Well with that great of an encouragement, I am more than happy to oblige with a lengthy sort-of-review. (sorry for errors - I am not a native English speaker)
I absolutely love the Madonna! I owned a lot of nice bikes over the last fifteen years, but the Madonna is the best one so far.
The standout feature is the perfectly balanced geometry (front and rear centre).
At 6ft with 35.5“ inseam and apish arms I struggled with bike fit and finding the sweet spot with body position. Lots of tinkering with bar height, suspension setup,
you know the drill. Once I hopped on the Madonna, it just felt perfect and I have stopped wondering if there was a way to change this or that.
The Madonna is a bit different (and the Geometron fans will agree) in regards of chainstay length, stack height, seat angle. It is longer in the rear and has size specific chainstays, it has a tall stack height and a steep (although not TOO steep) actual seattube angle. It feels different than old-school bikes.
Cornering on this bike is next level. It is incredibly balanced/neutral and the sweet spot is bigger than on long bikes with short rear ends or short bikes.
You have to lean the bike instead of steering with the handlebars. Once I adjusted to that, things got better and better.
I have been riding since the late 90s and taking skill clinics now and then and while I am not a bad rider, I am not one of the natural really fast riders who are comfortable, confident and ripping any time on any bike and in any conditions. Little things sometimes throw off my confidence and flow to some extent. I do not rip on a sub par bike, my joints start acting up and I start to find excuses ;-)
I am fit climbing though.
The Madonna just absolutely boosts my confidence. It climbs great and is super comfortable, even though it is not light, but no part of my body cramps or hurts, even on long rides, NO back pain. I try features and jumps I never attempted before and have more fun at 37 on a bike than at 17. I started to learn new tricks and I attribute that to the fact, that the bike just fits like a glove and I feel great on it because of that.
For sure not only the geometry, but also the suspension helps with the confidence. It works fantastic. It is very sensitive so there is a little movement when your body weight moves. But it is also really offering great traction. There is good support through the stroke and ramp up is just right. If you are heavy, they offer a different rocker with lower ratio. For my 76kg the stock link is perfect. Headtube angle is perfect. I’ve tried different shocks (X2 Float, Super Deluxe Coil) but the DPX2 is my pick. It just works fantastic and the three modes help with climbing and traverses on flatter terrain.
The bike works on flowy and flat trails, but it is made for gnarly stuff. I got a slightly used 150/140 (Orbea Occam Carbon, nice and light build) 29er trail bike as a backup a couple of weeks ago, but honestly after the first couple of rides, I do not see myself riding it much. I will just grab the Madonna. It is not as snappy, but the difference in climbing efficiency is much smaller than I anticipated and I enjoy the long travel much more for the rest of the ride.
It is like everything is covered in fat powder like snow, the travel just takes the edge off and makes me feel like a better rider :)
Apart from all that, there is another aspect which I actually enjoy almost as much as the exceptional feel on the trail:
It is overbuilt and nothin is flimsy. It feels like it is built to take all the stuff a mountain bike should. Not just while riding but also loading it on/in a car, storing it in the basement, crashing it, just wiping all that mud or dust off and not babying it. There is a matte clear powder coat over the brushed finish, which looks perfect after two seasons. All frame areas (heel rub etc., cable rub, chain slap) are prepared and made with real world conditions in mind - straight from the factory. You don’t need to figure out frame protection and all that after your first rides.
All bearings are the same 25mm size, except at the main pivot, which are 52mm like in a headset. The shock is running on four 25mm bearings. That is around 500g of bearings alone, but going into the third season with lots of riding in all conditions, all year long (even in three weeks of snow past winter) the bearings are absolutely fine. I swapped two at the upper shock mount and one in the drive side Horst link last year, more or less in order to test my bearing press. They were a bit rougher, but still worked. That was like playing Lego. The bearings have additional sealed caps over them and after a full season there was NO dirt under these caps. Just fresh, white grease. I haven’t had that on any bike before. They are also designed without having to damage the frame while replacing, no special tools required. Which surprisingly isn’t the way with a lot of expensive bike frames in my experience. A punch and a press in ONE size is all you need. Even just soft hammering them in could work. (The big ones work with a headset press)
Servicing all the hardware is incredibly easy and there is no problem with tolerances, pressing steel bearings in carbon parts etc. They also offer every part as replacement directly in their web-shop. Full external cable routing, done a tidy way. I love it when wrenching and don’t mind it while riding.
Nothing is perfect, so what is not to like?
Honestly not much, if you accept that everything in life is a compromise ;-)
-It is heavy, even with a bling build. A little below 16kg with proper tires. Frame weight size Large with DPX2 shock and all hardware (axles, seat clamp etc.) is 4,5kg so around 600g more than a Santa Cruz Megatower CC of the same size
-It is not cheap
-It needs a beefy rear tire, which makes it even heavier (I rarely flat tires since going tubeless more than ten years ago, but I destroyed five EXO tires even WITH inserts and am now on DD and Tannus tubeless)
-It needs proper terrain and trails (while it is fun enough on the occasional mellow trail, if you only ride blue stuff, get something else)
-Cable routing for the brake is tidy but TIGHT around the BB with DUB bb-shells, with Shimano BB no issues
-rear end might be almost too stiff side to side for my 76kg (but is solved with my „flexy“ wheels)
-needs powerful brakes
Braking: Trickstuff Direttissima brakes (fantastic, little pad clearance, bit of rub sometimes, but high leverage, incredible modulation, control and longevity - my favorite part of the bike) with Magura MDR-C-E-bike-budget rotors (great! Cheap and lots of material, no chirping)
Drivetrain: XX1 11spd cassette and chain, 28t steel chainring, XT derailleur and SRAM 11spd shifter (works great with dedicated shifter clamps, direct mount adapters on the Direttissima are not ergonomic)
Suspension: Now a 180mm Lyrik Ultimate, works great, easy to set up and DPX2 - also works great, also easy to set up. Bike originally came with Fox 36, which I killed 4 CSUs, but Fox was good with warranty, I got tired of that any way.
Seatpost: Vecnum Nivo 212mm - works flawless without a service since my first ride, 200g less than a One-Up V2 210mm post. Really good!
Wheels: PI-Rope, Vectran (textile spokes), Newmen hubs and rims. Really nice, no issues at all 1550g
Tires: DHF WT Maxxterra EXO or Conti der Baron 2.4 Protection on the front / DHR2 2.3 / Dissector 2.4 or something else on the rear, still struggling to find the perfect rear tire…
Cockpit: Syntace 20mm rise carbon bars with 31,8mm high-flex design, 40mm Syntace stem (my go to combination, works and lasts perfectly)
Saddle: SQLab 611 seat - fits my bum perfectly
Headset: Acros - comes with the frame, lasts perfectly, didn’t have to touch it once
Grips: ESI FIT XC (work for me)
Tubeless Valves: e13 - expensive, but don’t clog up all the time
Edit: Wow, this got TOO long.