Update January 30, 2019: The passing of Underground Bike Works’ main investor has left the company unable to continue. The sad news was reported by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. The article states there are still some bikes available but the Durango, Colorado, offices have been shut. Win’s Wheels was the delivery hub for Underground so if you are interested in purchasing a very rare bike, contacting Win’s is your best bet.
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an Underground Bike Works Revival 27.5+ hardtail mountain bike for a week of thrashing around in the hills surrounding the beautiful (and dry and dusty) community of Somis, California. I say “fortunate” because only 250 of these bikes are being made. This was a unique opportunity to spend some saddle time on an ultra-rare, two-wheel creation.
THE BIKE’S PEDIGREE
The Revival 27.5+ comes to the trail with some serious DNA behind it. Rather than try to trace the family tree, you can click here and get the complete family biography. Let’s just say that if you shook the Underground family tree, names like Parker, Wadleton, Herting, Tomac, Giove and Rockwell would fall out. Impressive and intimidating.
THE PURPOSE FOR THE REVIVAL 27.5+
The first mountain bikes were made for downhill, trail riding, back-country exploration, trials, dual-slalom and jumping (if you were brave or crazy enough). That’s because one bike did it all. The sport followed the inevitable evolution of specialization over the years as riders demanded more performance for one discipline and accepted severe trade-offs (or total write-offs) in others. The Revival 27.5+ comes full circle in the mountain bike universe because it returns to the days of one bike doing it all. Maybe that’s why they call it the Revival. Am I reaching here? I don’t think so.
FLOATING ABOVE THE TRAIL
If you are not looking at the tire’s width (you should be looking down the trail), it would be easy to mistake the Revival 27.5+ for a conventional 29er, only smoother and even less affected by the trail surface. It floats over loose trail debris. The tire noise is less than a conventional 27.5 or 29er. It is a sweet muffled sensation. If there is added compression and rebound generated from the tires, I didn’t feel it in the saddle. The expected “bobbing” just wasn’t detected.
UP THE CLIMB
The Revival 27.5+ bike has no issues with its rider getting out of the saddle to punch over inclines or to increase pedaling RPM to get on top of a gear. It is equally impressive in the saddle. It maintains traction over rocks and ruts, so the rider can just crank away. The pedal clearance helps in rocky sections too. The bike’s compliant tires greatly reduce (and I might say, “eliminate”) any advantage of a dual-suspension bike on a rocky, rutted climb.
RAILING THE CORNERS
You know how personal trainers always preach about working on core strength? The Revival 27.5+ took that sermon seriously. The bike’s frame has the core strength that makes railing corners a confident and controlled experience (doesn’t hurt having those meaty tires biting the trail). The steering doesn’t feel slack (sluggish) or steep (nervous). It is right there in the middle with a light, neutral feel to steering input. Off-camber corners? No problem.
GLIDING OR FLYING
This is a very forgiving hardtail that responds to aggressive riding techniques on the descents. Stay off the brakes and out of the saddle (dropped) with your chest a few inches over the bar and the bike feels like it is on rails.
The Magura brakes are well matched to the task for slowing down these large tires. The only drawback to the Magura stoppers (I use them on my own bike, a Pivot 429) is finding a bike shop that stocks their brake pads. I buy them on Amazon and keep a spare set in the toolbox.
THE RIDER WHO WILL LOVE THE REVIVAL 27.5
This is a limited production, hand-constructed, America-made, $6950 mountain bike. That friends, is a rare breed. The price will eliminate many potential riders (don’t worry, I’ve been told a more affordable version is in the works) but Underground never intended to make just another stamped-out hardtail. This bike breathes new life into the trusty hardtail mountain bike. Heck, it breathes new life into mountain biking. It expands the possibilities for the rider who doesn’t want the complexity or hassle of a dual-suspension mountain bike and wants one bike that can do it all.