Univega may not be the most well known company out there, but they are actually one of Europe’s biggest bike manufacturers and have been around for over 20 years now.
This latest offering is aimed at the ever expanding and highly demanding freeride/all-mountain genre, which puts them up against some tough competition.
The RAM does contain the essence of a good bike and has the equipment to back it up, it just needs a little something more to help it achieve what it’s been built for.
Ride & handling: Real ‘do anything’ feel
Sat in the saddle and really picking up pace, it’s obvious that the 4-Link Support Mission system creates a stable platform on which you can simply spin the cranks to your heart’s content in an efficient manner.
It’s not until you hit a steeper incline or find the need to really turn on the power that you feel the flex from the main pivot.
This does give it a bit of a sloppy feel, and did result in the frame flexing enough for the wheel to rub on the seatstay.
The RockShox Monarch 3.3 rear shock on our test bike was supple and ate up the terrain well, but the gate function didn’t offer the results we’d hoped for.
Production bikes will be supplied with a Fox Float RP23, so it would be good to see the difference this would make. The Fox 32 TALAS RLC fork performed flawlessly.
The RAM could deal with most terrain and successfully be climbed back to the summit. It does feel like a bike of compromise though, which may favour some riders but can get a little frustrating for others.
The Univega seemed more suited to trail centres rather than hitting any extreme sections, and the cross-country orientated cockpit may explain why.
Frame: Good looks and clean lines
The front and rear triangles of the RAM ES-970 are joined together using the 4-Link Support Mission system, which is basically a modified single pivot with a linkage activated shock.
The hydroformed tubes meet perfectly at the head tube, resulting in some really great shapes which produce plenty of strength at the critical stress areas.
The shock is tucked in just in front of the seat tube, which keeps it gunk-free for the majority of the time. A middle-of-the-road 69-degree head angle offers a good compromise for a variety of riding conditions.
Equipment: Fantastic fork and spec
This sub-35lb bike hosts a list full of quality kit. Production bikes come with the excellent DT Swiss X 1800 wheels, although our sample came with Mavic SLR Crossmax.
Avid Elixir CR brakes are spot-on, with masses of adjustment on offer, while the SRAM X.0 shifters and mech performed as faultlessly as ever. The Fox fork offers plenty of adjustment and a consistently high level of performance.