Impressed us with its turn of speed, blinding specification and uncanny ability to put a smile on our face every single time we rode it
Radon Slide Trail 9.0 includes a carbon composite front triangle, alloy rear end, full Fox suspension and the latest Shimano 12-speed drivetrain. Note: price is €2,999 and UK price may vary according to exchange rate.
The Slide Trail 9.0 is a new addition to mbr’s Trail Bike of the Year test but, like YT, Radon is a German direct-sales brand. As such you get a lot of bike for your euros. In this instance that includes a carbon composite front triangle, alloy rear end, full Fox suspension and the latest Shimano 12-speed drivetrain.
Radon Slide Trail 9.0 review
In addition to the distinctive shape and shiny mustard colourway, the Slide Trail 9.0 also has some neat features. Take the flip-chip interlocked between the seatstays and rocker link. By flipping this around you can raise the bottom bracket height and steepen the head angle. It’s a nice touch but, like most of these chips, we rarely move them from the low position during testing and we doubt you’ll ever use the high setting. We also like that there’s space for a full-size water bottle, not a little baby one like on the YT. The frame even comes with a chain device for extra chain security.
Radon isn’t messing about when it comes to suspension; splashing a load of cash on the high-end Fox Float DPX2 Elite rear shock and a Fox 36 Performance Elite suspension fork with the better Grip2 damper. Travel-wise, the Slide Trail has 150mm up front, and while it claims to pump out 140mm at the rear, we measured it a 134mm, not that you can tell you’re being short-changed out on the trail.
The Slide Trail 9.0 is one of two bikes in the direct-sales category with a Shimano 12-speed drivetrain. We love the light action of the shifter, and how smoothly the chain glides across the 10-51t cassette, but when the chain is in the biggest cog it makes an incessant grinding noise, almost as if the B-tension adjustment is out of alignment.
You also need to be careful with the DT Swiss M1700 wheelset, specifically the push-in freehub body. Every time we removed the rear wheel to load the bike into the back of the car, the freehub, springs and all the internals would fall on the floor and we’d have to spend 10 minutes looking for all of the parts. If you never remove the rear wheel it won’t be an issue, and while we have no complaints about the ride quality of the DT wheels, we’d like a more secure solution for the freehub.
If we are being really picky, the Magura MT5 levers have a bit too much travel for our liking, but the disc brakes are powerful with great modulation. The softer 3C Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR II tyres boost control further, as do the Race Face Aeffect R oversized 35mm cockpit and 150mm SDG Tellis dropper post.
The Slide Trail 9.0 isn’t the stiffest bike on test, but don’t take that as a negative, as it’s one of the key reasons it’s the best riding bike here. Hit tight twisty singletrack and the Slide Trail instantly springs to life – it’s quick, fun, exciting and really engaging. And, as clichéd as it sounds, it really corners like it’s on rails, so you can literally bank it over in a turn and just hang on. The suspension feels very balanced too, the more supportive Grip2 damper in the 36 fork offering a super-stable ride that just encourages you to go fast and take chances, which is exactly what all good trail bikes should do. And to be honest, that’s not what we were expecting from this bike. If you look at the geometry you’ll see that the Slide Trail 9.0 has a similar head angle, reach and wheelbase numbers to the other three bikes, but it has the tallest static bottom bracket height. Normally, this would be fatal but the Radon’s dynamic ride height delivers a formula that really works, so the Slide Trail 9.0 has real urgency about it and is a ton of fun to ride.
There are couple of things on the Slide Trail 9.0 that would normally prevent it from getting a perfect 10 rating, but everything seems to have fallen into place. It doesn’t have a full carbon frame, yet it’s the lightest bike. The BB height doesn’t seem to stack up either, but the ride is dialled. We’ve even grown to like the JPS colour scheme. As with most direct-sales brands, Radon delivers a lot of bike for the money. With the Slide Trail 9.0 however, you also get a big fat grin included in the price, which alone makes it worthy of our direct-sales Trail Bike of the Year award.