RAAW Deep Dive: The Toolbox Concept of the Madonna V3
It’s been a few weeks since the Madonna V3 was released and surely there has been a lot to digest. The V3 has been the biggest overhaul we’ve ever launched, there are hundreds of details we’ve worked on that create our most capable, adjustable and durable bike we’ve ever built. The feedback we’ve received from you has been amazing, but also had us decide to dive a little deeper into some of the new features.
This is a closer look into the Toolbox Concept and also the reasons behind the UDH Seatstay option. The Madonna V3 comes out of the box with all the mid settings and those are our first recommendations, but for those who like to tweak, learn and find their personal setup we’ve gathered some thoughts on the options the Madonna V3 offers.
The Toolbox Concept
The idea behind the Toolbox Concept is to offer a more versatile bike with a selection of fine adjustments to the most important geometry numbers and suspension characteristics. This way you can tweak your bike from the baseline, to a setup that might suit you, your riding conditions or preferences better. The baseline, all the mid-settings out of the box are our first recommendation, but for those who like to tweak, learn and find their personal setup we’ve gathered some thoughts on the options the Madonna V3 offers.
The Madonna V3 comes out of the box with all the mid settings and those are our first recommendations. The toolbox concept is for those, who like to tweak, learn and find their personal setup.
The Madonna V3 offers chainstay length adjustment at the rear wheel axle, bb-height and progression adjustment at the center of the bike and the head tube allows for head angle adjustment. If you’re keen on modifying your Madonna V3 and would like to learn about the possible changes, I would recommend to leave the front and rear of the bike as is and start with the center by changing either the bb height or the progression of the suspension. Both are very interesting and won’t put your bike out of the comfortable window. The bb height adjustment is more noticeable, but the progression adjustment can also be eye-opening.
Bottom Bracket Height Adjustment
From the base, out-of-the-box, geometry, we offer different lower shock mounts, the same mounts as on our Yalla!, to adjust the BB height by 3 mm, up or down - Subtle changes that have a huge impact on the overall character of the bike. I personally was blown away by the difference the BB height made on the Madonna. Early in 2023 we did shuttle runs in Sintra, Portugal, back to back runs with single changes at the time.
The High BB setting makes the bike a lot more lively, it’s way easier to manuel, but also makes the bike feel more like you’re on it, instead of in it. The low BB is low, very low. It instantly reminded me of skiing in the sense that it allowed me to steer the bike way more with my feet instead of just with my hands. Just imagine your feet down below in front of you, pushing to where you want to go, like with skiing in pow. The low BB is a little extreme, but super interesting and great for steep stuff.
I recommend starting by changing either the bb height or the progression of the suspension. Both are very interesting and won’t put your bike out of the comfortable window.
Suspension Progression Adjustment
The rear suspension progression can also be adjusted by the same modular lower shock mounts and offers 3% more or less progression from the 26% that comes as standard. It’s also possible to combine the BB and progression adjustments.
Changing the progression of your suspension means that you’re changing the dynamic geometry. That may sound a bit woohoo, but what it means is that you change where you are in travel when riding, also with the same adjusted sag. A bit more progression in the suspension means you’ll be higher in the travel in big compressions than with lower progression. The take-away is that you can run more progression to ride higher in your available travel and visa-versa you can run less progression to ride lower. Did I get too nerdy? Nothing to worry about, the 26% out-of-the-box is spot on.
Suspension is a very complex topic, also because the frame is only one part and the shock needs to work with the frame suspension design. Shocks usually offer multiple adjustments on the spring and damping and now the frame adds another option. There are many ways to tweak the whole system, but in our opinion the frame is always the foundation. Shocks can be tweaked to far extends, but if the foundation isn’t solid, the shock will have a harder job. Changing the progression on an air shock by adding volume spacers is an alternative, but changing it at the foundation is better in our opinion. We also offer shock setup guides that you can always use as a baseline, in case you get lost with all the adjustments.
Chain Stays Length Adjustment
All frame sizes come with the rear wheel axle in the mid position. For S and M size frames that’s 445 mm, L is 450 mm, and XL and XXL frames are 455 mm. From there, the chainstay length can be adjusted to 5 mm shorter or longer with separate rear wheel axle kits. The UDH Seatstay option we offer also features the size specific chainstay lengths, but cannot be adjusted. A little more on the UDH option you can find further down in this article.
Don’t be afraid of a bit of rear-end length. We often encounter people who are skeptical of our long chainstays. But we’ve done it for a reason. It’s balanced. And it doesn’t take away any of the fun and agility of the bike. Many riders have confirmed this over the years and I’m very confident that a bit of rear-end length helps each and everyone.
Head Angle Adjustment
The straight, 56 mm diameter head tube opens the door for easier head angle adjustments with headsets from the likes of Works Components, or any other brand offering 56 mm angle headsets.
I’d be careful with changing the head angle. 64° is pretty spot on for pretty much anything on the Madonna. Any slacker and you start to lose front wheel grip, any steeper and you.. well, who likes steeper? Jokes aside, changing the head angle wouldn’t be the first thing to look at for me. But you can, and surely there will be trails, riders and conditions that would benefit from a steeper or slacker head angle.
SRAM UDH & Transmission
We offer the Madonna V3 with two options for the dropouts. We offer our RAAW axle system that locks the two seatstays into each other while also offering adjustable chainstay lengths. But now, we also offer Sram UDH and Transmission compatible seat stays. With the UDH seatstays, the chain stay length will always be in the mid position for that frame size. You can pick either in the configuration of your Madonna V3.
In an ideal world we would have one solution, but right now we’re working with two options. We’ve got our proprietary axle system that works with the corresponding dropouts that are part of the seat stays, and we also offer seatstays with a UDH compatible dropout. Our RAAW seatstays enable chain stay length adjustment, which the UDH option doesn’t. Depending on the chosen seat stay, either our UDH Rear Wheel Axle or the standard RAAW Rear Wheel Axle is used.
If you’re not planning on using a Sram Transmission drivetrain I would recommend picking out RAAW seatstays, also because we offer the UDH seatstay as an upgrade, so you can always make the switch later.
Personally I’ve been skeptical of too many adjustments on a bike for years. To me it always felt a bit like handing the responsibility of making a good bike to the rider with a lot of potential for mediocre bike setups. But I have also learned that personal preferences, terrain and conditions can benefit from adjustments. That is why we’ve designed the Yalla! and now also the Madonna V3 to be perfect in the mid settings. That’s what we would recommend and believe is best for the majority of riders. And from there we offer fine tuning for those who are eager to learn and improve their personal setup. Our extensive knowledge base offers a lot of guidance and you can also reach out any time to us if you have any questions around the setup of your Madonna.
Text: Ruben Torenbeek