Review: Raaw Madonna V3 - Yes, It's Still Great

Mar 22, 2024 at 13:55
by Mike Kazimer  
The third version of the Raaw Madonna builds on the rock solid foundation established by the previous iterations – the bike already had a well-deserved reputation for being a tough, reliable enduro bike, so there was no need for a complete overhaul. Instead, it was more about refining some of the aluminum frame's features, as well as increasing the level of adjustability.

The travel amount remains the same at 160mm, and Raaw recommends running a 170mm fork, although it is dual-crown compatible for riders who want to build up a bike park smasher. Replaceable lower shock mounts are used to allow the bike to run either a 29” or 27.5” wheel, and the mounts can also be used to change the amount of shock progression.

Madonna V3 Details

• 160mm travel, 170mm fork
• Aluminum frame
• 29" wheels (mixed wheel shock mount available)
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
• Weight (size L, no pedals, mixed wheels): 36.5 lb / 16.5 kg
• Price: frame kits from $2,603, rolling chassis from $4,614.
raawmtb.com

For those that have been following along, I went over the main changes to the Madonna in a First Ride article earlier this year, and also used it as part of a 'roast my ride' video with Henry and Dario. I've received numerous questions about the bike since then, so it made sense to wrap things up with a full review that will hopefully answer most of those queries.

The Madonna is available as a frame only for $2,603 (that's without a shock), and Raaw also has rolling chassis options starting at $4,614 USD, which includes everything except brakes and a drivetrain.





bigquotesI'm convinced there's something special about the geometry recipe Raaw has cooked up. The low bottom bracket and tall front end make it almost impossible to have poor form. Mike Kazimer



Raaw Madonna V3 review

Frame Details

As I mentioned, the new Madonna isn't drastically different from the previous version. The top tube is a little lower and the rocker link is a little smaller, but you'd be forgiven for not immediately noticing the changes.

The bearing and pivot hardware were also updated, in order to help reduce the likelihood of creaking, and to increase the overall strength. Those updates include wider bearings, and axles that run directly through the bearings rather than using any sort of reducing hardware.

The Madonna has fully external cable routing (well, except for the brief portion of the dropper post housing that's inside the seat tube), and it all runs along the top of the down tube and then through the bolt-on cable guides on either side of the head tube. It makes building up the bike or swapping out parts refreshingly easy – there's no need to take the fork off, or try to fit your hand inside a teeny tiny hole to get everything installed properly.

Raaw Madonna V3 review

The seat tube isn't totally straight, which means there is a limit when it comes to dropper post length. That said, I was able to run a 210mm OneUp dropper with room to spare on a size large frame, so I don't have any complaints about the fit of the size large for my 5'11" height and 33" inseam. That V2 OneUp dropper post bottoms out at 7mm from fully slammed, and the V3 (which is a little longer in the 210mm size) bottoms out at 23mm from fully slammed.

Given its fairly simple and straightforward look, the Madonna V3 packs in a lot of potential adjustments. The chainstay length can be altered by + or -5mm by using a different axle kit, the shock progression can be changed by + or – 3% from the stock 26% progression via the lower shock mounts, and the bottom bracket height can be raised or lowered by 3mm, also by swapping those lower shock mounts. On their own the changes aren't massive, but combine a few of them and there will be a noticeable change in the bike's handling characteristics.


Raaw Madonna V3 review
Raaw Madonna V3 review

Raaw Madonna V3 review
Raaw Madonna V3 review



Raaw Madonna V3 review

Geometry

The Madonna's 64-degree head angle is pretty standard for enduro-ish bikes these days – it seems to hit something of a sweet spot when it comes to all-round handling. Of course, the straight headtube does make it easier to go even slacker by installing an angle adjust headset, but I didn't see any need to go that route during testing.

The reach numbers of the Madonna are fairly typical as well, ranging from 430mm on the size small and going up to 530mm on the XXL. It's when you look at the stack, bottom bracket height, and chainstay length that the Madonna's geometry starts to deviate a little from the norm.

The size large I tested has a chainstay length of 450mm, which is on the longer side compared to other bikes in this category. For instance, out of the 8 bikes we featured in last year's Enduro Field Test, all of the chainstays were sub-450mm, although the Commencal Meta SX and Pole Onni come close, at 447mm and 448mm respectively. More companies are starting to test the longer chainstay waters, but it's been a slow process – apparently the 'shorter is better' mindset takes a long time to shake.

The Raaw has a stack height of 664mm, another number that's on the higher side of the scale. That high front end combined with a generous bottom bracket drop of 35mm us a recipe for a fun time on steeper trails – I'll explain more in the ride impressions section of this review.


Raaw Madonna V3 review

Suspension Design

The Madonna uses a Horst link suspension layout, with two different rocker links available – the 60 and 65 – that are used to change the leverage ratio depending on rider weight. The 60 is for riders under 90 kg and uses a 60mm stroke shock, while the 65 is for riders over 90 kg and uses a 65mm shock. The progression is nearly identical between the two, at 26% for the 60 and 23% for the 65.

Anti-squat sits at almost exactly 100% at the recommended amount of sag, and then decreases as the bike goes through its travel. Anti-rise is at a consistent mid-40% level for the majority of the travel, a number that should allow the rear suspension to remain active under braking.

Raaw Madonna V3 review
Raaw Madonna V3 review







Test Bike Setup

As far as the basics go, I ran 770mm wide bars with a 40mm stem. Tires were usually a Maxxis Assegai up front, and a DHR II out back, both with a MaxxGrip compound and DoubleDown casing – that's my preferred setup for most fall / winter rides here in the Pacific Northwest. Pressures were 20psi in the front and 23 in the rear.

Raaw has detailed suspension setup tables on their website, and I found the recommended settings to be an excellent starting point. With the Ohlins TTX22 that I used for most of the test period I ran a 480 lb spring, which put me at 26% sag. LSC was set to 11, and LSR was 4, all clicks from closed. I ran 87 psi in the Fox 38 with two volume spacers.

2022 Trail Bike Field Test photo by Satchel Cronk.
Mike Kazimer
Location: Bellingham, WA, USA
Height: 5'11" / 180cm
Inseam: 33" / 84cm
Weight: 160 lbs / 72.6 kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @mikekazimer



Testing Info

Testing took place in Bellingham, Washington, Squamish, BC, over a four month time period. Conditions varied between wet and wetter, but the sun did make a few welcome appearances. The Trailforks lap from the 2022 Whistler EWS above would be an ideal big day out on the Raaw, with a mix of chairlift and pedal-assisted climbing, followed by big descents filled with wheel-eating holes, thick roots, and plenty of rocks.


Raaw Madonna V3 review

Climbing

The Raaw's steep, 78-degree seat angle and tall front end give it a riding position that's not world's apart from that of a commuter bike, and I'm all for it. It works well given the Madonna's intentions – I probably wouldn't be as enamored if this was a trail bike with less travel and a shorter wheelbase, but for a fairly slack, long bike, that position is very comfortable.

It can feel a little strange at first, almost like you're on a Stairmaster, or one of those goofy ElliptiGo bikes that I think old people buy from late-night infomercials, but the very centered position does have benefits – it makes the relatively long wheelbase feel much more manageable. Being centered means that it's possible to stay seated and keep pedaling through steep, tight uphill switchbacks, rather than needing to stand up and lean forward to keep weight on the front wheel.

Even with the Ohlins coil shock installed there wasn't an excessive amount of pedal bob, and I'd typically only flick the compression lever for long fire road approaches, and even then only moved it into the middle position. One thing I would highly recommend is running 165mm cranks. The bottom bracket is very low, and going with shorter cranks means you're much less likely to smack pedals. The difference between 170mm and 165mm cranks is noticeable, especially in chunkier terrain.


Raaw Madonna V3 review

Descending

Version 3.0 of the Madonna is a little slacker and a little longer than the version I reviewed back in 2020, but if anything, those changes all add up to create an even more potent descender, and that's saying something – version 2.0 was certainly no slouch.

The concept of 'safe speed' kept rattling around in my head when I was on the Madonna. It's the difference between going 120 mph in a luxury car versus a clapped out jalopy – in one of them that high speed isn't an issue, and you can actually look around and enjoy the ride, while in the other it's a roll of the dice as to whether or not it'll rattle apart. The Madonna has that safe speed characteristic – it feels unflappable, with an addictive locked-in feel, especially while cornering.

I'm convinced there's something special about the geometry recipe Raaw has cooked up. The low bottom bracket and tall front end make it almost impossible to have poor form – your weight naturally ends up in the correct spot, centered and balanced, and ready to rail turns. That position gives it a very carvy sensation – the whole bike seems to move as one cohesive unit.

Raaw Madonna V3 review

The Fox 38 / Ohlins TTX22 suspension combo is an excellent one. It takes the edge off those big hits, while transmitting just enough feedback to really be able to tell what's going on underneath the wheels. The shock's bottom out bumper is generous, and I never had even a hint harshness at the end of the stroke.

29” vs Mullet

For pure, unadulterated speed, especially in a straight line, the 29” setup will be the way to go. I enjoyed the Madonna in this configuration, but it does give it a bigger presence compared to the mixed-wheel setup – it's fun on flat out sections of trail, but doesn't have the same level of maneuverability at slower speeds as the mixed wheel setup.

