David checks out the value packed Radon Slide Trail – a full suspension 29er – and finds there’s plenty to like.
As you’d expect for a bike around the £2K mark, it’s not kitted out with bleeding edge elite racing equipment, but it does have a credible, solid spec. Most notable is that the front triangle of the frame is carbon fibre, with an alloy rear end. The frame has a quality feel, with some nice cable routing – though it is all extremely internal, with the brake hose going through the swing arm.
According to the scales at the office, plus pedals and a bit of dirt on, the bike weight came in at 13.96Kg, or 30.78lbs. Claimed weight is 13.5Kg, which is probably about right. Not super lightweight, but this is a 150mm trail bike that won’t make your bank account weep nearly as much as a sub-12Kg one.
Up front the Radon Slide Trail has a RockShox Revelation Charger RC Fork, which you might recall is nowadays built around the same chassis as the Pike. This means, compared to Revelations of old, it’s jumped from 32mm to much stiffer 35mm stanchions, and will take bottomless tokens. Out back is a matching Deluxe RT3 DebonAir shock, and it all rolls on 29″ DT Swiss M1900 Spline wheels.
Stopping is done with some four-pot Magura MT5 brakes, which are great in terms of power, less so in their OEM 2-finger lever design. Were I to buy this, those lever blades are one of the few things in the spec I’d swap out, for Magura’s HC levers.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the SDG grips and saddle suited me. While they can be very personal things, for reference I tend to get on best with 32mm grips and in saddles, I’ve previously got on best with Fabric’s Scoop Radius and Fizik’s Gobi. I’ve added the SDG Fly MTN 2 to the list. Underneath that was an SDG Tellis dropper, which I was curious about given the one supplied with the Cragger 8.0 got a bit slow after some coatings of mud. This one did not, despite quite a few rainy rides.
The drivetrain is a mix of Race Face cranks, with XT and SLX Shimano bits behind them. I’d say the selection here is a little odd: SLX shifter and cassette, with an XT derailleur. Personally, I’d go for the same level of kit but flip the specs: nicer feeling XT shifter, lighter XT cassette if possible within the budget, then an SLX mech I wouldn’t mind smashing off rocks so much. No objections to the way Radon have done it though: it’s solid kit I know will work well, so if it were mine for good I’d treat myself to a nicer shifter, then work toward the rest as and when bits needed replacing.
Tyre selection was good for countries with mixed conditions, such as the UK, with a Schwalbe Magic Mary up front and a Hans Dampf at the rear. These offered plenty of grip compared to the California optimist rubber specced by some other companies, and did so without being too draggy. They also arrived set up tubeless, which is apparently becoming more common, but a delightful first for me with review bikes.
In previous years, I’d heard mediocre things from other journalists about Radon bikes – their geometry lagged behind a bit, the specs weren’t great, etc. On this year’s bikes, they really seem to have everything sorted out the box. Nothing is super high end or extreme, but they have wide bars, decent suspension, decent brakes, Raceface finishing kit, and geometry in the same ballpark as other companies. An MRP chainguide is the cherry on top. Radon haven’t skimped on anything; I’m impressed with the spec and the attention to detail. It even has a ShiftMix clamp so the brake and shifter take up less handlebar space – though the Tellis dropper remote can’t use one on the other side.
One thing missing is chainstay protection. After the first few rides, it looked like the chain was going to eventually eat its way through the stay entirely, so I wrapped it in old inner tube.
Another detail on the frame is a pair of flip chips connecting the seat stays to the rocker yoke. Flip them one way and you effectively lengthen the seatstays, giving a higher bottom bracket and a steeper head angle. Flip them the other to slacken it and drop the bottom bracket. They say this switches between a 66.6 and a 65.6 head angle, which was within 0.2 degrees of the measurements I got with a cheap inclinometer (calibrated on a floor I don’t quite trust).
