A blog about outdoor adventure and Vanlife

Sette Razzo XX Carbon 29er Review- Part Two- Riding

Click here for part 1 of the review

Storm clouds brewing


The quick and dirty version (written as a personal ad is below).  Read more for the detailed version.

Not your typical mail order bride!

Sexy curves and big feet!

Sexy Sette lady seeks fit companion for fun times and dirty adventures.  I’m a svelte princess at 22.07 lbs ready to ride.  My internal cable routing keeps me looking tidy.  I have exceptionally large 29″ feet, but I come with ballerina slippers.  Throw some serious lugs on me, run me tubeless, and I’ll make you grin.  My big feet and carbon curves smooth things out nicely.

I love singletrack and tight twisty turns.  I’ll ride fire roads if we must, but we’ll both have more fun when it gets tight and narrow ;).  Don’t jump me, I’m not that kind of girl.  I’m athletic and love a long, hard climb.  Remember that I’m a spinner.  I need a partner with finesse and a smooth pedal stroke.  Mashers need not apply.  I have a dirty side too!  Ride me hard and sprint me out of corners, I love it!  My ideal partner also has solid DIY skills, because I don’t come with local dealer support.

The first 100 miles

I logged 95 miles and 12,900 vertical feet in four days of riding with a mix of singletrack, fire road, and some road burn to get to/from trails (not technically 100 miles, but close enough).  The singletrack was a mix of fun flowy singletrack to tight, technical singletrack with tight switchbacks.  I’m very happy so far and can see myself neglecting my dual suspension bike for many rides.  My initial impression is that the Razzo XX performs much better as a singletrack bike than a fire road bike.

Descending to the mighty Pacific

Twenty nine inch wheels, along with tubeless tires and compliant carbon have revitalized the hardtail market.  The ride is like having the snappy, lightweight responsiveness of a hardtail, but with better traction, handling, braking, etc.  Twenty nine inch wheels really do smooth out the ride and roll over a lot of chatter.  Running tubeless tires at 28-30psi helps provide a virtual suspension as well.  Last year, I never thought I’d see myself riding, (and loving) a hardtail again.  I’ve demoed several 29er dualies (for 15-30+ miles each), and got to take a Cannondale Flash Carbon out for a demo.  I absolutely loved it and changed my search to a 29er hardtail.  I also demoed an aluminum 29er hardtail that really sucked for my riding style (harsh ride, not great in switchbacks).  After 8 years of dual suspension bikes I’d forgot how much fun it is to ride a bike that responds to every pedal stroke without any suspension bob.  Dual suspension bikes tend to favor a smooth spin for climbing efficiency, while 29er hardtails love to be hammered out of the saddle.

Below are listed some ride impressions in no particular order:

Cockpit Sizing-  The cockpit seems just a bit cramped for me at 6′ tall.  I am at the upper range for the 19″ (Large) sizing for the Razzo.  Swapping for a slightly longer stem (100-110mm) should solve the problem.  That said, it’s not uncomfortable in the slightest.

Wheelies-  Well, the Razzo sucks for riding wheelies.  I’m not a wheelie junkie, but that’s one of the things you do with a new bike, right?  Anyway, something about the 29er geometry of this bike make it suck for wheelies.  That said, the front end is very light and easy to loft over roots and rocks and the back end is easy to pop over roots and rocks (or a sideways hop to clear an obstacle).

Wheelie Update 3/4/12– Okay, ignore my previous comment about wheelies on the Razzo.  Now that I’ve got 150+ miles on the Razzo, I’ve found the balance point.  She rides wheelies just fine.  Just a very different feel to the balance point and getting the front wheel up.

Vibration damping-  Awesome!  The Razzo does a great job of smoothing out trail chatter.  Carbon + 29er + tubeless feels like having 3″ of rear suspension.

