Good-quality, stylish carbon-fibre frame makes for a great ride - but can the components keep up?
Five decades of experience in making bicycles has seemingly not done much to raise the profile of the KTM brand in the UK. It’s a shame, as the Austrian marque offers a huge array of bikes to suit every rider, and its Revelator 3300 is a solid example of what the company has to offer: the classy frame is backed up with a well-balanced spec sheet, at a competitive price.
The 3300 is the base model in KTM’s Revelator range, and features exactly the same frameset as the Elite model priced at £2,249. Immediately, this makes you pay attention to the 3300 — it shares a backbone with a bike costing a grand more.
The frame looks great, with just the right amount of angles and curves, set off with some unusual graphics that we think are on the right side of striking. There’s enough black showing to retain that carbon look — and the bike does appear as though it is worth much more than its £1,299 asking price.
Our 55cm model was fairly generously proportioned, just about accommodating a six-feet-tall rider. The seat tube extends well above the chunky junction with the seatstays and top tube. Aesthetically, it’s trademark KTM — flattened sides to the head tube with neat internal cable routing.
The bottom bracket junction accommodates a press-fit BB, and is a chunky, well-built section that resists lateral flex. The relatively deep-bladed forks complement the rest of the frame.
Compared to alloy-framed bikes at this price, the KTM’s components offer less finesse. There is no 11-speed Shimano Ultegra here; instead, we have 10-speed Shimano 105 mixed with Tiagra. KTM has had to make a call on how to save money on parts while maintaining the integrity of the frame package.
Thumbs-up to KTM for sticking to Shimano for the drivetrain parts, which can be guaranteed to work together efficiently. Up front, the KTM has own-brand bars and stem; we really liked the two-tone bar tape — black on the tops, white below the levers. Those levers pull on Tiagra brakes, and although they don’t quite offer the power of 105, they aren’t too far behind.
It’s good to see a branded Selle Italia X1 Flow saddle held up by the KTM alloy seatpin. Also good is the red-anodised headset and rear derailleur hanger, which incorporates the exit point for the internally routed cable. A nice touch.
In the past, Shimano’s R500 wheels have evoked mixed feelings. They aren’t the lightest, and occasionally we’ve found that they flex side-to-side when climbing. However, we’re happy to report that the ones fitted to the KTM suffered none of these issues and complemented the whole package very well. As with many wheels at this price, the finish is all-black with a nod towards ‘aero’ profiling at the rim. We have no complaints about the Continental Ultra Sport tyres.
It doesn’t take many pedal strokes aboard the Revelator 3300 to make you realise that the frameset is of a high quality. The feel of the ride was direct, yet there was no sensation of the road buzz that you often get with alloy frames at this price. The bike seemed particularly at home climbing, and we were surprised at how it allowed us to tackle steep inclines. Indeed, it felt far more sprightly than its 8.37kg weight would lead you to expect.
Hard efforts on the flat saw us ticking along making smooth progress, without any of the clanking of cables against the frame that sometimes accompanies rides on carbon-fibre machines. Downhill, the ride was just as assured; the geometry and bar height set-up felt just right.
Having just stepped off a bike equipped with Ultegra 11-speed, though, the drop down in drivetrain quality was very noticeable. Though the gear ratios were spot-on, the mixed 10-speed Tiagra and 105 gears tended to clunk into place and require more effort to shift. That’s no problem per se — and some rival manufacturers spec from far lower down Shimano’s range at this price — but here the quality of the frame highlights the blemishes of the lower-range groupset.
KTM offers the same frame with an Ultegra group and higher-spec wheels for £1,699 — an extra £400 quite possibly very well spent.
The KTM has a great frame at its heart: it's light and nimble up hills. But, rather like fitting a lawnmower engine in a Ferrari, its parts fail to match the ability of its frameset. If you can scrape the cash together, one of the better-specced KTM Revelators in the range is a cracking buy – or perhaps buy the 3300 and upgrade as you go along.