I'm pretty sold on mixed wheels for longer travel bikes, and that holds true with the Madonna – that ended up being my preferred setup, mainly due to the handling on steep trails and in tight corners.


Raaw Madonna V3
Raaw Madonna
Raaw Madonna V3 review
Atherton S170

How Does It Compare?

The Atherton S170 was recently released, another high-end aluminum option that's designed with similar intentions to the Raaw. The lugged construction of the S170 is the reason why there are so many size options – 12 to be exact – versus the five options offered by Raaw. As far as the geometry goes, the S170 has a slightly slacker head angle due to the 180mm fork, a shorter head tube length, and shorter chainstays.

On the trail, the S170 has more of a park bike feel – the back end is easy to slide around turns, and it has a good amount of pop even with a coil shock. Neither bike will hold you back on the descents, but I did prefer the longer chainstays and higher stack of the Raaw – those dimenions worked well with my riding style. While both bikes are descent-oriented, the S170 feels even more gravity oriented than the Madonna. Categorizing bikes in this travel bracket can by tricky, but I'd say the S170 is more of a mini-DH thing, and the Madonna is an enduro bike. Either way, for a longer adventure without any chairlifts in sight I'd be more likely to grab the Madonna.

As far as weight goes, the S170 frame is a little heavier than the Raaw, although I don't have the exact figures. Neither bike is a lightweight, but it'll take more work to get the S170 below that 36-pound mark. Both frame only options are in a similar ballpark – the Madonna with a Fox DHX2 and SLS spring is $3,163 USD, and the S170 is $2,962 with a regular spring.

At the end of the day, the Raaw is still a big bike, one that's happiest at higher speeds and tracks. It's not going to be as mindblowing on flatter, smoother terrain – in those instances the weight and length start to become more apparent. It's a little less versatile compared to something like the Ibis HD6 – that bike has a similar amount of travel, but a slightly slacker seat angle and shorter wheelbase. It wouldn't be out of the question to use the HD6 as a long travel all-mountain rig, no matter what Henry Quinney thinks of that term, while the Madonna is happiest when the trail is extra-rugged.

Raaw Madonna V3 review
SRAM Maven brakes.
Raaw Madonna V3 review
Roval Traverse HD wheels.

Technical Report

Coil vs Air:
I tested the Madonna with both the Fox Float X air shock and the Ohlins TTX2 coil. The Float X gives it a more energetic feel; it's a bit more eager to get airborne, and it doesn't dip into its travel as much while climbing. There's still good traction, although the coil option is the way to go to maximize the amount of grip.

I initially swapped back and forth, but eventually settled on the Ohlins for the remainder of the test period. Conditions were extra-wet, and that shock delivers an incredible amount of traction, even when the roots where covered with an icy muck. It give the Madonna a very calm, settled ride quality, exactly what I was looking for while trying to make my way down steep trails in heinous conditions.

SRAM Maven brakes: The Madonna served as the test platform for the SRAM Maven brakes that Dario and I tested. My thoughts from that review remain the same – the brakes are very, very powerful, and lighter riders (myself included) may need to take steps to make that power useable. For me, the organic pads with Centerline rotors ended up being the ticket. Personally, I see the Mavens being best suited to e-bikes and DH bikes, and for bigger riders on enduro bikes. As for that lever feel that seems to be riling up the internet? Yes, it's a little harder to pull than Codes, but no so much that it really bothered me, although it would have been nice if SRAM took a page out of the Hayes Dominion playbook and lightened up that lever action.

Roval Traverse HD Carbon wheels: I've been running these wheels on various bikes since last summer and they're still going strong. I've had a grand total of zero flats, and I only had to do a quick true of the rear wheel to get rid of a slight wobble, and that was after months of hard laps. These will be getting a full review in the nearish future, but so far I have zero complaints – they do exactly what you'd want a nice carbon wheelset to do.





Pros

+ Excellent geometry
+ Great traction with coil or air shock
+ Plenty of adjustments for fine tuning geometry or suspension feel

Cons

- Relatively expensive for an aluminum frame




Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesTime for a trip down memory lane. Back in the early 2000s, right around the time when fat powder skis were really catching on, word started to spread about the Volkl Explosiv. It was a wide (for the time) and stiff ski, built to take a beating, the ideal tool for the contingent of ski bums who enjoyed billygoating through rocks that were barely covered with snow. It was the ski for a number of seasons, earning a cult following amongst the global ski bum collective. In my mind, the Madonna is the modern mountain bike equivalent of that classic. It's not overly flashy, there's no gimmickry, it's simply a solid, well-executed mountain bike that's built to last, and deliver a very good time in the process.  Mike Kazimer







Author Info:
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Member since Feb 1, 2009
1,743 articles

285 Comments
  • 216 1
 Perfect aesthetics/cable routing/geo/frame material.... I'd change nothing.
  • 85 2
 I would like to see the cost come down so there would be no reason not to get this bike.
  • 8 5
 @m3hl: buy it when it's on sale in a year or two.
  • 17 22
flag eastonsmith FL (Mar 25, 2024 at 9:42) (Below Threshold)
 420 st on a medium is wrong and bad. rest is sick
  • 31 2
 The Madonna is a great bike for sure. Despite being a decidedly function-first no-bullshit bike, it actually has a very nice silhouette. It's a very nice looking bike, this latest one particularly. I will definitely consider RAAW in the future.

One thing Atherton are doing well though is sizing. At my height I would be looking for 490-495 reach on a bike like this. As I often do though, I'm falling between sizes on the RAAW. L is 480 and XL is 505. Just too small and just too big for me I think. Seems kinda crazy to have +/- 3% shock progression, +/- 5mm chainstay, but you have 25mm jumps in reach and seat tube between sizes.

I probably need to STFU and just pick one and ride it.

It's not easy being a perfectionist nerd.
  • 4 0
 @eastonsmith: what should it be?
  • 14 2
 Kaz will argue otherwise but straighten out that seat tube. Swallow a 210mm post whole or go home. The S170 would win for this reason alone. I'd be interested in the rise of the bars he ran on this bike with the high stack.
  • 8 5
 @pmhobson: 380-400 like a transition patrol. imo 400 is the standard for medium bikes now.

420 limits shorter riders to ~ 150 dropper which sucks.
  • 5 1
 @m3hl: perhaps it is like that because you are in US. In France it is 2800€ without shock, 3350€ with float x2, for example Transition Spire Carbon is 4200€ with float x2. Yes it is expensive but not very different from other premium brands
  • 14 17
 @eastonsmith: Meh. I'm 6'1" - I used to run a 210mm dropper. Recently switched to a 175mm dropper because it was on clearance and I can't really tell a difference when I'm actually out riding.... Only can see a difference on paper.
  • 4 1
 @eastonsmith: Does that consider if the rear wheel would hit the seat at bottom out? My guess is that there would be interference and that's why the seat tube is along as it is.
  • 3 5
 @tom666: Couldn't agree more. For those who land right in between majority of brands' t-shirt sizing (480=L, 500=XL, etc), this wipes out a huge percentage of brand choices. If I'm paying $$$ for a frame I want there to be an "optimal" size choice.

The only reason that 99% of brands don't offer a dozen sizes is manufacturing and tooling cost isn't supported by the demand for exact sizing.
Hopefully part of the next revolution in the bike industry will be fine-grained sizing options across a lot of manufacturers, as additive manufacturing matures. Adjustable geo is a great intermediate step that more bikes should offer.
  • 20 4
 @chrod: next time you're riding with friends,jump on their bike.... Within 10 minutes you'll be adapted to their sizing (within reason) and you wouldn't be able to accurately say what the reach is of the bike you're riding (within 25-35mm)
  • 25 5
 @tom666: Can confirm,
you need to STFU and pick a bike and ride it.
Youre preferred Reach numbers are meaningless on their own, and Stack, Seat Angle, Head Angle, BB height, wheel size, CS length all play a part.
I'm not trying to be argumentative, or call you out, we can all take this advice. The "perfect" anything doesnt exist, as there a million variables in play, that change when going down the trail.
  • 7 3
 @chrod: its 20mm.....

I'm always reminded that some people see opportunity in difference, and others see roadblocks.
How does T-shirt sizing change anything, call it S sizing, or R sizing, or anything, it doesnt matter.
Everyone is "between" sizing, theres no one thing thats perfect, its all a compromise one way or another, so you find the series of compromises that works best for you, at the time.....Thats important, cause those compromises are going to change over time, type of trails, terrain, innovations, etc.

you honestly, hand over heart think you can tell the performance difference between 20mm?
  • 7 1
 @tom666:

Worth noting, the Raaw has huge stack in comparison to most other bikes.

From span perspective (Hypotenuse between reach and stack), the Large Raaw, is as large as most XL's from other brands, which might have more reach.

Raaw Madonna v3 Large has 480mm of reach, but 664mm of stack.

Transition Spire in XL has 510mm of reach, and 637mm of stack, but is 3mm smaller than the Large V3 in Span.

