KTM Revelator Alto Master 22 review
KTM's high-end Revelator Alto has all the right ingredients to cut it as a modern, race ready road machine
Sometimes the old adage 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' rings true and this is possibly the case with KTM's latest Revelator Alto. Now transformed into a race-ready machine it has lost something of the superb ride quality we found with the previous version. There's no denying this new bike is an engaging and rapid machine, well suited to crit racing but with this in mind it certainly deserves a better set of hoops. If all-day comfort is what you are still hankering after then the 'standard' Revelator Master will probably be a better bet.
Zero setback post hampers comfort
Wheels are not the most inspiring performers
KTM has been working hard recently to create very real differentiations within its vast Revelator range of road bikes. Whilst the name might not be new, the brand-new-for- 2019 KTM Revelator Alto is a very different beast from the Revelator Alto of old. Reimagined as KTM's take on the modern race bike, it now sits nicely between the more traditional Revelator and the wild and aero Revelator Lisse. Making it a little easier to choose exactly the right Revelator for your needs. Similar to many prestige brands, you can choose between two different tiers of carbon-framed Revelator Alto. At the very top end KTM produces a Sonic version with a different carbon layup to reduce frame weight to a low 790 grams. Built around the needs of KTM's race team it has a price tag to match the exceptionally high-quality frame. For the rest of us mere mortals KTM also produces bikes like the Revelator Alto Master 22 we tested here. This uses a more economical carbon construction that promises to retain similar levels of performance without too much weight penalty. Regardless of carbon layup and cost, all Revelator Alto models share a common frame design and tubing profile. As the Alto is aimed as an all-round style race bike it follows the latest trends and technological advancements. This is most apparent in the dropped seatstays and in the wide stance and aero shaping of the fork legs. However, compared to many of the new guard of race bikes such as the Specialized Tarmac and Scott's latest Addict, the Alto utilises rounder profile tubing keeping it looking a little more traditional. It also sticks to a slightly more mechanic-friendly cabling set-up at the cockpit. The majority of the cabling is internal giving the Alto a pretty sleek-looking profile and one that is definitely helped by the minimal wiring needed for the Di2 groupset. KTM has chosen to spec the Revelator Alto with a D-shaped Ritchey seatpost, taking it down the slightly aero route. Initial concerns about the tiny clamp bolts employed to keep it in place were unfounded and it remained solidly in place. While it does look modern and aero, it doesn't lend any comfort to the Revelator's ride quality, with aluminium construction and D shaping being inherently stiff. It also features a zero setback head so road vibrations and shocks are sent directly through to the saddle. Read: KTM Revelator Alto 4000 review Another obvious feature to note is that the new Alto has been designed around disc brakes and so uses thru-axles to increase frame and fork stiffness and to provide consistent braking performance. These use a 6mm hex key for removal so you always need to make sure you're carrying one on your multitool in case of a puncture.
KTM has specced a complete Shimano Ultegra Di2 disc groupset for the Alto Master including chain, disc rotors and cassette. As expected, the shifting from Shimano's second-tier electronic groupset is crisp and accurate with no reliability issues encountered during the testing period. The braking performance is powerful enough to allow descents to be attacked knowing that you can stop effectively no matter the conditions. They do have a habit of becoming a touch noisy in wet conditions and that can get a little annoying, especially for your riding buddies. The choice of wheels and tyres are not the most inspiring on the Alto Master and did neuter its potential to some extent. There's nothing wrong with the DT Swiss P1800 Spline wheels exactly – in fact they roll well and flew through the test without any issues. It's just they are more of a training than a race wheel due to the relatively high overall weight and softer ride feel. They will certainly remain a reliable year-round wheelset capable of shrugging off the worst our roads can throw at them. Schwalbe Pro One tyres are again relatively good performers but lack the road feel and performance that this bike deserves. The finishing kit on the Master leaves nothing needing replacing. Ritchey provides the cockpit and here KTM has chosen to spec the more expensive carbon WCS bar which is to be commended. We mentioned the proprietary seatpost earlier and its features but it is still an elegant looking post and KTM has chosen a comfortable Fizik Antares saddle to perch on.
It didn't take long into the first ride to realise that the Revelator Alto has been designed with performance and racing in mind. It provides immediate feedback and responds to any and all effort put through the pedals. The handling is almost exactly as you would want from a bike of this type, fast and flighty without being overly nervous. Emergency avoidance of potholes and other obstacles didn't faze it too much and cornering is positive and confident. Bottom bracket stiffness is good; it's not quite on par with the best in the category, but still stable enough to cope with sprinting forces without any undue flex. While this level of urgency and stiffness completely suits a crit racer, the unrelenting nature of the ride can take its toll on longer rides. Without being able to change the seatpost it's difficult to know exactly how much of this unwanted feedback comes from it, the frame, tyres or a combination. I suspect that it's an unhappy combination of all sum of the parts. However, I did notice an improvement when changing to a different set of wheels with a slightly larger tyre volume. The wheels err on the side of caution with regards build quality and while there is no doubting their ability to provide year on year of all-weather, reliable service they do provide a slightly sluggish ride quality. As part of our experiment to see how wheels could change the Revelator's ride we fitted some of Hope's superb RD40 wheels and suffice to say we weren't disappointed – this is a bike that certainly deserves a proper set of race wheels.
Buy now: KTM Revelator Alto Master 22 for £3599 from Damian Harris Cycles The Revelator Alto has an excellent level of componentry attached to its frame and can hold a candle to even the online brands in terms of its value for money. Despite the misgivings of the Ritchey seatpost there is very little that you would look to change barring when parts wear out. Yes, the wheels hold it back in terms of out-and-out performance but if you value reliability and peace of mind over ultimate race-ready performance then this shouldn't be an issue.
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James Bracey's career has seen him move from geography teacher, to MBR writer, to Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and video presenter. He possesses an in-depth knowledge of bicycle mechanics, as well as bike fit and coaching qualifications. Bracey enjoys all manner of cycling, from road to gravel and mountain biking.
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