Having clinched MBUK‘s enduro/all-mountain/long travel trail (or whatever you’d like to call them) bike of the year title last year, we’ve certainly come to expect big things from the Swoo/o bad thing as we loved it last time around, though the German brand has tweaked the spec of the Swoop 170 throughout the line-up. You’ll now find better tyres across each of the up-to-date bikes and a distinct lack of front mechs — something that always seemed a little out of place on a big bike like this.
- The Radon Swoop 170 9.0 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
Radon Swoop 170 9.0 frame
Each setting allows you to alter the head/seat tube angle by 0.5 degrees and change bottom bracket height by 6–7mm at a time (bottom bracket drop can be adjusted from 8–21mm).
I spent the majority of my time in the slackest/lowest setting where the head angle measured 64.4 degrees and the bottom bracket sat at just 332mm off of the floor. While you’ll need to take time to get used to the low bottom bracket, there’s no getting away from the fact that the Swoop is a complete demon through the turns.
Radon Swoop 170 9.0 kit
The Fox rear shock is matched nicely with the 36 Performance Elite fork up front, which we’re big fans of thanks to the supportive feel and easy, effective adjustment on offer.
Fox also takes care of dropper post duties with the 18in Swoop sporting a 150mm drop Transfer Performance number. While the compact but easy to reach remote works really well, the tiny bolt used to clamp the cable and anchor the remote to the bar need to be treated with care when being worked on.
Radon Swoop 170 9.0 ride impressions
Setting the suspension on the Swoop does take a little time. That’s no bad thing though because the range of adjustment on offer from both the fork and shock mean it should work for a wide range of rider weights.
I played around with sag settings and, when in the open mode, the low-speed compression setting on the rear shock until I struck a good balance with my fork set up.
I found the single volume spacer in the shock that Radon specs as standard delivered enough end stroke ramp up to handle everything I could throw at the bike, so left that as it was throughout testing.
Apply pressure to the pedals and the Swoop picks up speed quickly thanks in part to the rapid pick up in the rear hub and the light overall weight. It also helps to keep things feeling nimble, lively and fun when tackling slower speed trails or when powering up short, punchy climbs.
On longer uphill stints, you’ll appreciate the firm setting on the shock, but seated the suspension feels reasonably stable when in the open mode. The steep seat tube angle helps to keep you over the bottom bracket and make pedalling feel like a more efficient affair. The fast rolling rear tyre helps here too, though can feel sketchy when tackling root riddled trails in the wet. I’d prefer to see a tougher, softer compound rubber tyre back here instead.
Even though some might struggle with the low bottom bracket when the Swoop is in its lowest setting, I absolutely love it, as did the other testers. Getting your pedalling just right takes time to perfect but when you do you soon realise what an absolute demon the Swoop is through the turns. Slide it in and rip it from turn to turn and you’ll be surprised by just how far you can push those lean angles.
At higher speeds when the going gets rough, things feel composed and stable, but when compared to the RockShox Lyrik RCT3 the Fox 36 Performance Elite never felt quite as comfy on really long, chewed up runs. It’s still a seriously well-mannered fork though, with plenty of support and, combined with the supple rear end, helps keep the deeply treaded tyres biting into the dirt.
Overall, it’s hard to knock the Swoop’s geometry and well-rounded nature, and while I’ve picked a couple of holes in the 9.0’s spec, it’s still a fantastic bike that’s proven itself to be seriously capable on every trail I’ve thrown it down.
- BikeRadar would like to thank Life Cycle Adventures, Sanremo Bike Resort, MET Helmets, Bluegrass Eagle Protection, Mercedes Benz and Brittany Ferries for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.
If you’re in the market for a new enduro bike, long travel trail bike or all-mountain bike, check out our reviews of those we’ve thoroughly tried and tested.
|Name||Swoop 170 9.0|
|Available Sizes||16in 18in 20in 22in|
|Seatpost||Fox Transfer Performance, 150mm|
|Top Tube (in)||23.5|
|Seat Tube (in)||17.72|
|Stem||Race Face Turbine R 35, 40mm|
|Shifters||SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed|
|Saddle||SDG Fly MTN 2|
|Brakes||Magura MT5 (203mm/180mm rotors)|
|Rear Tyre||Schwalbe Hans Dampf Addix SpeedGrip 27.5x2.35in|
|Rear Shock||Fox Float DPX2 Performance Elite|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed|
|Handlebar||Race Face Atlas 35, 800mm|
|Front Tyre||Schwalbe Magic Mary Addix Soft 27.5x2.35in|
|Fork||Fox 36 Float Performance Elite, with 170mm of travel|
|Frame size tested||18in|