Lightweight, excellent wheels, amazing spec
The Rafal 700 is the same price as B’twin’s Rockrider Big 8 we tested a year ago, but it has a totally different focus — it’s designed for cross-country racing, rather than trail riding.
It’s steep, high off the ground and the emphasis is on stiffness, light weight and efficiency. It also has a fixed seat clamp, rather than a quick-release, because racers don’t lower their saddles.
Spec-wise the Rafal 700 is probably the best-dressed £750 bike we’ve seen. Plugged in the frame is a 100mm travel Manitou M30 suspension fork. It’s air-sprung — so tunable to different rider weights — and comes with a three-position, twist-grip style remote with open, pro-pedal and lockout settings.
The Shimano Deore drivetrain gets an SLX Shadow Plus rear mech upgrade. Mavic Crossride FT SX wheels are tubeless ready, lightweight, and unprecedented at this price point.
Avid DB1 brakes have tons of power and a great lever shape. The icing on the cake is a Fizik Tundra M7 saddle.
Now the bad news. The fork dives too easily into its travel under braking. There’s play in the bushings and it also tops out. The remote is stiff to turn and fork performance is so poor, most of the time we just rode it locked-out.
Potentially the Rafal 700 could clean up in this category because everything except the fork is excellent. If it had the Voodoo’s shape and fork this bike could be truly awesome.