RAAW Madonna V3

RAAW Madonna V3

Wheel Size: 29’’

Travel: 160 mm rear / 170 mm front

Geometry Highlights:

  • Sizes offered: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Headtube angle: 64° (adjustable)
  • Reach: 480 mm (size Large)
  • Chainstay length: 450 mm (Size Large, +/- 5 mm via flip chip)

Frame Material: Aluminum

Price: Frame kits from $2,520

David Golay reviews the RAAW Madonna V3 for Blister
RAAW Madonna V3


The original Madonna was RAAW’s first model, built to be an Enduro race bike with an emphasis on reliability and serviceability over aesthetic frills, and the new Madonna V3 carries on that tradition. It’s an aluminum frame with straight tubes, big bearings, and a clear focus on being easy to live with day in and day out. While it looks a lot like the earlier iterations of the Madonna, the new one gets updated (and much more adjustable) geometry, a new XXL size, refined suspension kinematics, and a whole lot more. Let’s check it out:

David Golay reviews the RAAW Madonna V3 for Blister
RAAW Madonna V3

The Frame

The new Madonna V3 doesn’t look all that different from the V2.2 that it replaces at first glance, but a lot of the details have been tweaked. It’s still offered in aluminum only and uses a Horst-link layout with a vertically oriented shock to produce its 160 mm of rear-wheel travel. As RAAW puts it, “there isn’t much ‘design’ forced on the Madonna V3.” It’s a simple, purposeful-looking bike and it’s clear that RAAW was more interested in making the bike work the way they wanted than getting wild with the industrial design.

One of the more interesting features of the Madonna is that RAAW offers two different rocker links for the bike, which use different shock strokes (and thereby different overall leverage curves) to get the same 160 mm of travel. The higher-leverage 60 mm stroke combination is intended for riders under 90 kg (~200 lb) while the 65 mm stroke setup is meant for folks over that threshold. It’s not a new idea for RAAW — the prior-generation Madonna used the same arrangement — but it’s an interesting idea to better tune the suspension kinematics to a given rider’s weight. RAAW doesn’t publish full kinematic data for the Madonna, but says that it’s got 26% total progression (in the default setting; more on that in a minute) and that the leverage curve has been made as straight as possible, with a particular eye to increasing initial sensitivity early in the stroke.

The Madonna V3 also features a great deal of frame adjustability, with swappable lower shock mounts (shared with RAAW’s Yalla! DH bike) that can toggle the bottom bracket height up or down by 3 mm. They also create corresponding changes to the headtube angle and other geometry numbers, and/or alter the total amount of progression by +/- 3%, from the default starting point of 26%. Each of the nine possible combinations uses a dedicated pair of lower shock mounts, which are sold separately, so experimenting with all the options is somewhat involved, but they’re they’re if you want them.

David Golay reviews the RAAW Madonna V3 for Blister
RAAW Madonna — Frame Adjustment Parts

The prior-generation Madonna featured adjustable-length chainstays. These optionally carry over to the V3 — you can have your choice of a SRAM UDH (and therefore T-Type groupset compatibility) or chainstay length adjustment and a normal derailleur hanger, but not both. Packaging a UDH and a flip-chip into the dropout is tough, so RAAW decided to offer an optional UDH-compatible seatstay for folks who want one, but the default option is their own hanger with the chainstay length adjustability.

To round things out, the Madonna now features a straight 56 mm headtube to open up more room for reach and/or angle-adjusting headsets. Many of those will still require an external lower cup if you’re running a single-crown fork with a tapered steerer tube, but RAAW now condones running a dual-crown fork on the Madonna (provided that the 598 mm axle-to-crown limit is adhered to). RAAW recommends a 180mm-travel setting if you go the dual-crown route, and the integrated fork bumpers from the Yalla! are compatible with the Madonna.

The other frame details are suitably no-nonsense — the cable routing is external, the bottom bracket shell threaded, and the chainguide tabs removable. There’s room for a water bottle inside the front triangle on the full size range (up to a 500 ml one on the Small and Medium frames; 750 ml on the Large on up), plus an accessory mount on the underside of the top tube.

RAAW offers a five-year warranty on the Madonna frame for both the first and second owners, and a five-year crash replacement policy for damage that falls outside the scope of warranty coverage. All the pivot bearings get secondary sealing built into the pivot hardware, and RAAW says that they’ve revised the pivot axles to be stronger and better aligned than earlier iterations.

Fit & Geometry

The biggest change to the Madonna’s geometry is the addition of a new XXL size — the V2.2 topped out at an XL. The reach on the four smaller sizes is unchanged (starting at 430 mm on the Small and growing in 25 mm steps to 505 mm on the XL); the XXL comes in at 530 mm. The headtube angle has been slackened by half a degree, to 64°, and the chainstay lengths have grown by 5 mm. The middle chainstay setting on the Small and Medium frames is now 445 mm, the Large comes in at 450 mm, and the XL and XXL get 455 mm stays, with +/- 5 mm of adjustment available if you forgo the UDH seatstay option in favor of the adjustable stock seatstay.

David Golay reviews the RAAW Madonna V3 for Blister
RAAW Madonna V3 Geometry (click to expand)
The stack heights on the Madonna are notably tall, between the longer-than-average headtube lengths and fairly low bottom bracket (35 mm drop). I’m personally into that decision — I’ve been gravitating toward taller front-end setups in recent years as geometry has evolved, longer dropper posts have become more commonplace, and so on. That said, folks who prefer a low front end might struggle to make that happen on the Madonna. Overall, the geometry looks well thought out, with a nice window of adjustability to dial things in.

The Builds

RAAW offers the Madonna V3 as a frame only or with Fox and Ohlins “rolling chassis” options. The full details weren’t available ahead of the launch, but we’ll update with more complete info on those when we get it.

David Golay reviews the RAAW Madonna V3 for Blister
RAAW Madonna V3

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) The Madonna V3 is, by all appearances, a well-thought-out and purposeful take on an Enduro race bike. But how does it perform on the trail, and how does it compare to the many, many other good options in that class — perhaps most interestingly, the upcoming Privateer 161 V2?
(2) Does the Madonna feel like a super game-on race bike that just wants to go fast, or is it more versatile as a do-it-all all-rounder?

Bottom Line (For Now)

The RAAW Madonna V3 looks like a very promising take on a no-nonsense Enduro race bike, with a burly aluminum frame, external cable routing, a ton of adjustabilty, and great-looking geometry. We’re planning to get one in for review when production bikes land in the spring, and are looking forward to finding out more. Stay tuned for a full review to come.

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