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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.