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Simplon Razorblade 29 III

Simplon Razorblade 29 III

29.04.19 23:42 12.692Text: Luke BiketalkerPhotos: Erwin HaidenIn Voralberg, they do know how to build fast XC-race bikes. Off to the start line with the new Simplon Razorblade. 29.04.19 23:42 12.692

Simplon Razorblade 29 III

29.04.19 23:42 12.692 Luke Biketalker Erwin Haiden Dieser Beitrag ist auch in Deutsch verfügbarIn Voralberg, they do know how to build fast XC-race bikes. Off to the start line with the new Simplon Razorblade. 29.04.19 23:42 12691

What the Pavo is for enthusiastic road bikers, the Razorblade is for mountain bikers. This product line has been a long runner in SImplon's lineup and for 2019, the Vorarlbergers have undertaken more than just a brush-up for the somewhat outdated XC and marathon hardtail. Visually, the new Razorblade 29 already marks a huge departure from its predecessors. Basically, the Austrians have replaced every nut and bolt. What’s left? The frame is made from black gold, the fork delivers 100 mm of travel and the rear end is rigid.

Some may grumble about the optical similarities to one or the other competitor, but there’s a smart concept hidden behind seeing similar tube shapes in the hardtail’s high-end sector. While voluminous shapes of steer tube, down tube, bottom bracket and chain stays lead to high stiffness, fast acceleration as well as tracking stability and practically act as the frame’s skeleton, top tube, seat tube and seat stays are considerably slimmer. On one hand, they’re supposed to deliver comfort, on the other hand they help to reduce material and lower weight wherever structurally possible. A distinctive fin at the transition between bottom bracket and left chain stay is helping to add stiffness in that regard. Other than that, the Razorblade shines with a clean design lacking any rough edges.

Innovative thinking has led to unique solutions in regards to integration. Together with Acros, a new headset has been developed that allows to insert mechanic and hydraulic cables directly through the upper headset cap into the frame. At its lower side, a steering blocker stops the rotation at a certain angle to protect the top tube from getting hit by shifters. The steerer's ease of motion is adjusted by a setscrew. The benefit of the entire system results in cables not damaging the frame coating and removing two drillings, which would require additional structural reinforcements and therefore inevitably add some weight otherwise.

A narrow 27,2 mm seatpost diameter together with thin seat stays is contributing to the bike's comfort level. The company’s configurator does allow for equipping the Razorblade with a Kind Shock LEV Integra with 100 mm of stroke, which we ended up picking for our test bike. Unlike some competitors, the Razorblade in its third generation still allows you to run single or double chainring setups. When using a single-ring setup the derailleur mount can be used for attaching a chain guide. At the inside of the chain stays a small aluminum plate protects the frame from possible mud- and pebble-infested contact with tires.

Tech Specs

Frame: Razorblade 29 III, Red/ Black, Handlebar: Simplon CARBON BAR 720
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL Grips: Simplon Shark Lock
Fork: FOX 32 Stepcast 29" Performance Elite 100 mm Seatpost: Kind Shock LEV Integra 272, 100 mm stroke
Trigger: Sram XX1 Eagle 12-fach Saddle: Selle Italia X-LR FLOW
Rear derailleur: Sram XX1 Eagle Brakes: Magura MT-8 Carbon HC, rotor 180/180
Cranks: Sram XX1 Eagle 32Z, 175 mm Wheels: Simplon AXM24 -29 Boost
Cassette: Sram XX1 Eagle 10-50 Weight: 9,8 kg (Large)
Chain: Sram XX1 Eagle Price: Test bike: € 5.719,00
Headset: Acros Blocklock
Stem: Simplon ZERO II 70 mm x -17°

In total, the frame of the Razorblade III 29 in size large is said to weigh 1,000 grams. In addition to our tested model, Simplon also offers an overhauled Razorblade III 29 SL version. A special carbon layup and higher amount of HiMod fibers bring the weight down sensationally to 850 grams. With that, the frame doesn’t have to hide from absolutely lightweight race-rockets for a second, it rather competes right there at the top.

Total weight, spec and therefore price is traditionally dependent by your choices. The configurator enables you to get a Razorblade III 29 for € 2,999 already. For the top model 29 SL XTR, a minimum of € 5,899 needs to exchange hands – also resulting in a total weight of only 8.5 kg. Our test model comes in a bit heavier. With the Razorblade III 29 XX1 Eagle as our base and having tuned one or the other option, we ended up with a sales tag of € 5,719 with a weight of 9.8 kg.

