Rizer Rival 2.0 27.5 hardtail review

Solid value, but needs component updates to truly compete

27.5 Cross Country
Yes, quick release skewers still exist.

Yes, quick release skewers still exist.

Other odes to mountain biking’s past include quick release skewers, non lock-on grips that easily spin in your hands, and the use of Schrader valve innertubes. The reality, though, is this isn’t that far out of line with what you’d get from more well known brands at this price point. For example, the $1280 Trek X-Caliber 9 has QR skewers, too. The difference, though, is that most people will be far more comfortable buying a Trek — and that bike’s bars and stem are more in line with the current trend of wide and short.

Chainstay clearance is tight, even with this 2.2" tire.

Chainstay clearance is tight, even with this 2.2″ tire.

The Rizer Rival 2.0 also loses points for its lack of QR seatpost collar (for easier raising and lowering of the saddle), very tight tire clearance in the rear end despite running just 2.2” Continental RaceKings, so so braking performance, and the decidedly unrefined look of the welds, especially the rear disc brake mount.

The Shimano XT rear derailleur is the star of the drivetrain.

The Shimano XT rear derailleur is the star of the drivetrain.

Spec: The Good

On the upside, the Rizer Rival 2.0 has a blended Shimano drivetrain (including XT rear derailleur) that delivers crisp, reliable shifting. The 2x set-up also has plenty of gear range, which for someone starting out in the sport is definitely a good thing. That will change if/when SRAM’s new 1×12 Eagle system comes in more budget friendly configurations, because one shift paddle will always be easier than two.

Actual weight 27.6 pounds size XL 27.5. Price: $1200.

Actual weight 27.6 pounds size XL 27.5. Price: $1200.

Props are also deserved for choosing a more descending-friendly 69-degree headtube angle, which is steep enough to claw up tricky climbs, but not so aggressive that steering becomes overly twitchy. The RockShox Recon 100mm fork also does a decent job, though we found we had to exceed recommended pressure to avoid sketchy fork dive in fast, rough situations. The lock-out works well for smooth climbing.

The bike has a stout downtube that accentuates power transfer.

The bike has a stout downtube that accentuates power transfer.

Stiffness and efficiency are enhanced by the frame’s stout downtube, chainstays, and tapered headtube. But we’d love to see a little less girth at the seatstays, which would add a little more compliance to what can be a fairly jarring ride.

On the Trail

Hardtails are inherently good climbers and this bike is no exception. Despite its weight, I was able to pick my way up fairly technical climbs, the Continental tires providing just enough bite, but also rolling well.

Shifting is crisp and precise, but the non lock-on grips easily spun in our hands.

Shifting is crisp and precise, but the non lock-on grips easily spun in our hands.

Shifting was also solid, a testament to Shimano’s ability bring top-level function to its heavier and less expensive components. The brakes, on the other hand, were just so so, delivering more of an on-off feel than the smoother modulated sensation you get with higher level options.

We'd prefer to see wider bars.

We’d prefer to see wider bars.

Going downhill, there is definitely a limit as to what you can do on this bike. It doesn’t take much for the Recon fork to get overmatched, a fact exacerbated by the frame’s rigid rear end. But again, the Rival 2.0 isn’t meant for enduro racing; it’s a budget (and beginner) friendly bike that with a few adjustments to components and the addition of the more appropriate 29er wheel size could provide a solid entry point into this great sport.

For more info please visit rizer-bikes.ch.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.

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  • Johny says:

    “super narrow 680mm” – ??? Really. After getting fed up with the super the wide is better koolaid (and having hit some trees in that time) I’ve trimmed mine to 660, now my 29″ fits between trees and I fill more confident while riding narrow trails. Plenty wide even for 6’3″ rider. I agree when it comes to stem length though.
    And nothing is wrong with that QR. Unless the hub was wider (to gain rigidity in the wheel) all that’s “lost” is some weight. Not really an issue for already chunky bike.

  • Rob says:

    I wouldn’t say 680mm bar is “super narrow”, narrow yes, but leave “super narrow” to 540mm

  • Matt says:

    Just buy a used bike instead of this.

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