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KTM Revelator Prestige Dura-Ace Di2 review

27 Jul 2017
Verdict:

An almost race ready machine, but the KTM Revelator Prestige Dura-Ace Di2 falls short of its potential

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£6,000 as tested
For 
Striking looks and great groupset
Against 
Rear brake rub

KTM isn’t a name you’ll see too often on the roads of the UK, but it’s by no means an obscure or minor brand.

It’s particularly popular in its home country of Austria, where it has been producing bicycles since 1964, although it’s perhaps better known for its high-powered motorcycles.

The bicycle and motorcycle arms of the company are now separate entities after a split during the 90s, but they seem to maintain a consistent brand aesthetic.

Which means that whether your KTM is motorised or pedal-powered, there’s a good chance it will come in a striking arrangement of orange and black.

When this Revelator Prestige arrived in the Cyclist office, some of my colleagues declared it to be an eyesore.

As for me, I think the paintjob is rather dramatic, and a pleasing departure from the all-black frames that have become ubiquitous at the top level of road bikes.

Quite apart from the colour scheme, I was also excited to get hold of this bike as I’d ridden previous generations of the bike and loved them – especially the 2015 version.

I was keen to see what an extra two years of development had done to the Revelator.

Playing with the big boys

This Prestige version of the Revelator is KTM’s flagship offering and comes bedecked with components straight out of the top drawer, including the newest incarnation of Shimano’s electronic Dura-Ace groupset and a set of DT Swiss RC38 Spline carbon clinchers, which would set you back over a grand on their own.

It’s a bike pitched at the very top end of the racing and speedy sportive market, but at a price that compares favourably with the likes of Trek and Specialized.

For example, at £6,000 the Revelator Prestige carries a specification not dissimilar to the Specialized S-Works Tarmac Di2 but at a saving of over £2,000.

What KTM doesn’t have compared to the big names is a presence at the top of pro cycling, but it has made some tentative steps into racing.

It is co-sponsor of the catchily named Team Delko Marseille-Provence KTM, a French team that races on the Pro-Continental circuit.

But it’s fair to say KTM bikes are rarely seen at the major events – although organisers of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire, where the team finished with four riders in the top 20, might have something to say about that.

The Revelator plainly worked well in Yorkshire for the KTM team, so I was fully expecting my comparatively average abilities to be enhanced by the Revelator when I took it for its first test ride.

New, not improved

These days we’re all looking for stiff, light and responsive bikes that transfer power – however much or little we can actually produce – as efficiently as possible into forward propulsion.

The Revelator managed this pretty well, especially once I was up to speed and sitting steady in the saddle.

While I can’t vouch for the aerodynamic qualities of the frame, it is certainly shaped to cut through the air, and the bike seemed to hold speed with relative ease.

It was when I got out of the saddle that the problems started. The 2015 Revelator Prestige was superb, with a less striking design than the current bike but near-faultless performance.

That frameset was overhauled for 2016, and the revised design has carried over into 2017, but somewhere in the transformation something was lost.

Whenever I stood hard on the pedals, either on a sharp climb or sprinting on the drops, I could hear (and feel) a metronomic scuff as the rear brake pad came into contact with the wheel rim.

It’s a common problem among bikes where the rear brake calliper has been positioned behind the bottom bracket, rather than the usual position on the seatstays.

Press hard on the pedals and the flex at the bottom bracket brings the brake pad into contact with the rear wheel – a problem that’s only exacerbated if the wheel is particularly stiff and doesn’t flex in line with the frame.

It became obvious immediately that the Revelator’s bottom bracket was not as stiff as I’d expect from a race bike.

I like my brakes sharp, so I wasn’t very happy at having to adjust them to create a bigger gap between brake pad and wheel rim to avoid the pads rubbing.

Trying to get to the bottom of what was happening, I swapped in a pair of super-stiff Shimano Dura-Ace C35 wheels.

The outcome was even more brake rub as the frame flexed but the rear wheel didn’t, resulting in the pads catching the rim more than before.

As an aside, I did notice that the bike accelerated up to speed a bit quicker with the Dura-Ace C35 wheels.

I switched back to the DT Swiss wheels anyway, however, mainly because they match the frame so much better. These things are important.

Coming in at 6.98kg on the Cyclist scales, the Prestige is impressively light when it emerges from the box.

Pedals and bottle cages do add a chunk of extra weight, though, meaning the bike I tested was light by comparison to most road bikes, but heavier than many of its competitors in the top-tier bracket.

However, I would discourage KTM from attempting to shave extra grams from the frame by reducing the amount of carbon fibre.

For me, I would happily accept a bit of extra beef to stiffen up the rear and create a more spritely ride. It would pay greater dividends on the climbs than a bit less weight and, more importantly, it would get rid of that damn brake rub.

How the frame evolves next will be key to KTM’s hopes of ongoing success in the market for WorldTour-ready bikes.

It has proved it can do it with the excellent 2015 Revelator, so it should only require minor tweaks to make a bike that will stand shoulder to shoulder with the big name brands, yet still deliver value for money in this pricier area of the market.

Verdict: An almost race ready machine, but the KTM Revelator Prestige Dura-Ace Di2 falls short of its potential 

Specification

KTM Revelator Prestige Dura-Ace
Frame
Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9150
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9150
Chainset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9150
Cassette Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9150
Bars Ritchey WCS Carbon Curve
Stem Ritchey WCS-CF C220
Seatpost Ritchey WCS Carbon 27.2mm
Wheels DT Swiss RC38 Spline C
Saddle Selle Italia SLR Flow
Weight 6.98kg (55cm)
Contact flidistribution.co.uk

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