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After returning from my first ride on the Giant Revolt Advanced 2, I couldn't believe it weighs nearly 10kg as it felt so light and agile off-road. The compact frame style gives plenty of stiffness for blasting around, while the amount of exposed narrow diameter seatpost offers loads of comfort.
Not only does the Revolt look purposeful with its boxy carbon fibre tube profiles, it rides that way as well.
Many gravel/adventure bikes have more of an endurance theme going on in their geometry and tube choice, but I love bikes like the carbon Canyon Grail and Cotic Escapade, proper race bikes for the rough stuff that are an absolute hoot to ride flat-out with their tyres scrabbling for grip on loose material.
The Revolt is just like that. The harder you ride it, the more you get back. I spent huge sections of my rides through wooded trails or twisty gravel byways knowing that I was so close to the bike's limits that it could all go pear-shaped in an instant.
I just couldn't stop it, though – it was addictive.
The front end of the frame is more relaxed than a road bike, with a 70.5-degree head angle and a fork rake of 50mm, which stops the handling being too quick and twitchy off-road but feels spot on when on a loose surface: if you lose traction, there is so much feedback from the tyres being passed through the frame and fork that you can instantly catch a slide and just style it out.
The seat angle of 73.5 degrees is relatively steep and lets you really drive the power through the pedals from a seated position, which is what makes the Revolt feel so responsive even when climbing.
The seatpost is Giant's own D-Fuse, a narrow carbon post with a D-shaped profile. It does mean you can't upgrade to an aftermarket offering, but it offers so much flex, I don't see why you'd want to. Over the rough stuff it really takes out the worst of the bumps and vibration, so at speed you aren't getting bounced around in the saddle, which makes you more efficient.
The Contact XR handlebar is also D-Fuse and thanks to the subtle flex it controls comfort at the front end. After a few three-hour rides predominantly on gravel I felt very relaxed and wasn't suffering with any fatigue through my lower back muscles or wrists.
On longer rides, this added comfort along with how the Giant behaves means you can cover a lot of distance quickly, and when you reach the foot of a steep hill you feel fresher so you have the energy to get out of the saddle and blast your way up.
Many of us need to use the roads to string sections of gravel together, and the Revolt 2 works pretty well here too. Those slacker angles mean the steering isn't exactly rapid on a hard surface, but it is positive enough to allow you to push the Giant into the bends and still have some fun on the descents.
I rode quite a few miles on the road and the Revolt rolled along fine, even on the semi-knobbly tyres that it comes with. On the tarmac it isn't as fast or fun to ride as a road bike, but as long as you aren't in a hurry it works pretty well.
The Revolt Advanced frames are created from carbon fibre produced in Giant's own composites factory. The front triangle is created as a single piece for stiffness and strength before the rear end is bonded to it.
It really is a very nice frame, not just in the way it looks but the way it behaves too.
A quality carbon frame needs to offer performance in one plane, stiffness and power transfer, and comfort in another; different parts of the whole frame have their own jobs. When it all comes together, the bike should deliver the whole package.
Not everybody achieves this, which is why some frames feel too stiff, too flexible or just don't have any feeling to them at all, especially at the cheaper end of the market.
The Revolt has none of that. To me it feels really well balanced, and by bringing the D-Fuse components into the mix Giant can get away with a slightly stiffer frame than it probably could have without their added comfort.
When you are in the saddle the complete bike feels just right, but when you get out of the saddle to power up a climb or accelerate hard, all the Revolt gives you is full-on power transfer through that rear end and bottom bracket area.
Speaking of the bottom bracket, Giant has gone down the press-fit route which a lot of people are avoiding these days because slight intolerances between frame and bearings can allow water and grit to get in, resulting in creaking. In the five weeks I've been testing the Giant it has been pretty wet, and I haven't had any issues with it so far.
Going press-fit has allowed Giant to go for an 86mm-wide BB shell to give a much larger surface area to attach the down tube, chainstays and seat tube to.
The lower half of the frame is all about stiffness, but other tubes have been slimmed down to create more compliance.
The top tube is curved and narrows in the middle to bring a bit of give, and the seat tube is slimmed down, which helps accept the larger tyres while keeping the overall wheelbase short for a faster-handling bike.
The seatstays are dropped low, which creates a stiffer and smaller rear triangle, though they are quite narrow in profile to bring a bit of compliance to the seat tube. We've seen Specialized do similar on its Allez road bike, which it says aids aerodynamics.
The fork is also carbon fibre throughout and is, of course, tapered to provide extra stiffness under braking and steering loads.
The Revolt does have mounts for third party mudguards and racks, so there are options here for commuting and light bikepacking if you so desire; for me, though, I'd just leave it naked and blast around everywhere.
Cable routing is fully internal, which makes the bike look smooth and uncluttered and keeps the cables and hoses out of harm's way.
Other than that, there are a couple of bottle mounts and, as you'd expect, the Giant uses flat mounts for the callipers and 12mm thru-axles for keeping the wheels in the frame and fork.
To lower the gearing to a more suitable level for off-road use, Giant has specced a Praxis Works Alba chainset with a knee-friendly 48/32-tooth ring combo paired to an 11-34 cassette.
It's a good spread of gears for everything the Giant is designed to do, and even when riding hard off-road the smaller chainrings helped me keep my usual road cadence of around 90-95rpm.
The gear shifting from the entire drivetrain works absolutely perfectly, even when coated in dirt and grit, and the braking from the 105 levers is full of feel for modulation.
With the release of the gravel-specific Shimano GRX groupset it'll be interesting to see if this will start being specced on the Revolts as time goes on.
I've already mentioned the D-Fuse seatpost and handlebar, and it'll come as no surprise that Giant also provides the stem and saddle.
