Web mail order meisters Wiggle import the well regarded German brand Focus into the UK. Amazing value is a major selling point, but the frame build technology is pretty special too, and the current run-out price makes it an excellent deal.
The Raven is a thoroughbred race bike without a thoroughbred race bike price tag. A higher stem and riser bar would instantly disguise its Teutonic cross-country race breeding and morph it into a great hard riding trailster, but many riders will like it exactly as it comes, complete with the silky smooth 100mm travel RockShox Reba Race air fork and a slick-shifting SRAM X9 gearset. It only weighs 25.4lb, it's superbly equipped for a sub £1000 bike.
The frame is laden with the sort of features that'll keep tech heads nattering for ever at the start of its first group ride. The unique slotted wishbone seat stays set the scene, then you notice the funky oversized and unusually shapely head tube, the big boxy cast rear dropouts and the extended reinforced bottom bracket shell.
The design flourishes are not just for show though. They contribute to the performance. Acceleration is remarkably rapid, handling is precise and joyfully lively in technical single track and the stiff ride feel is tempered by sensibly fat (2.3in) but fast rolling Continental Gravity/Flow tyres and steep frame angles that'll encourage you to hover over the saddle and use the fork to maximum advantage when the going gets rough.
There are loads of excellent hardtails on the market around this price, but few of them are as well equipped and race-ready as this. Its long racy profile won't suit everyone, and it takes a while to feel at ease with the low (12.25in) bottom bracket height. But after a few rides, it's easy to see why most cross-country racers still use bikes like this.
Wiggle is currently offering the 07 Raven for £850 making it even better value.