Revel Propulsion Review: Insane eBike Power in a Tiny Package

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  • Post published:February 13, 2024
  • Post category:Reviews

Electric bikes (ebikes) are becoming increasingly popular as an environmentally friendly and efficient mode of transportation. With an ebike, riders can go farther and faster with less effort. One of the latest players in the ebike market is Revel Propulsion.

Revel Propulsion offers a lightweight and powerful mid-drive conversion kit that can transform a regular bike into an ebike. In this Revel Propulsion review, we’ll take an in-depth look at the Revel Propulsion kit including its features, performance, cost, pros and cons.

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Revel Propulsion Review – Introduction

Revel Propulsion was founded by Paul Daniel, an engineer formerly with Brammo electric motorcycles. The company is based in Ashland, Oregon and aims to create lightweight, high performance ebikes and conversion kits.

Revel Propulsion Review 1

The Revel Propulsion kit includes a mid-drive motor, battery, controller, and accessories to electrify your bike. The motor mounts in the bottom bracket area and provides pedal assistance as you pedal.

Some key features of the Revel Propulsion kit:

  • Lightweight mid-drive motor rated up to 650W continuous, 850W peak
  • 378 Wh or 756 Wh battery options
  • Torque sensor provides natural pedal assist response
  • Total kit weight from 10-14 lbs depending on configuration
  • Motor, controller, and wiring integrate cleanly into bike frame
  • Can be installed on most standard mountain bike frames with 68-100mm bottom brackets
  • aluminum housing protects motor and gears
  • Removable battery attaches to water bottle mounts for easy charging
  • Can be programmed for Class 1, 2 or 3 speeds
  • Retails for $1699-$2199 for a complete kit
Revel-Propulsion-Review-kit_pic

So in summary, the Revel kit aims to provide a lightweight and stealthy way to electrify your mountain, commuter, or cargo bike. The mid-drive motor provides a natural riding feel by responding to your pedaling force and cadence. Let’s take a more detailed look at the components that make up the kit.

Revel Propulsion Motor and Drive System

The centerpiece of the Revel kit is the mid-drive motor. This compact unit mounts in the bottom bracket area and provides pedal assistance up to 650W continuous power.

Some details on the Revel Propulsion mid-drive motor:

  • Rated for 650W continuous, 850W peak power
  • Weighs approximately 8 lbs including controller
  • 63 mm wide, 120 mm tall, 125 mm long
  • Aluminum housing protects internal gears and wiring
  • Internally geared with helical gear teeth for quiet operation
  • Dual stage gear reduction for high torque
  • Maximum torque output over 90 Nm
  • Pedal rotation speed up to 120 RPM
  • Waterproof construction rated to IP65
  • Includes cadence sensor
  • Threaded bottom bracket fits 68-100 mm bottom bracket shells
  • Motor case has mounting holes to attach to bike frame

The Revel mid-drive motor is designed to be lightweight yet powerful. The aluminum housing encloses the motor, gears, and wiring into a compact package.

Internally, a planetary gear reduction paired with a 2-stage helical gear system allows a high torque output from the small motor. The gear teeth are angled (helical) to provide smooth and quiet operation compared to straight-cut gears.

The dual stage gear reduction converts the high motor RPMs into usable wheel torque. This allows the 650W Revel motor to produce over 90 Nm of torque, rivaling much larger direct drive motors.

The Revel motor case is engineered to fit seamlessly into the bottom bracket area on most standard mountain bike frames. Custom mounting plates are also available for non-standard frame fitments.

Power is transmitted from the Revel motor to the bike’s rear wheel via a #415 chain connected to a toughened freewheel mechanism. This proprietary freewheel is designed to handle the high torque loads. The freewheel allows the motor to drive the wheel while still allowing the pedals to freewheel when not pedaling.

To power the motor, the Revel kit includes a compact lithium-ion battery. The standard 378 Wh battery attaches to water bottle mounts on the bike’s down tube for easy installation and removal. A larger 756 Wh battery is also available for extended range. The battery provides 36V nominal and is rated for 30A continuous discharge for full power operation.

