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Mechlyfe Ratel Review: Rebuildable Pod-Style AIO with Replaceable 18650

Jeremy Mann
October 1, 2019

Product intro and specs

The Mechlyfe Ratel is a unique device that can fit into various categories. Powered by a single 18650 (not included), the Ratel is a rebuildable AIO with adjustable airflow that fires up to 80 watts. It also has adjustable voltage, bypass mode, and even TC. And the RBA cartridges hold up to 4 mL of juice.

Although Mechlyfe is calling this a rebuildable pod system, that’s misleading. It’s more like a single-coil GTA trapped inside a large pod-style AIO. Despite its looks, this is not a beginner’s kit or even a transitional kit for learning how to build. The Ratel is an advanced kit that happens to be an AIO. There’s a lot going on with this device you should know about. Here’s a closer look.

Mechlyfe sent me this kit for the purpose of this review.

Price: $64.95 (at Element Vape)
Colors: Carbon fiber, resin blue, resin green, resin white, resin red

Specifications

  • Size: 104 mm x 42 mm x 26 mm
  • Capacity: 4 mL (Standard Edition)
  • Battery Type: 1x 18650 battery (not included)
  • Power: 5-80 watts adjustable
  • Temperature: 200 ℉ - 600 ℉
  • Drip Tip: 510
  • Modes: BYPASS/VV/VW/TC
  • Build Deck: Single coil
  • Voltage: 0.5-8 volts adjustable
  • Resistance Range: 0.05-3.5 ohms
  • Material: Aluminum/resin

Kit contents

  • Mechlyfe Ratel rebuildable pod
  • 2 x MTL fused Clapton coils
  • USB charge chord
  • Screwdriver
  • 4 x screws
  • O-rings bag
  • Bag of organic cotton

Build quality and design

The Ratel is a good looking and nicely built AIO. I loved taking it out of its package. There’s just so much resin! I couldn’t wait to play with it. The device stands 104 mm x 42 mm x 26 mm which makes it rather tall. With an 18650 installed, it weighs 175 grams. It’s closer in size and weight to a small box mod, which is why I think I like holding it.

The Ratel comes in five different interchangeable resin panel options. They’re magnetized and fit in the device firmly on either side. There’s no wiggle room or play, and they’re easily removed by a little tab on the bottom. The Ratel chassis is made out of aluminum and the battery compartment is plastic.

The Ratel features a well-lit screen and nice button layout that looks the same as the Pulse 80W. Inside the Ratel is a 4 mL plastic cartridge with a GTA-style deck for single-coils that’s marketed as MTL all the way to DL. It has adjustable airflow, and the kit comes with a black 510 Delrin drip tip. Apparently, they’re going to be selling wider-bore resin tips for those that want to take bigger hits and push more wattage.

Overall, I like the build quality and design of the Ratel. However, the outside edges of the body are a little hard. You can feel a slight scrape against your palm when you hold it. And when you get into the cartridge, some other issues arise that I’m not a big fan of.

RBA deck and cartridge

On top of the Ratel, the 510-drip tip has an adapter that forces the cartridge down. Tightening that adapter is how the cartridge makes connection to the battery, and how it’s held in place. You can’t fire the Ratel if the drip tip adapter is not screwed all the way down.

To remove the cartridge, unscrew the drip adapter just enough for the cartridge to slide out, but not so much that the tip and adapter comes out. The drip tip adapter is an integral part to this device working. Best to keep it attached.

RBA deck

The RBA section has three parts:

  • Airflow ring (with DL slot and MTL hole)
  • Deck adapter
  • GTA deck with a 510 connection

To remove the RBA section, unscrew the airflow ring all the way from the cartridge until the deck falls out, but keep the airflow ring on—it can slide off if you pull on it. (The airflow ring only fits one way; look inside to see the grooves.) Then unscrew the deck from the adapter, which is a lot easier to do with the airflow ring on.

Place the deck on a mod and install your build. It’s a straightforward two-post deck with little flathead grub screws. However, there is also a center-post for secondary airflow adjustment that opens up more air for bigger hits.

The post holes are about 2 mm in diameter, so this is best suited for beefier coils. Mechlyfe includes 2x fused Claptons of about 2.5 mm ID. Due to the size of the wick ports, that’s the ideal coil ID for this deck.

Installing and wicking on the Ratel is just like any GTA-style deck, except it’s a little bit more cramped here. The deck is only 13 mm wide. But keep with the same rules of wicking a normal GTA. There’s a 2.5 mm bottom-fed airflow hole that you’ll want your coil to be directly over. And of course, don’t pack the cotton. Snip tails just outside the deck. Just let them hang a little in the ports, but do make sure your tails are wide enough to lightly seal the outside from juice flooding the deck.