Jumping-  Okay, so the Razzo Carbon is at completely the opposite scale than a jump bike.  This bike wants to roll fast and keep it’s tires on the trail.  Seems like I jump my 26″ dualie off any little rock, water bar, or rampy thing that looks fun.  The Razzo, just doesn’t like to jump.  She does bunnyhop obstacles just fine.

Switchbacks-  Awesome!  I don’t even notice any handling deficits in negotiating tight switchbacks.  The Razzo excels in tight singletrack.  In fact the Razzo has a shorter wheelbase than my Cannondale Rize.  I cleaned tight uphill and downhill switchbacks with ease.

Switchback!

Fire Roads-  The Razzo does okay on fire roads, but really seems more at home on singletrack.  Since I’m still getting used to it, I haven’t pushed it to the point of sliding on corners.  I’ve come from riding a dual suspension for the last few years and can blast through bad lines with wild abandon.  Moving back to a hardtail requires picking a good line on fast fire roads.

Braking-  The XX brakes work fine (as they should).  The only thing I’ve noticed is that the Razzo rear tire locks up and skips a bit.  While a dualie rear suspension keeps the tire hooked when descending steep loose terrain, a hardtail requires more finesse on the rear brake.  With the Razzo I have to pay a bit more attention to feathering the rear brake to keep the rear wheel rolling on loose singletrack descents.

Climbing- Only once did I notice any front end lifting on a climb (on a short super steep granny ring climb).  Otherwise, it climbs great.  The 26×36 granny seems totally adequate.

Descending-  Descending twisty singletrack, the Razzo feels great.  Singletrack is it’s element.  It does okay on fire roads, but my dualie is much more confidence inspiring for blasting rutted fire roads.

Acceleration- One of the complaints I’ve heard about 29ers is that they accelerate slowly until they get up to speed.  I’ve noticed no deficits with acceleration on the Razzo.  It loves to be sprinted out of corners, and maintains it’s speed easily.  Something about the 29″ wheels and bigger tire footprint make it stick to the ground nicely.

Fork- The Fox Float 100 seems great so far.  I’m still dialing in the fork settings for my weight and riding style.  It’s a solid, proven performer though.

2×10 drivetrain- I was initially skeptical about the 2×10 drivetrain- till I demoed one a year or so ago.  Now every new mountain bike I get will be 2×10.  The reduced complexity of the drivetrain is great.  The slightly increased ground clearance reduces chainring bashing as well (39T big ring vs 44T big ring).  The gear spread is fine for 98% of my riding as well.  I rarely find myself spun out in the 39×11, or grunted out in the 26×36.  If you are a big ring masher, or granny gear spinner, then you may have a different experience with 2×10.  There is a bit of drivetrain noise.  The KMC chain is flashy and light, but I wonder if it lines up as well as a SRAM chain (again, I think PricePoint chose the KMC chain to make the bike come in under 21 lbs).

Frame noise-  Some carbon bikes are really noisy.  This is my only concern/complaint so far.  I’ve heard some drivetrain creaking under load while riding on the pavement to the trail.  Once on the trail, I don’t notice it.  I haven’t pulled and regreased the bottom bracket though.  It’s early, and I expect some break in maintenance.  Chain slap is very noticeable when descending in the little ring, and reverberates through the frame.  Stick it in the big ring and chain slap goes away.  Like other carbon frames, there is a noticeable plastic “thuk” noise when you take a pebble to the downtube.

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Summary- Great bike for a great price so far. The Razzo Carbon XX 29er is more at home in twisty singletrack than blasting fire roads.  I’m totally happy with my purchase.  Longevity is the key to bike reviews, so I’ll update in a few months.  After 95 miles and almost 13K feet of climbing and descending, I’d totally recommend it.

I’d love to hear your comments.  If you like the review, consider subscribing to my blog.  It’s about human powered adventures, mountain bikes, trails, outdoor photos, SUP, mountain living, coastal living, snow, dogs, and trying to live an outdoor dream.

