Catalan bike brand Mondraker have often made headlines with their top-ﬂight cross-country and downhill race machines, thanks to a love of pushing boundaries and generally doing things their own way.
The Tracker R is their latest entry-level full susser – at £1,499 with 120mm (4.7in) travel it’s designed to offer speed, fun and all-round usability. Featuring the same Zero suspension system as used in the World Cup winning Summum DH and some enticing geometry, we reckon it might just be a winner…
Ride & handling: Confident on the trail and inspired on descents
The Tracker R climbs admirably with the shock locked out. It’s no rocket but it gains altitude well. When it comes to the more awkward techy climbs, again, it impresses.
The low BB helps, and the minimally treaded Kenda tyres do well in bone-dry conditions; anything less had them scrabbling for grip, however, and we’d recommend swapping to a more aggressively treaded model to really get the most out of the Tracker R. It’s an understandable choice from a Spanish bike company though – one that’s never checked a UK weather forecast, anyway – and something you should be able to work out with the dealer when you buy.
Once you’re working the trail and descents, the Mondraker really comes alive – just what you want from your ﬁrst full bouncer.
The lengthy wheelbase automatically has you planted right in the middle of the bike and inspires conﬁdence. The Zero system nestling between your ankles only adds to this, and there’s a great feeling of standing ‘in’ the bike as opposed to ‘on’ it.
As mentioned, we did need to run more sag than we would usually like to get the Tracker R into its travel, but with the lockout there for climbing, it’s not too big a hardship.
Though low on adjustments and ﬁneries, the RockShox Ario RL shock does a decent job and is more than capable of swallowing the odd ‘brace yourself’ moment. The initial stroke is supple, further helping the bike munch along the trail. As we’ve said, it’s a pretty linear-feeling bike but we think that’s probably a good thing at this price – you always know where you are in the travel, it works well and the feedback’s easy to understand.
The entry-level Avids offer decent feel for trimming things out at speed but lack outright power, forcing testers to be really aggressive with their braking into trickier sections. The bite comes a long way into the lever stroke, meaning that braking through technical sections is more ham-ﬁsted bludgeoning than delicate pirouetting.
Sort the rubber out and you ﬁnd higher-speed descending is where the Tracker really punches above its weight. It’s the geometry that ultimately shines through here – it’s in its element. Heels dipped, elbows out and the little Catalan carries more speed than it really should be able to. The numbers all add up, and what you’re left with is one of the most accomplished entry-level full-sussers around.
Frame & equipment: Suspension needs fettling
Straight away, the Mondraker ‘look’ is apparent with the Tracker – it’s long and low. Our size large had a roomy 45.2in wheelbase and a 24.2in top tube.
The Zero system operates via a RockShox Ario RL rear shock, which offers external rebound adjustment and a handy lockout. On such an otherwise accomplished frame, we were a bit disappointed to see a cartridge-style bottom bracket, though. That will limit you in terms of crank upgrades at a later date.
Mondraker’s own ONOFF-branded kit is pretty much everywhere and, to be honest, it’s about as hard working as OEM stuff gets. The wheels are a little ﬂexy yet hold up well, the chunky saddle is comfy and the 690mm wide bars will suit many.
We swapped the lengthy 90mm stem for a shorter 70mm model though, to take full advantage of the conﬁdence-inspiring 68.5-degree head angle. The head tube is pretty low so we kept a few spacers under it.
Taller pilots found the 350mm long ONOFF seatpost, when coupled with the low frame/seat tube, a touch on the low side. It’s deﬁnitely worth trying before you buy as an upgrade to a longer 400mm post will cost you.
That said, the beefy 31.6mm post diameter means it could be a great excuse for a future upgrade to a dropper post…
The RockShox Ario RL rear shock works well on the Tracker R
Suspension-wise it’s important to remember that this is a £1,499 bike, but with a bit of ﬁddling the RockShox pairing provided a more than decent performance. We had to wind quite a bit of preload onto the Recon Gold TK forks to help them maintain composure, while we found the opposite at the rear – running slightly more sag than normal allowed the Mondraker to get into – and make full use of – its travel a lot quicker.
It’s a fairly linear back end, so soften it too much and you quickly blow through the travel. Get it right and you reap the rewards.
The Mondraker Tracker R is a diamond in the rough, and we like that. Yes, spec-wise you will always suffer on entry-level full suspension bikes compared to the hardtail equivalent.
Yes, at 14.5kg it’s not the lightest bike, and the brakes are somewhat anaemic. But that’s not the point. What it lacks in spec though, it makes up for in fun.
If you’re looking to dip your toe into full suspension waters and don’t mind upgrading as you go, the Tracker R provides smiles and thrills far above its station – which is exactly what we look for in this category.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.