Radon Swoop 9.0

Radon Swoop 9.0

Words: Robert Johnston; Photos: Greg Bartlet

Radon Bikes may not be a familiar name in North America, but in Europe they have a strong presence, especially within the German biking scene. Owned by the German bike shop powerhouse Bike-Discount, Radon bikes was founded in 1992, with the goal of supplying “top quality bikes at affordable prices.” Radon kindly supplied Rob, our EuroWolf, with their 170mm travel Swoop 9.0 29er for a couple of month’s thrashing. With the bike touted as being capable of “daring freeride sessions at the bike park, enduro operations or elbowing your way through the Megavalanche”, we were excited to get this stealthy monster on to the dirt to see how it handled.

Radon Swoop 9.0

The Lab

The Swoop is the 170mm travel full suspension 29er offering by Radon, with the models offered ranging from the €2499 Swoop 8.0 to the top tier 10.0 spec coming in at €3599. The 9.0 model reviewed comes it at a very competitive €2999, with Fox Performance Elite suspension front and rear and a 150mm Fox Transfer dropper; SRAM GX Eagle groupset with Code R brakes; DT Swiss E1700 wheelset; Schwalbe Magic Mary/Hans Dampf rubber; and a mix of SDG, E13 and Race Face finishing kit.

Certainly an aggressive and purposeful package that shouldn’t have any issues withstanding the rigors of enduro racing. The frame features a 3-position geometry flip chip, offering Tour (steepest and highest); Trail; and Park (slackest and lowest) settings. Each position gives a change of 0.5° for the head and seat angle, and 6mm for the BB height.

Radon Swoop 9.0

Geometry on the Swoop range is certainly with the times, although it doesn’t push it to the ultra long and slack territory. In Trail mode, the 65.3° head angle, 76.3° seat angle and 32mm BB drop are reasonable for the bike’s intentions, with the bottom bracket being on the lower side of the spectrum. For the 21” (XL) size tested, a 491mm reach, high 656mm stack and 475mm seat tube should provide all but the tallest of riders with a comfortable riding position.

The low seat tube offers the possibility for riders to up a size, or utilise a long dropper, though it’s important to ensure the maximum insertion on the seat tube will allow the dropper to be set low enough. All frame sizes share a moderate 445mm chainstay length. Shorter riders may struggle to fit on a Swoop 29er, with the smallest 17” frame size still sporting a 462mm reach. Though, I’d argue that a 29” wheel and 170mm travel aren’t compatible with riders smaller than necessary to ride this size of bike.

Radon Swoop 9.0

The Dirt

Radon were very kind in allowing a full two months of testing, meaning the Swoop was ridden on a wide variety of UK trails, from steep tech to pedaly bike park trails. Hopping on the bike initially, there were a few points that stood out. The lines of the frame flow nicely, and the all black matt/gloss finish on the paint is different to anything I’ve seen, with a coarse texture that seems very tough – this stealthy bike looks built to shred. The front end of the bike is super high, with a large stack figure and riser bar. The engagement in the rear hub, at just 18 POE (a massive 20°), is very slow. The cable routing is all external, apart from the gear cable and last section of the dropper, which is welcome when it comes to working on the bike, and utilizes bolt on clamps, which perform adequately.

Seated climbing on the Swoop is comfortable, with the relatively steep seat angle and high front end providing a neutral and relaxed riding position. It’s important to note that the actual seat tube angle is slacker than the effective, which starts to push the seat back towards a slacker overall number for taller riders. But even for my 34” inseam, the seat position is comfortable at max post extension. The relatively long rear end, combined with low BB, provide ample weight on the front wheel, which doesn’t wander until the going gets very steep. The flip side of this BB height is the pedals are very low to the ground, and the relatively low levels of Anti Squat present mean that chain forces don’t help ground clearance much, so it’s important to think about your pedal position when the terrain is rocky.

Radon Swoop 9.0

When the terrain levels out, and standing pedaling becomes a necessity, this low anti-squat becomes very clear. Given its 170mm of rear travel, it may not come as a huge surprise that the bike doesn’t accelerate rapidly, but the kinematics of this Horst-link rear end mean that there is a great deal of suspension movement when stood up and attacking the pedals. This can of course be mitigated by the use of the climb switch on the Fox rear shock, which should only be used for smoother trail-center terrain.

