The SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 enters the race as the defending champion after securing the coveted Best in Test in our big 2022 group test. Last year, it impressed our test team with its top spec and balanced handling. But does it have what it takes to secure victory for the second time in a row? To find out, we put the Rapcon against 13 of the hottest enduro bikes of the season.
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review
Last year, the SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 entered our big enduro group test as the underdog and yet managed to secure victory as the best allrounder. This year, the Austrian bruiser is back to defend its title and has brought along its electric big brother, the Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165. As the names suggest, both models combine 170/165 mm of travel, at the front and rear, respectively. The analogue Rapcon tips the scales at 15.1 kg and costs 10.469 €, which is a whopping € 2,990 more than last year, both due to the high-end drivetrain and the soaring prices of components.
The SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 2022 in detail
The SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 enters the race with a sleek frame silhouette and understated look, combining a matt, muted finish and minimal branding. The clean appearance is underlined by the absence of cable ports on the frame. To make this possible, SIMPLON route the cables through a special Acros headset directly into the frame. Using their online configurator, the Austrian manufacturer lets you customise the spec of the Rapcon down to the smallest detail. Unfortunately, the configurator isn’t the most intuitive and takes some basic knowledge. The storage compartment in the downtube and additional tool mount underneath the top tube offer plenty of storage room for tools, snacks and everything else you might need on the trail. Seat and chainstay protectors ensure a quiet ride while a short but wide down tube protector shields the frame from stray rocks and nasty impacts. Moreover, a small mudguard between the seat stays protects the main pivot from mud and grit.
The frame of the Simplon Rapcon might be plain and simple but comes with countless practical features, like the integrated storage compartment and tool mount, which offer plenty of storage room.
The spec of the SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 2022
Like most bikes in this test, the SIMPLON Rapcon comes equipped with high-end FOX Factory suspension consisting of a 38 mm GRIP2 fork and matching X2 air shock. Both offer externally adjustable high- and low-speed compression and rebound settings, allowing you to fine tune the suspension to suit your preferences and riding style. The 200 mm Kind Shock LEV INTEGRA dropper post ensures plenty of freedom of movement. The SIMPLON is one of the few bikes in this test to combine a massive 220 mm brake rotor at the front and 200 mm disc at the rear, which together with the SRAM CODE RSC brakes, make for one of the most powerful brake setups in the entire test field. The high-end RSC lever features tool-free reach and bite point adjustments as well as SRAM’s SwingLink technology, which is supposed to improve braking performance and modulation. Shifting is taken care of by SRAM’s top-tier XX1 AXS Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, which is particularly light and was developed primarily for XC racing. The 800 mm carbon handlebars are built in-house by SIMPLON. For the wheels, the Austrians rely on a DT Swiss EX 1700 alloy wheelset, which we have already praised on several occasions in the past. These are paired with Schwalbe tires consisting of a 29×2.4” Magic Mary in ADDIX Ultra Soft rubber compound at the front and a 29×2.4” Big Betty in ADDIX Soft rubber compound at the rear, both in the robust Super Gravity casing. Needless to say, the specs are still top!
SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165
Fork FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX X2 Factory 165 mm
Seatpost Kind Shock LEV INTEGRA 200 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 220/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XX1 AXS Eagle 1x12
Stem SIMPLON 40 mm
Handlebar SIMPLON Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss EX 1700 29"
Tires Schwalbe Magic Mary, Super Gravity, ADDIX Ultra Soft/Schwalbe Big Betty, Super Gravity, ADDIX Soft 2.4/2.4
Size S M L XL
Weight 15.1 kg
The geometry of the SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 2022
The Rapcon is available in four sizes, S to XL. Our test bike in size L combines 475 mm reach, a short 420 mm seat tube and long-travel dropper post, which can be fully inserted into the frame, ensuring plenty of freedom of movement on the bike and allowing you to choose the frame size based on the desired reach. Chainstays are 443 mm in size L and grow with the frame size, providing consistent handling across all sizes. However, SIMPLON went one step further, adapting both the kinematics and progression of the rear suspension to the respective frame size to ensure an even more consistent character across the board.
|Seat tube||370 mm||395 mm||420 mm||445 mm|
|Top tube||569 mm||590 mm||607 mm||634 mm|
|Head tube||97 mm||104 mm||115 mm||125 mm|
|Chainstay||432 mm||438 mm||443 mm||447 mm|
|BB Drop||39 mm||39 mm||39 mm||39 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,194 mm||1,223 mm||1,253 mm||1,280 mm|
|Reach||446 mm||466 mm||486 mm||506 mm|
|Stack||615 mm||625 mm||635 mm||645 mm|
The SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 2022 on the trail
Riding uphill, the SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 puts you in a comfortable pedalling position. The suspension is pleasantly firm and efficient but at the same time sensitive enough to generate plenty of traction on steep, technical climbs. This makes it one of the best climbers in the entire test field. That being said, the low bottom bracket requires you to time your pedal strokes carefully to prevent smashing the cranks into obstacles.
With excellent suspension, the Rapcon is a great allrounder and strikes a perfect balance between agility and composure.
When gravity takes over, the SIMPLON is incredibly well balanced and intuitive to ride. Like the Yeti SB160 and Stumpjumper EVO, the Rapcon makes you feel at ease from the get-go, allowing you to rip your way into the valley without first having to get used to the bike. The suspension provides plenty of support and tons of pop but is sensitive enough to generate traction in rough trail sections, ensuring excellent control. At the same time, it offers enough reserves to bail you out on botched landings, preventing your ankles from exploding in the process. Compared to the electric Rapcon TQ, it’s a smidge less composed but also more nimble, mainly down to the lower weight and smaller frame size – both bikes share the same identical suspension and geometry, so the ride feeling is very similar. As for agility, the analogue Rapcon is just as flickable as the Canyon Strive, allowing you to carve through fast consecutive turns with great ease. Overall, the Simplon performs incredibly well in all situations, striking an excellent balance between smoothness and agility and thus uniting apparent opposites in one bike.
Tuning tip: Run a chain guide with bash guard
While the SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 might not have managed to secure victory for the second year running, it’s still a damn good bike. In fact, it’s still one of the best all-rounders in the test field and delivers impressive performance with its intuitive and agile handling. The suspension is top notch, ensuring great manoeuvrability and excellent composure. In combination with the excellent spec and clever frame details, this makes the Rapcon an efficient and fun bruiser for all types of rider.
- top spec
- good allrounder
- excellent suspension
- low bottom bracket requires careful line choice
You can find out more about at simplon.com
The test field
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review
All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 8 (Click for review) | Deviate Claymore (Click for review) | Hope HB916 (Click for review) | Intense Tracer 279 S (Click for review) | MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 (Click for review) | Mondraker Carbon Foxy RR (Click for review) | Norco Range C1 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Nomad X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 | SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 (Click for review) | Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Elite Alloy (Click for review) | Yeti 160E T1 (Click for review) | Yeti SB160 T3 (Click for review)
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↩
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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Mike Hunger