The new Knolly Chilcotin 167 in size large has 509mm of reach, and 637mm of stack... but measures slightly smaller in span (2mm smaller than the Raaw).
  • 8 1
 @tom666: I really didnt mean to sound like such a jerk.
My bad man!
  • 8 0
 @JonDud: Done that and Nope.
I've demo'd and ridden others' bikes and while I can of course adapt sufficiently to ride trails on even a size up or down, I always jump back on my own setup and it just feels right. In a sport where enjoyment is defined by the user, I'll opt for fit down to 5mm if I can achieve it at reasonable cost. (And I kind of love the search for "optimal".)
  • 4 2
 @onawalk: 100% can tell the difference if you pay attention.
Raise or lower your stem height by 10mm and ride your favorite section of your favorite trail a bunch of times.

Not trying to see roadblocks, just looking forward to an "even better" when I can choose my perfect size bike for reasonable cost.

"T-Shirt" sizing just means "3 or 4 sizes". I want shoe sizes, pants sizes. Atherton delivers (but it's expensive til the tech is commoditized.)

If given a free custom fitted suit, I dunno who'd say "nah I'm fine with this one on the rack, thanks" except for the mannequin it was tailored for.
  • 4 0
 @pasteque51: That's the point tbh.

It's not a premium brand. It's *supposed* to be the budget brand.

Honestly, if those are the prices they're gunning for as a profit, with the entire mtb industry on sale right now, they're not looking too hot right now.
  • 5 1
 @chrod: in mtb pants (trousers) only have 3 sizes and a velcro strap.
  • 4 1
 @ocnlogan: Other side of this coin is that the higher stack frames have a longer wheelbase for the same frame reach. They also maintain that frame reach better since most riders aren't going to use steertube spacers or riser bars to bring their grips up.
  • 3 0
 @tom666: I fall in the same size situation. 490ish is my sweet spot. I would’ve bought one of these last year if I wasn’t smack in between sizes.
  • 2 0
 In Vogue
  • 1 0
 @schwaaa31: I want this bike.... but run into the same deal with reach unfortunately. Frown
  • 2 0
 @onawalk: -IMO there's just "too small" -"it'll do" - "too big" -
  • 4 0
 @tom666: the big upside to running the ZS56 top and bottom headset is that you can run a reach adjust headset and move fore or aft to get closer to what you need.
  • 3 2
 @orphan: Be thankful you're an average size male. For many women there's only "too big", "too big" and "too big" when it comes to a lot of bikes. And for a few outliers like my 6'7" friend, there's only "too small", "too small" and "too small".
  • 3 2
 @eastonsmith: How short are your legs? I'm 5'9 and have had no issues with ~460mm seat tubes, currently got a 200mm post slammed with a 458mm seat tube. The problem with most frames is seat post insertion not seat tube length, no point having a sub 400mm seat tube with less than 200mm of insertion depth like a lot designs have.
  • 2 6
flag onawalk (Mar 25, 2024 at 20:03) (Below Threshold)
 @dsut4392: This just isnt true, What "size" woman are we talking about that cant find a bike to fit?

Theres no such thing as too small, I spent years riding "medium" bikes with 26" wheels, and sub 400 reach....You adapt.
Hell most early Freeriders, and racers were on bikes that we call kid sizing now, and theyd still be faster, more stylish, and smoother than prolly 99% of us.
Stop making silly excuses
  • 7 6
 @JonDud: Man, dont we all just get so wrapped up in pointless numbers and details sometimes.
So many of us telling ourselves "I'm just between sizes" like we are out here vying for WC gold, or feeding our families from riding bikes....
Honestly, we all need to have a stern conversation with ourselves...
Imma hit that up upvote button for ya bruh
  • 2 3
 just nitpicking here, cause youre right, its pretty much perfect.....
I would have really liked to see the bottom bolted on rear shock mount be triangulated, rather than the tow slightly offset bolts. I feel like, those are going to want to start "rocking" when subjected to multiple bottom outs. I get that its part of the bb forged area, rather than the down tube, but I would have loved to see 3 triangulated bolts mounting that shock mount....
  • 3 1
 @tom666: Nicolai will do any reach you want.
  • 4 0
 @tom666: Banshee Titan
  • 1 0
 @dsut4392: -i'm 6'4" so yeah there's really never really a too big option -but my point is that there's never really a perfect size (well not at what i can afford)
some combo of reliability/performance/affordability is what i aim for and this looks decent
  • 2 0
 Papa don't preach.
  • 2 2
 @tom666: once you stick a reach adjust headset in there you're only a few mm off what you want. Just get the Raaw, other than size options Atherton bike seems to have got things wrong. Instead of 3D printing lugs, they should 3D print carbon moulds for rapid prototyping (this tech already exists) then you could have a full carbon bike rather than a weird hybrid. It's crazy that the Atherton is heavier than a burly aluminium bike.
  • 2 1
 I'd add an Fazua or SX
  • 1 0
 @rojo-1: Reach adjust headsets for tapered forks make no sense ... you already have lot's of stack, would have 15mm more. Lightweight dual crowns would fox that, but Formula did one with a tapered steerer...
  • 2 0
 @tom666: MDE Bikes also have a rider tuned geometry option. The new enduro bike is about to be released soon.
  • 2 2
 @tom666: I'm in the same boat as you at 6ft 2.. Just changed my S4 KSL (485 reach) for an S5 with 510. The S5 feels massive in comparison even with a high stack and 35mm stem plus I increased fork travel. My nukeproof Giga at 495 was perfect so any other bike I get will be as close to that as possible. Propain Rage may be my next DH bike at 495 reach as sender is 510. And my next SL ebike will probs be the Relay at 500 reach.
  • 2 0
 the only thing i'd change is the pricetag
  • 3 0
 @shapethings: If a reach adjust headset is available and I can get to 485mm I'd probably call it a day, that's close enough as you say. Can fiddle with stem length, headset spacers and handlebar width after that to find preferred feel.

@onawalk I think that's the first time anybody has ever apologised to me on Pinkbike Fab

@likeittacky / @schwaaa31 / @Jordmackay - Glad I'm not the only one. When you're dropping so much money you really do want it to be a perfect fit and not feel like it's a compromise.
  • 1 0
 @tom666: Not all (RA -headsets) are equal. You'll need the correct fit for any particular bike and with that, not a every length will be available for each headset configuration. So the amount of change that can be achieved may not suit the rider and his / her bike.
  • 1 0
 @tom666: My response was a little overly spicy, but you get the idea....
We all obsess over these things too much
  • 3 1
 @onawalk: yes I can..20mm reach is a huge difference in ride and performance, and weighting the front. You can adjust with a stem but too short of a stem will make the steering characteristics weird.
  • 2 1
 @chrod: theyre good analogies, heres my input.
Tailored suit, absolutly, a well fitting piece of clothing is a great thing, and most of us will never experience it. Thing is, I dont play basketball in my tailored suit, or change my oil, or go to the dentist, looks great when I'm standing in front of people though.
When we ride our bikes off road, especially on more advanced trails, we are making compromises continually. What might work best on the climb (steeper SA, steeper HA, lower stack, long CS) might not be what we want on the way down. Its all a compromise. The T-shirt sized bike, might be an advantage on a section of trail, and youve never really noticed, cause it faded into the background.

Having an idea of what you prefer can be great, but in my experience, it actually becomes a limiting factor for most people. People get focused on a certain aspect, and decide thats perfect for them, which makes change, either bad or good much more difficult.

Id be willing to bet, blind folded, most people wouldnt be able to tell the difference one way or another about 5-10 mm, and I'm willing to spend a weekend with anyone to test the theory.
Willing to bet, you have your brake levers set at the same height, same distance from your grips, etc, all in an effort for symmetry. But our bodies arent symmetrical, not even close, youve just become used to that setup, so changing things (confirmation bias is big here) feels strange, or wrong...

I support anyone trying, testing, friggin around, with their bikes and setup, its a good time, and you just might find something you like.

Loads of different sizes is cool, custom frames are cool, I love the idea of both, you can literally get a Marino frame for next to nothing, and play with sizing all you want.
  • 1 0
 @onawalk:

Agree. Great points.

I don't play basketball in a suit either.
It's really nice at weddings though, and you could say that it performs better than an off-the-rack suit at its job. And because of approachable manufacturing cost, within the budget of a working person as much as a bike is.

I have to say, my comments are not a knock on the Madonna at all. I love RAAW's design and function-first approach. It's beautiful in its simplicity. Drool-worthy.

Don't most of us set brake lever position by feel, so they always end up a tad asymmetrical?
Similar with tire pressures - set, tinker, record? (and set per trail when you know what you like?)

100%, this sport is all about compromise and it's so damn addictive. It's messy, it's imperfect. - that's why so many of us are lifelong riders. The pursuit of "perfect" is neverending. Like the PB comments section.
  • 1 0
 @chrod: if you're that picky get your bike custom made
  • 1 0
 @wolftwenty1: OK,
Can you share with me how you came to this conclusion?
genuinely curious
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: definitely will do custom at some point. It'd be fun to set every dimension.
(and then realize a month later (oh shit, I'd rather have the chainstay a little longer/shorter now... Wink lol)
Custom + some adjustable geo would be the ticket.
Right now there are a couple brands whose XL's are sized down 10-15mm from the norm, so there are some choices.