For such a minimalist saddle the Contact is very comfortable off-road. The shape is suited to fast riding, and thanks to the flex of the seatpost you can get away with it being quite firm.
Giant also provides the wheels, as it does on the majority of its bikes.
The S-X2 Disc wheelset is a bit weighty but does a great job of dealing with all of the abuse encountered out on the gravel tracks. Bunny-hopping and jumping over obstacles in the woods and rocky descents caused no issue, and the wheels remained straight and true throughout.
The hubs also saw plenty of rain and grit but are still running smoothly.
All round, they are a decent set of wheels; I'd only upgrade when they wear out.
The Giant Crosscut AT 1 tyres are decent performers for a little bit of everything too. The knobbly tread is a bit of a compromise on the road but away from the tarmac they work better than something like the Schwalbe G-One Bites we are seeing specced on a lot of gravel bikes.
The Crosscuts are 38mm wide (the Giant will take 45mm max) and I found that to be fine in all of the conditions I tried them in. The bite of the tread gives you confidence when cornering on the gravel or even in slightly damp mud – only really soft mud or deep, small gravel will see them struggle. As for durability, I had no issues there either.
It was good to see the Giant turn up with a tubeless setup too – some money saved if you want to go down that route.
The Giant Revolt Advanced 2 has an rrp of £2,099, which is pretty good value for a quality carbon frameset and a 105 groupset from one of the big brands.
For example, it's slightly better specced than the Marin Headlands I recently rode, which costs more at £2,195, and is definitely a more attractive proposition than the Specialized Diverge, which offers a carbon frame and Shimano Tiagra groupset for £2,100.
It is very slightly undercut by GT's Grade Carbon Expert, equipped with 105, which David reckons is a very good bike, all for £2,000.
Overall, I think the Giant is a great bike. It has that racer feel to it, something that you can take out in the woods or on the trails and just smash about on. It's a laugh to ride, but when you just want to bimble back home you are reminded of just how damn comfortable it is.
Properly fast gravel racer that blends stiffness and comfort very well
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Giant Revolt Advanced 2 2020
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Sizes S, M, ML, L, XL
Colours Gloss Grey Beige / Matte Gunmetal Black
Frame Advanced-Grade Composite, 12x142mm thru-axle, disc
Fork Advanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer, 12mm thru-axle, disc
Handlebar Giant Contact XR D-Fuse, 31.85° back sweep, flared drop
Stem Giant Contact, 8-degree
Seatpost Giant D-Fuse, composite
Saddle Giant Contact (neutral)
Shifters Shimano 105
Front Derailleur Shimano 105
Rear Derailleur Shimano 105
Brakes Shimano 105 hydraulic
Brake Levers Shimano 105 hydraulic
Cassette Shimano 105, 11x34
Chain KMC X11 with Missing Link
Crankset Praxis Alba, 32/48
Bottom Bracket Praxis M24 BB86, press fit
Rims Giant S-X2 Disc wheelset
Hubs Giant S-X2 Disc wheelset
Spokes Giant S-X2 Disc wheelset
Tyres Giant Crosscut AT 1, 700x38
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?
Giant says, "Almost anything goes in gravel racing and riding. It's a challenge of speed, endurance and handling. This high-performance all-rounder does it all. It's smooth, it's efficient, and it's your new best friend for pushing limits on roads, gravel and dirt.
"This high-performance all-rounder made a big splash with its 2018 debut, landing podium finishes at big-time gravel events. It's designed around a lightweight Advanced carbon composite frameset with gravel-riding geometry, so you can tackle long, hard rides with greater control and less fatigue. A composite fork eats up bumps, and the D-Fuse seatpost and handlebar combination absorb shocks and vibrations. The frame is integrated for disc brakes and has clearance for larger tyres (up to 45c) so you can float through the rough stuff."
The Revolt Advanced 2 is a great bike to ride – it's fast and fun, more of a gravel racer than an adventure bike.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
There are three models in the Revolt Advanced line-up, the 3 sits below the 2 coming with Shimano Tiagra for £1,749, while the 0 sits at the top of the range with Ultegra and a carbon Praxis chainset and a price of £3,249.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Very nice quality and well designed too.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is constructed from carbon fibre that Giant creates in its own composites factory, and the fork follows the same theme.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Compared to a road bike it is more relaxed to make things stable off-road, but in gravel bike terms it is reasonably sporty. The front end feels low, which makes an aggressive riding position achievable.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
For this size the stack is 572mm and the reach is 381mm. It feels a little longer and lower than most gravel bikes.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Very comfortable thanks to the D-Fuse handlebar and seatpost.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The frame can get away with being very stiff thanks to the comfort provided by the D-Fuse components.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
It transfers power very well thanks to the oversized lower half of the frame.
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? Lively off-road.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
On the gravel it feels spot on; with its quick steering and loads of feedback you can really push the Giant on the rough stuff.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The D-Fuse seatpost is very impressive. The amount of flex it has gets rid of most of the vibration but takes nothing away from the power transfer when you are riding hard.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
A lot of the components are actually about flex and comfort so the frame can get away with being quite stiff.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The lower gear range means the Giant can be ridden hard at a high cadence off-road.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimano 105 is one of the best groupsets when it comes to bang for buck, and it works well with the Praxis chainset.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
Solid wheels that suit the Giant. Aftermarket options will lower the weight but it isn't an immediate upgrade I'd make.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Solid tyres that have enough tread for a play in the mud.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The D-Fuse components offset the stiffness of the frame; it all works very well.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Giant is quite well priced, especially when you take into account the quality of the frameset and how well the components work. It sits well alongside other top-performing bikes like the GT Grade on a like-for-like basis.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's very good, and shows clever integration between frame stiffness and shock-absorbing components. If you like your gravel rides to be fast and fun then this definitely needs to be on your list.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!