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24 Responses »

  1. I have the Aluminum Sette Razzo, bought it before the Carbon came out. I absolutely love it. I came off an Intense 5.5, and Honestly I don’t really miss it. I too am more XC/Enduro, but I felt I was lugging the 5.5 26er around. My Razzo is just great especially for the price. Good review, maybe I’ll pick up a Carbon from from them in a year or so.

    Oh when I pass the guys on rough sections of trails on their FS bikes, I just yell back at them….how ’bout that Hard Tail Magic!

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  2. Great review buddy, i personally prefer the 26s anyway it looks like you have a great bike

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  3. Thanks for the write-up, I find myself in the same exact position on buying a new bike and am now really considering the Sette. Look forward to further updates.

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  4. Great review. I have been eyeballing the Razzo Carbon XX and was dying for some type of review. Thank you, thank you. Really looking forward to your update. Between the chain slap and pebbles, how is the frame holding up so far? Any thoughts on preventative tape or other measures? Being a former BMXer I do like to jump with confidence once in a while so am a little concerned with your comments on jumping. Do you get the sense that it is more a question of being a 29er or is this something specific to this particular bike?

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    • Thanks for the feedback. In terms of geometry and jumping, I think that 29er geometry has evolved from just making a bigger 26″ frame to working on shortening the wheelbase and putting the rider more “on top” of the bike. The Razzo wheelbase is about 1″ shorter than my large Cannondale Rize 26er, so the rider really is more “on top” of the bike. Some of the early 29ers were criticized for being sluggish and unwieldy when cornering, and frame builders have really worked on dialing 29er geometry. (Take this with a grain of salt, these are my own observations only and I’m sure there are lots of people who can discuss head tube angle, fork trail, etc.).

      Don’t get me wrong, the bike does get off the ground okay. I find that I’m not able to suck up the Razzo under me as much on the Razzo when launching off little jumps. It’s plenty easy to flick the front or rear tire around roots or rocks or other obstacles, bunny hop, etc. Also, after riding a dual suspension bike for the last 7-8 years (coming off a Ti hardtail), I’ve gotten used to being able to load the suspension and use the shock rebound for extra lift.

      Then again, the Razzo is a sub-3 pound carbon fiber frame, jumping is about as far as its intended purpose as you can get. That’s why you have a quiver of bikes in the garage. Hope that helps.

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  5. Thanks for your review. Very helpful and informative. Am ready to order one and wanted to see if your impressions have changed since part two.

    Thanks

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    • Hey Alan-

      Thanks for the positive feedback. I’m still very happy with the bike, and haven’t ridden my dual suspension bike since I got it (6 pounds lighter!).

      Couple of minor issues so far. The flashy KMC chain broke. First chain I’ve broken in years. It broke on a totally flat section of singletrack, after about 350 miles on the bike. I’ve got a really good spin, am about 175 lbs, and haven’t ridden the bike in rain or any serious mud/wet. Replaced it with a good SRAM chain and the drivetrain noise was quieter, too. So far I’m not impressed with the KMC ti oxidized chain (it is light though, and made the bike come in under 21 lbs stock).

      Second issue is with carbon creaking. It’s gotten worse over time. I’m going to pull the bottom bracket and regrease/torque it this week. Hopefully, it’s just an initial break in thing. Going to be very unhappy with a creaky bike.

      Other than that and the issues in the review, I’m still very happy with it. It’s had the usual initial break in issues, as with any bike (derailleur adjustments, etc.). More so in looking at some of the other big name carbon frames out there (Check out Intense carbon 29er- very similar frame).

      I’ll post the final part (part 3) during the summer after I’ve gotten at least 1,000 miles on it. Without checking my Garmin stats, I think I’ve 450+ miles on the Razzo (and about 1,700 miles so far this year).