Geometry

Size: XS S M L XL
Seat tube (mm): 360 400 430 460 530
Top tube (mm) 560 595 605 625 645
Head angle: 69,5° 69,5° 69,5° 69,5° 69,5°
Seat angle: 74° 74° 74° 74° 74°
Steer tube (mm): 90 90 100 115 130
Chain stay (mm): 425 425 425 425 425
Wheelbase (mm): 1058 1095 1106 1127 1148
Bottom bracket drop (mm): 65 60 60 60 60
Fork a-c (mm) 506 506 506 506 506
Fork offset (mm): 46 46 46 46 46
Standover height (mm): 697 731 757 781 834
Stack (mm): 607 602 612 626 640
Reach (mm): 386 422 430 446 462

What you get for that is a noble XX1 Eagle with glamorous golden chain and cassette, a 720 mm wide carbon bar with Simplon branding, incredibly comfortable and slim grips (Simplon Shark Lock) and an aluminum stem from the same brand. Also, the aluminum wheels with ringing name AXM 24 are an in-house product from the Vorarlbergers – or at least the labels carry their name. Unfortunately, switching the tires is not possible within the configurator. That way, Schwalbe’s Racing Ray/Racing Ralph with 2,25” width is responsible for traction. Deceleration is handled by Magura’s MT8, a Kind Shock LEV Integra 27.2 with 100 mm of stroke allows for more range of movement in the downhills. Oh yes, at the front a lightweight Fox 32 Stepcast 29” Performance Elite is doing its part – including handlebar remote but without Kashima Factory bling.

Geometry

The geometry of the Razorblade has been heavily modernized. The top tube got longer, the seat tube shorter and its angle half a degree steeper. The chain stays have been shortened by 7 mm and the steer tube has been lowered slightly throughout. All frame sizes have received a longer reach (large: 423 extended to 446 mm) with stack marginally shrinking (large: 630 down to 626 mm). Also, the engineers slackened the head angle by a degree, down to 69.5°. Overall, the hardtail becomes sportier, with a longer reach and short stem more modern and generally more downhill-capable on fire roads or trails.

Mounting up

Size large with a 720 mm wide bar and a 70 mm stem, flipped to -17°, feels perfect to a rider like me, with 180 cm of body height and a seat height of 74.5 cm. A sportive seating position allows for putting pressure on the pedals, while still remaining relaxed in the flats. That’s the way to enjoy basic training units on a hardtail. Speaking of flats: the gravel-movement may not have swept me off my feet but with real knobby tires, a wide bar and the comfort of a suspension fork, fast hardtails like the Simplon Razorblade are a real alternative to the anyroad/gravel/whatsoever movement on gravel roads in the flats – with the exception of hitting mixed terrain with asphalt sections and headwind.

However, those that haven’t been pioneering the hip full beard, nor tubeless tires, smart packing solutions or the trend towards wider tires might finally be sitting at the front line with their hardtail. Looking across the big pond, where big trends seem to emerge from most of the time, more and more short travel suspension is sighted on gravel bikes. Dropper posts and handlebars with more and more flare show less and less differentiation from Puch Clubman bars and 650b tires with 42 to 50 mm have departed considerably from the former road bike intended for off-road conditions. It might be, that in just a few more years, someone realizes that 29 x 2.25 rolls faster, that 100 mm of travel deliver a nice compromise of comfort, safety and weight and that flat bars are offering better control off-road. What do hip gravelers really spend their hard-earned money on? Correct, a snappy race hardtail like the Simplon Razorblade. But future pipe dreams emerging out of the fog of the marketing machinery actually don’t really have a place here. Efficiently rolling in the flats, that, the Simplon is good at anyhow.

Up

The fact that a bike like the Razorblade is efficiently storming up the hill, shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The fashion, in which way a bike is heading up over sticks and stones is sorting the wheat from the chaff, though. Especially at medium-grade climbs and moderate speeds, a lot of weight is resting on the saddle. Here – even with a structurally stiff Kind Shock dropper post installed – the new Simplon Razorblade is delivering a convincing performance with lots of comfort that doesn’t diminish with more pedal pressure from the legs or pedaling out of the saddle. Vibrations and small hits are well isolated from the rider by tires and frame. An apparently stiff cockpit and bottom bracket area help during out-of-the-saddle attacks and powerful accelerations. Only when pushing high wattage when seated are you able to get an idea where the frame is getting part of its comfort from. Then, but really only then is a tiny bit of flex from the seat and top tube area noticeable.

