Mondraker Foxy XR - first ride £3199

Forward Geometry flagship has seen some signigicant changes

BikeRadar score 4/5

In 2013, Mondraker took modern geometry to extremes by introducing Forward Geometry. This added 60mm on the front end of the bike and used a 10mm stem, which gave the traditional handlebar position, but moved the front wheel forward by 60mm, increasing stability and improving steering agility.

For 2014, the Mondraker Foxy XR frame design has been revised around 650B wheels. 

Ride and handling: magnificent momentum

Despite the vast 1240mm/49in wheelbase and roomy cockpit, our size XL Foxy didn't feel that big once on the hill. With your weight directly positioned between the wheels, you really don't need to move around much out on the trail, and once used to the neutral positioning you can really work the bike through the terrain.

The bike seems to loves climbing as there's no front wheel lift, and once you're used to the length it's not much harder work on slow turns.

But steep terrain is the environment where it really excels: the steeper and faster the better, in fact. With the front wheel so far in front, the amount of weight you can put on it for grip is incredible, allowing you to rail turns at speeds that will have you questioning your ability. It's at vital moments like this where we really noticed the increased stiffness in the rear end, and this is partly due to the one-piece upper link design.

The Zero suspension system works admirably, feeling supple on small hits and progressive on bigger stuff – though to maximise performance we'd like to try a piggyback shock. Comparing it with the previous 26in wheeled model, we struggled to find a major difference in traction or feel, but there was a noticeable difference in straight-line speed – it just doesn't seem to lose speed at all.

Frame and equipment: reworked for larger wheels

The top tube design now flows into the line of the seatstays, and features a seat mast-style design that helps improve standover clearance. The chainstays remain at 430mm in length despite the bigger wheels, and now feature 142mm dropouts with a DT 12mm axle, which sticks out pretty far and can be annoying.

Last year's frame saw twin bracing tubes between the seat and chainstays, but just the non-driveside tube remains and a one-piece upper link design aids stiffness. There's now room for a piggyback shock and the front mech mount is removable.

The Foxy XR rolls on Easton EA70 XL 650B wheels with Maxxis Ardent tyres, and is slowed down by Formula T1 brakes with 180mm rotors. It's suspended with a 160mm (6.3in) travel Fox 34 Float CTD fork up front, and a Fox Float CTD shock at the back, delivering 140mm (5.5in) of rear wheel travel.

The drivetrain is mostly SRAM X7, with an X9 rear mech and RaceFace Evolve crankset sporting a double chainring setup with a 24/38t chainring offering. Mondraker's own 740mm bar, FG10 stem and saddle finish the bike's cockpit, and it has a RockShox Reverb seatpost.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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