Revel Propulsion Review Gen3 ISO LHS
Revel Propulsion Review G3 BATT LHS

To control the Revel motor, a waterproof handlebar-mounted controller connects to the motor via waterproof connectors. The controller regulates power based on input from torque and cadence sensors to provide a smooth, natural pedal assist response. LEDs on the controller indicate power level and battery status at a glance.

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The cadence sensor mounts to the motor housing and tracks pedal rotational speed. This allows the motor controller to provide assistance proportional to your pedaling cadence.

The Revel Propulsion kit also includes brake cutoff switches, throttle (on some models), advanced display/programming unit, charger, cabling, and all necessary mounting hardware for installation.

Installation of the Revel Kit (Revel Propulsion Review)

One benefit of the Revel mid-drive system is relatively simple installation compared to a hub motor setup. However, some mechanical aptitude and bike maintenance experience is recommended.

Here are the general steps to install the Revel Propulsion kit on your bike:

  1. Remove crankset, bottom bracket, pedals, and front derailleur from the bike. The chain may need to be removed also on some frames.
  2. Install the Revel motor onto the frame using provided mounting plates and hardware. Use threadlocker on all bolts.
  3. Install pedals, crank arms, chainring and chain on the Revel motor. Reinstall chain on bike if removed.
  4. Mount controller handlebar display and route cables along frame. Use zip ties to secure cables.
  5. Mount battery on downtube water bottle mounts. Connect battery to motor controller.
  6. Program motor controller and sync display to desired settings if needed.
  7. Perform test ride and tuning as needed. Add torque arm for stability if required.

The Revel mid-drive system uses a standard 68-100mm threaded bottom bracket shell so it will fit on most mountain bikes, commuters, or cargo bikes.

Since the Revel motor replaces the bike’s bottom bracket, you’ll need basic tools like Allen wrenches, a bottom bracket tool, and a chain tool. No specialty bike tools are required.

Total installation time ranges from 1-3 hours for someone experienced with bike mechanics. Always use proper torque specs on reinstalled components.

Riding Experience with Revel Propulsion

Once installed, the Revel mid-drive provides a natural and intuitive riding experience. Since the motor responds directly to your pedaling force and cadence, it feels like you have just become a stronger rider.

The pedal assist reacts seamlessly as you increase pedaling torque and RPMs. Acceleration is brisk thanks to the high torque output. The assistance tapers off smoothly as you reach the maximum assisted speed.

The mid-drive experience also provides excellent traction control since power is transmitted through the bike’s drivetrain, not the front or rear wheel like a hub motor. This allows putting down the 650W of assistance even on loose terrain without breaking traction.

Since it reacts to your pedaling, the Revel system provides exercise when wanted. On extended climbs or for fitness, you can dial down the assist levels to get a workout. The pedal-assist nature also helps conserve battery compared to using a throttle constantly.

But the Revel system also provides welcomed assistance when you don’t want a workout. Running errands around town or riding with less fit companions are made easier with the powerful motor support.

The helical gears keep operation quiet. There is a slight whine from the motor under heavy load, but it is minimal. Overall noise level is on par or quieter than leading mid-drive ebikes.

One difference between the Revel system and some other mid-drives is the lack of internally geared hub or derailleur. The Revel uses a single speed setup with the motor chain reduction providing all the gearing. This keeps things simple and light. However, very steep hills may require some extra pedaling effort.

Advanced telemetry and programming options allow tuning the pedal feel and power bands to suit rider preferences. And the standard Class 1 programming keeps the Revel legal on many multi-use trails. Overall, the Revel Propulsion kit provides an intuitive and natural riding experience in a stealthy, lightweight package.

Revel Propulsion Torque Sensing

A key technology that provides the Revel kit’s smooth pedal assist response is the proprietary torque sensing bottom bracket.

This specially designed bottom bracket measures the rider’s pedaling force and cadence in real time. It contains precision strain gauges to detect minute levels of deflection when pedaling forces are applied.

The torque sensor data feeds to the motor controller, allowing motor power to be applied proportionally to the rider’s efforts. Harder or faster pedaling results in increased motor assist, while easing off decreases assist.

