Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to ride the Porcupine Rim trail more times than I can count. But one thing that has always eluded me was the chance to ride The Whole Enchilada. That wasn’t for lack of trying however, as TWE is seasonal trail, and the events that brought me to Moab, Utah had always been in the wrong season. For those not familiar with TWE, it is one of the great mountain bike epics – a 30+ mile journey from the top of the La Sal mountains, into the heart of Moab.Advertisements
The majority of The Whole Enchilada, better known as Porcupine Rim, is open for riding almost year ’round. But in order to actually ride The Whole Echilada, you have to start at the top with a climb from Geyser Pass Road up to Burro Pass. The trail starts at about 10,500 ft which is where the seasonality issue comes into play. In order to ride TWE, you have to time it just right so that the upper trails are open and not covered in snow & ice or bogged down with mud, and you also need it to be cool enough at the bottom that you don’t roast alive in the Moab heat. For most people, that means riding it in the fall when the trails are dry up top, the Aspens are changing color, and the rockier trails below are pleasantly warm.
After learning that I would already be in Moab during this magical window for the Hydro Flask Downshift launch, I knew that this was my chance to finally check this epic ride off my bucket list. Fortunately for me, this window also happened to be around the same time as Moab’s Outerbike, which meant that the Revel Bikes crew were headed into town with their demo fleet. I’ve been able to spend some time on the excellent Revel Rascal, but I hadn’t had the chance yet to ride their Rail. What better opportunity than a trial by fire on TWE?
After working out the details with Revel Bikes, we agreed to meet in the parking lot of the shuttle company where my Rail would be waiting. After cutting it close with an early wake up call and the need to repack all my gear from three days on the White Rim while completely shifting gears to more aggressive riding, I managed to make it onto the shuttle and we pointed up into the La Sals.
After a fairly long drive, we unloaded in the Geyser Pass Road parking lot, and started to dial in the bikes. Fortunately, almost the entire Revel crew were on hand including their suspension experts, so getting the bike set up perfectly was a quick process. The Revel Rail is an enduro bike with 165mm of travel out back matched to a 170mm travel fork up front with 27.5″ wheels, and in this case was set up with a Rockshox Lyrik Ultimate RC2 fork and RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate rear shock.
Revel Rail XO1 Build with Upgraded Wheels
Equipped with a SRAM XO1 Eagle build kit and upgraded Industry 9 Enduro 310C wheels with 27.5 x 2.50″ WT Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR II tires, there was absolutely nothing to change on this build. Right down to the Ergon grips (my favorite) and saddle, this build is dialed from top to bottom. The stock build includes I9 Enduro 305 Alloy wheels w/ Hydra hubs, the I9 310C carbon wheels are an additional $600 upgrade. As it sits, this exact bike with an ENVE M7 carbon bar runs $7,600. That’s a good chunk of change, but it’s also very respectable for a build kit of this level.
More important than the build kit, is how the full carbon frame actually performs. I had a good idea going into this ride of what to expect from the Rail, but it’s always nice when things work out the way you plan. TWE starts out with a short pedal through alpine meadows before pitching upwards with a grueling climb. Given the fact that you’re starting at 10,500 feet and have to climb up past 11,100′ with very little warm up, the start of the trail is as good of climbing test as any. Since I was coming into the ride straight off the White Rim trail, my legs and body were already pretty shot from three days of riding almost 100 miles and camping in between.
But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from bagging TWE, so when my legs (and lungs) said no, I got off the bike and pushed. That wasn’t a result of the Rail’s climbing ability though – this thing climbs better than any 165mm travel bike has any right to. But the cold, a heavy pack (3 liters of water plus two bottles and a lot of food and gear), a tired body, and the knowledge of what laid ahead meant that I needed to conserve energy on the way up. Even though TWE is predominantly downhill, it’s misleading – the constant beating from chunky roots, rocks, and rough roads makes it far more difficult than many are led to believe.
Preparing for TWE
We passed a few riders who looked like they were already in over their heads just a few miles past the trail head, and injuries and even evacuations are common on this trail. If you’re an experienced rider you should have little trouble, but the ride should be taken seriously and you should be prepared for mechanicals and mishaps with plenty of fluids and nutrition.
After recovering at the top of Burro Pass, the real fun begins. One of the amazing things about TWE is how many different zones you travel through from the top of the pass to the Colorado River below. At the top, you’d have no idea you’re in Moab as you blast through beautiful Aspen forests on steep, loose, rooty, and rocky trails. This upper section is challenging in it’s own unique way with tight switchbacks and blisteringly fast descents with cold hands and arms. In spite of my body not being fully awake and up to the task at hand, the Rail made quick work of the trail and confidently guided me down the mountain.
By the time we reached the Hazard trail head, I had started to feel more like myself as Adrenalin erased the fatigue of the previous week. From Hazard to Kokopelli, you have another short but steep climb, followed by a riotously fun descent with plenty of little kickers, tight turns, and high speeds. Both the Revel Rascal and Rail benefit from the Canfield Balance Formula suspension which does an incredible job at seamlessly transitioning from an efficient pedaler to a plush ripper. This was immediately apparent any time the trail pointed downwards, as the Rail offered impressive control through technical sections.
That was even more apparent once you hit the warp speed section of the Kokopelli trail and the high speed but chunky second half of the trail. Admittedly, I wouldn’t mind the same platform with 29″ wheels instead of the 27.5″ especially on a trail like this, but the suspension really helped to get the wheels out of the way of the many, many square edged hits they encountered on the way down. The flip side of that is that the smaller wheels may make some of the more technical moves a bit easier. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a bike with 27.5″ wheels, but the Rail doesn’t feel held back at all with the choice of hoops. The bike is also served well by its choice of geometry. At 5’8″ I was on the medium, which runs a 75° seat tube, 65° head tube angle, and a 450mm reach. Nothing crazy, but it results in a neutral feeling bike that is easy to handle.
As is often the case with such epic rides, it felt like it was all over way too soon. The Rail performed flawlessly over full 32.55 miles back to the starting point in the shuttle parking lot. Honestly, you can’t ask for much more out of a bike. It pedals well, it descends well, and it looks great while doing it. Throw in an impressive build at a competitive price, and my time on the Rail confirmed what I already knew – Revel Bikes are new to the game, but they came to play.