On the good side of gravity, the Radon really comes into its own in rough terrain. The low anti-squat translates to minimal pedal kickback, and the rear end is very free to move and iron out the bumps – it really thrives when charging! The 28 spokes in the DT Swiss rear wheel allow the wheel to flex and conform to the trail, aiding the chunk-eating ability and providing great grip in the off camber.

The Fox Performance Elite suspension is supple off the top and highly tunable, so it can be set up exactly to your preference. There’s ample mid-stroke support at both ends, and a healthy dose of progression to keep you off the bottom-out bumper. The rear end length and low bottom bracket height combine to create a bike with great stability and balance at high speed. Braking creates a mild rise of the rear end of the bike, which can be a touch unnerving on steep trails, but leaves the rear wheel relatively free to track the ground and find grip.

Radon Swoop 9.0

Overall, the Radon is hard to fault when it comes to the descending performance, with it’s one crux being the low spoke count of the rear wheel, which struggles for stiffness through hard cornering. On a few occasions, the rear wheel “snapped” back after flexing, producing an unsettling sensation. It remained true throughout testing however, and this flex does offer the aforementioned off-camber traction. The grip is really incredible.

The geometry of the Swoop encourages corners to be attacked, which allows the stiffness limit of the rear wheel to be found easily. There’s a fine balance to strike, but I’d personally spec the bike with a slightly stiffer, higher spoke count rear wheel. Owners of this bike should certainly pay close attention to ensure rear spoke tension is maintained at a high level, to mitigate the effects of this sometimes-excessive flex. If however you are regularly are riding wet roots or off-camber terrain, you’ll likely welcome the conformation and rear wheel traction.

The other questionable spec choice is the thin SnakeSkin carcass of the Schwalbe tires, which are susceptible to slicing and don’t provide a great deal of sidewall support. I’d certainly expect to see a SuperGravity carcass, at least on the rear, to match the capabilities of this big-hitting machine.

Radon Swoop 9.0

The Wolf’s Last Word

Overall, Radon have put together a very capable bike at a reasonable price. Aside from a couple of spec nuances, the bike provides a very good option for those looking for a hard-charging enduro machine. The rear suspension configuration requires challenging terrain before it comes into its own. Pedaling performance are certainly low on the list of priorities in its design so if you’re a climber or looking for a long distance ride, this may not be your ideal choice. If you live to shred the DH, then a burlier set of tires, and perhaps a stiffer rear wheel, the Swoop will be a formidable machine for the gnarliest of trails. This is a bike made for getting rad-on!

If you’re reading this in North America, sorry – you’re currently unable to purchase one of these. But for the interested Europeans, you can head to BBike-discount.de/ now to get your slice of this high value, shred pie.

Price: €2999
Weight: 31.2 lbs
Website: Radon-bikes.de

Radon Swoop 9.0

CHASSIS
Frame: Aluminum; 170mm
Fork: Fox 36 Float, Performance Elite, Fit Grip 2, Boost
Shock: Fox Float DPX2, Performance Elite, EVOL, 216×63

COCKPIT
Brakes: SRAM Code R, 200F/180R Centerline rotors
Handlebar: Race Face Turbine R, 35 x 800 mm, 35mm
Headset: FSA, ZS44/ZS56
Saddle: SDG Fly MTN 2, CrMo
Seatpost: Fox Transfer Performance, 31.6 x 150mm
Shifter: SRAM GX Eagle; 12s
Stem: Race Face Turbine R, 35 x 40mm

WHEELS
Wheelset: DT Swiss E1700 Spline, 30mm, 110/148
Front tire: Schwalbe Magic Mary, Addix-Soft, TLE, Kevlar, 29″ x 2.35″
Rear tire: Schwalbe Hans Dampf, Addix-Soft, TLE, Kevlar, 29″ x 2.35″

DRIVETRAIN
Bottom Bracket: SRAM Dub GXP Threaded
Cassette: SRAM XG 1275; 10-50T
Cranks: SRAM Stylo Eagle 7k, Boost, DUB, 32T, 170mm
Derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle; 12s

We Dig

Bump-eating Ability
Grip in All Situations
Great Spec for the Price
Stealth Look is Mean
Balanced Geometry

We Don’t

Not Available in North America
Excessive Rear Wheel Flex
Flimsy Tire Casings
Climbing

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