Secretly, downhill is the first love of most of us at RAAW. There’s nothing quite like what you can do on a downhill bike. The risks you can take, and get away with, leave you with a mischievous grin as you head into the next corner, already trying to one up yourself from the corner you just left behind.
Ever since RAAW began, the idea of one day creating our very own downhill bike has been a seed in the back of our minds, organically growing along with the brand, until we just had to do it.
The RAAW Yalla! is a bike built for sending it down the Champéry World Cup track, a place that we hold very close to our hearts. There’s no messing around there, no fuzziness in the intended use. Every decision in the bike followed that crystal clear idea and results in a bike fit for tackling one of the most demanding courses to be raced on, again and again.
A Toolbox for the Rider
The RAAW Yalla! is designed to be an extensive toolbox for the rider. DH tracks, conditions and rider preferences can demand a plethora of different setups from a bike. The relationship between you and your bike and the ability to make your setup work for that day is key.
The Yalla! features a large number of adjustments that open the door to tuning the fit and feel of the bike for you and the track in front of you. But if you’re not into playing around with the bike, no worries. The base geometry of the Yalla! is something that we chose very carefully for all three sizes, so you can also just grab it and go shred.
Durable & Easy to Work on
Durability is at the core of RAAW. We want bikes that can be ridden hard and put away dirty and that will last year after year or owner after owner. We choose aluminium not just for its recyclability, but that it’s a wonderful material that can be formed, forged and machined into shapes that fit the purpose of a DH bike so well.
We also like to invest some weight on our hardware. We ask a lot from the pivots so we outfit them with big bearings at all the points that move. This ensures suppleness in the suspension system and ensures it for a long time.
While the Yalla! is as durable as we can make it, it’s inevitable that at some point you’ll need to give it some TLC. For that reason, we wanted the Yalla! to be as easy to work on as possible for the home mechanics out there as well as the World Cup mechanics. Cable routing is external, you only need a few common tools to completely strip the bike and you don’t need four pairs of hands and a degree to put it back together.
While not World Cup racers ourselves, we knew that developing a bike fit for tackling the wild World Cup track in Champéry could have what it takes to compete at the highest level of downhill racing. And that a lot of the philosophies that we live by at RAAW, like durability and being easy to work on, would also lend themselves well to a racing environment.
2022 was a year full of learning as we embarked on our first year of World Cup racing. But in just our second race at Fort William the Yalla! not only qualified for the finals but came away with 23rd place under Luke Williamson. His wild run was the stamp of approval that the Yalla! is instilled with the speed to be right up there with the best.
And throughout a whole season of relentlessly challenging tracks it continued to solidly perform where many others fell apart. Durability is a huge part of RAAW, and to have frames that can take a beating like that all season long and come back asking for more takes away a lot of the worries that a racer, or just rider, might have in their equipment.
Race and ride the Yalla! hard, put it away dirty and do the same thing next weekend. It’s not made of sugar.
Geometry & Specifications
The Yalla! comes in three different sizes from M to XL, all with 29” wheels front and rear. The three sizes cover riders from 167 to 199 cm and are equipped with a great number of adjustments to find perfect setups for different tracks, conditions and riding styles.
The riding position on the Yalla! is roomy and very similar to that of the Madonna, with an identical reach for the same sizes. This firstly results in a very familiar position between the same sized Yalla! and Madonna and makes you feel at home on the bike as soon as you jump aboard.
We’re big fans of low bottom brackets and our bikes attribute a bunch of their characters to this. This love is carried through to the Yalla, with the BB dropping 26.5mm, giving a BB height of around 345mm. This came from extensive real world tyre measuring as well as tying it into our supportive suspension design, meaning that you have a dynamic position in the bike, rather than perched atop it, and bringing stability and confidence when cornering hard.