Even after a long winter break, the seating position doesn’t put any stress on the lower back – a clear sign for me of good ergonomics, at least for my type of anthropometry. When things get steep and technical, the Razorback can also deliver a convincing performance. A front that lifts off the ground as it has happened with its predecessor sometimes is practically a thing of the past. Even at questionably steep gradients – 50 Eagle territory, so to speak – the front does not ever ask for an extreme weight distribution. Changes in direction and getting around obstacles are easy to manage. There’s nothing to complain about regarding traction either. Despite the low gearing, the rear end can be loaded with precision to conquer ledges and roots without much thought. Some may feel irritated by the steering blocker; while riding however, only experienced pilots will notice the feature in a negative way when sidestepping the wheel. The rest of the bike world simply profits from protecting their top tube.

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Down

What’s possible with the Simplon Razorblade and what’s not is depending on the rider on one hand and the mounted tires on the other. While standing and with lowered post there’s more freedom of movement than usually used to from hardtails; the front is easy to control during wide and tight radii alike and if losing traction on slippery ground, it does so in a very controlled manner. The damping characteristics of the frame is also shining on the downs. Your feet touching stiff carbon soles will be thankful for it. Root sections are asking for – as any other hardtail requires as well – a reduction in speed. Berms and rollers are encouraging the rider to pump and play with the bike, thanks to a centralized weight distribution.

The sensitive Fox 32 SC is adding to the fun factor on the downhills and refrains from unnecessarily diving into the travel in steep sections. However, if you’re swapping between different bikes you should be aware of the fork’s lockout. Its remote lever is sitting in the same position where many other one-by bikes have the dropper seatpost’s remote located. The Simplon’s KS post is activated on the righthand side, above the shifting’s trigger. When not paying attention, the fork is quickly locked out when you least want it to. Personally, I’d remove the remote for the lockout and tidy up the cockpit at the same time – but that comes down to personal preference.

Taking the first few runs on the Razorback, it wasn’t even that obvious how quiet the bike really is. The cable guides have a tight grip on the cables. No rubbing, no knocking, no nothing. The aggressive position and especially the stem’s -17° negative angle make it harder to unload the front wheel. While it’s easy enogh to lift the wheel over rollers, getting over tree trunks, executing bunny hops or other shenanigans, the front wheel requires a bit more persuasiveness and vigor to get it off the ground with this setup.

Bottom Line

Simplon Razorblade III 29 XX1
Model year: 2019
Test period: 2 weeks
Price: € 5.719,00
+ stiffness and forward drive
+ at the ravages of time
+ geometry
+ comfort
+ large area of application
+ high craftmanship
+ configuration options
+ noiseless cable routing
o price
BB verdict: Silent universal weapon of a bike.

Subjectively speaking, the Razorback is visually one of the most stunning hardtails on the market in its red and black dress. In its third generation, the Simplon Razorback does not have to hide from the XC and marathon competition in any way. The geometry is still highly sportive and the longer reach in combination with a shorter stem and the slacker head angle add more stability and control at higher speeds as well as steeper and more technical trails. While still remaining agile enough to circle around tight corners, the old model has already been a great descender but its successor is taking it to another level. Also, the climbing performance of the Razorback III is considerably better than that of its predecessor. With lots of feel for the front wheel, the Razorback is making its way up the most brutal of inclines. Bends and obstacles are overcome willingly. The front losing traction? Not a chance.

Stiffness and comfort are at a high level, not negating each other, and the option of running a dropper post widens the range of application. If you ran a flexing carbon seatpost, the level of comfort could even probably be raised considerably higher. Smart details like the steering blocker or the innovative routing of the cables are a testament that the Vorarlbergers are putting some serious thought into their products. It’s also impressive how the internal cable routing is delivering a completely noise-free sensation, even when the going gets rough.

No matter if equipping the lightweight Razorblade SL or the ‘regular’ Razorblade III 29 XX1 – as we did in our test – the online-configurator allows you to build a model for almost any budget and preference.