During this test, I did one ride in the steep-head-angle, high-BB mode. It had come set to slack though, and I quickly went back to this as much better suited to my local riding. The difference was very noticeable, and if I lived somewhere flatter without such steep descents, I’d be all over that steeper head angle. The one thing about the slack mode is that it bobbed a bit on climbs, but not so much I got annoyed with it.
RockShox stuff is very familiar to me by now, so I quickly had it set up. The Revelation does seem to bottom out a little more easily than an equivalent Pike or Lyrik, so I ended up running it about 5PSI higher than at first. This didn’t stiffen it up in the initial travel, and it exceeded my expectations for a mid-price fork.
On the very first ride, the most obvious characteristic of the Radon Slide Trail is how poppy it is – which for me, is somewhat surprising in a 29er. It likes to skip off lips, and it feels very easy to keep the front wheel up. I’d been struggling a bit with drops after a crash last year, but almost immediately started hitting them confidently on this bike. Support on landings feels really well balanced and progressive.
The bike behaves like a shorter one, without feeling especially short. At 445mm, the reach on this 18in frame is around 1 – 2cm short compared to what I’m most used to, but not uncomfortably so. This really became apparent on tighter trails, where it nipped round switchbacks other, more sled-like 29ers I’ve ridden can make a struggle of.
When climbing, the linkage and fork both bob a little, though the front wheel doesn’t seem to get light or wander much. Lockout on the Revelation and the Deluxe RT3 are not super firm. If you’re used to anything as good at climbing as a DW link, you’ll notice the difference, but it wasn’t extreme and I didn’t find it horrible.
At -25mm, it didn’t feel like the BB was too high. Cornering on it actually felt great, and it seems to respond very quickly to inside arm counter-pressure, tucking itself into corners quickly without oversteering. There are a few familiar lines I often drift wide of on other bikes, but they felt pretty easy to stick to on this.
I’m not the tallest guy, so trying out 29ers when bikes were shorter and before 27.5in wheels became a thing, I found they could feel a bit wrong. With this Radon Slide Trail and the Cragger, I’ve learned that modern geometry seems to have brought wagon wheels within my comfort zone and riding style. After building a small collection of 27.5in bikes, mainly to keep tyres and wheels simpler, I am gently kicking myself after finding out how much fun this 29er is… and how much faster I am on it. Not much, not enough to make we wipe the slate clean on a bike collection; but consistently enough to be obvious, and a little tempting. Through and through, the Slide Trail 8.0 is a really enjoyable ride.
This trail bike rips, and flip chips make it a more versatile machine. It may not be dripping £10K superbike bling, but Radon have really made an effort to round out the specification. It doesn’t have any blatant weak points, so there’s not much I’d desperately want to upgrade from stock. In all, this is an absolute cracker of a full suss, specced and built for more than summer dust.
- Frame // Carbon front triangle, aluminium rear, 140mm rear travel
- Fork // Rockshox Revelation Charge RC, 150mm
- Shock // Rockshox Deluxe RT3 DebonAir
- Wheels // DT Swiss M1900 Spline, 30mm 110/148
- Tyres // Schwalbe; Magic Mary front, Hans Dampf rear, 29″x2.35″
- Crankset // Race Face Æffect, Direct Mount, 30T, 170mm
- Rear Mech // Shimano XT-M8000, 11 speed
- Shifters // Shimano SLX
- Cassette // Shimano SLX
- Brakes // Magura MT5, 203/180mm
- Stem // Race Face Æffect R, 35 x 50
- Bars // Race Face Æffect, 35 x 760mm, 20mm rise
- Grips // SDG Slater
- Seatpost // SDG Tellis, 31.6 x 150mm (125mm on smallest frame)
- Saddle // SDG FLY MTN 2, CrMo
- Size Tested // 18″
- Sizes Available // 16″, 18″, 20″, 22″
- Weight // 13.5 kg / 29.76 lbs
|Product:||Slide Trail 8.0|
|Tested:||by David Hayward for Three Months|