Radon has been around in its native Germany for a while. But it’s only recently that our UK test team has begun getting aboard the direct-sell brand's machines.
It's fair to say that Radon has most categories and sub-categories of mountain biking covered – all the way down to ‘Superenduro’, which is where the Swoop 170 comes in.
Flexible, high-value setup
The Swoop delivers 170mm (6.7in) of rear wheel travel, controlled via a RockShox Vivid Air R2C shock, which offers external beginning and end stroke rebound damping adjustment along with a low-speed compression dial. The Vivid Air’s lowest anchor point is where the Swoop’s flip chip can be found.
The RockShox Vivid Air shock tracks and smooths the terrain seriously well
This enables you to switch between Tour, Trail and Park modes, each of which alters the head angle by 0.5 degrees and the BB height by about 6mm. There’s a mix of internal and external cable routing, 12x148mm rear axle spacing and room for a bottle.
The value on offer is impressive, with the Swoop featuring a host of SRAM kit, including its top-line RockShox Lyrik fork, 11-speed GX transmission and Guide RS brakes.
Smooth on the rough stuff
At 14.58kg (32lb) the Swoop is a touch on the portly side, but it pedals well when seated. With a relatively steep 75.5-degree seat angle (in Trail setting) and little suspension bob it’ll chug up just about any climb.
Out-of-the-saddle cranking on steeper inclines isn’t quite as efficient, with no compression lever on the rear shock to tame the pedal bob. But this isn’t a big deal – after all, the Swoop is more about the going down than the going up.
Pointing the Swoop down a rough descent reveals a highly assured machine
Drop into a rough descent and the Swoop will happily swallow up the chunder from beneath you, with both the Lyrik fork up front and the Vivid Air shock at the rear tracking and smoothing the terrain seriously well, and the slack 64.1-degree head angle and low BB bolstering confidence when it’s most needed. While it took us just minutes to set up the Lyrik, the Vivid Air required more experimentation to find the balance we were after. Once you find that sweet spot though, it can take a hammering.
On faster, mellower trails that need constant line adjustments the Swoop feels more akin to a lightweight DH bike, preferring to stay glued to the trail and guided rather than be hopped or popped from line to line like a shorter-travel trail bike might. When things got really steep we found the front end a touch low, but a switch to a higher rise bar would fix this.
We didn’t get on with the Ergon grips, but that's a simple fix away – and our only main gripe was with the Continental tyres. This bike is capable of being pushed seriously hard but the Trail Kings squirmed under heavy cornering loads and lacked enough bite to tackle any cambers that were even just semi-slimy at a decent pace and with confidence. They should be your first upgrade on what's otherwise a competent big-country bike.