Mondraker Crafty RR+ review

A plus-sized limo that can turn on a dime

BikeRadar score4/5

Mondraker’s Forward Geometry combined with 27.5+ wheels sounds like a recipe for unrivalled stability and speed. But how does it all come together in practice?

Full-alloy frame

The only full-alloy frame on test might seem low-rent at the price point, but you're really no worse off. What’s important is the stretched-out top tube, which offers a roomy riding position and the benefits of a super-short stem.

The twin-link suspension system delivers supple bump compliance and stable pedalling
The twin-link suspension system delivers supple bump compliance and stable pedalling

Also, Mondraker’s Zero suspension system delivers a great balance of pedalling efficiency and suppleness. The 12x157mm rear spacing means you’re stuck with the weighty stock wheels, or a custom-build around a DH hub.

Those wheels are pretty hefty, at 2295g unfurnished. They’re 40mm wide, though, and the rims have proven resilient. Mondraker’s choice of Shimano gearing and SRAM brakes is an odd coupling, but both perform well. Fox provides the suspension with the top-spec version of the 34 fork, alongside the non-Kashima Float X Evol shock.

Dynamic riding position

Straight away, the Mondraker feels different. Despite the 30mm stem, the really long (530mm in XL) reach throws open the arms for a dynamic riding position which is a breath of fresh air for tall riders, and has won many fans among our shorter testers too.

A long frame and a short stem make for comfortable and confident handling
A long frame and a short stem make for comfortable and confident handling

This opens up the lungs when climbing, even with the saddle shunted fully forwards on the rails to maximise the steep seat angle. Combined with Mondraker’s efficient-yet-supple suspension system, this made the Mondraker a standout-comfy climber when things got steep and technical, despite its heft.

Meanwhile, the short stem makes the steering quicker and more predictable. Along with the steep 68.5-degree head angle, this overrides the inevitable increase in wheelbase for a surprisingly agile ride, which tackled really tight switchbacks with confident agility.

The Crafty's agile yet stable character is refreshing
The Crafty's agile yet stable character is refreshing

For anything other than DH bombing, the long front centre provides bags of loose-ground stability and a planted feel, despite the steep head angle and fairly high (340mm) BB.

A case for a slacker head angle

However, that steep head angle somewhat hampered the performance of the fork. When faced with square-edged hits, a steeper fork is more prone to bend backwards, rather than slide smoothly through its travel. Fox’s 34 fork is not the stiffest or the best damped either, which makes matters worse.

Because of this, the front end felt quite harsh over the fast and rocky terrain of Sanremo, Italy – a place DH pros come to test their suspension and wheels (often to destruction), and where we were putting a number of plus-bikes through their paces. It’s frustrating how the bike’s monster-trucking potential is limited by the front end. We’d happily sacrifice some of that nimbleness for a slacker head angle for smashing through rocks, and would prefer a stiffer fork too. An aftermarket angled headset could be a great upgrade.

The 68.5-degree head angle keeps handling sharp, but could be slacker for rough riding
The 68.5-degree head angle keeps handling sharp, but could be slacker for rough riding

Meanwhile, the rear suspension works with the Float X shock to deliver excellent sensitivity, with a supple beginning stroke, and just enough support through the mid-stroke. It’s also really stable and efficient under power, without being too restricted by chain-growth, helping it feel noticeably sensitive through chatter.

Maxxis’ Chronicle tyres are distinctly lacking in cornering bite, and they felt drifty in UK soil and Italian dust alike. The long geometry extends the margin of error between initial slide and washing out, though, allowing room for some grin-inducing loose moments. They roll fast, too – bagging us a couple of trail-centre KOMs on our local test route.

We’re not fans of the own-brand grips or the 760mm bars, and the Shimano shifter doesn’t fit in an ergonomic position either side of the SRAM brake lever. However, the Shimano XT transmission worked well, while the Guide R brakes performed brilliantly in Sanremo, remaining refreshingly predictable and consistent.

Thanks to stable geometry and beautifully balanced rear suspension, the Crafty is a stonkingly fast descender and a comfortable climber too. For relatively mellow trails it’s an absolute blast, but when things got seriously rough the flexy fork and steep head angle were frustratingly limiting. With an angled headset and a cockpit swap, you’d have a truly astonishing enduro weapon on your hands.

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

Seb Stott

Technical Writer, UK
Seb is a geeky technical writer for BikeRadar, as well as MBUK and What Mountain Bike magazines. Seb's background in experimental physics allows him to pick apart what's really going on with mountain bike components. Years of racing downhill, cross-country and enduro have honed a fast and aggressive riding style, so he can really put gear to the test on the trails, too.
  • Age: 24
  • Height: 192cm/6'3"
  • Weight: 85Kg/187 lbs
  • Waist: 86cm / 34in
  • Chest: 107cm / 44in
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep!
  • Current Bikes: Focus Sam 3.0, Kona Process 111, Specialized Enduro 29 Elite
  • Dream Bike: Mondraker Crafty with Boost 29" wheels, a 160mm fork and offset bushings for maximum slackness.
  • Beer of Choice: Buckfast ('Bucky' for short)
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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