If you’re browsing the net looking for bargain bike bits, chances are you’ve come across the massive Bike-Discount.de – but you might not have found its Radon range of bikes.
Don’t dismiss Radon as just the latest Deutsch direct sell outfit following on the heels of Canyon and YT either – it’s been going for 25 years back home in Bonn. Does all this translate to a bargain bomber on the trail though?
If you’re a regular reader of bike tests involving German brands you won’t be surprised a lot of emphasis has been put on the climbing and pedalling performance of this bike. Radon claims the complete frame without shock comes in under 2kg and at just 12.75kg for a size large it’s a very light bike for 160mm of travel.
Stubby stem and wide bar are good to see:
Stubby stem and wide bar are good to see
There’s a very aggressive initial damping feel of the RockShox Monarch Plus rear shock. This means you can put plenty of power through the rear wheel without any movement from the shock besides the initial sag.
The RockShox Pike RCT3 fork is a Dual Position model, so you can drop the nose of the bike 30mm and steepen the handling angles to stop the steering flopping from side to side on particularly slow and vertical climbs.
Stiff swiss wheels from dt:
Stiff Swiss wheels from DT
The Schwalbe Hans Dampf rubber pairing comes with a harder compound PaceStar rear version to add some rolling speed without compromising decent all round all weather grip. The DT Swiss E1700 Spline wheels are stiff and responsive thanks to their high-tension direct-pull lacing and the lightweight SRAM X01 transmission is driven by a reasonably stiff Race Face Turbine crank. Even the Ergon GE1 grips are shaped over a hard rubber centre for long haul ergonomics.
Coming up short
Even on our large sample the 60mm stem, steep seat angle and relatively short 614mm top tube mean those grips aren’t far away from the saddle. That makes it hard to get a decent pull from the bars and push on the pedals to drive the pace rather than just resigning yourself to a more upright spinning position. If you’re hoping to get maximum control and confidence dividends from the long-travel suspension once you’ve started descending, you’ll potentially be underwhelmed too.
The numbers all look okay in theory – 66.8 degree head angle is steeper than the slackest semi-DH bikes in its category, but the 435mm rear chainstays, 1180mm wheelbase and low 335mm bottom bracket should produce an inherently stable baseline. The stiff 35mm diameter, 760mm wide Race Face bar means plenty of leverage to muscle through any twitch that does start in the front end. The trouble is that the shock tune and short reach leave you perched up high on the bike rather than dropping you into it and connecting you with the ride.
The dual position pike doesn’t feel as good as a solo air one: Russell Burton
The Dual Position Pike doesn’t feel as good as a Solo Air one
Things get worse once the trail starts getting rowdy as once they’re moving both the rear shock and Dual Position fork blow through their travel with little provocation. That means it completely squanders its suspension travel in terms of control and you’ll often see the travel markers way up the fork and shock shafts without having hit anything significant.
Because it’s so linear you have to run more pressure, which in turn creates a firmer start stroke. Repeated rock and root slaps make for a very clattery, speed sapping feel on rougher trails and the more you try and force it to go faster, the more it’ll complain and the more factors like the hard grips and short position will get in the way of your fun.
On climbs the slide is impressive, but we found descending a bit of a deflating experience:
On climbs the Slide is impressive, but we found descending a bit of a deflating experience
As soon as you start dropping your heels and trying to rail the bike through corners or work the Avid Guide RS brakes hard with late braking, the fore and aft pitch of the bike is really disconcerting and hard to predict. Perhaps unsurprisingly the lightweight frame starts to shimmy and get out of shape when you’re pushing hard too which adds another element of unpredictability to the mix
There’s potential to work with volume adjusting spacers in both shock and fork (DP forks become spacer compatible this year) and maybe even a shock remap to reboot the ride characteristics of this otherwise impressive value, lightweight cruiser. But with so many very well sorted bikes available in this category, a ton of suspension faffing just to make it okay, not even outstanding, doesn’t really appeal.
That makes the even lighter and faster Slice 140 bikes seem like a better bet for fans of efficient distance devouring as the suspension character will be less of an issue with less travel to get lost in.
Ready for either 26in or 27.5in wheels, the Rune is a versatile and hugely capable long-travel competitor with a well thought-out spec for real world riding. See our full Banshee Rune review.
Cotic Rocket 275
If you ride hard and fast, plus need (or simply desire) the strength and stiffness of 853 steel, the supremely balanced 150mm travel Rocket should be on your short list. See our full Cotic Rocket 275 review.
Orange Five Pro
Getting the job done with simple suspension, the cult-classic Five Pro delivers visceral communication with an excellent geometry to create an addictive aggro trail slayer.See our full Orange Five Pro review.