It's not often that a completely new bike brand comes to market, especially one that on paper, looks to have hit all of your preferred nails on the head: sizing, geometry, attention to detail, materials, and pricing. But, that's exactly what it looks like Ruben Torenbeek, an ex-Scott Sports engineer has done. 160mm x 29er? Yes, I've been asking for one of those since I first rode Specialized's 29" wheeled Enduro in 2014, but few responses to that machine have been seen until recently. The Madonna also features chainstay lengths suited to each frame size, storage bags for tools and spares designed alongside the frame, sealed pivot hardware and measurements that meet all the latest standards. We're looking forward to getting our hands on one, but for now, you can read the press release below:
Built to deliver the highest performance, in a durable design with great functionality in all its details. The Raaw Madonna will make you go faster on the roughest trails and convince as an efficient climber.
The balanced geometry is made for stability and suits the character of the suspension perfectly. Years of experience went into the design of suspension-layout and are completed by a specifically tuned Fox DPX2 or DHX2 shock.
Performance, durability, and functionality meet in all the bike’s details. From fully sealed pivot-bearings to the integration of gear-essentials, we integrated a long list of technical solutions that will quietly perform ride after ride.
• Wheel travel: 160mm / 160mm
• Wheel size: 29"
• Size specific chainstay length
• 205mm x 60mm Metric shock
• 12 x 148mm Boost hub spacing
• Four bar linkage suspension
• Shipping worldwide, except Canada and USA
• Delivery: March 2018
• Price: 2.690 EUR incl tax.
Availability and Pricing
The Madonna will be offered as a frame kit only in 2018. The frame kit will come with: Fox DPX2 Factory shock, Acros headset, DT Swiss axle, top tube tool bag and tube strap. The frames will be available in M, L or XL in matt black, shiny red or raw with matt clear coat. Delivery is estimated for March 2018 and will be shipped worldwide excluding USA and Canada. The price for the frame kit will be €2,690 EUR / $3178 USD (approx.)
We don’t like stating the obvious, but apparently, we are one of a very few that care. Instead of making a roman-like story, here’s a list of details on the MADONNA
• Massive tire clearance with room for flexing rear wheels.
• Welds that are positioned, not to interfere with the tire in extreme situations.
• Loads of room for your feet to move and not interfere with the chainstays.
• Chainstays designed to be as far from the chain as possible, to minimize chain-slap.
• A large recess in the downtube provides space for clean cable-routing, a tube, CO2 cartridge and will fit all 2018 Fox and Rockshox shock models.
• Safe cable-routing that isn’t exposed to rocks under the bike and also doesn’t rub, move, or rattle, even at bottom-outs.
• Pre-cut chainstay and seatstay protection made from ‘3M Scotch Rubber Mastic Tape 2228’ comes with the frame-kit.
So that’s it, a list of what we think should be obvious, but somehow isn’t.
Durability and performance meet on the suspension’s pivot design. Ten large 28mm bearings and two 52mm bearings are fully sealed with a new ‘hub-cap-style’ pivot design. Every single pivot is sealed from water, dust and mud and guarantees performance on long-term. The shock bushings are replaced by large ball bearings and are partly responsible for the unseen sensitivity of the suspension that gives the rear-wheel traction unlike anything else. The frame’s hardware is designed to work with a single 5mm Allen key and guarantees a simple and easy working environment for maintenance. You won’t need three hands and a degree in science to take care of your bike.
Times when you forgot a spare tube or tool are a thing of the past. From the start of development, we have focused on smart integration of the essentials. A bottle cage mount is standard on all frame sizes. The downtube features a deep recess that not only creates space for shock clearance and cable routing but also a small spare tube and a CO2 cartridge.
The top tube is made from two separate tubes, creating a tapering pocket for a gear bag. This handy and rattle free bag is held in place with a magnet and can be used for your individual needs. A small tool, chain link, zip-ties and CO2 inflator will all fit and are accessed in no time.
No pockets, mud doesn't stand a chance. The Madonna-frame has been designed with closed surfaces only. Weight optimization has been done from the inside, with hollow forging parts. This way we have been able to avoid pockets, that gather mud and are hard to clean.
The recess on the downtube will work with a tool bag to carry spares like tubes and CO2 cartridges.
External cable routing and a threaded BB. Functionality and aesthetics. The focus is on ergonomics and functionality continuously throughout the frame, with external cable routing and a threaded BB. This close attention to details raises the bar of durability and performance.
