Performance, durability, and reliability – the new RAAW Madonna V3 promises to remain true to the company’s philosophy while offering a host of refinements. But does the Madonna V3 still have that typical RAAW DNA? We put the new enduro bike through the wringer to find out!
Believing that the best bike is useless if it spends more time in the workshop than on the trails, RAAW don’t just prioritise performance, but also durability and reliability. As before, the V3 frame relies on 6066 aluminium and a classic Horst-link rear suspension design, and the cable routing remains external. Like its predecessor, the Madonna V2.2, it has 170/160 mm travel (f/r) and rolls on 29″ wheels. In addition to the pure 29″ configuration, the V3 can now also be converted to a mullet setup with the help of a special shock mount. Thanks to the so-called Toolbox Concept, you also have the option of adapting the Madonna more to your own preferences or the track conditions, just like adding salt and pepper to taste in a restaurant. Along with the chainstay length, you can adjust the shock progression, bottom bracket height, head angle, and reach – but more on that later.
The 2024 RAAW Madonna V3 in detail
The new RAAW Madonna V3 immediately catches the eye. And it doesn’t do so with a wild rear end design, curvy lines, or bright colours, but with the classic RAAW look, boasting straight tubes and clear contours. Perhaps it’s precisely because of that, since the design has hardly changed over the years and can best be described as puristic, timeless, and simple. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it looks confusingly similar to Madonna V2.2. It is available in clear coated aluminium or matt black to match the simple aesthetic. As usual, the RAAW logo is discreetly placed on the down tube, and machined into the head tube, lending the Madonna V3 a high-quality look.
The frame looks slightly skinnier around the bottom bracket than the predecessor, and it doesn’t have mounting tabs for a bash-guard. Instead, RAAW provide a removable ISCG05 bracket, which clamps directly to the bottom bracket. The rear end has also been revised: the bearings of the main pivot have shrunk in diameter, but are now wider to be more capable of taking the abuse. The bolts that hold the rear end together are stronger too. This should further reduce complexity and avoid any creaking noises.
So far, all RAAW bikes have external cable routing, including the Madonna V3. This clearly shows that performance and handling take precedence over appearance and design. However, those aspects haven’t been entirely neglected and the cable routing is neat and tidy, nonetheless. Some of the cable routing details have been further improved too, so that they’re more easily accessible, and don’t have to make any tight bends. As before, there’s a tool mount on the underside of the top tube, which you can use to carry a spare tube or tools.
The thick rubber down tube protector and generously sized seat and chainstay protectors fend off flying debris and slapping chains. Instead of annoying chain slapping, all you’ll hear is the tires rolling and throwing up dirt – braaap!
The build variants of the 2024 RAAW Madonna V3
The RAAW Madonna V3 is exclusively available as a frame kit or rolling chassis. As the name suggests, the latter is not a complete bike, but a rolling basis on which you can build your dream bike. It comes with either FOX or Öhlins suspension, as well as a set of wheels, tires, seat post, and cockpit. You then have to take care of the groupset and brakes yourself. The frame kit is available with or without a shock and starts at € 2,790; the rolling chassis starts at € 4,945. Whichever version you choose, both are available via the RAAW online shop. The first frames and rolling chassis are available to order now, with delivery starting in February 2024. Here, too, the target group becomes clear: riders who know what they want, and know how to get it, preferring to work on their bikes themselves.
The components of the 2024 RAAW Madonna V3 on test
For our review, RAAW provided us with a custom setup. It weighs 16.7 kg in size L, which isn’t light, but it’s a no-nonsense build with zero compromises in terms of downhill capability and performance. First and foremost, the FOX 38 Factory fork doesn’t just look great with its golden Kashima coating, but also ensures maximum trail performance thanks to the high-end GRIP2 damper. With high and low speed compression and rebound damping adjustability, it leaves nothing to be desired. This is paired with a FOX X2 air shock on the rear, featuring a lockout lever, which isn’t absolutely necessary on the Madonna V3.
Shifting is mechanical, via a Shimano XT drivetrain, which works as smoothly and reliably as usual. When ordering the V3, however, you can also opt for a UDH-compatible frame, giving you the option of fitting a SRAM Transmission derailleur. For this, the rear end is exchanged for a UDH-compatible version, which lacks the flip chip on the thru-axle to adjust the chainstay length. The four-piston XT brakes are supplied by Shimano, which are combined with large 200 mm rotors at the front and rear. This setup will bring you to a halt even on long, steep descents.
The 210 mm OneUp V2 dropper post can be inserted all the way into the frame on our size L test bike, offering the rider ample freedom of movement – excellent! The cockpit also comes from OneUp, consisting of a 50 mm stem clamped to an 800 mm wide carbon handlebar. The NEWMEN Evolution SL E.G.30 aluminium wheels are shod with MAXXIS tires. Up front, you get an ASSEGAI with the soft MaxxGrip rubber compound, paired with a Minion DHR II featuring the harder MaxxTerra compound on the rear. Both rely on the robust Doubledown casing.
