Click here for part 1 of the review
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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