|Travel (R/F)||198 / 203||198 / 203||198 / 203|
|Chain Stay Length||440 - 450||445 - 455||450 - 460|
|Seat Tube Length||400||400||400|
|Actual Seat Tube Angle||63.7||63.7||63.7|
|Seat Tube BB Offset||137.1||137.1||137.1|
|Head Tube Angle||63||63||63|
|Body Height in cm||167 - 180||177 - 190||186 - 199|
(all dimensions in mm except for angles)
Travel rear / front198 / 203
Wheel size 29” (740-755 mm)
Max tire width 2.6” (66 mm)
Tire clearance 84 mm
Rear hub 157 x 12
Shifting One-by only, boost, 36t max
BB 83 mm BSA / ISCG05
Brake 203 mm Postmount
Seat tube diameter 31.6 mm inside, 35 mm outside
Internal seatpost routing no
Seatpost max insert 140 mm
Headset 56 / 56 Zero stack
Cable routing All external
Shock hardware Ball bearings and hardware included
Bearings main pivot 2 x 61808-2RS1 (52 x 40 x 7)
Bearings other pivots 10 x 91903-2RS1 (28 x 15 x 7)
Recommended fork dimensions ATC 601.9 mm – Rake 52 mm
Shock dimensions 225x75 – Trunnion
Weight 4.2 kg (incl. shock hardware, rear wheel axle and frame protection, w/o shock, size M)
Material AL 6066 T6
Colours Matt Black and raw with matt clear coat
The RAAW Yalla! is designed around our toolbox concept. While a DH bike is a very focussed tool for a specific job, sometimes that job can change. Different riders and racers jump on board, the tracks vary from race to race and conditions can change at the flick of a switch. So, having a toolbox to delve into to meet all those demands is useful to have when you’re up at the ragged edge and still pushing for fractions of a second or for the maximum thrill.
That said, if you’re not into tinkering, then no worries at all. The middle settings of each adjustment option, which the frame comes delivered in, are something that we thought long and hard about. You can leave it there and never worry about it, instead just focussing on the riding. And the simplicity and solidness of the adjustment parts mean that they will just go about their job silently.
But, we have endeavoured to make sure that the Yalla’s adjustability is simple to use, so that anyone can do it. After all, if an adjustment is easy to change then it encourages more people to use it and play around. We encourage you to experiment with the adjustments and learn what works best for you in your terrain. None of the extremes of the adjustments will make the bike unrideable, and if you learn along the way how different adjustments change the bike feel then you’ll be better equipped in the future to turn a bike into your bike.
Head Tube Angle and Reach
Using a 56mm diameter head tube means that if you’re ever in a pinch or want to use your favoured brand of headset, it’s a common diameter that shouldn’t make it hard to source parts.
But a 56mm diameter also gives us room inside the headtube to adjust the reach and head angle of the bike, or both in combination, while keeping everything zero stack.
63° is the base setting, but if you want something more stable up front or conversely, something with a little more sprite in the steering and feel, you can adjust the head angle by 1° each way from 62° to 64°.
Flat-out fast and rough tracks, think legendary Mont Saint Anne, might benefit from the added stability that a slacker head angle brings. Whereas flatter, slower and more picky technical tracks might benefit from the opposite, a slightly steeper head angle.
You can also change the reach of the frame by plus or minus 5 mm. This not only changes the fit of the bike but also changes the load on the front wheel and also the feel of the bike in terms of stability and manoeuvrability.
Lots of the racers we’ve supported are from the UK, and lots of the British National tracks are akin to racing a Star Wars speeder through the trees. Stability is still needed, but a shorter overall bike, in part from the shorter reach, helps to up the agility of the bike and allow it to be chucked around the tightly packed woods with more ease.
Lots of bike park riders might also like a shorter bike, at both ends, to cater to the more man-made nature of the tracks and the manicured radius of a berm or take-off.
Riders and racers looking for that stability needed for tackling a lot of the menacing race tracks will find solace in making the bike longer. It’s not so much adjustability as to make it a new size of frame, but the longer front end gives the bike even more of a sure-footed nature and allows you to focus more on what’s coming up at warp speed, rather than thinking about what the bike is doing beneath you.
The reach adjustment can also help fine-tune the fit. We’ve tried to keep the sizes representative of the size of riders we see on the Yalla!, and also coming from our experience with the Madonna and Jibb. But if you know you’d feel less stretched out or less cramped up, then this adjustability opens the door to make the bike fit that bit better, again leading to a better ride.
We also can adjust reach and head angle together, so if you fancy the sound of longer and slacker, then no worries. Shorter and a bit steeper, not a problem. Our range of headset cups are designed to be a doddle to use with clear and accurate markings on the frame and cups. A good press fit ensures a solid fit and no need to glue cups in the frame to avoid dreaded creaky noises, like some race teams have to do.
Our stock BB height is around 345 mm static. With our suspension design, it means we can exploit a low BB height for stability and the ability to turn confidently without compromising the ride height. But we’ve given the option to fine-tune this as well with the ability to go 3 mm higher or lower.
You can raise the BB for more clearance, think janky Snowshoe rock gardens, or drop it for more stability and even more of an in the bike feel, if the terrain isn’t too chunky.
If you prefer to run a soft suspension setup, you can easily raise the BB to account for riding dynamically lower in the travel. Or on the other hand, if you prefer to run a firm setup and want to drop the BB back down a little, you can.
The BB height adjustments will also have a slight change to the leverage ratio, but it’s only very subtle, and each of the three groups of leverage ratio are more defined by the adjustability we have in the suspension progression and leverage ratio.
