Spanish brand Mondraker are relative newcomers to the global bike scene. Born in 2001 on the dusty, rocky, coast-bound descents that surround Alicante, they now offer a range of bikes to suit most riders. With decent handling and suspension performance, the Factor is a likeable stab at the 120mm-travel (4.7in) do-anything market, but its relatively high weight holds it back – literally.
Ride & handling: Tidy handling but overweight wheels hamper climbing/sprinting performance
Masses of standover clearance and a compact, well-proportioned rider cockpit give the Mondraker a confidence-inspiring feel. From the first turn of the pedals to the last yards of the ride, the Factor oozes the kind of willing can-do attitude that should make it an ideal trail companion.
The lack of compression damping adjustment at the rear doesn’t seem to matter and, with lowered chainstay pivots helping to reduce the effect of rider-induced bob under hard pedalling, we didn’t even need to make use of the rear shock’s lockout lever.
Up front, we missed the adjustability of an air spring and had to work hard to get anything approaching full travel from the RockShox Tora coil fork, but in other respects we barely noticed it. Which, in case you’re wondering, is a good thing – it means the fork’s doing its job and allowing the rider to get on with, well, riding.
From granny-ring grinders to big-ring descents, the Mondraker gives the lie to the idea that coil and air springs can’t work well together. And yet, despite its decent suspension setup, placid trail manners and confident handling, we found it hard to warm to the Factor. And there’s a simple reason for that – it’s too heavy for a 120mm (4.7in) travel bike.
Worse, much of the extra weight is in the wheels. Since rotating weight needs to be accelerated in two directions at the same time, that makes for a big difference on sprints and climbs.
With neither the travel to compete with burlier machinery nor the build to take on lighter bikes, the Mondraker begs the question, what’s it for? With some lighter wheels it’d be worth a look. But as it stands, we’d probably choose to spend our money elsewhere.
Frame & equipment: Tried and tested chassis with well matched shock and fork
There’s something familiar about the Mondraker’s profile. From the Specialized-esque S-curve of the down tube to the Giant-style dropped chainstay pivots at the rear, the Factor appears to have taken its influences from a number of the past few years’ more successful full-suspension designs. And it’s none the worse for it.
The four-bar rear suspension design – with rocker-activated shock and chainstay pivots – is a tried and tested system that works well and isolates pedal and braking forces effectively. Mondraker’s combination of a low shock leverage ratio and dropped chainstay pivot makes for supple small bump response that’s noticeably tauter under hard pedalling – a compromise most riders will be happy with.
Hydroformed tube profiles combined with smoothed welds at the head tube junction create a front triangle that’s almost monocoque in appearance, while the dropped top tube adds plenty of bail-out room for those moments of ineptitude. The clean lines are slightly compromised by the tangled mess of cables that are clipped to the top and down tubes, but we’d rather have them easily accessible than running inside the tubes.
A coil-sprung fork up front and an air shock at the rear is the norm for this price. We prefer air for its lower weight, better adjustability and generally plusher performance, but beggars can’t be choosers. The pairing of a RockShox Tora fork and Ario shock makes the best of the cost-induced compromise with a surprisingly well-matched feel, although lighter and smoother riders will need to work the fork’s stock and non-adjustable spring hard if they want to extract anything like full travel out of it.
A slick-shifting SRAM X.7-based transmission makes the Factor go, while a set of Formula’s Oro hydraulic stoppers hauls it to a halt with plenty of lever feel and more than enough power. The basic Shimano chainset doesn’t quite look the part at this price, although it works well enough, but the Mondraker’s wheels are easily its worst asset. There’s plenty of grip from the wide-spaced Kenda tyres’ tread, but overall wheel weight is on the high side for an enduro machine.