Cadence is also measured independently so motor power can scale appropriately at different pedal RPMs. This cadence sensing prevents the sluggish feel when rolling slowly in a high gear.

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The end result of this instantaneous torque and cadence sensing is a highly intuitive and natural power delivery. Pedaling torque is amplified smoothly, not just based on wheel speed. This is a key advantage of mid-drive ebikes compared to more basic hub motor systems.

The torque sensing also increases efficiency and range. By only providing proportional power based on pedal efforts, excess energy consumption is avoided. Battery range is increased compared to simpler speed sensing ebikes.

Performance and Power Modes

The Revel Propulsion system can be configured from the factory for street legal Class 1, 2 or 3 speeds:

  • Class 1: Provides assistance only up to 20 mph with throttle disabled. Best for multi-use trails.
  • Class 2: Has a max assisted speed of 20 mph but keeps the throttle enabled up to 20 mph. Better for city/commuting use.
  • Class 3: Increases max assisted speed to 28 mph while still allowing throttle if desired. Good for bike path riding.

Within each class mode, the Revel system has variable levels of pedal assist from mild to highly powerful. Typically 3-5 levels are configured ranging from ~150W on the low end to 650W or full power on the high end. Lower assist settings provide a light boost while the highest setting gives essentially unlimited hill climbing ability.

Theadvanced display/controller unit allows changing between preset assist levels on the fly. LEDs indicate the current power setting and battery status. So you can dial power up or down as terrain and conditions change. More power cruising on flat roads, less power for exercise on climbs.

For Class 2 and 3 kits, the thumb throttle provides full power independent of pedaling whenever desired. This allows easy starts from a dead stop and cruise control up to the maximum assisted speed. The throttle makes operating the Revel more like a moped or motorcycle if desired. However, battery range suffers compared to using primarily pedal assist.

Overall the Revel system provides a range of programmable power modes suitable for commuting, exercise, or recreation. And integrated brake cutoffs ensure power is removed for safe stopped operation.

Revel Propulsion Battery Options

Revel Propulsion offers two lithium-ion battery options to power the kit – a standard 378 Wh battery or a higher capacity 756 Wh option.

The smaller 378 Wh battery weighs just 4 lbs and easily fits on the bike’s downtube or can be removed for charging. Latching mounts attach it securely even on rough terrain. This battery provides range from 20-40 miles depending on power usage and assist levels.

For longer range, the 756 Wh battery packs twice the capacity into an 8 lb package. Two of these larger batteries can be installed on the bike for massive 150 mile range if desired! The Revel controller can support up to 1500Wh of total power.

Both battery options use quality name brand LG lithium-ion cells rated for high discharge. The batteries output 36V nominal and can supply over 30 amps of current continuously for full power operation.

An advanced battery management system is integrated into each pack for monitoring individual cell voltages and temperatures. This protects the battery from damage and ensures long life over hundreds of charge cycles.

The Revel batteries use a modular design so groups of cells can be replaced if needed after years of service. And the rugged aluminum casings protect the packs from vibration, shocks, and weather encountered on rough trails.

For charging, the 48V 2A fast charger can replenish a single battery pack in 2-4 hours. The charger has a compact and portable design with a 6 foot cord. Simply connect it to the covered charging port on the battery to begin charging.

Weight of the Revel Propulsion Kit

One standout feature of the Revel Propulsion kit is its light weight. Here are the core component weights:

  • Motor and controller: 8 lbs
  • 378 Wh battery: 4 lbs
  • 756 Wh battery: 8 lbs
  • Throttle, display, wiring: 1 lb

So a complete Revel Propulsion Class 1 kit with single battery weighs about 10-14 lbs depending on configuration. And up to 50% of this weight is centrally located for a low center of gravity.

For comparison, most powerful direct drive hub motors weigh ~10 lbs just for the motor alone. And rear hub batteries can weigh 15 lbs or more.

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So the Revel mid-drive system provides a significant weight savings – potentially 10 lbs or more compared to a hub drive setup. This keeps your ebike lively and maneuverable. And allows building a lightweight eMTB under 40 lbs.

