal things anyway. So I'd change that.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes I did.
Would you consider buying the bike? Possibly.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? A friend wanting to start racing, yes.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
All things considered, the KTM Revelator 3500 is a fine bike for the money. The looks don't work for everyone, but underneath the paint is a top notch frame and fork with good upgrade potential, and in this £1,500 build would make a decent race bike for any budding racers.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.