In for Test: Long Term Trails with the 160mm Raaw Madonna V2.2

Wow, we’ve been testing a deep trove of bikes this summer. I’m amped to have this alloy animal in the stable for the foreseeable future, and I’ll be hanging a smattering of different parts on it to see how the frame and the components perform.

The Raaw Madonna V2.2 uses a four-bar linkage to dance its 160mm rear axle path down the roughest and steepest tracks it can find behind a 170mm or 180mm fork. My ideal rating for a fun trail is “the blacker the better” and this seems like a bike built for double diamonds. The Madonna’s pivot bearings are massive, its cable routing and BB external, and it comes stock with a clear scratch protection kit, further giving the impression that it’s ready to throw down on the trail and leave the workbench feeling lonely.

There are two rocker link options for riders with different body types, and I’ll be using the one for short and scrawny folks. There is also space for hydration and a gear mount to keep a spare tube or banana handy. I’ll save the other frame details for the coming review, and just say that the slap and stone silencers have performed well to keep the bike quiet down the first few runs.

Test pilot profile height: 5’9″ (175cm) weight: 145lbs. (65kg) testing zone: Northern Italy

I need to find a fun use for that gaping tube in the main pivot. Maybe I can stuff slingshot pellets in there?

I wrote a little piece about some similarities and differences between the Raaw Madonna and the Privateer 161 a while back, and I will share the more important experiential elements of the two bikes in a few months. However, the most notable difference can be called out immediately. The bottom bracket on the Madonna is just 5mm lower, but on the trail the qualifier just is erased. That 5mm feels fantastic. Perched above, the bike has a nice and steep seat tube angle that makes the long, 480mm reach of the size large feel nice and cozy while pedaling, and a smart 64.5° head tube angle for the fun. I’m 2cm shorter than the recommended height for the large, but that measurement is closer to the bikes I’m accustomed to riding so I decided to roll with it. If the seat post fits…

This frame’s namesake trail, Madonna della Guardia, is one of my favorite singletracks in all of Italy, and it’s wicked rough. The size large bike comes with 445mm chain stays to help stabilize the dance moves on tracks like that. This is the middle of three possible axle positions, and Raaw has axles and chips at the ready ready for 440 or 450mm chain stay stretch if you prefer.

All four sizes of Madonna V2.2 frames roll on 29″ tires, and they’re available in black or raw finish for €2,390. Stay tuned for the full video and written review.

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