- RAM Bikes XCII Comp
- Budget Bulgarian full susser
- 4in travel, amazing spec
RAM Bikes is a product of the burgeoning East European MTB scene – it’s Bulgaria’s biggest bike brand. And it’s gradually getting a higher profile here in the UK thanks to a UK distributor and a small but growing dealer network.
The UK bikes are slightly different specs from the home market ones, and this XCII Comp is unique to the UK. At a penny under £800 it appears to confound all expectations, but is it too good to be true?
All dimensions based on Medium frame
- Effective top tube length (TT) 23in
- Seat tube, centre to top (ST) 18.5in
- Chainstay (CS) 16.9in
- Head angle 71°
- Seat angle 72°
- Weight 14.5kg (32lb)
Keen bikewatchers may note a slight resemblance between the RAM XCII frame and Giant’s old NRS design. That’s mostly down to the short rocker arm driving the shock and the position of the shock itself. The XCII rear end is a four-bar design with chainstay pivots, yielding 100mm of travel. All the pivots have bearings in them, which is an impressive detail on what is, after all, a budget bike.
The front triangle is built from chunky aluminium tubing. The head tube takes an integrated headset and there’s a neat gusset under the down tube/head tube junction. We’re quite taken by the rocker pivot/shock mount, which uses two plates to link those two points for added strength.
The Comp comes with 2.1in tyres which end up with plenty of room around them – there’s certainly scope for getting something a bit chunkier in there with space to spare. Cable routing is all along the top tube. We could live without the canti bosses at the rear, but you never know when they might come in useful.
It’s all neatly put together and finished in a subtle slate grey with reasonably tasteful graphics.
At this kind of money, and given what the frame offers, you’d expect some pretty low-rent parts elsewhere and you wouldn’t think any less of the bike as a whole. But the Ram defies expectation with a product spec that would be the envy of quite a few bikes in higher price brackets.
Actually, that’s something of an understatement. There are bikes out there costing twice what this one does that barely match it for component picks. At first glance, you see some of the usual budget suspects – Velo saddle, Pazzaz seatpost – but look a bit deeper and there’s stuff that you really wouldn’t expect on a full sus bike in this price range.
RockShox’s Tora fork is a budget favourite, and loads better than the Dart that sometimes crops up on cheaper bikes. The XCII has the 302 U-Turn model with adjustable travel (85-130mm) and adjustable compression damping/lockout. The rear shock is also from RockShox – the BAR isn’t the most sophisticated shock in the world, but again it’s unusual to see a shock from a brand you’ve heard of for this money.
The Truvativ Firex outboard-bearing cranks stand out, as does the Truvativ XR bar/stem combination. Transmission parts are SRAM X-7 with trigger shifters, while the brakes are Avid Juicy 5s. The brake spec is a limited-edition upgrade, but even the standard Juicy 3s are a cut above the brakes you tend to find on budget sussers.
Wheels comprise Formula hubs, Alex DP17 rims and Maxxis High Roller 2.1in tyres. The whole lot comes in at 32lb, which is clearly on the heavy side for a 4in travel bike, but certainly isn’t offensive considering what you’re paying for it. The whole bike looks considerably more expensive than it is, too. Our desperately unscientific survey found that no-one guessing the price got within £200 of the actual number, which must mean something.
Gone, thankfully, are the days when sub-£1,000 full suspension bikes should be approached with caution, if at all. That said, we’re used to making certain allowances for the performance of the cheaper gear. RAM’s offering definitely punches above its price point, though. It’s one of those bikes that doesn’t particularly break new ground or do anything spectacular, it Just Works. But it works well, and certainly better than you’d expect for the money.
If you’re pressing on you’ll start to notice the relative lack of sophistication of the rear shock – you probably won’t be able to find a setup that’s happy on both pattery stuff and big hits – but most of the time it’s just fine. Handling is neutral (and can be tweaked a bit with the fork’s U-Turn adjuster, although you may start to run out of BB height if you go too short) and the riding position comfortable. It’s quite big for a Medium bike, and the seat angle is on the slack side (although a decent-length top tube and not much seatpost offset makes up for it) so watch your sizing – you might want to run a size smaller than usual.
Obviously you can feel the weight on long drags, but most of the time the XCII just feels like a perfectly decent full suspension bike. It doesn’t flex disconcertingly and everything works. The RAM can certainly hold its head up in considerably spendier company…
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Positives: Good ride and incredible value
Negatives: Rear shock a bit unsophisticated, a little heavy
Verdict: The RAM Bikes XCII Comp is such staggering value that it’s hard not to believe that it’s just got the price wrong – this bike could cost a grand and still be competitive. It’s a perfectly good ride by any standards, but very impressive for a budget bike. We can’t help thinking that it won’t be this cheap next year, so grab one while you can.