Brake mount, clean design in every configuration – the removable brake mount enables a design for different chainstay-lengths and different disc-sizes, without using more parts. The brake mount is bolted to the same forging part that also engaged the rear wheel hub, to guarantee a very accurate position of the brake-caliper. The brake mount is specific for a disc and frame-size, allowing a clean design no matter what you prefer to run. Brake mounts for 160 mm up to 203 mm discs will be available for all sizes.
The Madonna will be manufactured in Taiwan.
The ‘four bar linkage’ suspension layout features a large rocker link, delivering a consistently growing leverage ratio that ends at just over 20% of progression. This progression leads to great support and uses the 160 mm of travel efficiently. The high main pivot is designed around a one-by drivetrain, delivering superb pedalling efficiency, even when sprinting.
A high starting leverage ratio combined with ball bearings on the shock pivots makes the suspension supple in all situations, tracking the ground better than anything you've ever ridden before. The influence of braking on the suspension is designed to be very active at the beginning of the travel, allowing impacts to be absorbed while braking. Deeper in the travel the influence of braking ramps up and gives the rider more support when things get rowdy.
Designed for the roughest tracks in the world, the Raw Madonna is made to be fast and predictable. The complete package of all angles and lengths makes the bike stable at high speeds and extremely controllable in corners. The bike’s predictable behavior is achieved by using a very balanced design from front to back, and will make you feel at home straight away. Three different frame-sizes give riders between 165 cm and 200 cm a perfect fit, with room for riding-style preferences.
The steep seat tube angle and the moderately long reach are responsible for an excellent climbing position. We use different chainstay-lengths on all frame sizes to give every rider the same balanced feel. The balanced design with the low BB shines in corners and technical terrain. We don’t believe in extremes, we believe in just right.
The man with a plan - Ruben Torenbeek
The bike industry offers a wicked number of bikes and we like a lot of them. But we feel that the development got stuck in many directions. There are so many chances to simply make bikes better. The industry is obsessed with ‘the next big thing’ and has a hard time bringing that year after year.
Raaw was founded by Ruben Torenbeek in 2016, after working for seven years in the industry as a bike engineer and designer. At Raaw we started the development of the Madonna with a long list of new solutions. Some of the solutions will convince on the first ride and others will make you smile after a full season of riding.
Interview with Ruben Torenbeek
Paul Aston: What projects did you work on at Scott during your years as a designer there, and which other brands have you worked with in the past?
After finishing my bachelor degree in mechanical engineering and product development I've now gathered 7 years of experience in the bike industry, mainly as a bike engineer. I've worked at Acros Sport, Ghost Bikes, and Scott Sports, before being self-employed. At Scott, I've been involved in projects such as the 2017 Spark and I initiated and developed the stem-handlebar combo that is now used on the new Genius.
PA: What was the main catalyst that prompted you to leave the big players and build your own brand?
It started with being self-employed, I worked as a freelancer doing small projects for bike-brands. I simply needed more space, I'm not very good at sitting in an office. Raaw then started with a list of ideas that kept growing and eventually I decided to focus on that full-time, that was one year ago.
PA: How much work really goes into building your own brand. You had a good head-start on most people after working inside the industry for seven years, but still, it must not be an easy task?
I guess Vernon's story a few weeks ago summed it up pretty well! The development of the frame was the easy part, I knew exactly how I would do things, being able to decide everything myself. But, a lot of things after that were new to me, the whole business side, financial plans and everything involved in the communication of the brand. To me, the constant pressure of having to work on everything and realizing how much all the details need to line-up in order to have it all work – that was the hard part.
Ruben Torenbeek riding his own creation
PA: What is the main reason somebody should buy a Raaw bike over the abundance of other good bikes on the market?
Greater durability, higher performance and a lot of love in all the details. The traction is unreal, it's glued to the ground and it's so precise at high speeds.
PA: Details like making all of the bearings are the same size?
Yes, the main pivot uses two 52mm bearings (also used in lower headset cups). The other pivots count a total of ten 28mm bearings, that includes the shock mounts. The hardware of the frame uses only a small number of different parts. There are two different bolts and three different axles. All of the hardware has been designed to make maintenance very easy, there is no "positioning spacers with your little finger, while pushing the axle through".
PA: What does the future hold for Raaw, are you going to be a 'one bike to rule them all' brand or are you looking at expanding the range to other types of bikes?
There are definitely plans, but I want to take one step after the other.