RAAW Madonna V3
Fork FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX X2 Factory 160 mm
Seatpost OneUp Dropper Post V2 210 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 200/200 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT 1x12
Stem OneUp 50 mm
Handlebar OneUp Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Newmen Evolution SL E.G.30 29"
Tires MAXXIS ASSEGAI MaxxGrip DD/Minion DHRll MaxxTerra DD 2,5"/2,4"
Size S M L XL XXL
The geometry of the 2024 RAAW Madonna V3
The new RAAW Madonna V3 is available in five sizes, from S–XXL, and should cater to riders between 158 and 208 cm tall. As with the predecessor, there are two different rocker arms for riders over and under 90 kg. You can select the appropriate rocker arm when placing your order. The 445 mm seat tube in size L isn’t particularly short, though it’s not long either. Nevertheless, it allows you to insert a long 210 mm dropper post all the way, giving the rider sufficient freedom of movement. The 480 mm reach in frame size L is moderate, and the chainstays grow by 5 mm from one frame size to the next, which should keep the handling balanced regardless of size. With the new Madonna V3, the kinematics of the rear suspension have been adapted to make it even more sensitive, especially off the top. The Toolbox Concept mentioned earlier, which debuted on the Yalla! downhill bike, now also features on the new Madonna V3, allowing you to adapt almost every aspect of the geometry to suit your own preferences. A flip chip on the thru-axle lets you increase or decrease the chainstay length by 5 mm.
With the headset cups, you can also steepen or slacken the head angle by 1°. Thanks to various shock mounts, the bottom bracket height can be dropped or lifted by 3 mm, and the shock progression can be varied between 22, 25 and 28%. In the standard setting, the frame is designed for 29″ wheels. However, thanks to the MX shock mount, you can install a smaller 27.5″ rear wheel without changing the geometry significantly.
Different headset cups, flip chips, and shock mounts are available in the RAAW online shop, but they’re not included as standard, unfortunately. The frame ships with all settings in the middle. Additional hardware lets you adjust the V3 in many ways, but you must know exactly what you want, or simply order the different parts on a hunch. Conveniently, however, the special thru-axle hardware can be used for both the short and long variant by flipping it around. It would be cool if you could get a kind of test toolbox that you could borrow for some time to decide which settings you prefer and which hardware to get.
|Top tube||576mm||605 mm||618 mm||647 mm||672 mm|
|Seat tube||395 mm||420 mm||445 mm||470 mm||470 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||115 mm||130 mm||145 mm||145 mm|
|Chainstay||445 mm||445 mm||450 mm||455 mm||455 mm|
|BB Drop||35 mm||35 mm||35 mm||35 mm||35 mm|
|Wheelbase||1.216 mm||1.248 mm||1.284 mm||1.320 mm||1.346 mm|
|Reach||430 mm||455 mm||480 mm||505 mm||530 mm|
|Stack||637 mm||650 mm||664 mm||677 mm||677 mm|
The 2024 RAAW Madonna V3 in review
If you take a seat on the new RAAW Madonna V3, you’ll find yourself in a central and upright position that feels pleasantly compact and not too stretched. Riding on flat terrain, you’ll feel a slight pressure on your hands. This benefits the V3 on the climbs, however, as the front wheel stays planted even on steep and technical climbs without needing to shift your weight forward, letting you concentrate entirely on your line choice. The rear end feels soft at first, but becomes noticeably firmer as soon as you put the chain under tension by pressing on the pedals. This makes the Madonna V3 efficient to pedal, and you can spare yourself the effort of reaching for the climb switch, even on longer climbs. In combination with the balanced riding position, this makes it a capable climber.
Once you reach the summit and start to head back down, you’ll feel centred on the bike and comfortable from the get go. Anyone who has ever ridden a Madonna or already owned one will feel right at home aboard the latest version. But newcomers to RAAW won’t take long to familiarise themselves with the bike thanks to the intuitive handling, catering to both beginners and advanced riders. Warm up on the flow trail? Not with the Madonna V3: it prefers to jump straight into the deep end on real enduro tracks. The handling of the V3 is composed and intuitive enough for beginners to remain in control over roots and rocks even after a long, hard day of riding. Advanced riders can push the bike’s limits up to the final descent of the day: if you misjudge a corner and start washing out, the bike will let you correct and regain control. On steep descents, the tall front end further instils you with confidence. Despite the high stack, the RAAW Madonna V3 feels perfectly balanced, and you don’t have to shift your weight forward in the corners to maintain grip.
The RAAW Madonna V3 offers a good combination of composure and agility, making easy work of spontaneous line changes, and allowing you to chuck the bike from left to right through the turns. This is underlined by the performance of the suspension, offering plenty of support for you to generate speed through rollers and berms, or get airborne off anything on the trail that resembles a jump. It also has enough reserves to cope with flat landings when you launch a little too far. That said, the suspension isn’t too firm or harsh, responding sensitively off the top, and offering tons of grip when ploughing through loose forest loam.
Who should buy the RAAW Madonna V3?
The RAAW Madonna V3 is a bike for purists and riders who know exactly what they want. Since it’s only available as a frame kit or rolling chassis, it requires a certain amount of expertise to create a rideable bike. This goes hand in hand with the comprehensive adjustability provided by the Toolbox Concept. Many riders will love this, because it lets them find their ideal setup with their favourite components. Home mechanics will also be happy about the external cables and the robust aluminium frame, which can take a beating and still go strong. It’s on the descents that the Madonna V3 shines, and its intuitive handling lets both beginners and advanced riders push their limits.
Our conclusion of the 2024 RAAW Madonna V3
At first glance, not much seems to have changed on the new RAAW Madonna V3, but the devil is in the details. However, RAAW haven’t lost sight of their focus on durability and easy maintenance. In addition to the refined kinematics, it should let everyone find their ideal setup thanks to the extensive adjustability. Unfortunately, you’ll have to buy additional hardware to do so. The Madonna V3 is a full-on enduro bike that won’t let you down, on everything from relaxed trails to hard enduro tracks.
- Focus on durability and easy serviceability
- balanced handling
- extensive geometry and progression adjustability
- alternative flip chips, shock mounts, and headset cups must be purchased separately
For more information visit raawmtb.com
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Words: Mike Hunger Photos: Peter Walker