      We are working on another 29er bike review as well. My really fast girlfriend got a custom Ti Eriksen 29er hardtail. Her first custom bike after a lifetime of riding bikes that didn’t fit right (tall, really long legs, short torso and arms). Look for that review to come out next week, too. It’s a freaking beautiful Ti bike and she hammers technical singletrack on it.

      Hope that helps.

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  6. Great review. (I’d heard some good things so I bought it anyway but was looking for more backup!) I’m a “geezer” (50 plus) endurance rider who left hard tails behind some years ago, swearing never to go back. However, I’m riding length XC races for training and have been thinking that it would be so nice to drop 5 lbs and enjoy a really different type of ride!
    Andy (in Boise – Sultan and Moto 29er rider)

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  7. Thanks much for the details and the photos. I’m a 5’10” fellow who seems to be on the cusp between the medium and large frames. I don’t care for having my elbows locked to reach the grips. You mention that at 6′ you are at the far end of the large size. Do you feel that the large would be my best bet vs a medium?

    Also, the XX and the SC X7 are the same frame, correct?

    Thanks much!

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    • I’m 5’11”, 31″ inseam – riding the Large frame, carbon beautiful black beast.90mm stem and flat bars work well.

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    • Glad I could help. I’m actually riding the bike with the stock 90mm stem and have grown to like the shorter cockpit (rather than a stretched “race” style cockpit). For a few weeks it felt too short. I shy away from making size recommendations, but would compare all the geometry tidbits to a bike that fits you really well and go from there. I’m a 32″ inseam, and fairly proportional in torso and arms.

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  8. Thanks for the bike review. I just purchased the Razzo Carbon X9 and have about 150 miles of XC riding on it. On my last ride, it began making a random clunking noise from what appeared to be the bottom bracket/crank area. I noticed it right after a harsh downhill section with some roots. It was inconsistent with no apparent cause and seemed to go away toward the end of my ride. Have you had any more problems with your bottom bracket?

    Thanks

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    • Hey Scott-

      Thanks for the comment. I’ve had a few frustrating rounds of chasing down noises. At one point I was convinced that the bottom bracket shell hadn’t been glued in properly. Carbon fiber can transmit sounds throughout the frame and make sounds appear in weird spots. I’ve also had this happen on my Specialized S-Works Tarmac and seen it happen on the $10,800 Specialized MTBs as well. Here are my recommendations:

      – Use a heavy duty chainstay protector. The carbon frame makes tons of noise during chainslap on rough trails. A good chainstay protector makes it a much nicer (quieter) bike to ride. Price Point should just include a Sette chainstay protector with the carbon bikes since they are pretty cheap anyway.
      – I had horrible creaking which was coming from the SRAM XX rear cassette. The XX cassette is a “race day only” cassette with a stupid design that flexes in the bottom half of the cogs. It caused a creaking that reverberated through the entire frame and was exceedingly frustrating. I went through everything on the bike multiple times before discovering this. You don’t have the XX cassette, but should check the cassette tightness just the same. I’ll eventually get around to doing a blog post about it.
      – Carbon creaking can be difficult to track down, and can appear in a different part of the bike entirely. Start with the basics. Chainstay protector, cassette, BB, seatpost prep and saddle rails.

      Good luck. Let me know how it goes.

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    • the creaking on my bike has come from the seat post clamp. Cleaned everything off, lubed the bolt and no more noise.

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  9. Thank you for your review! I am in the market for a new bike and was doing some research on a Sette Serum Pro XT Carbon Mountain Bike when I came across your post. I really appreciate your honest review. On paper, the specs of this bike look great, but it is hard to shell out that kind of money sight unseen. I was pleased to come across your review which gave me a better feel for the quality of Sette bikes, and the entire ordering process. With your experience in riding several frame types, do you have an opinion regarding the longevity of carbon frames?

