The Raaw climbs extremely well for a bike in this category, and flies from the start. I think this bike is more proof that the riders position in relation to the bottom bracket can be more important than the suspension design itself for pedaling efficiency. I measured an actual seat angle of 76º at my preferred saddle height of 74cm from the BB center, this makes it one of the steepest on the market without getting confused about different manufacturers' measurements. Despite people saying my knees will explode, they, along with my lower back and hips never felt better - even riding back along the beachfront after completing the 52km EWS race in Finale I was upright and comfortable.
Standing up and putting down the power, the Raaw still kept pushing forward with little lag despite the long travel and 'scary' numbers on the weight scale. It also provided great uphill traction, with its only climbing downside being the low bottom bracket that makes pedal strikes more frequent. This is less of a problem when you're fresh, accurate, and on top of your game, but it did cause me a few problems when my eyes and heart rate were in the red when racing - I completely messed up two climbs by striking pedals and losing all momentum and a lot of time at the EWS. I would really look for something shorter than the 170mm cranks I chose to improve ground clearance on technical climbs.
The Twistloc remote did help with this by increasing the ride height, firming things up, but still giving good small bump compliance and grip. This is easily the best lockout system on the market and improved the climbing of the Raaw even further. Firming the suspension up by twisting the grip is easy at the bottom of the climbs, but can be slightly more difficult if you press the PopLoc button when already committed to a descent and holding on for dear-life – you need to release your grip slightly to let it rotate back to the open position but this becomes natural quickly.Descending
There's barely anything that got in the way of the Raaw on the way back down the hill. Big wheels and lots of travel meant it could take on everything with ease and I would be happy to take this bike to many full-on downhill tracks. The coil sprung suspension was superbly supple off the top, giving great traction and a smooth ride. The rear suspension had support in all the right places and plenty in reserve for the biggest of hits.
The low bottom bracket gave a secure feeling and placed me in the bike, rather than on top of it. This also helps to carve corners but being so low does slow down the switch between directions somewhat. The downside of a steep seat angle, which becomes clear after riding downhill bikes with more relaxed or set-back saddles, is that the seat is getting in the way between your thighs more - the longer 170mm Reverb helped to get it out of the way, but I wouldn't say no to 200mm of drop.
Overall, the Raaw is an awesome machine that really can do it all. If I was nitpicking I would raise the bottom bracket slightly. I proved this was my preference by running a 500lb spring to raise the dynamic ride height, giving more breathing space when descending and climbing through rock sections, and sped up changes of direction; the Raaw has plenty of stability so raising the bike a little shouldn't have any negative effects.