Funny to consider this conversation in a historical context though:
"I really want a seatpost that I can adjust up/down" .... "Naw man, just pick a height and stop being picky"
"Why do I have to have this dumb front derailleur?" ....
"Can't bikes come with longer/size-specific chainstays?" ....
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: Could slam the stem, and run low rise bars. Either way there are loads of setup adjustments available that one could run to get this bike to fit 90%+ of riders.
  • 3 0
 @onawalk: Ive ridden different bikes with different reach numbers. I've tried different stems on the same bike. I've tried different stack heights on the same bike. I've compared those numbers across bikes, etc. Easiest way to test my 'theory' is swap your stem spacers around...lift your bars 20mm and tell me you dont notice a performance difference
  • 1 1
 @wolftwenty1: Those bikes with different reach numbers, everything else was the same?
  • 2 0
 @wolftwenty1: Similar experience here. after experimenting a bunch.
It was possible to adjust a too-small frame up and a too-large frame down to be good enough, but there was a "better" in the middle.

Compared 3 similar-geo enduro bikes in the L - XL range (475, 484, 500mm reach).
Swapped stems between 40, 45, 50mm
Swapped bars with rises of 19, 38, 50mm
Tried all combinations over a couple months of riding, same-stack, same-reach, best-climbing, best-descending, handling, etc.

The 475 reach bike needed the longer stem to feel better on climbs, flats, ultimately felt like a longer reach could be better on the downhills, even with the tallest bars to help preserve effective reach.

500 reach bike climbed and descended great in straight lines, with the short 40mm stem + 19mm bar. With enough spacers the effective reach was reduced 10mm+ nicely. Front axle felt too far in front on tech twisties though.

Settled on 484 reach, 45mm stem slammed below spec for the most reach possible, and a 50mm rise bar to bring stack back up. As an all-round best compromise, this config is working. Front axle to bar position feels right, effective reach is comfy standing and seated, and the 45 stem just feels like a sweet spot turning-wise on a modern HA frame. A 50mm stem still works if I need more weight on the front tire or want to stretch out for a long ride.
  • 3 0
 @onawalk: Yes. Bikes comes in different sizes. What is the point you're trying to make...? There is a reason bikes are different...these numbers matter...why do you think WC athletes are puzzling all the time...for the hell of it?
  • 1 1
 @wolftwenty1: So to be clear,
you tested the same bike, just in different sizes?

Obviously bikes come in different sizes, just trying to clarify where what youre basing your opinion on. Some WC riders spend loads of time testing and trying things, others, not really at all. and honestly, neither of us are WC athletes, so what they do, has very little benefit to us
  • 2 0
 @onawalk: put a stem that’s 20mm longer on your current bike and report back. It’s not a perfect analog but close enough.
  • 1 1
 @wolftwenty1: So you didnt test the same bike in multiple sizes, you are swapping stems to extrapolate from?
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: facepalm. Read my above comments again and look up the definition of analog.
  • 113 6
 The external brake routing should be industry standard. Thank you raaw
  • 143 0
 you're welcome.
  • 2 6
flag vinay FL (Mar 25, 2024 at 14:03) (Below Threshold)
 I don't think I could ever be bothered to route cables and hoses through the frame, but with all respect I don't think the Raaw approach is the best execution. As could be seen in the image, the hose rubs the paint off the chainstay which implies the chainstay rubs your hydraulic brake hose back. Some designs have a hose guide on the main pivot. This implies that the distance the hose has to bridge (between front and rear triangle) doesn't change as the suspension moves through the travel. It could be done with a fancy CNC'd part that plugs into the allen slot in that big axle (or bolt). It could also be a couple of holes/slots in that axle/bolt so that anyone could strap the hose to it using a simple tie-wrap or one of these U-shaped clamps used elsewhere on the frame.

Yet at the same time I trust @RAAWMountainBikes doesn't do anything without thinking it through so if you're reading this, I'm curious why you chose to do it this way.
  • 4 7
 Disagree. Those clips on the top of the DT are rank. And check out the brake hose eating it's way through the chainstay yoke...
  • 1 0
 Amen!
  • 1 0
 Amen!
  • 3 0
 @BuntyHoven1: A tiny piece of mastic tape does wonders protecting the frame/yoke there. External routing FTW
  • 1 0
 @BuntyHoven1: This is actually super easy to solve by adding a small amount of extra cable length between the downtube and chainstay.
  • 2 1
 @RAAWMountainBikes: you should patent it Smile
  • 1 0
 Need some 6mm brake hose clamps though
  • 7 0
 @BuntyHoven1: So all the rubbing that the cables and hoses WILL do, is better kept inside the frame where you don't see it?
  • 1 3
 @ridingsteeps: Yeah some masking tape here and there is always a good idea. Though obviously with the kind of rubbing we see here this also implies you'll be dumping another lot of microplastics in nature. Best is to limit the rubbing.

@ljblk: I doubt the extra length is going to help here.

A more simple but equally effective solution of what I suggested above is what for instance Alutech (and/or the "crowd") did with their ICB2.0 bike: guide the hose real close to the pivot: enduro-mtb.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/IBC_2.0-5-von-9-1140x760.jpg. That bike was actually designed at the beginning of the internal-routing madness so hoses and cables can be routed both internally as well as externally (or through the headset if you ditch the fork).
  • 3 0
 I agree external routing should be standard. Seems like everyone is so upset about headset routing that they've become ok with the regular internal frame routing. It's still not ok!
  • 3 0
 This is exactly why Vital makes fun of the PinkBike community
  • 1 0
 @dwbaillar: Everyone? Definitely not!
  • 47 1
 Finally a bike with proper dak stack.
  • 9 1
 A blessing! A blessing from the lord!
  • 32 2
 I love the look of the bike, the continued updating of a bike almost everyone seems to love, but $2,600 for an aluminum frame sans shock is a non-starter, I get that it’s a smaller European company and all, but over $3k for an AL frame/shock is kinda crazy talk.
  • 14 26
flag totaltoads (Mar 25, 2024 at 9:05) (Below Threshold)
 a carbon frame is 4-5K these days. It's not crazy. This is the new normal.
  • 21 2
 @totaltoads: Maybe for extreamly botique carbon frames 4-5k but nothing I would consider buying... Specialized frames are ~ 3k (for non-SWorks), Forbidden frames about 3k, Knolly aluminum frames are about 2.5k, the brand new aluminum Norco Optic has a 2k list price — all of those include a shock.

So ya 2.6k for an aluminum frame without a shock is kinda crazy, especially considering they are off the shelf geometry so its not like custom tubing and welding are occuring
  • 6 2
 Inflation is a bitch. For everyone. Specialized Enduros are still on sale, I believe. Which is better value is up to the consumer.
  • 5 0
 I wonder if carbon fibre is actually still more expensive to make in the Far East, given that all the major factories are now fully tooled up for it. Hydroforming tools are a lot more involved than a carbon layup tool, there's no hand welding (far too small batch quantities to consider robotic welding) or post HT straightening, and the raw materials for carbon frames are rarely the highest spec.
  • 34 7
 a raw madaonna is a boutique bike.

demanding they have the same pricing as a specialized is crazy. you're comparing apples to starfruit and wondering why starfruit aren't 50 cents each instead of $3.

Yeah they are fruit, but one is far more exotic and hard to grow and in much more limited supply.
  • 4 15
flag The-Wheel (Mar 25, 2024 at 11:16) (Below Threshold)
 @totaltoads: specialized pricing is already crazy high... please don't use it as a "market rate". Over $2k for a basic aluminum frame without a shock is most certainly too expensive, no matter where it's coming from. Should Madonna charge less money? Probably not. They have a high demand, well designed basic product. Justbbecause they can charge a lot successfully doesn't mean it's a good value. It's some welded aluminum with a few bearings.
  • 17 4
 @marshallthewolf: look how expensive Frame Works, alum Atheron and Privateer are. RAAW is the best out of those. Privateer shot themselves in the foot with the new design ugly af. The Atheron is ass ugly also.
Knolly uses stupid super boost so add the cost of a new wheel. into it.
Specialized carbon frames are the best deal actually. Enduro frames are $2600 and S-works $3000.
Stumpy Evo runs $2050-$2500
  • 6 3
 @The-Wheel: Where are you looking at $2k for a Specialized alum frame??
Specialized carbon frames are the best deal actually. Enduro frames are $2600 and S-works $3000.
Stumpy Evo runs $2050-$2500
  • 4 13
flag The-Wheel (Mar 25, 2024 at 12:16) (Below Threshold)
 @dchill: sorry, should've been separate comments.
First point: Specialized is super expensive and we shouldn't be using it as a "value" price benchmark.
Second point: Raaw is a basic aluminum frame and I don't care that they're a small company; simple aluminum frames should not be more than $2k
Third point: Raaw can charge basically as much as they want because they have the demand, but it's not a good value just because so many people want it.
  • 12 2
 @The-Wheel:

Quick search on some common alu frames full retail prices w/ rear shock in american monies. I know many of these are much cheaper right now. The smaller brands have less purchasing power from the Taiwanese frame factories, so they cost more, but they also look way better imo. Looks like Raaw is running at a premium over direct peers by about $500. Not saying they're not worth it. The Madonna frame is gorgeous.