Cartridge

The 4 mL cartridge has a largle L-shaped refill plug with a long flap that extends under the cartridge. It feels odd and it gets in the way when removing the deck. For a ~$60-$70 rebuildable AIO, I’d expect better. It works fine though. Also, that plug is over a one-sided port that causes trapped air to spit back juice if you fill it too quickly. You have to tilt the cartridge and fill from the low corner.

While you can technically fill this cartridge by only taking off a panel, I don’t think it’s a good idea since the battery is right below. The chance of spillage is actually kinda high. I recommend removing the cartridge to fill.

Personal usage notes: check before you fill

While the Ratel is straightforward to build on, things can get a little convoluted and messy if you want to tweak your newly installed build.

I have a good track record with first builds. Normally, my first build sets the standard for all subsequent builds. But with the Ratel, my first build was off. The coil was placed a little too high, I think. It was a chore to start all over again! I had to syringe out the juice, take out the wet deck, separate the deck from its adapter, place it on the mod… rinse and repeat.

That’s why I think it’s best to check how it vapes before filling the cartridge. After juicing up the build and test firing it on the mod, I install it in the cartridge without filling it. Once I get it all set up, I take a couple short vapes. Remember, the wick and coil are wet. If it’s off, I can skip the hassle of syringing out the juice. Granted, this only eliminates one step if I have to tweak the build, but it’s much cleaner. And if it vapes fine, then I simply fill it. No harm no foul.

I also use this method to determine where I like the center-post airflow with a particular build. Since the center-post airflow is on the deck, you can’t adjust it once the cartridge is full unless you want to syringe out the juice and go through that again.

Features and functions

I have to admit, when the Ratel first came across my desk, I didn’t know it was going to have the capabilities it has. I had only noticed “rebuildable pod system.” If anyone is reading and would like me to send this to Anthony Victor to have its performance tested, just let me know in the comments section.

The OLCD screen is bright and easily readable and the menu looks a lot like that of the Pulse 80W. It has a full power suite featuring adjustable watts or volts, bypass mode, and temperature control. That’s all noise to me. But here’s some details:

Five clicks of the fire button to turn on and off.

  • Quick scroll in 0.1-watt increments  up to 80 watts
  • No round-robin
  • Click the button three times to scroll through Watts/Volts/bypass/TC
  • Celsius or Fahrenheit (just scroll to the end of C and F will begin)
  • No power lock

I’ve had some issues with the drip tip adapter keeping the connection perfect. I’d sometimes get either an “atomizer short” or “new coil/old coil” error message, which caused me to have to fiddle with moving parts more than a couple of times. It would eventually come back to life, but I wasn’t too happy with that to say the least.

Performance

The Ratel does very well with a restricted lung to a direct lung hit. I’ve been able to finagle a build and tight airflow setting to do a sorta-MTL, but I doubt any strict-MTL fans would be satisfied. I wasn’t. The chamber is too large, and even the bottom-fed airflow is too much for strict MTL.

But that doesn’t take anything away from the Ratel’s vape quality.

I view the Ratel as a high-performance AIO, and not your average tootle-puff device. This thing can really crank out the vapor! With the MTL hole and just a quarter of the slot open, I’m fogging up my office with each hit! I’ve only used the included fused Claptons and a couple stray coils I had in my drawer, but they all produce good flavor. My builds ranged from 0.7-ohm to 1.0-ohm. I been using Five Pawns Gambit in 6 mg. The Ratel is not as good as a real single-coil GTA, but it’s better than your run-of-the-mill AIOs. It’s been a bit challenging for me for various reasons, but I’ve enjoyed vaping with it.

Pros / Cons

  • Good looking
  • All the electronic features of a box mod
  • Nice resin panels are held in firmly
  • Feels sturdy
  • Lots of airflow options
  • Good flavor
  • 4 mL capacity
  • Replaceable 18650
  • Loads of vapor
  • Wired rubber plug gets in the way
  • Single-port refill can cause liquid to flow back out
  • Drip tip adapter may cause connection issues
  • Requires another device to build on
  • Airflow ring has up-and-down play
  • No power lock

Verdict

The Ratel is one interesting device. There’s a lot that I like, and a lot that I don’t like. I’m mostly neutral. At the end of the day, I had an okay experience with it. It vapes well and it looks really good to me. But I doubt I continue using it. I like that its rebuildable, but I don’t want to be dependent on those pieces and a plastic cartridge. The Ratel is a nice device, the mod part, but it will only work with those cartridges. That’s a bit too much hassle for me. But I could totally understand why someone would still be interested to try it. If you’re okay with the realities of the device and you still want to get it, I say go for it. The performance is good enough that I won’t recommend against it.

I'm the chief editor here at Vaping360 and I reside in southeast Michigan. I've been vaping since my first ecig purchase in 2010. For more reasons than I can list, vaping has been a lifesaver for me. Now, my goal is to help other smokers make the switch.

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