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Suntour Raidon 34 Review | Entry Air Fork

Suntour Raidon 34 Review | Entry Air Fork

suntour raidon 34

The inspiration for this Suntour Raidon 34 review was a season of enduro style riding and cruisy XC. The 130mm version came stock on my 2020 Rocky Mountain Growler and although I wanted to upgrade it, my budget was tapped with everything else I put into the bike.

In the meantime, I was hoping the 34mm fork would be OK for the season and was excited to try out a new product. I have been on a variety of forks: coil and air, XC to Enduro.

I recommend this fork to someone who wants to upgrade their coil fork or buy an entry level air shock, who is also a lighter rider tackling mellower terrain.

Although this fork came on an aggressive hardtail designed for trail/ enduro use, the Suntour website lists the Raidon as an XC fork even though it does have 34mm stanchions. I wouldn’t recommend using it for anything more than Blues unless you really want to work your upper body.

Suntour Raidon 34 Review

Suntour Raidon 34 Setup

The Suntour Raidon comes with a compression dial, rebound adjust, and a proprietary axle—the Q LOC.

The rebound functioned appropriately and is the one adjustment that performed well.

The compression adjust is loose and light plastic; definitely feels “bare bones.” However, given the price point, it is reasonable.

Setting up the fork for proper support on bigger hits meant I had to pump it up far beyond recommended settings for my weight. At recommended settings, the fork was OK on rolling terrain, but whimpered on bigger hits and ate through travel fast.

This meant the fork was not supple–and almost fully rigid–for most of my ride time. I chose to set it up for steeper terrain and the low end directly suffered.

The alternative–recommended pressure with a more compliant low end but no support on bigger hits–was not something I was keen for. This is something air tokens may have resolved.

Bear in mind that I weigh 220 lbs. and in a more forward position on the hardtail, but this direct trade off was the first time I experienced this on any fork, including previous XC forks with narrower stanchions and shorter travel.

The fork was a lot of work because I had to shift my weight a lot to control traction. On bigger hits I just prayed the fork wouldn’t blow up as it compressed.

suntour loc axle

The stock Suntour Raidon 34 on the stock Growler 40.

I found the quaint Q LOC axle a hindrance. The action mechanism often activated inside the hub as I pulled it out. This meant the wings would flare out, preventing my ability to pull it through.

The only solution was to push it back out the other side, re-engage, then steadily pull it back through.

The mechanism itself lost its “pop” over time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it required regular service intervals if used over extended periods. The idea that this flimsy system was holding my front wheel together was not confidence inspiring.

Although, in researching this article, it looks like Suntour has released a second generation of this axle, so hopefully it’s an improvement over the one I used.

Suntour Raidon 34 Trail Performance

Much of this has been covered above.

The Suntour Raidon 34 was OK when I first started on it. If I was a lighter rider sticking to Blues or less, the fork would be alright. Doing anything bigger is not recommended, and/ or if you’re a Sasquatch Mountain Biker.

I know this fork is listed as XC, but between its medium-range travel options, and the 34mm stanchion size (and the fact in came stock on an aggressive hardtail) one could be forgiven to expect it to do more.

Another issue were the stanchions’ small creeks escalating to  steady groans of agony on even the mellowest terrain.

I just hoped that it would make it through the next hit and survive long enough for a winter replacement.

I’ve read that upgrading  the factory seals makes a noticeable difference, but I’ll be selling this fork before any servicing so I can’t test this. But, something to keep in mind if it came stock on your bike or you bought it used.

Suntour Raidon 34 Review Conclusion

If you’re upgrading from a coil fork, or want to upgrade your shorter travel/ 32mm fork, and stick to mellow terrain, I’d say this fork is a good bet for the price point.  

For a light rider in mellow terrain on a full XC fork, or someone with a coil fork, this will feel like an upgrade.

For anything more than this, you’re rolling the dice!

If you’ve had better luck than me, or want to add something to this Suntour Raidon 34 review for other readers, feel free to comment below.

 

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Pete
Pete
30 days ago

Hi there, enjoyed your comments on this fork. I recently purchased a 2021 Rocky Mountain Growler 40. It came with this same fork. This is my first hardtail in almost 20 years (was looking for something simpler and prices for new bikes are crazy).

I have a bit of a different take on this fork, possibly due to being a lighter rider (175 lbs) and riding in a less-steep area (Southern Ontario – mostly the Hydrocut, near Waterloo). I’m also comparing the Raidon to other low-end/entry level forks that I’ve had in the past (RS Recon RL, RS Sektor Gold). Overall, I think that the Raidon stacks up well compared to those two models in particularly. I can’t comment on how it would stack up to a ‘budget’ fork like a Z2. My thoughts:

  • The chassis of the Raidon is a notable improvement over the RS forks I mention. I have been impressed with how little it deflects. It also doesn’t seem as heavy as the Recon in particular.
  • The Q-Loc axle. I’ve been happy with how it’s worked so far. Feels like a regular QR in use, and reminds me a bit of the old QR20 + standard (yes, I had a fork with that) that was easier to use vs. a true thru axle. I also do have concerns about the long term reliability of the part, especially as dirt enters the equation. I do like that the fork dropout doesn’t need to be threaded for this system.
  • Raidon damping adjustments. This is a strong point for me. I’ve been impressed with the range of rebound damping control. Compression seems fine, but nothing too different than the RS forks I’ve ridden.
  • Overall performance. I’m only about 8 rides in on the Growler, but the fork seems solid. Not necessarily a highlight of the build, but completely competent, and an improvement over my experience with the RS forks I mentioned. Took a bit to find the right rebound settings and air pressure (I had to go lower than I was expecting – ended up at 75 psi, and may try lower, and slower rebound – the fastest few rebound settings surprised me with how fast they actually were). My local trails have a number of drops, mixed rooty and fast-flowing sections, and I rarely feel the fork pack up, even with the rebound set about half way. A few clicks of compression helps a lot to reduce bob on out of the saddle climbing (but it is already worlds better than my Sektor, which I felt was far too squishy at the top end).
  • Final word – it’s not a world beater or anything, and I would like to compare it to something like a Z2. It’s better than a Recon, which is probably what Rocky would have specc’ed instead? Not sure about the RS Gold forks. I’m looking forward to doing a lower-leg service soon to check out the serviceability. For me as a mid-weight rider, in a non-mountain, rolling terrain (with some aggressive features) area, I find it a decent fork that matches the capabilities of my bike, given the price range.

Cheers

Pete

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