Mainstream:
stumpy evo - $2100
ripmo AF - $2200

Small boutique(ish) brands:
knolly (fugitive / chilcotin) - $2300 - $2600
privateer 141 gen 2 - $2390
banshee prime - $2500
canfield lithum - $2500
raaw madonna v3 - $2940
  • 10 1
 Had the v2 for the last 4 seasons and only sold the frame because I wanted the v3... Kind of indulgent, but such is bikes.

I feel like you kind of get what you pay for with raaw. It's expensive, but it's also about the most future-proof, forever-bike frame (imo) that you can get. It's going to last you for as long as you want to keep it. The v2 was the first frame I had that wasn't fully clapped out after a couple of seasons. Definitely could have kept it running for years to come had I not decided to spoil myself.
  • 3 1
 @WasatchEnduro: propain Tyee AL $1650 w/o shock on their site
  • 3 2
 @WasatchEnduro: add at least $300 to Knolly for a new rear wheel.
Banshee is way outdated and can't be compared to the rest.
Privateer UGLY AF and cannot be compared to the RAAW.
  • 5 3
 @WasatchEnduro: $500 plus a shock. Just funny that people are defending a $2600 aluminum bike frame when you can get a complete aluminum bike for less money right now. Again, not saying that Raaw should charge less, just saying that it's an objectively bad value for what is some (albeit nice) welded aluminum tubes.
  • 3 2
 @The-Wheel: Not the same quality at all on a complete for that price.
Transition aluminum frames are crap.
  • 3 3
 @dchill: yeah you're right all the other bike manufacturers are using the wrong aluminum and only Raaw uses the correct aluminum and it's worth $1000 more
  • 4 1
 @dchill:

They can all be compared to Raaw because they're all boutique(ish) brands selling performance aluminum frames near the same pricepoint. And prices listed include a rear shock.

Agree 157 spacing adds cost to a Knolly frame swap. Banshees look fully modern to me. Frames are beautiful, geo modern and with some modularity built in, and a nice dual link design. Privateers are... not quite there yet in the looks department.

I think these are just the usual suspects that buyers seeking a less mainstream alloy frame are likely to consider. Yeah you could add Kona, Transition, and Santa Cruz alu frames to the "mainstream" list. When I choose alu I like a smaller brand (have owned 2 Canfields) and most of them look better in person than the mainstream stuff. My ripmoAF was hideous compared to a Canfield, Knolly, Banshee, or Raaw.

Not sure what my point is. The Raaw costs more but that doesn't mean it's a bad value if the performance and design is above their direct peers, which I don't know. Maybe they're the Yeti of alu frames except the frames don't snap? How cool would a small brand alu bike shootout be?
  • 2 0
 @WasatchEnduro: Had 2 Knollys Last Gen Endorphin and Delerium. The quality of those frames was amazing. I regret selling both of them.

Transition aluminum frames are horrible. I had a 2022 patrol so did a few others I know, and they are a real disappointment. Very shoddy frame compared to others. Mass produced garbage.

Sucks Knolly went to 157 otherwise I would buy the new Endorphin.

i think Banshee fell off, can't even find them anymore and don't see any out there.

My buddy is building up a Madonna V3. Can't wait to see it when it's done.

I know people have a love/hate relationship with them but Specialized aluminum frames have always been really good.

What canfields did you have?
  • 2 0
 @dchill:

Good feedback. Yeah my past specialized alu frames have been good.

Tilt and Lithium but I’m headed back to Ibis as I’m becoming a princess and like those light and snappy dw-link frames. Canfields pedal well are weight competitive against their alu peers.
  • 4 1
 @dchill: “Banshee is outdated?” Dude Raaw has a Horst link.
  • 1 3
 @Bondseye007: and? most bikes do now that the patent expired. Also banshees had a habit of breaking for a few years
  • 1 4
 @Bondseye007: Banshee hasn't been relevant since the Scream
  • 4 0
 @dchill: talk shit about Banshee all you like, but Raaw uses one of the oldest suspension designs running. Saying Banshee’s suspension is out of date by comparison is ignorant.
  • 2 0
 despite that RAAW is a small European company, the frame itself is welded in TW as the others. So nothing special for such a price tag - same TW alu with the same drawbacks.
  • 27 0
 Is it just me, or does this bike seem more like the natural evolution of the early 2000s Kona Stinky series of bikes than modern Konas do.
  • 26 0
 Have had the V2.2 for 2 full years now in the PNW, can't say enough good things about the ride and customer service! Usually am tearing through bearings, nice to have a bike I don't have to think about
  • 16 0
 Cheers! Stoked!
  • 18 0
 Ordered a V3 just before this review dropped. I too was a bit squeamish about the price of an AL frame. But as I got closer to adding another year under my belt (today in fact!), I thought, "just send it". RAAW is making a no-nonsense, bullet-proof whip that ticks all the boxes for me in a bike. Stoked to have some more words and a full analysis to support the send!
  • 24 0
 Happy birthday!
  • 4 0
 My birthday too! Have a good one!
  • 1 0
 @Gwizard: yeew enjoy it!
  • 16 0
 Trying not to buy a new bike this year, but this thing is making it hard.
  • 5 0
 Shit yes! It's hard to resist to the tentation. My wife would be proud of me. Oh wait.......: I have no wife Smile
  • 13 0
 All these designers/engineers at bike companies who decide to do external cable routing. I love you.
  • 10 0
 I was looking at a v2 but then bought a gnarvana for a steal with very similar geometry. As a taller guy the high stack and long chainstay combo is money. This would be #1 on my shortlist if I needed a new bike.
  • 2 0
 I did the same thing, then GG went out of business Frown
  • 5 0
 @cogsci: the bike still works fine :-)
  • 5 0
 @jdejace: True - I have so many bikes and the Trail Pistola is still my favorite.
  • 9 0
 I got my V3 (M) a few weeks ago. I'm 172cm "tall" (or 5"8, for you guys using the other system..). Coming from a Privateer 161 Mk1 (P2) with a smaller wheel at the back, dropper insertion was my biggest concern. On the 161, I had to use a Bikeyoke 185mm. Nothing longer would fit.
On the V3, I managed to insert a KS LEV 200mm, almost fully slammed down (5mm left under the collar). I think the KS Lev 200 is among the shortest overall on the market.
200mm is my limit anyway - anything longer than that, will end up in a unfriendly meeting of saddle and rear tire anyway.
And by the way - the bike is awesome - no useless gimmicks - just riding.
  • 2 0
 How's it compare to your Privateer? I'm also 5'8 on a P2 141 but looking for something with slightly less reach/longer chainstays. Raaw v3 is on the shortlist.
  • 1 0
 @jalopyj: Hi, sounds like you'd like the Madonna. It's a tad shorter on reach, with a bit more "room" in the back. It will be a bit more forgiving than the 141. I bought it, because it's so adaptable - you can try out different CS, different progression/BB heights. Ok - it's not cheap and the changes will cost you on top, but workmanship shows RAAWs engineering skills.
  • 11 0
 Did you mount your Explosivs with tele bindings?
  • 2 0
 Explosiv and then Gotama is a legendary lineage in pow/freeride skis from late 90's/early 2000's. Quality nostalgia Kaz.
  • 4 0
 @tyoj, of course.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Respect!
  • 1 0
 Dynafits for me on my 180cm buddhas.
  • 6 0
 Steep st angles and a high stack height make for such a great combo. Although the 2015 era of bikes were considered "modern geometry" i think they almost all suffered from too slack STA's ( my 2015 Process 153 sure did.) Couldn't agree more that riding these bikes uphill feels like riding my commuter; comfortable and easy to put on the miles. Am I correct in thinking that ST angle is almost irrelevant on descending where the rider is not seated and able to just push some of their weight over the back wheel and let the slack front end and long wheelbase do their jobs?
  • 4 0
 @mikekazimer I'm still undecided about sizing on this one. I'm almost your height (178cm), so bang on in the middle of M and L on most bikes including the V3.
As reach is measured to the top of the headtube, a longer headtube, given that you'd still mount your bar at the same height (measured to the ground) as you would on a shorter headtube, means that a bike with a longer headtube should feel shorter than one with a shorter headtube, right?

Or, to put it differently:
Would the V3 have a 120mm headtube length instead of its 130mm. It would have 10mm less stack and therefore the Reach measurement would increase by approx. 5mm ...? Correct?

If I'm correct with this: the bike that I'm currently riding (615mm stack / 470 reach) would feel similar to the V3 in M (650 / 455) not the L ....?

@RAAWMountainBikes you're very welcome to jump in here too to help me getting rid of my confusion, thanx! ;-)
  • 3 0
 Other way round.
Two bikes with 470 reach. One with 620 stack and the other with 660 stack.
You want the bars at the same height on both so you run 40mm more spacers on the 620 stack bike.
This raises the stem/bars 30mm up (actually slightly less) but also back towards you by 10-15mm (depending on HA) so effective reach to the grips feels shorter.
  • 1 0
 edit-40mm up
  • 3 0
 Watchmen is correct!

