David gives us his review of the 2019 Radon Cragger 8.0 hardtail
Radon isn’t a name that tends to come up much in discussions I have about bikes. One of the lesser known brands in the UK perhaps, and though not unheard of, never reputed for being at the forefront of specs and design.
Then one of these landed in our inboxes. We gawped a bit at the spec sheet and geometry before saying “… yes. Yeah”.
The Cragger is Radon’s 29er trail hardtail. The 8.0 the more expensive of the two models, but still not absurd money at under €2K, and seems well specced for modern riding. In fact, it’s right there in the manufacturer name: “Rad”. Job done!
What do you mean I have to say more than that? Oh, okay.
The spec on this bike is pretty sorted from the off. DT Swiss wheels, a 130mm Pike RC up front, SRAM GX 1×12 drivetrain, Magura MT5 brakes with 180mm rotors front and back, and a 150mm SDG Tellis dropper (125mm on the smallest size).
Look a bit further than that, you’ll find an e*thirteen chainguide, different Schwable Addix tyre compounds for front and back, a Magura Shiftmix clamp neatening up the cockpit, and 780mm wide bars.
Overall it’s not the fanciest possible stuff, but all solid with some nice extras, and a cut above some of the usual OEM suspects.
Beyond the highly personal preferences of contact points, the Cragger 8.0 pretty much covers any of the stuff I’d normally change on a factory spec hardtail, with stuff I wouldn’t immediately swap out. Even the grips and saddle happened to suit me.
I used to be into longer travel hardtails, and while I still appreciate and use longer travel on full suspension bikes, on hardtails I’ve been finding I need less. A well set up, progressive 130mm fork is enough for anything if I’m going to be riding actively enough to get the back wheel over stuff without smashing it.
Everything here is built to modern standards, so Boost wheel spacing, plenty of tyre clearance, tapered steerer, etc. The only mild gotchas to watch out for are SRAM’s new DUB bottom bracket standard, with its 28.99mm crank axle, and the not-so-quick-release bolt-up axle on the Pike.
In all the spec is solid, with nothing I’d immediately want to upgrade, just things I might want to replace with nicer versions as they wear out.
For reviewing completeness sake, I did a couple of rides on the Hans Dampf front tyre this shipped with, which is a softer, grippier compound than the same tyre on the back. Sure enough, it gave me some hair raising moments on steeper, wetter stuff. I quickly swapped it out for something knobblier, and if you’re the kind of UK rider who uses a hardtail for bad weather riding, I’d advise you do too.
While the Pike up front doesn’t have the uber-fancy damper with extra compression adjustments, the RC is a fine choice that gives good support and tuneability. It had been a while since I’d been on a 130mm one, but I ended up running two volume spacers rather than the four it came with.
With a 65° head angle, the Cragger is on trend but not ludicrous. Neither is it too long, with a reach of 438mm on the medium size. That is about 15mm longer than most manufacturers’ medium of three or so years ago though.
In all, the Cragger isn’t cartoony, nor traditional, but it is pretty well balanced. It’s no XC gazelle, but light enough at under 13Kg. That geometry with 29in wheels ensures it’s fast enough up, and stable enough down.
After quite a few years of riding steel hardtails, the comparative twang in this alloy frame was noticeable on choppier sections, despite the very slender seatstays. It wasn’t a massive bother, and if that kind of thing is for you, I suspect there’s no aluminium frame out there that’ll give you the softness you need.
The only problem during this test was with the SDG Tellis dropper post, which very quickly got sticky, then crunchy. Bucking the trend for droppers, it also functioned more smoothly and faster in temperatures below zero rather than above.
In any case, it’s a very simple thing to service. SDG claims a 400-hour service interval, and that its testing procedure included cycling one for hundreds of hours while it had filth hosed over it, so maybe this one going bad in a few rides was a freak occurrence. It may have been a friend getting enthusiastic with the Muc-Off that had put paid to whatever grease was in it.
After one ride in particular, where the Cragger had cleaned all the techiest trails I ride, I realised I’d had absolutely no thoughts about the bike, or things I might change or tune up. It just went (it also just stopped, when I wanted it to, because Magura brakes are very good at that).
This really sums up it’s character well: There’s no drama. From rolling moors to rocky plummets, you pick your trails and it just quietly gets on with them.
Three Things That Could Be Improved
- The Hans Dampf front tyre: in fact, I did change this, because on steep wet, it definitely had some interesting moments. For UK riding, I’d like something meatier up front
- The brake levers: While I’m a fan of Magura brakes, these MT5’s sport the plastic, two finger lever design. I’d swap these out for the better shaped, more rigid single finger HC levers in a heartbeat
- Seatpost sealing: The SDG Tellis didn’t seem keen on UK winter weather, though as mentioned this might be a one off. Nonetheless, if this bike were mine I might swap it out for a [REDACTED – Insert 8 pages of tribal conflict over dropper seatpost preferences here]
Three Things I Loved
- The 780mm bars: it’s not these bars in particular I liked, just that they’re nice and wide, making it easy to handle.
- The chainguide: not many hardtails come with one of these by default. It’s always one of those things that’s nice to have, but more expensive than you’d like and a bit do-you-really-need it? That is, right up to the mid-descent moment you realise your chainring’s worn enough for your chain to pop off and wrap itself round the crank.
- DT Swiss wheels: While the M1900s aren’t the fanciest or lightest they do, they’re tough, and have that loud DT Swiss buzz that awakens the kid in me.
The Cragger’s 32t-50t Eagle gearing will get you up pretty much anything, and the Pike plus 65° head angle will get you back down it too. With a solid mid-range spec, there doesn’t seem to be much else out there doing this much for the same money.
It isn’t a bike that’ll turn heads, nor does it push the kool outer limitz of rad geometry, but it is a sorted, modern, good all rounder with decent componentry.
2019 Radon Cragger 8.0 Specifications
- Frame // Aluminium
- Fork // Rockshox Pike RC, 130mm Travel
- Hubs // DT Swiss 370, 110x15mm Front & 148×12 Rear
- Rims // DT Swiss 1900, 30mm Internal Width
- Tyres // Schwalbe Hans Dampf Addix 29×2.35in (Soft Front & Speedgrip Rear)
- Crankset // SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed
- Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed
- Shifter // SRAM GX Eagle w/Magura Shiftmix clamp
- Cassette // SRAM GX Eagle XG-1275, 10-50t, 12-Speed
- Brakes // Magura MT5, 180mm Front & Rear
- Stem // Race Face Turbine R, 40mm
- Bars // Race Face Turbine R, 20mm Rise, 780 mm Wide
- Grips // SDG Slater
- Seatpost // SDG Tellis, 30.9x150mm
- Saddle // SDG FLY MTN 2, CrMo
- Size Tested // Medium
- Sizes Available // S, M, L
- Weight //
- RRP // €1,999
|Tested:||by David Hayward for 2 months|