Suspension Progression & Leverage Ratio
So far the adjustments have been more of a static adjustment. Sure, they will certainly affect the dynamic shape and feel of the bike, but you can measure their change when the bike is just standing there.
The suspension adjustments are more of a dynamic adjuster, really coming into effect when you swing a leg over the bike and send it down the hill.
Our stock setting of 25% progression starts the leverage ratio at 3.08 and ends at 2.31. For us, this setting can work well in all types of tracks and situations, coming back to the idea that if you’re not into tinkering, then no problem. Just pump up the tyres and head out for a ride.
But, it’s possible to adjust the level of progression by plus or minus 3%, adjusting the leverage ratios in the process, especially in the portions of travel that you’ll spend more time in. If your bike is set up well, you’ll usually be spending more of your time riding in the first two-thirds of travel, rather than in that last third, clanging off the bottom-out bumper all day long. If this is the case, then we need to have words.
Adjusting these earlier portions of travel means that the adjustments have more of an effect, more of the time, and can be felt more easily.
The higher, 28%, option will give higher starting leverage ratios, giving you more sag without any adjustment to the shock, or needing more air or spring to maintain the same sag as the mid progression setting.
More progression and higher ratios will make the bike more active in its suspension use while giving more mechanical ramp up as you go through travel. It can work well with shocks that display a more linear character or if you ride in very rough terrain, think Val di Sole rough, or if you are hitting big man made bike parks and like to run your suspension firm.
The lower, 22%, option will lower the starting leverage ratios, giving you less sag without any adjustment to the shock, or needing less air or spring to maintain the same sag as the mid progression setting. It can work well with shocks that are very progressive in their feel or if you ride in terrain that isn’t overly rough and you want to carry speed, think Fort William, or if your terrain isn’t very challenging and you’d like the bike to react more to the inputs you give it.
And in the same flavour as our headsets, it is possible to combine the BB height and progression amount. If you’d like more progression but with a higher BB height, we’ve got the parts for that. Less progression and a lower BB height, we’ve got you covered.
Chain Stay Length
Out back we use the same system to adjust the chainstay length as our Madonna and Jibb, meaning that all parts except the axle are the same between the bikes.
Each Yalla, regardless of frame size, comes with the axle in the middle position, meaning that each rider has the option to go shorter or longer. But we also maintain a balance to the front end length of the bike as the sizes grow by making that middle position longer on each size. M sits at 445 mm, L at 450 mm and XL at 455 mm.
For us, having that balance through all the sizes is more important than trying to get the shortest chainstay length possible on all sizes. We feel that you can ride a bike harder, and have a better ride if the bike is feeling balanced. And even with a 460 mm chainstay on paper, that XL rider’s inputs into the bike aren’t going to be completely sapped up by any mushy suspension, as we considered the two things together during development.
Chainstay length is going to adjust the stability/agility balance while also adjusting the balance in load between the wheels, and altering the suspension a little. But don’t worry too much about that last one, 5 mm longer chainstays only need 2 psi more in the shock to maintain the same sag.
A longer chainstay brings more stability to the bike as well as placing more load on the front wheel, by taking a little off the rear wheel. You’d be surprised just how much change in bike feel up front can be achieved by an adjustment out back.
Shorter chainstays will then bring in a little more agility to the bike, especially in movements like manuals and bunny hops, but we’re also not designing a slopestyle bike, so even a 440 mm chainstay for an M-size rider is still in keeping with our concert of bike that is built for sending it.
We didn’t just choose the same suspension design as the Madonna and Jibb to look the same, but it did come from all the same reasons as why we chose it for them too.
The four bar layout gives us the freedom to manipulate the suspension characteristics, the long link lengths give naturally favourable curves, production tolerances have less of an effect when going from 3D models to the real world, and the layout is efficient on material while being naturally stiff. This layout does exactly the job in hand in the simplest and most efficient way possible.
The Yalla! has 198 mm of predictable travel, avoiding really high leverage ratios and progression amounts to strike a wonderful balance between suppleness and support. It also avoids pushing anyone into a corner with their setup, instead creating a usable range of shock adjustments and plays well with both air and coil shocks.
A nice dollop of anti-squat means a direct and driven feel when you push on the pedals and accelerate, and it’s delivered in the travel zone that you’re most likely to be pedalling a DH bike in. The suspension offers the same direct feel in all gears and is designed around today's common 34T chainring.
The influence of braking is designed to be very constant giving a predictable balance between combating the effects of load transfer when braking and remaining active in the suspension feel. This characteristic remains the same no matter the lower shock mount you choose, keeping the number of things to think about to a minimum when adapting your bike to the track and conditions.
