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Revolution Country Explorer



Capable, sturdy, tourer, could profit from some minor upgrades, but still a real bargain

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Costing less than most road and mountain bikes, and nearly all dedicated tourers, the Revolution Country Explorer, is quite a bargain. A reliable and comfortable touring bike is essential for actually enjoying multi-day touring rather than enduring it. Sadly, it’s usually the case that you end up paying a lot for that privilege this bike though looks to be the exception, even taking in to account the odd upgrade.

On first glance, it’s a good-looking bike, painted in a fairly non-descript, but smart, dark blue colour so shouldn’t draw unwanted attention. It follows a pretty traditional style of tourer, with shallow dropped bars, and a fairly long frame for stability when loaded. Size wise, smaller riders may find it a little rangy. At 5'5" I found it even the smallest 46cm frame a touch long, and it wouldn't even be possible to tune that with a shorter stem. I'd recommend it as best for riders over 5'7" or those with longer torsos.

Kitted out with a light but strong aluminium rear rack, complete with integral bungee, mudguards front and back and attachment points for three bottle cages, this is a bike ready and willing to head straight out the door for its first tour, with no messing. The only thing missing is a stand.

It’s a pleasure to ride, as responsive as you could hope from a bike where uber-light weight is not the name of the game, and not remotely sluggish. The handling is neither flighty nor overly subdued, and it’s one of the most stable bikes I’ve ever ridden, which is a major plus when potentially adding a substantial weight into the equation. Even loaded, it handled positively and inspired confidence for a long and stress free ride.


Based on the best-selling Revolution Country Traveller, the Explorer has a few notable upgrades. The Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes work effectively and are a good compromise for a touring bike, offering extra stopping power and longevity over rim brakes without the concern of repairing or replacing hydraulics while out on the road. There are no rim brake mounts though, so you’re committed to the discs. The Shimano Sora shifters are an upgrade from the Traveller, but are one of the few areas in which the Explorer suffers. The build quality does not inspire confidence for a long future of multi-day adventurous rides, and the physical act of shifting gear with them is not the most user friendly. If I were to buy the bike, I’d upgrade these immediately. The other step up from the Traveller is the saddle. I didn’t find the Selle Royal Mach foam saddle comfortable at all, but it’s hard to say if that was a problem with the saddle per se, or merely its suitability for my backside. It would be another area of upgrade for me.

The Explorer was happiest on tarmac, but was quite adaptable, in that it coped admirably with some rougher trails too, making it a good option for the kind of touring where road quality may not always be guaranteed. The 1 1/4 “ Continental Tour Ride tyres and the Strongman double wall rims are sturdy enough to cope with some abuse, while the frame is just compliant enough to absorb some of the worst of the bumps. Even laden it copes well.

The rear rack is light and robust, but sadly only rated to carry 25kg which isn’t that much when it comes to long distance touring. Combined with a front rack, however, for which there are attachment points, it should do the trick as long as you pack ultra light.

All in all it’s hard to find fault with a ready-to-go comfortable and sturdy touring bike that costs about half as much as most bikes of a similar ilk. It’d make a brilliant all year round commuter too, especially for those who commute any distance and/or carry a load.


A capable and sturdy feeling tourer, which could profit from a few minor upgrades, but overall is really good value for money. test report

Make and model: Revolution Country Explorer

Size tested: Nordic Blue

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Double butted Reynolds 525 steel frame.

Frame - Reynolds Chromoly Steel

Fork - Full Hi-Ten Aero, Offset Tip 17mm

Headset - 1.1/8" Aheadset/Polished Top Cap

Shifters - Shimano ST-3400

Rear Mech - RD-M591 SGS

Front Mech - Shimano FD-2303

Chainset - Shimano M443C, 48/36/26t, 170mm

Bottom Bracket - Cartridge/Square Taper

Chain- KMC, HG-53

Freewheel - Shimano, CS-HG50-9, 11-32t, 9sp

Hubs - Formula, 32h, QR

Rims - Strongman, Alloy Double Wall

Spokes - Steel, Silver/14G Brass Nipples

Tyres - Continental, Tour Ride, 700 x 32c

Brakes - Tektro, Lyra, Mechanical Disc Brakes, 160mm F & R

Brake Levers - Tekro RL-726

Handlebar - Kalloy, Alloy, Polished, 440mm, 31.8, Drop Bar

Stem - Revolution, Touring Series 70mm (46/49cm) 90mm (52cm), 31.8

Grips/Bar Tape - Velo, Cork Bar Tape, Black

Saddle- Selle Royal, Mach RVS, Black

Seat Post - Kalloy, 27.2 x 350mm, Black

Pedals - Wellgo

Available in 3 sizes 46cm, 49cm and 52cm

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?

"Totally reliable and efficient touring bike" aimed at tourists and also year round commuters. Designed to be a steel framed, disc braked alternative to the popular Revolution Country Traveller.

Does seem ideally suited to touring and commuting, especially with a load.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Well finished and sturdy looking, with no problems. NIcely compliant, without flex problems.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Reynolds 525 steel frame, solid and reliable.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

Frame geometry a little on the generous side for shorter riders. Quite a long reach. Even 46cm would probably not suit riders under about 5'7", unless long in the body.

