Mondraker's 2012 mountain bikes – First look
By Rob Weaver, in Alicante, Spain | Tuesday, January 3, 2012 11.15am
It’s hard to miss Mondraker's Podium Carbon cross-country racer, with its Tron-esque lines Russell Burton
Over the past few years, Mondraker's distinctive mountain bikes have been cropping up all over the place. Whether it’s the local trail centre, a World Cup podium or the rugged slopes of Utah for the Red Bull Rampage, the Spanish brand's innovative machines are hard to miss.
It was in 2009 when Fabien Barel smoked the competition at the World Cup round in Maribor, Slovenia that people really started to take note of this forward thinking company and their new prototype downhill bike, the Summum. Mondraker have been around since 2001 but the tipping point came in 2006 when brand manager Miguel Pina began speaking with engineer and World Cup downhill racer Cesar Rojo.
Cesar’s product knowledge, riding background and engineering expertise helped the company develop their Zero Suspension System, which they first brought to public attention at Eurobike in 2008 on the Dune all-mountain bike. Mondraker bikes are now on sale in 23 countries and the company are looking to break into both the Russian and Australian markets.
Mondraker are offering an expanded range for 2012, with the new Podium Carbon hardtail, Tracker trail bike and Lithium marathon racer joining established names like the Summum, Dune, Foxy and Factor.
Mountain Biking UK's Rob Weaver was invited to Alicante, Spain by UK distributors Silverfish to test ride some of the new bikes with former downhill world champion Fabien Barel. Rob also got the lowdown on a major new development for 2013 – watch out for full details on BikeRadar soon. For now, check out the new bikes below...
The Podium Carbon line-up is new for 2012. We took a prototype version of the mid-level Pro model out for a spin to see how this unique-looking carbon fibre cross-country race whippet handles.
It’s hard to miss the Tron-esque lines provided by the Podium’s Stealth Side Carbon construction. Eyecatching is somewhat of an understatement here. Within these unusual contours lies the Integrated Stem Technology (IST) that blends top tube and stem into one clean line. Work your way along the top tube and those racing lines become more apparent as the top tube flows seamlessly into the seatstays and down into the rear dropouts. There’s ample tyre clearance, too.
When it comes to spec, at £2,799 the Podium Carbon Pro comes with some kit ready to, well, hit the podium, or at least be in with a fighting chance of doing so. The 100mm (3.9in) of front suspension travel is taken care of by a Fox Float 32 RL fork, which features the company's ever-impressive FIT damper and tapered steerer. There’s a remote lockout too, as befits a bike of this ilk.
Other product highlights include powerful Formula RX brakes with 160mm front and 140mm rear rotors, an Easton EA70 XCT tubeless wheelset, and a mix of SRAM X7 and X9 taking care of shifting duties.
We spent a good few hours riding the prototype version seen here and were impressed straight from the off. Size wise, the medium sample we tried fitted us perfectly; enough stretch for getting the power down on the climbs but not too so long that manoeuvrability or shifting weight around on the descents was ever an issue.
The frame is certainly stiff and offers an efficient transfer of power when you start pushing the pedals hard. Couple this with the claimed weight of 9.8kg (21.6lb) and it’s easy to see why this bike likes to rocket along. When descending, the Podium Carbon Pro feels very capable, thanks in part to the controlled fork and decent geometry, along with that bit of engineered carbon ‘give’ out back that ensures you won’t rattle your fillings loose.
Looking down as you ride and catching a glimpse of the integrated stem makes you do a double take, that’s for sure! But we like the design and enjoyed riding the bike. Look out for a full review in What Mountain Bike magazine very soon.
The sub-£1,500 trail bike market is becoming fiercely competitive, with many 2012 bikes appearing to offer a great mix of quality componentry, dialled handling and sorted suspension. Mondraker are joining the fray with the release of a new, more affordable range of bikes based on their £2,200-£3,300 Factor platform.
The three Tracker models use the same proven Zero Suspension design as the Factor to deliver 120mm (4.7in) of rear wheel travel, but they're constructed using Mondraker’s more basic Square Alloy Technology (SAT) pipes rather than their distinctive angular Stealth tubing. There’s no tapered head tube, just a straight-up 1-1/8in arrangement, and the bits that are bolted on are a little less pricey, too.
We took some time to get to know the middle-model Tracker R, where RockShox take care of suspension duties with a Recon Gold TK coil fork up front and Ario RL shock out back. All the Trackers have quick-release rather than through-axle forks, just as the more expensive Factors do.
Other notable mentions include Avid Elixir brakes and a big dollop of Onoff components in the shape of wheels, bar, stem and seatpost. Who are Onoff? Well, they’re owned by the same company as Mondraker which means they can also utilise Cesar Rojo’s design expertise. Keep an eye out as they're looking to expand the range over the coming years.
Out on the trail the Tracker R feels plenty capable considering its £1,499 pricetag. Weight wise it comes in at a claimed 13.7kg (30.2lb). This means it’s more than happy to churn out the miles or be railed down the trail, pinging from berm to berm at speed thanks to well thought out geometry.
The Tracker is available with a variety of stem lengths ranging from 70-100mm so you can opt for something a little shorter and more playful, or longer and more racey. Keep an eye out for a full review in Mountain Biking UK soon.
The Lithium range is Mondraker’s first venture into the world of 100mm-travel (3.9in) full-suspension bikes and is aimed at those looking to compete in marathon style events and more technical cross-country races where a hardtail just won’t cut it. Mondraker have used their new Stealth 2.0 tubing to produce a frame that they proudly claim weighs 1,980kg without the shock.
Sleek lines, subtle curves and a compact link set it apart from the pack. Falling in line with the rest of Mondraker’s full-suspension bikes, the Lithium uses their Zero Suspension System, with a RockShox Monarch RT3 shock out back and a SID RL fork which features a remote lockout and a tapered steerer to help bolster front end stiffness.
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The high-end Lithium RR model seen here weighs in at a claimed 11.1kg (24.5lb) which puts it in good stead for its intended use. Watch out for a review in Mountain Biking UK soon.
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