Cost of the Revel Propulsion Kit

As a premium electric bike kit, the Revel Propulsion system has a higher cost than basic hub motor kits.

Here are the current Revel kit pricing options:

  • Class 1 Pedal Assist Kit (20mph max): $1699
  • Class 2 Pedal Assist Kit with throttle (20mph): $1899
  • Class 3 Pedal Assist Kit with throttle (28mph): $2199

These prices include motor, controller, 378 Wh battery, throttle if applicable, mounting hardware, cabling, and programming for street legal operation.

So the Revel Propulsion kits provide a lightweight and refined ebike conversion option at a premium price point. The costs are comparable to high-end pre-built electric bikes once you factor in the bike’s cost.

Optional accessories like larger batteries, custom tuning, and spare parts are also available at additional cost. But the standard kits include everything necessary for installation and riding.

For riders seeking maximum trail performance in a minimalist package, the Revel Propulsion system delivers excellent value. The performance, weight savings, and quality outweigh the costs when riding areas prohibit heavier hub motor ebikes.

Technical Specs of Revel Propulsion Components

Motor
Max continuous power650W
Peak power850W
Max torque90+ Nm
Max efficiency80%
GearsDual stage helical reduction
HousingCNC aluminum
Weight8 lbs
Batteries
Capacity378Wh or 756Wh
Voltage36V
Max current30A+
CellsLG 18650 li-ion
Charger48V 2A fast charger
Charge time2-4hrs
Controller
Max power1500W
Class modes1, 2, 3
Sensor inputsTorque, cadence
DisplaysLED with 4 indicators
Full Kit Weight
Motor, controller8 lbs
Battery (378Wh)4 lbs
Wiring, display1 lb
Total Weight
Basic kit10-14 lbs

Pros and Cons of the Revel Propulsion Kit

Let’s summarize some of the key benefits and potential downsides of the Revel Propulsion system:

Pros:

  • Very lightweight mid-drive system, 10-14 lbs total
  • Powerful 650W motor with 90+ Nm torque
  • Natural pedal assist response from torque sensor
  • Integrates visually into bike frame
  • Programmable power modes for any riding need
  • Typical 250-500Wh batteries for 20-60 mile range
  • High quality components and construction
  • Made in USA with good customer support

Cons:

  • Expensive $1700 – $2200 cost for full kit
  • Installation requires some bike maintenance experience
  • Single speed only, no internal gears or derailleur
  • May require torque arm add-on for some bike frames
  • Short range from small batteries if not using lower assist modes

So in summary, the biggest benefits of the Revel kit are its light weight, high power density, and natural riding experience from torque sensing. Perfect for transforming a standard mountain bike into a high end eMTB.

The main downsides are the cost and installation complexity. And range may be limited if attempting to use full power constantly versus lower assist modes. But overall the Revel Propulsion system hits a nice sweet spot between power, size, and weight.

Conclusion: A Strong Contender for Lightweight eBike Conversions

After researching the technology inside the Revel Propulsion kit and reading revel propulsion reviews from actual owners, it’s clear this is an well-designed system for converting standard bikes into mid-drive ebikes.

The Revel system excels at providing a lightweight, high performance, and stealthy conversion. With the motor, battery, and wiring integrating cleanly into the bike frame.

While the Revel kit isn’t cheap at around $2000, it can transform a bike you already own and love into an ebike while preserving it’s natural dynamic feel. This provides a cost-effective alternative to buying a pre-built electric mountain bike in the $4000+ range.

For mountain bikers seeking to electrify their ride without adding excessive weight or bulky appearance, the Revel Propulsion kit hits a nice sweet spot. It provides just enough power and range for technical trail riding or commuting. While avoiding the heft and mediocre pedal feel of hub motors.

The Revel system certainly isn’t the only option for converting a standard bike to electric. And it may be overkill if you just need basic assist around town. But for hardcore riders desiring a natural feel from mid-drive power, the Revel Propulsion system is a top choice to consider.

Image credit: revelpropulsion.com

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