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.
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.
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.