If one bike has 620mm stack and the other 660mm stack, and the reach is identical, then you’ll need to add 45mm of spacers to get the grips to the same height (assuming matching handlebars/stems). And adding 45mm of spacers will push the grips backwards by 20mm. (It’s sine and cosine functions of the head angle).

So conveniently, 10mm more stack is effectively the same as 5mm more reach, you just need to adjust the grip position with spacers and/or bar rise.
  • 4 0
 @watchmen: correct
This means, as I was trying to say in my original post, that the 660 stack 455 reach bike will feel pretty similar to the 620 stack 470 reach bike. As the 40mm of spacers will bring the bar approx 15 mm nearer to me.
  • 3 0
 @threehats: First time for everything!!
  • 2 0
 @qbensis: Yes...the effective reach (to the grips) should be similar.
You also said " means that a bike with a longer headtube should feel shorter than one with a shorter headtube" which is what I was answering.
You can use Bikecalc (or draw it out) to visulize the changes.
  • 3 0
 Would the V3 have a 120mm headtube length instead of its 130mm. It would have 10mm less stack and therefore the Reach measurement would increase by approx. 5mm ...? Correct?

Assuming the front-center-distance FC is supposed to stay the same: Yes, this is correct.
  • 1 0
 @watchmen: thank you so much!
  • 1 0
 @mtb-daniel: thank you too!
  • 4 0
 wonder how this compres to the spire? i love mine, but my patience with its bearings, initial chainstay pivot bolt length issue/knocking, and lack of progression seem to be waning.

maybe it's the marketing but this thing seems a little more bombproof and reliable, in terms of service? how would its ride feel compare?
  • 1 0
 What’s the issue with the initial chainstay pivot bolt length?
  • 2 0
 @Stebrex: there was/is some QC issue with the width of the chainstay. it varied enough that chainstay pivot bolts bottomed on themselves instead of the frame, causing a sloppy interface. i think it was exacerbated by bolts that were also generally a smidge longer than they should have been.

it's an easy fix but also annoying.
  • 2 0
 @bigwheels87: Transition needs to work on their QC. Built up an alu Patrol this winter. Pulled the shock to check out the pivots and noticed the main rocker pivot was binding. Used an old feeler gauge to determine that either the rocker was 6mm too wide after welding or the spacer welded into the frame was 6mm too narrow (or a combination of the two). Added a 3mm shim between the frame and bearing on both sides and it's now butter. Several of the bearings were notchy too so I pressed them out and opened the bores with some emory till they felt like they should.
  • 5 0
 The only reason I haven't pulled the trigger yet is that my Madonna v1 is still going strong. Sigh. When the product is too good to replace with the improved version of the same product...
  • 4 0
 Very nice geometry numbers. I’ve got an enduro w/ 442mm CS length and am impressed with the climbing ability on steep tech stuff. Would be curious to see how a 450mm CS would make things feel.
  • 1 0
 Me also
  • 6 3
 This bike looks to be great! It's also a near copy of models from years back made by the Nicholai and Pole brands. I compared this bike to a 2018-2020 Pole Evolink and the geo is very close. I've found riders tend to ignore [or criticize] innovation that they have either missed or never experienced thus feels better to trash it than admit they don't know how it works or rides. Being a near re-creation of the Evolink 158 I bet this is an amazing bike! The Vikkela 190/190 is already another level being missed by most. Now bring on the criticism; "that's a DH bike", "the BB's too high", "wheelbase is too long for tight corners", says everyone who's never ridden a Pole [or Nicholai]. The cutting edge is always a narrow path and one most people simply can't handle, metaphorically speaking or otherwise.
  • 8 1
 bro, you really stand out for your ability to handle the cutting edge
  • 1 0
 In what ways is this a re-creation of the Evolink 158? I gather that you're a Pole fanboy, but the Madonna has a significantly lower BB and completely different kinematics - which means it will ride dramatically differently. And these are far from the only bikes with 78/64 angles.

Pole and Nicolai/Geometron for sure deserve some credit for catalyzing the steep SA / slack HA evolution (and too long reach), and they frequently get it, so I'm not sure your complaint.
  • 1 0
 @ohio: Have you ridden both of these bikes we're talking about? Both the Pole and the Raw? The Leverage ratio and anti-squat numbers are actually quite similar. No complaint. Just making the point that the innovators are usually ignored while the copycats get the credit.
  • 1 0
 @manco: haven't ridden both, no, but have ridden enough bikes and done enough engineering to recognize very big differences, even without seeing the kinematic graphs for the Evolink. Evolink has significantly longer chainstays (a good thing in the larger size, IMO), much higher BB (probably the biggest difference), and has an oddly long headtube length in all sizes, which will be fine in the L and XL, but will make the S and M fit and feel very different than the Madonna. I could compare the Madonna to the Specialized Enduro released in 2019 and it would be MUCH closer in fit and ride dynamics.

That's not to take away from what Pole and Geometron led and accomplished. Both were ahead of their times and influential. Pole gets less favor here because of the notable frame failures and the founder's abrasive personality / lack of accountability, but the influence and credit is still there. But to claim these current bikes are "very close" is misleading to folks considering their next bike.
  • 2 0
 @ohio: Thanks for your opinion!
  • 3 0
 @The-Wheel:

Quick search on some common alu frames full retail prices w/ rear shock in american monies. I know many of these are much cheaper right now. The smaller brands have less purchasing power from the Taiwanese frame factories, so they cost more, but they also look way better imo. Looks like Raaw is running at a premium over direct peers by about $500. Not saying they're not worth it. The Madonna frame is gorgeous.

Mainstream:
stumpy evo - $2100
ripmo AF - $2200

Small boutique(ish) brands:
knolly (fugitive / chilcotin) - $2300 - $2600
privateer 141 gen 2 - $2390
banshee prime - $2500
canfield lithum - $2500
raaw madonna v3 - $2940
  • 2 0
 V2.2's can still be purchased for under $2k (shock included). What do the other brands listed offer that would make an V2.2 feel obsolete?
  • 3 0
 Each time a bike is tried in both mullet and full 29, the comparison is about the descending, but what about the climbing ? Is there a significant difference ? Does the bike gets a bit more versatile (less descent-focused) ? I'm really wondering because I'm about to pull the trigger on a Propain Tyee in full 29 but I have seen a lot of tests recently where the testers prefer mullet over 29.
  • 2 0
 The gearing is effectively lower, so that might be nice.
  • 1 0
 if your climbing is more technical, the full 29 is probably better. Better traction and rollover. if it's not overly technical, i think mullets climb fine. I notice the rear wheel hanging up more on the climbs then going down stuff with momentum. I swap between full 29 and mullet depending on what i'm riding because sometimes you just want a certain feel. I wish reviewer's would talk more about the up with mullet's though.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer How is this high stack behaving on flatter terrain, does longer CS compensate the weight bias a bit, or is this just weight the front or die game? I know it is a bike for gnar, but my trails have very variable grades, from scary steep sh*t to flat slick roots and would rather have something easy to ride in any terrain.
  • 4 0
 I have a banshee that is similar to this. It's dull/disconnected on flat terrain. A bike for steeps is not going to work great on flats, you can't have it both ways. the trade off is less stack on steeps requires more rider input. The Madonna is an enduro bike, not a trail bike. You want a trail bike.

it's perfectly capable on flats... it's just dull compared to a bike with lower stack that lets you get more over the front. a bike like the Madonna feels more like a boat than a sports car.
  • 1 0
 @totaltoads: No, I don't need a trail bike and don't believe people having enduro bikes ride exclusively DH, what's more enduro courses are not exclusively steep and upcoming EDR on "my" trails will definitely prove this Smile . I would not call may Meta AM 29 (2019) with DH tires a trail bike and it's perfectly fine, but this Raaw is yet a bigger bike in every way, damn, if I wanted to preserve my handlebar height I would have to use negative spacers on Madonna Smile
  • 5 0
 Chainstay/wheelbase>0.35==> no washy runaway front wheel. Judging from the numbers, a large Madonna will weigh the front better than Yeti, specialized, pivot, worse than forbidden/banshee.
  • 5 0
 As an older guy with limited neck range, I’m a fan of high stack. Not as bad as my friend who runs 80mm bars and max stack spacers. But I like my bars high, cause I like to see where I’m going, even on my road bike.
  • 2 0
 @totaltoads: I'm looking at these Banshees so badly (Prime or Titan) but these long 450mm chainstays make me wonder... especially coming from a 430CS Smuggler which is so poppy and fun. I've got different feedbacks about this, but I didn't have the occasion yet to experiment this in real. Climbing benefits: for sure, but in term of manoeuvrability / fun in tight terrain, I don't know. Some testimonies say that once you get used to it, it's pure bliss...
  • 4 0
 @danstonQ: They aren't poppy bikes. Stick with your Smuggler and 27.5 wheels.

I don't get why everoyne seems to think every bike should do everything... that's not how physics works. long stays are about straight lining rough terrain up and down. if that's not your thing... awesome, but don't get a bike that has a long WB and long CS.

