EnglishMy name is Eric, I am French with 10 years of living and mountainbiking in Poland, mainly in Southern Poland. My MTB adventure initially started by curiosity leading me to discover Polish mountain by this way, and since four year my biking life entered a new era being increasingly into MTB marathons.
I intend to say here few words about my new bike, being the only 29 I owned, I have no pretention to compare it to other products, so it will be rather about telling my own story.
My first encounter with a 29er was few years ago, but at this time I just acquired a new suspended 26" frame (Tomac), and the prices were still dissuasive.
However, the idea made its way through the years, especially each time struggled in technical parts during marathons, especially downhills, being overtaken by folks on 29ers who seemed to put no effort in it. Prices getting increasingly accessible also contributed to it.
My first chance occured in 2012 as my best biking friend borrowed a Spec Stumpjumper in the background of the borrowing scheme of this brand put in place in Poland. A short ride around Sleza convinced me that the size of wheels had much more impact than I imagined, feeling almost more comfortable than on my full 26". From this moment, I knew my next bike would be a 29er.
The marathons I rode in the end of the 2014 season had been particularly rainy, and the discomfort I felt during downhills, overtaken by almost everyone, had been more flagrant than ever. This, associated with other acquaintances also purchasing a 29er, plus the milestone of my 26er being five years old, convinced me it was the right moment for a change.
Looking for bikes with the best price and weight ratio inevitably led me to Canyons, and looking for new bikes led me to second-hand bikes, many of them being located in Germany and some in excellent state.
The direct sale scheme also rose my curiosity, and I discovered that it was not the only brand to do so. The less known Radon bikes, also manufactured in Germany, were quite well rated, and very similars in terms of equipment. I read an article comparing these two brands, plus the third brand "Poison"; the outcome was that for the most basic models Canyon had better prices, but in higher the standard, Radon comes cheaper.
The purchase was a poker strike. I spotted a Radon ZR Race 8.0 in perfect state near Munchen, for a thousand Euros, where by pure coincidence a friend was travelling. Three days later, the Radon was in my house. Blind purchasing is risky but risky but having tried other models in shops and having monitored the dimensions, I knew I could not get far wrong.
Many people questioned me about my choice to abandon the full suspension, a choice I had considered as almost mandatory in 26". My initial ride on the Stumpjumper convinced me it was not necessary anymore, and I wanted to focus on weight-saving on a light frame. For my type of riding, rather soft XC, I am pretty sure the full suspension is not a must-be, at least on Polish trails.
On the drier and stonier trails of my southern France the question would be more pertinent, but what we ride here in Poland main consists in 90% of forest trails.
A first glance at the bike itself: with a black frame, the design is sober, and elegant. No extravagant colours which I wanted to avoid. The frame is made of very thin tubes of large diameter in aluminium claimed to be "extra hard". The first meters on it confirmed my first feeling: the frame is extra-stiff. The saddle is very minimalist, which follows the lightweight philosophy of the whole structure (11kgs).
Another thing worth to mention is that the frame (and the whole bike) are designed like a whole waterproof structure: all cables are hidden inside the frame. With my previous bike, mud going inside cables was a recurrent issue, American frames are designed for dry countries, while German bikes seem to fit better wet conditions met in Northern countries.
I rode my bike for the first time around Sleza, the closest mountain, but the result did not meet all expectations. I felt a bit of discomfort during this first ride, as the frame is extremely stiff, and the paths are very stony. At the end, I felt an unusual pain in my back. I did not feel this discomfort two years before when I rode the stumpjumper, also hardtail. the handlebar also caused me some pain in the hands.
A second ride in the Strzelin hills proved me that on softer terrain, riding this Radon was a revelation, this nervous bike matching perfectly fast riding. However, I convinced myself it was necessary to solve few issues.
Having done the mensurations calculation proposed on competitivecyclist.com, and knowing my settings, I decided to compare my position on the Radon to the optimal position I had reached on the previous Tomac. This led me to the main conclusion that I had a too "sitting position", which could explain the back pain.
First, I reduced the handlebar height to the minimum, but I realized this was not sufficient, and decided to purchase another handlebar. Despite it is often advertised that large handlebars are more comfortable, I am not a big fan of this and always found myself more comfortable riding with the arms being parallel. The curve of the current handlebar of twelve degrees was also in my opinion too excessive, which contributed in the pain in my hands.
I decided to replace the current Vector Syntace 70cm/12' by another Syntace Vector of 63cm and 8'. Less width and less inclination significantly lowered my hands level, offering a more sporty position.
From this moment, i can say the position on my Radon is ideal. I do not feel any pain, I have more ease in bike handling, and I can benefit all the potential of this bike. While riding downhill, which had never been my speciality, I feel much more confident. The Fox Float fork also contributes to this. My previous fork, also a Fox, had only 80mm, the change is flagrant.
Riding uphill is a real pleasure. Just pedaling feels like being on rails !
Few words about the tires, I used to be a Geax fan, and ran the last few years on tubeless. Here I am with classic Schwalbe Ron Rocket tires and rims. The tires, despite not exceptional, are not so bad, and not excessively heavy. The Mavic Crossride rims are pretty light while robust, which does not penalize the handling.
No decision yet is being taken about switching to tubeless, future will tell.
Another change was being brought back to Shimano, having the previous bike all equiped in Sram, when it comes about the chain structure, plus changing from revoshift to classic manettes, which rose few doubts before the purchase. But I have nothing to say and got used to it from the start. Changing gears has never been an issue so far.
When it comes to aftersales service, I have nothing to say, having very little of the warantee left. But mainly good opinions emerge from Radon on the internet. I can also see that finding spare parts on internet (hak przerzutki and the likes) does not seem to be an issue in Poland.
Time to finish now on some conclusion.
Not knowing well other bikes, I think it makes sense to recommend the upper versions of Radon hardtails, for those looking for bikes in the lightweight and nervous style, and for very affordable budgets, even new.
Here are the entire specifications of the bike :
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