The RAAW Madonna V2 is named after the legendary trail Madonna de la Guardia in Finale Ligure. The trail has featured in an EWS stage and encompasses everything the bike was designed for. We were curious to see how the bike performs and how it would fare against the competition on our diverse test loops.
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020
No frills. The goal during the development of the RAAW Madonna was purely focused on trail performance, long service life and reliability. What good is a bike if you spend more time servicing it than you do riding it. The Madonna V2 features oversized, sealed bearings and smooth lines that are easy to keep clean. This is the first time the fledgeling brand has overhauled their bike for the new season. The most striking change is the straight top tube. However, the geometry has also been updated and a size S has been added to the range. The head angle is now 0.5° slacker than before, and the reach has grown by a few millimetres. Besides that, RAAW offer two different rocker link options so that riders can optimise the kinematics to suit their weight. The Madonna is available in two build specs which you can customise in the online configurator. We were given the € 5,190 Fox Factory model with a complete 12-speed XT groupset, four-piston XT brakes and FOX factory suspension. If you want, you can upgrade the DPX2 shock and you’re free to choose the length of the dropper post. Ours came with a 150 mm dropper and a 50 mm stem. Thanks to the short seat tube, there is more than enough room to fit a 175 mm dropper.
RAAW Madonna V2 FOX Factory
Fork FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT DPX2 Factory 160 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer Factory 150 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 4-Kolben 200/200 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT 12-fach 32 - 10/51
Stem Acros 50 mm
Handlebar Acros Alu 780 mm
Wheelset Newmen Evolution SL A.30 29
Size S, M, L, XL
Weight 15.2 kg
Geometry and size of the RAAW
For the second evolutionary stage of the Madonna, RAAW have made the geometry even more capable. The new version is slightly longer and somewhat slacker than its predecessor. They’ve also added another frame size for smaller riders. The chainstay length of the bike can be adjusted using different inserts in the rear triangle. In size L, the bike comes with 445 mm chainstays as standard, but you shorten or lengthen them to 440 or 450 mm respectively.
|Seat tube||395 mm||420 mm||445 mm||470 mm|
|Top tube||573 mm||596 mm||617 mm||645 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||115 mm||130 mm||145 mm|
|Chainstays||440 mm||440 mm||445 mm||450 mm|
|BB Drop||35 mm||35 mm||35 mm||35 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,197 mm||1,233 mm||1,269 mm||1,305 mm|
|Reach||430 mm||455 mm||480 mm||505 mm|
|Stack||621 mm||643 mm||657 mm||670 mm|
The RAAW Madonna V2 FOX Factory Built on the trail
The RAAW Madonna V2 is the best proof of that fact that weight and climbing capability aren’t always directly tied. Despite the relatively hefty weight of 15.2 kg, the bike is an excellent climber. This can be attributed to the central pedalling position, which doesn’t require you to shift your saddle forward, together with the efficient rear suspension. Reaching for the climb switch is only necessary if your pedal stroke is very uneven. On technical climbs, you have to be smart about your line choice to avoid snagging the pedals on roots or rocks.
Work less, ride more – the aluminium frame of the RAAW might not be the lightest, but thanks to the oversized bearings and robust componentry, it means you’ll have to spend less time in the shop and more time on the trails.
As soon as you drop the saddle and head downhill, the Madonna V2 comes to life. The riding position is perfectly balanced between the wheels and the low bottom bracket keeps your centre of gravity equally low, giving you lots of grip through the corners. The Madonna V2 also feels balanced on flat terrain but it’s when things get very steep and demanding that it can best play to its strengths. Here, it offers tons of traction as well as very easy and predictable handling. With the Madonna V2, you’ll fly over rock gardens and roots. The bike takes input from the rider directly and quickly translates it into direction changes, never feeling cumbersome in tight terrain. The rear suspension performs sensitively while offering good mid-stroke support, which invites you to get airborne at every opportunity. It was only on big drops with flat landings that we would have liked a little more progression to prevent it from bottoming out. Admittedly, our rider weight was on the limit and perhaps the rocker link for heavier riders would have been better suited. Alternatively, you can always install a few more volume spacers.
Just gonna send it! The RAAW Madonna motivates you to stay off the brakes and it doesn’t mind if you mess up the landing.
How does the RAAW Madonna V2 compare to the competition?
When our test riders were done they all agreed: this bike is something special. The RAAW Madonna offers an excellent pedalling position, making it an even better climber than the Specialized, though the S-Works Enduro has slightly more reserves on the descents and holds its line with more precision. Compared to the Rocky Mountain Slayer and the Pole MACHINE, the RAAW is slightly poppier and more balanced on flat trails.
Tuning tip: get the correct rocker link for your weight | volume spacers in the shock
The RAAW Madonna V2 offers an excellent complete package. It’s capable of taming the wildest trails but remains easy and predictable to handle. Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, the Madonna is always a great choice! If you’re looking for a reliable and durable enduro bike that is also versatile, this is the bike for you. On top of that, the RAAW is a great climber and you can configure the build to suit your needs – a well deserved Best Value Tip.
- very balanced handling
- fast and precise on the descents
- durability instead of weight savings
- rear suspension with the DPX2 shock could be more progressive
You can find out more about the RAAW Madonna V2 FOX Factory Built at v2.raawmtb.com
The test field
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020
All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 LTD | CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 | Giant Reign Advanced 29 0 | Ibis Mojo HD5 | Norco Sight C1 29 | Nukeproof Mega 275C RS | Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro | Orbea Rallon M-LTD | Pole Stamina 180 LE | RAAW Madonna V2 FOX Factory Built | Rocky Mountain Slayer Carbon 90 29 | Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Reserve | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned | Specialized S-Works Enduro 2020 | Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert | Trek Slash 9.9 X01 AXS | Yeti SB150 T2 | YT CAPRA 29 CF Pro Race
This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role.↩
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes.↩
How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension.↩
This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail.↩
No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50↩
Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70↩
Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90↩
Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer / Finlay Anderson / Markus Frühmann