Rake on fork great for comfort and long spells in the saddle, as well as for confident handling up and downhill.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Height of bike OK, bordering on quite tall for the size, but reach quite long.

Ideally suited to those with longer torsos or arms, or for those over about 5'7"

Still comfortable to ride for 5'5" person, but a little too stretched out for prolonged comfort in long rides.

Length of frame ideal for avoiding heel striking panniers when loaded.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Very comfortable to ride, with agreeable and easy handling. Non stressful ride with no surprises, and with a confident response.

Compliant enough to cope with rougher trails, yet pretty fast on tarmac too.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Just right for long distance comfort and for load carrying.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Very efficient power transfer, no real inertia.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No overlap.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral steering. Relaxed to ride.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Good all-rounder. No particularly bad areas, but nothing really outstanding either. Climbed OK, rolled well and quickly on flat, descended with confidence.

Cornering was fine too.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

Bars were nicely shaped (drops) and reasonably well padded. Plenty of options for hand positioning throughout a long ride.

I found the saddle to be uncomfortable, but saddles are a very personal thing, and there was nothing inherently wrong with it, it just didn't suit my sit bones!

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

Reynolds 525 frame gave just the right amount of stiffness/compliance for long days, potentially rougher trails and load carrying.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

The Continental Tour Ride tyres were a nice combination of tough, good rolling on tarmac and able to cope with a bit of rougher trail riding.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:

Responds pretty well unloaded and loaded.

Rate the bike for acceleration:

Good acceleration (when unloaded) let down slightly by unwieldy gear shifters

Rate the bike for sprinting:

Not a bike really designed for sprinting.

Rate the bike for high speed stability:

Stable and confidence inspiring, even when laden.

Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:

Really relaxed ride, it's so stable.

Rate the bike for low speed stability:

Excellent at junctions. Easy to control.

Rate the bike for flat cornering:

Takes corners in its stride with no dramas.

Rate the bike for cornering on descents:

Corners well on descents, but always going to be slightly less sure footed when fully laden.

Rate the bike for climbing:

Solid for climbing. Comfortable to just dig in and grind up a hill with a load or go for it unladen..

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:

No real problems.

Rate the drivetrain for durability:

Should go the distance.

Rate the drivetrain for weight:
Rate the drivetrain for value:

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

Traditional derailleurs are proven pretty much reliable, but are often considered to be a slight risk for long distance or remote area touring, where repairs or spare parts can be trickier. A hub gear would have been nice, but for the money, and the fact that this does excellent double duty as a workhorse commuter, the derailleur does just fine.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:

Confidence inspiring on tarmac or even slightly rougher terrain

Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:

Double walled rims seem quite sturdy

Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:

Sturdy but not unduly heavy

Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:

Comfortable on tarmac and on reasonable quality trails

Rate the wheels and tyres for value:

Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?

A good match of wheel/tyre for a quicker adventurous tourer or year round commuter bike. Feasible to go for fatter tyres for rougher terrain.

Unbranded hubs are an area where costs have been cut, but they're free moving and seem to perform well, so not really a problem.


Rate the controls for performance:

Let down by the Sora shifters. Everything else great.

Rate the controls for durability:

Those Sora shifters again. Otherwise fine.

Rate the controls for weight:

Not bad.

Rate the controls for comfort:

All comfortable, except for the breadth of the hoods on the Sora shifters

Rate the controls for value:

Pretty good for the price.

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

Brakes are excellent. Very sure and affective.

The Shimano Sora gear shifters are unwieldy in use, sometimes causing wobbling or swerving when shifting. The hoods are also very broad for smaller hands, making it uncomfortable to rest hands in this position for long. Larger riders probably wouldn't find this a problem.

I'd upgrade the shifters straight away if I bought the bike.

Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)

Rear rack, as fitted, is sturdy and light, and comes with integral bungee.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.

Would you consider buying the bike? Definitely.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Definitely.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
Rate the bike overall for value:

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

A great value for money touring bike that will double as an all weathers commuter.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 1.65m  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,

Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling. 

Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other. 

She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting. 

Add new comment


Hibee Biker | 13 years ago
1 like

Great review Leonie. Thanks from an Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op worker.

Please allow me to defend the Revolution Country Explorer's rear rack's quoted 25kg maximum capacity.

All our bikes comply to EN (European Union) legislation. It's the law.

EN14872 deals specifically with pannier carriers and states that a carrier must be clearly marked with a 'max weigh of 25kg' warning. Carrier manufacturers stamp this 'warning' on all compliant carriers. Claiming a higher load capacity actually contravenes the EN standard.

If a touring bike comes with a rack that does not state 'max weigh of 25kg' it does not comply with EU regulations and is strictly speaking illegal to sell in this country. Whether or not you agree with such legislation, we prefer to ensure all our bikes are not just great value. They must also be legal.

Rest assured that our Revolution Country Explorer is soundly equipped from the handlebars to the rear rack.

Fish_n_Chips | 13 years ago
1 like

Good all round do it all bike someone asked?
Glad it is steel instead of aluminum for a comfy ride.

workhard | 13 years ago

Sora shifters take a bit of getting used to if you are used to higher end Shimano stuff but you soon pick it up. I think it unlikely prospective buyers of this bike would find it hard to adapt.  39

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