Banshee makes a poppy bike... it's the Engima, and it's a hardtail.
  • 2 0
 @lkubica: then don't get this bike.
  • 2 0
 @totaltoads: HA ha! Thanks for your words. That's how I see things as well. I love these short wheelbases and the reactivity of short chainstays.
... and above all I LOVE my short hardtail (Stanton Switchback).
Short bikes are fun Smile
  • 1 0
 @MonsterTruck: it's unscientific, but I find any bike where the grips are a similar height to the saddle is comfortable to ride on moderate terrain. Unfortunately, if the bike has a slack seat tube angle, or a high riser bar is needed to achieve this, it often also means it wanders on really steep climbs.
  • 1 0
 @danstonQ: yeah still love older xc style bikes w/ steep HTA bikes they are short and nimble... despite how 'uncool' that is these days. and how anything steeper than a 65 HTA is 'scary' now.

hence why i have lots of bikes. different strokes for different days.
  • 1 3
 @totaltoads: I asked a simple question about weight distribution, not about how lively the bike feels, nor about what kind of bike I should have.
  • 1 0
 @totaltoads: hum... I was talking about my Switchback, a typical british aggressive steel hardtail with a 64° HA and a 150mm/37mm offset Lyrik up front.... which is not something "oldschool" Smile
  • 2 0
 Both my bikes have almost as much stack height and higher rise bars, and they work well on flatter trails - we have a lot of less steep but loose rooty natural trails locally where keeping the front wheel gripping is critical. I too used to think that low bars were essential for weighting the front wheel but now I don’t - and the high bars and longer slacker geometry works a million times better on the steep gnar.
  • 1 0
 @danstonQ: Everyone has different tastes.
I have a Spire, 450mm CS, bike is a weapon on fast trails, on jank trails, on steeeeep trails. Its very poppy, and loves to jump, the caveat being, you need some grade, and speed. flat trails, it is boring, hell, blue trails of most description, boring.
but....
I also have a ST Fugitive (120-140), running a 36, and an X2, way more fun on low angle trails, still poppy (435 CS) I use it for coaching, riders with intermediate riders, or those that are new to the sport. Its very capable, I'll use it for park laps in a pinch, just beats me up a bit more...
Smuggler (current one) feels similar to my Fugitive, the Smuggler prolly climbs better, my Figitive prolly descends better (but only slightly in either direction)
  • 2 0
 @knightmarerider: I've been poking around for a reliable minimum CS/WB ratio! You are the first person I've seen to put one forward. Large Banshee Prime is .36 on the nose; might be my next rig. Cheers!
  • 4 0
 @danstonQ: I had a Banshee Titan with 452 chainstays and it was fine on tight stuff. The reach was conservative by today's standards at 470, but that helped make it still feel nimble. Very balanced bike. The BB height is higher than the Madonna, so that will change the vibe a bit. Rarely had pedals strikes, even with 170 cranks. It's all a compromise one way or another.
  • 2 0
 Great review. Funny you compared the s170 and this, as those were the two bikes i was debating between ordering. After the release of the 170 i decided the Raaw was more to my appeal. Ordered mine last, with the mullet link as well. Can’t wait to receive it and get it out on the trails.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer Hi Mike how easy/difficult is it to loft the front wheel into a manual both at high and low speeds given the chainstay length? I suspect the tall stack helps, and that the 27.5" rear is easier than the 29"? Thanks
  • 2 0
 i started thinking about stackheight a couple of years ago, but no longer are. why is that?
- because at pretty much every bike my grips sit at 109 cm (+/- 5 mm) height, no matter the stack height. i don't even messure because i naturally set up my bike like that. just out of curiousity i meassured my last bike i got a couple of weeks ago and grip hight was spot on at 109,4 cm.

So once the stack is not unreasonably low (which most aren't anyway) i'll get up to my prefered grip height. this works pretty good, because most bottom brackets sit at the same spot too, at least nowdays.
  • 3 0
 Mamma Mia what a nice bike. Throw some shorty hope cranks along with a hope finishing kit. I might try something funky like those Berd enduro wheels to lighten things up.
  • 2 0
 The geo is not that different from the Giant Reign, including the 445mm chainstay length. I wonder how vast the Madonna V3 differs to it on chunky terrain and mellower trails, considering its weight and kinematics.
  • 1 0
 Funny reading about Kazs organic brake pad experience. I have been forced to use organic pads(can't get metal pads) and metallic rotors the last few years with Codes because of import restrictions in our fair country. Don't last very long but surprisingly good feel, especially on the back.
  • 3 2
 "For pure, unadulterated speed, especially in a straight line, the 29” setup will be the way to go."

I keep hearing this sentiment get repeated, but it doesn't seem to be true. If it were, I would think it would show up in world cup DH results where times are extremely tight, and in recent years tracks have been very high speed. As far as I can tell every race in 2022 and 2023 except for 2 has been won with a 27.5 rear wheel. I don't think at the current level of competition any racer is going to leave free time on the majority of the track just for a couple tight corners.

Where descending a full 29'er does seem to be an advantage is in fatigue reduction after having done 5000 feet of climbing. But this idea that 29'ers are faster on high speed downhills seems to be true only on paper, and the perceived experience of that speed is placebo created by the constant repetition of "rollover! rollover! rollover!" in media. In the real world that rollover makes no effective difference on the trailing wheel.
  • 4 0
 Corners are where you win a WC race. Any one of those guys can bomb a hill without brakes, but corners and perfect lines are where you win. That's where a 27.5 rear helps.
  • 5 0
 On Steep technical terrain you don't need to keep the speed, often braking to scrub the speed. Smaller back wheel follow the front wheel better in corner, has more room to move around. Amaury used full 29er at fort william which is a relative flat track where keeping the momentum is the priority.
  • 1 1
 @pisgahgnar: right and theres no difference in the majority of the high speed sections of the track, which is the point im addressing. People keep repeating the claim that full 29ers are faster there, but its not reality.
  • 2 1
 @knightmarerider: Amaury was also on a dominant streak, I dont think wheel size would have made a difference. And looking at overall results, it's clear there is no advantage at high speed, which is the claim thats being repeated.
  • 3 1
 You know, it’s a great looking bike. I dig it. I’d buy one. But the review doesn’t give me the impression that it’s much different from any other long travel enduro bike out there.
  • 1 0
 Very simple design looks like a hardtail from a distance.
  • 5 0
 Comparing this to a Banshee Titan would be interesting.
  • 1 0
 Titan has a bit lower stack and a bit shorter CS, but it came out in 2019, 5 years ago.
  • 7 0
 @totaltoads: don't you dare say 2019 was 5 years ago.....
  • 4 0
 I have a fresh new Titan and friend has new Madonna, went to ride a bikepark few weeks ago and were equaly fast... both are amazing bikes for sure. Also Titan received few small upgrades so its not exactly the same bike as it was on the release.
  • 1 1
 @winko: Not sure if the seat tube change to prevent the weld crack can be considered an upgrade but I think they slacked it out a bit at the same time.
  • 1 0
 How would you feel about the bike's bottom bracket drop in extremely rocky terrain (say like Bootleg Canyon's DH trails)?

It's only 5mm more than my Ripmo's, but 5mm + a tiny bit more from sag + the longer wheelbase makes me wonder if I'm going to be scraping my chainring all the time if I'm good enough to just jump everything.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer what does “min dh” mean and how is it different than enduro? Is it just on the continuum between enduro and dh or something else? Not trying to troll (if that were the case I’d ask about all mountain, too, but I think I understand that one. I think)
  • 4 0
 Nano dh = XC
Micro dh = trail
Mini dh = a little gnarlier than enduro, aka all mountain plus plus
  • 1 0
 I've had a V2 Madonna for three and half years now. Got it after reading a PB review. It's a brilliant and very capable bike. Can't wait to take it to Europe in a few months. The latest version of the Madonna will definitely be at the top of my list when it comes time for a new bike
  • 8 4
 Privateer: please copy this bike!!!!
  • 2 0
 scroll, scroll, scroll....keep scrolling until you realize you're zooming out on some trailforks map...move cursor, keep scrolling until you get to the comment section
  • 2 0
 I've had the V2.2 for a few years now, and even just on customer service alone, it's been a great experience. Everything just makes sense Smile .
  • 3 0
 i had those skis. i completely understand that comparison.Thanks for the review!
  • 2 0
 @henryquinney You have spent time on both the Raaw Madonna V3 and the new Knolly Chilcotin. How would you compare them?
  • 2 0
 I'm not Henry but they are in different universes of stack and resulting seating position. Very different bikes philosophically, IMO.
  • 2 0
 @Bro-tato: I agree with you regarding stack. That said, they're both aluminum bikes that were recently released and they were both designed to ride the same sorts of trails. I'm just curious to know the differences climbing and descending.
  • 5 0
 @pntfive: It's funny in that when compared to what most of us ride, the geometry of the Raaw is very progressive, and the Knolly is more neutral but in terms of suspension feel the Raaw is very neutral and the Knolly has a bit more flavour to it (for good and bad - it's very progressive, maybe too much so, although the tracking is very good). I think the Raaw, with its high front isn't want we're used to but it's a very intuitive bike to just get on and ride, so I wouldn't let that put you off.