We work closely with FOX and Öhlins and have custom shock tunes, offering one air and two coil options in total. Air shocks offer more and finer adjustability than coil. It’s easier to add or drop a couple of psi than it is to change spring. And volume spacers also offer further tuning options to suit your preferences or needs from the shock. With our bearings at both ends of the shock there aren’t any issues with sensitivity.
Coil shocks offer small bump sensitivity that is second to none and the utmost predictability all the way through the travel. Their weight is higher than air shocks, and they have fewer options for adjusting the spring, but there’s a reason that you’ll see them on even the shortest travel trail bikes.
Whatever your preference for shock, the Yalla! Is going to play well with both coil and air and shocks from many different manufacturers on top of the FOX and Öhlins opinions we offer.
The FOX DHX2 coil shock offers small bump sensitivity like nothing else giving the tyre all the traction possible. Compared to the air options, the DHX2 uses a bit more travel (based on the same sag as an air shock) and dynamically rides a bit deeper in the travel. It gives the bike a slightly slacker feel and more tracking of the terrain.
Öhlins TTX22m.2 Coil
The TTX22m.2 coil shock provides unreal traction with solid support throughout the travel that enables you to lift your eye line and send it. If you're looking for supreme levels of big hit performance, look no further.
Fox Float X2
Combining the coil-like comfort and the same damping system as the coil version, the FOX Float X2 is the lightweight option with a high level of tunability in the spring and progressivity. Less weight but certainly not less performance.
Mud Shedding Design
Carrying an extra 8 kg of mud down the hill is nowhere near fun. Neither is washing your bike in between sloppy runs to keep things manageable in the toughest of conditions. To reduce the amount of mud as a passenger, we have a set of fundamental approaches to the bike design.
- The back of the bike, from the seat tube down to the chainstay bridge, is as close to a continuous vertical surface as possible, giving little anchors for mud to cling to.
- A knife-like seatstay bridge ties the two sides of the bike together and cuts through the onslaught of mud and spray being fired from the rear wheel.
- Forgings are hollowed out from the inside, leaving no open pockets here, there and everywhere for mud to hide in. It also makes for a much easier bike to clean and take care of.
A down tube protector is made from soft 5 mm thick rubber and can simply be stuck to the frame and covers the full width of the down tube.
The chainstay protector can also simply be stuck to the frame. It’s made from the same soft rubber and features a ribbed pattern to silence chain-slap. The ribs are exaggerated towards the front of the protector and cover every single bit of chainstay that would otherwise be exposed to the chain.
The inside of the right seatstay is also protected with a pre-cut silicon piece.
And if you’re doing a lot of shuttling, or your local lift is a little aggressive on the frame, we have a stick-on shuttle guard made from the same soft rubber and designed to protect the underside of the down tube when it sees the most wear.
External Cable Routing & Fork Bumpers
All external routing makes working on the bike a doddle, especially in a rush at a race, while keeping the cables secure, tidy and not looking like a bird’s nest. The upper cable guides on the main frame double up as the fork bumpers and are designed to provide protection for all the range of different fork offsets available today.
With the addition of nine tenths of naff all weight, why not have some added storage for some spares or a banana on your DH bike? If you don’t want it, no worries, it’s nicely hidden away out of sight. All gear straps fit and maybe even the odd data acquisition system too with a nice 3D printed bracket.
The rear wheel axle keys into the dropouts, using simple and reliable shapes, to give the bike added stiffness at an extremity by tying the left and right seatstays together. It also stops any undoing of the rear axle while still being an adjustable system.
Big wheels with big speed intentions often call for bigger rotors. The RAAW Yalla! comes with a 203 mm brake mount as standard, but 220 mm brake mounts are also available and provide a clean option while being rigid and up to the task of handling the forces from a big rotor.
As much as possible, hardware is shared with the Madonna and Jibb. While the by-product is that it makes our lives easier at RAAW, the driver is to make it easier for you to keep spares between bikes and get hold of replaceable parts when the time comes for some maintenance.
Ten 28 mm bearings and two 52 mm bearings are fully sealed with a ‘hub-cap-style’ pivot design. Every single pivot is sealed from water, dust and mud and guarantees long term performance. The shock bushings have been replaced with ball bearings and add to the sensitivity of the suspension.
The Downhill Project
The Yalla! has been in development since 2019 when Ruben and Dan started to jot down thoughts and ideas about what a RAAW DH bike could be. It all started with the simple concept of a bike fit for sending down Champéry’s wild World Cup track. Something so clear that it made every decision in development simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy.
From that point until now, we’ve been through a lot of chin-scratching, development, riding, testing and racing.