Mondraker Foxy R £2799

Surprise winner of Trail Bike of the Year 2014

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

The Mondraker Foxy R is the surprising winner of What Mountain Bike's Trail Bike of the Year 2014 awards. We confess it wasn’t even on our podium radar as we pulled bikes from the van in Finale.

With all the fuss over wheel size, frame material, gear-counts and fork girth in our ‘must-have’ spec, things weren’t looking good for the Spaniard. Look at it: spineless Fox 32 fork, merely 10-speed at the back, a tin frame and rims too skinny for proper 2.3in rubber. Like it didn’t even want to tick boxes.

And yet, as more contenders fell foul of the deep-gouged turns, rocky drop-offs, sketchy spine lines and loose corners of the Ligurian mountains, the Foxy flew on – and asked for more. It barely noticed corners that left us bloody and bruised or flung into the bushes on other bikes. It descended like it was on rails yet cleaned the sketchiest climbs like it had an electric motor.

It rapidly became the bike everyone on the team wanted to ride as much as possible.

Video: Mondraker Foxy R – 2014 Trail Bike of the Year winner

Frame and equipment: Forward thinking

There are two big reasons for this freakishly good performance. The most significant is Mondraker’s Forward Geometry, which extends the top tube by 35-50mm (compared with the norm) for any given size. That length is then taken off the stem, where you have the option of either a super-radical 10mm or the 30mm we have here. The head angle is a slack 66.5 degrees, so even though the bars are where they would be on a ‘normal’ bike, the front axle is way out ahead.

Mondraker’s Forward Geometry puts bars and axle just where they need to be

Despite the dreaded Evolution damper in the Fox Float shock, the Zero suspension system works with remarkable efficiency to isolate pedal, brake and impact forces, always capitalising on the innovative things happening up front. It’s gagging for fatter wheels and a better fork, but the open-bellied frame keeps it light (if only by letting mud drop straight through), while the Formula brakes and X-Fusion dropper make the most of the available speed.

Ride and handling: millimetre-perfect thrills

The net result is ultra-responsive steering that lets you twist and lock into the last scraps of traction, slotting the bike into millimetre-precise lines. It doesn’t care if you’re buzzing your butt on the back wheel from a drop or making a last-ditch lurch for the crux move on a climb. It just puts the front wheel where you want, with enough weight behind it to make it stick, but not so much it over-balances and you wobble.

It rapidly became the bike everyone on the team wanted to ride  as much as possible

The Foxy R’s superbly assured handling simply sucked up every sketchy trail section and component shortcoming and spat it straight back in the face of all other bikes, as well our own preconceptions of what speeds and sections were even rideable.

The result? An undeniable, heart-over-head victory for the Foxy; one of the most addictively visceral, skill multiplying, don’t-want-to-ride-anything-else bikes we’ve ever tested.

This article was originally published as part of What Mountain Bike magazine's Trail Bike of the year awards. What Mountain Bike is available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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