Weaknesses: Well, um....the color! yeah, the color, that's the ticket!
Wooohooo! In factory trim, this bike is just what I was looking for: an XC racer that still has a fun downhill personality. It is XC because of the weight, short travel, and the stiffness and efficiency of the frame. But the beauty of it is, it is a single pivot bike, and no matter how hard you try, you can't take the downhill character out of it. It flies downhill, eats everything on an XC course, and keeps the rear wheel planted in the dirt. A great comparison is the skinny little 1.85 in. tires on this bike feel more secure on fast, technical stuff than the 2.1 in. tires on my hardtail.
Components - These brakes modulate. If you have only ever used v-brakes or Hayes, you don't know what modulation is, trust me. If you used to set up your center pull cantilevers so that you could control the amount of braking force you applied, you will love these, they are just twice as powerful. They are low, low maintenance. The levers allow a wide range of adjustment, but don't allow room for Optical Gear Display. Boo hoo. And, like all discs, you can run them in the mud no problem. I have packed clay out to the frame and forks and kept going with no worrys except the extra 50 pounds of weight. Very cool.
The 2 ring crankset is interesting, but I may still go XTR. But this crankset is very light, and has all the range that I should need. It lacks very low gears, but that is in keeping with the XC race character of the bike. It is stiff and shifts well, but does not like cross chaining.
The hubs are Hugis, I think. The wheelset is very light. But they are XC wheels, not for hardcore downhill only use.
I am a long time HeadShok fan. I don't care for the steering of telescoping fork shocks. The HeadShok steers the best, and I have always been able to get good suspension action out of them.
Downside? Well, it is a single pivot rear suspension. You are more limited in how you can set up a single pivot than with all these new multilinks. Set it up wrong, and you have a hobby horse. Multilinks are idiotproof by comparison. Set this up right, and you can stand on it, spin on it, DH on it, and it will be efficient and free of bobbing.
Who this bike is not for: technophobes. My gosh, it takes a while to get over the feeling that you are riding a rolling reasearch laboratory. It does not even have cantilever brake mounts. All that carbon fiber makes wierd noises. I love that feeling, though, and the Raven is the most out on the edge bike technically, I think. The first time you throw this bike at a big ol' row of stutters that used to make you wince, and it eats 'em up without you even noticing, you will forget all that. If you don't like all the tech on this bike, get the Jekyll. Same rear suspension, more normal looking frame, adjustable geometry, and get the one with rim brake mounts.
If you want a bike with this personality and all this technology, it ain't cheap, bucko. Look at what other loaded lightweight FS XC racers are going for. And most of them are described as "nervous on the downhill stuff". Bleeeeuuck. And while you are at it, try to make one lightweight with disc brakes. Good luck. This one is worth every penny.
Similar Products Used: 1988 KHS Montana Grade, 1991 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1992 ParkPre Hammer, 1993 Cannondale Super V 3000, 1995 Trek Y-22, 1997 ProFlex 857, 1999 Cannondale F4000.
Bike Setup: Stock. See Canondale's web page. I added bar ends (carbon fiber, too. Looks great).
a Weekend Warrior
from Westfield, NJ
Date Reviewed: January 22, 2000
Strengths: Solid Frame, You'll be amazed at how light this bike is,Coda Competition Disk Brakes are excellent so far (almost Hayes level) - much better than the older Coda Expert Disks that I used on a 900SX, Rear suspension very plush.
Weaknesses: Having to unscrew the seatpost when transporting is annoying
They have the bugs worked out of the Raven II. Is there any dually bike this light in size Large? It is a great looking bike and performs equally as well. The Frame is amazingly stiff. The attention detail is impeccable ie check out the cable stays....The new Competition Disks were much easier to setup and have less drag issues than the Hayes I used for the last year - hope this continues. I urge everyone, especially the clydesdales to upgrade to the new Y2K Fox Air Float RC - so plush. Overall, this bike rocks! - uphill, downhill, you name it. Yes it is expensive, but look what you're getting - very light dually bike from a major manufacturer backed by a lifetime frame warranty.
Similar Products Used: Raven 900SX (demo for 6 months), Schwinn 4-Banger, Mootaineer
Bike Setup: Setup for long-travel - Y2K Fox Air Float RC Long Travel, Marzocchi Z1 X.Fly, Time ATAC, Specialized seat, Velociraptors, King headset, Easton stem and handlebars, Race Face seatpost, XT 180mm crank and XTR bottom bracket.
a Cross-Country Rider
from San Jose, CA
Date Reviewed: December 17, 1999
Strengths: light weight, responsive rear swing arm with Fox Vanilla shock, Coda disk brakes, point-and-shoot precision in all conditions
Weaknesses: HeadShok Fatty Ultra DL continues to make clanking noise on rough downhill.
Overall, the bike is a dream to ride. Light, responsive, no problems with drivetrain, brakes, or suspension. Only problem is with the HeadShok making way too much noise. After several times into my LBS (first replaced entire frame thinking that was defective...it wasn't, servicing cartridge, etc.) noise is still there. I'm still trying to get to the bottom of this. I'd give it 5 stars if wasn't for the HeadShok noise, must settle for 4 stars for now until problem gets resolved. Anyone else out there with similar HeadShok problem?