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    • Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be writing up my final long term of the bike in a few weeks. So far I’ve logged more than 1,200 miles and close to 150,000+ feet of climbing on the Sette (I live and ride in the mountains- it’s either uphill or downhill). I do swap back and forth between the Razzo, and my 5″ travel dual-suspension 26″ bike. The 29er is much more fun to ride except in blazing fast rocky downhills or trails with lots of jumps. The 26″ bike will only be around till I save my pennies for a 29″ dual suspension bike.

      I’m very happy with the Sette so far. For a $699 carbon frame, it’s great. I do think that the X0 version of the Sette Razzo is a better deal. The XX version made a few compromises in the spec specifically to make it come in under 21lbs (specifically in tires, and saddle). I’ll talk more about that in my final review.

      I’ve 4-5 carbon fiber bikes so far with no complaints. I’ve also been riding road bikes with carbon fiber forks for 10+ years. I did break a carbon road frame in a crash, but it was a head on impact with a deer at 37mph. I was pretty munched as well, and easily could have died. Snapped the fork off and buckled the top tube. Again though, that was an unavoidable head-on with a deer on pavement. Carbon can be brittle if you take a lateral impact directly to a tube (seen a road frame crack with a side impact). Otherwise they are very strong. Carbon frames were more of a boutique item a few years ago. I think companies have learned how to do solid, consistent carbon layups in mass production. There are hundreds of thousands of carbon frames out there.

      Overall, I highly recommend the Carbon Razzo, no matter what build you get.

      Oh, one last thing with regard to 29ers. Growing up in Fairfax, CA (the so-called birthplace of mountain biking), I know a few of the pioneers of mountain biking. I’ll paraphrase one friend (a framebuilder in the mountain bike Hall of fame) with respect to 29ers. He said, “We knew we were building bikes with the wrong size wheels. In the 1970s, the largest knobby balloon tires available were from 26″ BMX bikes. We knew we were using kid’s bike tires, but that was all that was available.” So basically, the 26″ mountain bike wheel was an accident of history because there were few knobby balloon tires available in the ’70s (even though 650B and 700c wheels have been around forever). Swapping back and forth between a 26″ wheel and the 29″ wheel, I notice that the 26″ wheel gets hung up more often in rock gardens- and the 29″ wheel rolls right through. I don’t notice any of the sluggishness people complain about. The 29″ ride feels much more neutral and stable to me. Also, the slightly larger ground contact patch on the 29″ wheel makes a big difference in terms of overall traction. I don’t know anyone who has gotten a 29er and gone back to a 26″ wheel (except perhaps for downhillers who need a bombproof wheel that will take big impacts). For general cross country riding, the 29″ wheel is awesome.

      I plan to get the final long term review up in a few weeks.

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  10. Decided to read your review after meeting you Tue evening in Auburn. The review is interest ing so far. If you are in Auburn again and want a guild send me a email. I am sure we can find an interesting route

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    • Hey Dale- Great meeting you on the trail. We had a great ride up stagecoach in the dark. At this very moment I’m writing my final installment of the review after 2,000+ miles and 300K+ feet of climbing. Look for it to be published in the next day or two.

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  11. Really appreciate the thorough review. Currently living in Costa Rica, fairly new to mountain biking, and strongly considering upgrading to a razzo x9. You mentioned double suspensions a few times, and I’m torn between getting an aluminum double suspension 29er or the razzo, being that I have a $2k budget. Thanks to your posts, I’m leaning more towards the razzo. Looking forward to part 3!

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  12. Great review. Just bought my self one a few minutes ago and I’m already in love with her. Thanks to your review. Thanks!!

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  13. Thanks for the reviews. I have one comment in that you contradicted yourself regarding whether it was good for mashing or not. (second paragraph and then latter). Why wouldn’t a carbon HT be good for all kinds of climbing?

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  14. I just got my Sette Razzo SC X9 V2 all together with some swapped out components (stem and bars). Todays my maiden voyage on a tight XC single track. I forgot my GoPro, Damn. Looking forward to the tester!

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