I think that helps. Maybe.
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney: Thanks for the helpful feedback Henry! Cheers!
  • 1 0
 my next bike. does anyone want to buy my raaw 2.2?! favorite bike in recent years. pedals better than my sentinel, and felt i no longer needed a dh bike
  • 3 0
 Why do you feel you need the V3 when you have a 2.2? Asking because I am trying to justify/not justify the exact same thing.... I absolutely love my 2.2 even today. Had the best ride in recent years yesterday on some hero dirt with a freshly serviced DHX2 and longer rear end with the UDH retrofit, still buzzing today! I love my Raaw.
  • 1 0
 @pisgahgnar: realistically it wont be til 2025 just cause the 2.2 is just so. damn. good. but the main thing is i would like to try an mx setup so sheer curiosity, and then I love my hope cranks but because of the size of the BB i have to run the brake cables through that 3d printed plastic piece @brianpark made available. i might also wait til 2025 because of how brutal the used bike market is right now too.
  • 1 0
 Also have a 2.2… also flirting with frame swapping… but why not just build the whole thing up fresh? Dangit RAAW
  • 1 0
 @ampb100: Oh man the brake routing is kind of a reason unto itself haha. I run eewings and the cane creek BB crimps my Hayes cables ever so slightly.
  • 3 0
 @initforthedonuts: Ultimately, I probably won't do it. It's either this frame, or an e-cargo bike. I have two toddlers so the cargo bike seems like the most sensible purchase, and hey it is still a new bike right!?
  • 2 0
 @pisgahgnar: ha! i have an 8 week old so ive been flirting with getting a light eMTB. everything here in socal is big fire road climbs to 5-20 min dh so just want to get the same 2-3 laps in but in much less time. Can't really do the big 4-6 hour days anymore.
  • 2 0
 @ampb100: Yeah, e-bikes (for MTB) are pretty much completely illegal in North Carolina except for Kanuga bike park. Can't justify that much money to ride 8 trails on repeat.
  • 1 0
 @pisgahgnar: you think its with good reason?

im really really torn about the ebike. looking at the transition relay...my minds telling me no. but my b!tch tits..my b!tch tits are telling me yeaaahuhuhhh
  • 1 1
 @initforthedonuts: my wife my castrate me if i did ground up fresh build. i went nuts on this one. fluid focus custom tune on fork and shock. cascade north fork calipers. yadda yadda.
  • 1 0
 @ampb100: don’t stop there. I’ve got some Trickstuff Maximas on the buy sell that would go great on that
  • 1 0
 @initforthedonuts: oh my word.
  • 3 2
 Brexit in the uk has stopped a lot of people
Like myself buying a Raaw frame due to the import duties and tax’s to get it into the UK
  • 2 0
 You can check on simplyduty.com or ask raaw for a DDP price. As you won't be paying German sales tax it might not be that different in price
  • 2 1
 @The-Spirit-of-Jazz: it’s the import duty when it comes to the the UK it adds a minimum of 14% to the price
  • 3 0
 @derryair: Drive to Haßloch, pick up your new baby and then christen it in the Alps Smile
  • 1 0
 Had the 2.2, if I was to get a longer travel bike again the v3 would be my first choice, bit expensive but it rides very good.
  • 1 0
 So what would you say if you tried the mullet version with 450 cs vs the 29er version with 445 cs. would it be faster and more maneuverable that the mullet.
  • 2 0
 So a medium is 9.7lbs with air shock and about 10lbs with coil, a little bit to hefty for my liking.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer :

You guys should do an aluminum field test...Raaw, Banshee, Commencal, ect... Could be fun!
  • 2 0
 Went to order one and it's over 4k (Canadian) with a shock. Wow, this is a wildly expensive aluminum frame.
  • 2 0
 Thank you for making a giant sized bike for us freaks Raaw. Long live the XXL!
  • 1 0
 Now that Mike compared the seating position to a commuter bike I can't unsee it. The Turbo Como of enduro bikes?
  • 2 0
 In Italy we would say "P**** Madonna!"
  • 1 0
 Shut up and take my money! When I'm looking for my next bike, this will be on the shortlist.
  • 1 0
 Looks killer, probably a bit much for my trails but I like everything about it.
  • 1 0
 Hot damn. I won’t be buying a new bike til I kill my Sentinel, but this is at the top of the short list when I do.
  • 2 0
 ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!!! Please DONT add a Bendy Top Tube though, EVER.
  • 1 0
 RAAW is modern reincarnation of what Liteville once was. Defo my next bike.
  • 1 0
 So 65mm stroke shock with 60mm link gives you about 173mm of travel and no seat stay bridge so clearance should fine.
  • 1 0
 "size large for my 5'11" height and 33" inseam"
Please pb editor, translate in IS unit
  • 2 0
 This just about as close to perfect as it is possible to get.
  • 2 0
 Looks like a Grim Donut.
  • 1 0
 @RAAWMountainBikes - is there a UDH on this?
  • 1 0
 You have the option. But going UDH fixes your chainstay length, you can't use the inserts to adjust later on.
  • 9 0
 Yes, we also offer a UDH option with the Madonna V3. You can pick what you prefer when you configure a Madonna V3. And we sell the seat stays separately in case you change your mind in the future.
  • 1 0
 Such a nice looking bike.
  • 1 0
 To bad about the seat tube
  • 1 0
 @Raawmountainbikes

Any chance you’ll get a UK distributor one day??
  • 4 0
 At the moment we sell direct and we've recently launched our RAAW on Demand programme for bike shops around the world. We don't have any plans for distributors at the moment though. We're aware that this will always be a bit of a hurdle for customers outside the EU, but we're doing our best to help where we can.
  • 1 0
 Say, that’s a nice bike…
  • 2 0
 Forgot the pulley man
  • 1 0
 somone say clapped out jalopy?
  • 1 0
 Sounds like we need an all-aluminum field test.
  • 1 0
 "rolling chassis" That's new sales euphemism I haven't heard LOL
  • 1 0
 Ticks ALL the boxes apart from wheel size
  • 3 3
 with more adjustability than ever... but its 29" wheels. i dont see it
  • 1 0
 Too long
  • 1 1
 Airdrop Edit MX same same but cheaper, just sayin.
  • 5 8
 Is the stack really effective when it's the BB in the dirt and not the bars higher though? Looks like a pedal strike machine. Almost there, maybe v4.
  • 30 1
 We've kept the BB height on the Madonna the same since the first bike 7 years ago, but with the lower shock mount options on the Madonna V3 you can go up 3 mm if that suits you better! - Also, compared to other enduro bikes, the Madonna doesn't ride very low in its travel, so dynamically it's the sweet spot for us. Kazimer and our customers seem to dig it. More than the ground.
  • 4 0
 Yup, there are only so many variables (fork length, head tube length, BB height). Most companies aren't willing to commit to a long headtube, I suspect for aesthetic reasons. I have a 170mm headtube on my custom Nicolai and it's a bit odd looking.

For me this BB is too low for a 160mm bike even with 165mm cranks and I'm not willing to go shorter (I prefer 170mm). But the BB height is not too far from the current average entity bike and I think a lot of people who are mostly pedaling fire roads won't notice.

Personally I am not skilled enough to notice the difference from 1cm of BB drop going down, but I do notice the pedal strikes going up! I put a reversed offset bushing on my Gnarvana as well as an EC lower cup to keep the angles pretty constant and all I notice is less pedal strikes.
  • 1 0
 Local trails have quite a few gulley runs, where even horizontal cranks get pedal strikes - even a 0mm crank won't help there. I'm currently trying to stop myself from ordering a Madonna or perhaps a Kavenz at the moment, but things like this worry me when I can't really demo
  • 12 1
 @jdejace: We've tested the +/- 3mm BB height with a variety of riders and it's suprising how defining it is for the character of the bike and how big the difference is. For anyone interested, we've done a deep-dive article on this you can find on the Madonna V3 landing page when you scroll all the way down. Those little changes are super interesting, especially when you get to know your bike well with time.
  • 1 2
 Such a wicked bike... I couldn't do a 677 stack though! haha
  • 10 0
 I’m 6’6 and the XXL stack has me drooling with delight.
  • 4 7
 Looks good but shame the seat tube length is still super long.
  • 4 0
 It cant be long when you ride 210mm dropper with 33 inseam.
  • 1 0
 @stpan: 445mm seat tube on an L and 470 on the XL and XXL is long.
  • 1 0
 @tralebuilder: I would hard disagree here - For the size of person you need to be to ride an XL / XXL with these reach and stack numbers, I'd almost rather it was longer! (Compare to the same size santa cruz frames for example, the ST would be 500mm with much lower reach / stack etc).
  • 1 1
 @tristanpalmer: I'm 180cm and my bike has 515mm of reach and my bike has a 415mm seat tube length. I wish it was shorter so I could run a 240mm length dropper...
  • 1 0
 @tralebuilder: Your bike is about 2 sizes to big for you! (By somewhat conventional numbers / thinking anyway).

Do you have huge arms and tiny legs?!
  • 1 0
 @tristanpalmer: Nah, pretty standard proportions I just run 10-20mm stems that's all.
  • 1 0
 @tralebuilder: What bike are you on?!
  • 1 0
 @tristanpalmer: Nicolai G1 with Dorado and DH shock, currently at 180mm front and 200mm back but I used to run it 203mm front and 212mm rear until recently.
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