Welcome to Bike of the Week, our weekly in-depth look at one of the most interesting, important or innovative bikes to land at BikeRadar in any given week.
This week, we have the Mondraker F-Podium DC R, a member of a new breed of ultra-capable cross-country bikes with gnarly intentions that have helped define the new genre ‘downcountry’.
Downcountry is the term coined to describe the sort of riding that blurs the lines between cross-country and trail disciplines.
What is Bike of the Week?
Every Tuesday, we’ll bring you a detailed first look at one of the latest bikes to arrive for review – from road to commuting, gravel to enduro, and anything in between.
This is our chance to introduce the bike and everything that makes it unique before hitting the road or trails for testing and delivering our verdict in a full review.
A downcountry bike should be light weight, have fairly progressive geometry and a smattering of parts that should help you to ride fast and confidently.
The F-Podium DC R manages to do this by combining Mondraker’s F-Podium carbon XC race frameset with a host of trail-ready parts including Fox’s 34 Step Cast fork with 120mm of travel, a Fox Float DOS SV EVOL rear shock, and Mondraker’s own-brand OnOff dropper post with up to 125mm of travel for the biggest bikes.
True to the F-Podium’s downcountry intentions, the 34 Step Cast fork bridges the gap between XC and trail. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
It’s also specced with Mavic’s Crossmax 25mm internal width rims, which should help give the Maxxis Rekon tyres a more voluminous profile for more grip.
You also get a SRAM GX/NX Eagle mix 1x drivetrain with a 12-speed cassette and gear ratios that span from 10- to 50-tooth.
There are fairly basic Shimano two-piston MT501 brakes on 160mm rotors. Bars, stem and grips are all also taken care of by Mondraker’s in-house brand OnOff.
The carbon frame has some interesting angles and design features on it. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
For the price, however, we can’t help but feel that this F-Podium doesn’t represent fantastic value for money, costing a whopping £4,999. Obviously you get a taught XC-ready frameset, but the spec looks a little lacklustre.
So what about the frame? Well, it’s built from Mondraker’s Stealth Air Full Carbon with a carbon fibre monoblock upper suspension linkage.
What does that mean in real terms? It’s going to be pretty light and impressively rigid, and it’s also where most of your £4,999 spend is going because it’s Mondraker’s lightest and most advanced carbon technology.
Flat bars help F-Podium riders get into the XC-attack riding position. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
Next up is Mondraker’s Forward Geometry. Unlike top-spec parts or lighter carbon fibre framesets, using cutting-edge geometry doesn’t cost a manufacturer a penny. This is where Mondraker has an edge over its contemporaries.
Its geometry uses longer reach and top tube figures with shorter stems to compensate for the growth in the front end of the bike.
This means, in theory and verified in practice thanks to findings in our independent reviews, that the bike is going to be more stable at speed and on steeper sections of trail because a rider has more space to move around. Plus, small erroneous inputs aren’t going to upset the chassis as severely as they would if it was smaller.
That carbon monoblock top linkage should save precious grams over an alloy equivalent. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
Couple the Forward Geometry with shorter fork offsets – as seen on the F-Podium DC R’s Fox 34 that runs a 44mm offset – and fork trail increases, which helps improve steering stability.
Combine steering stability with longer geometry and you’ve got a stable bike that’s easy to ride hard and fast.
Although the F-Podium DC R does have a 50mm or 60mm stem depending on frame size, the calming effects created by the longer stem should be offset somewhat by the aggressive overall riding position the rest of the bike’s geometry encourages.
Controlling the bike’s 100mm of rear wheel travel is Mondraker’s Zero suspension system. This system uses two linkages to attach the front and rear triangles together and the shock ‘floats’ between them, letting it compress from both ends as the suspension works.
Mondraker’s Zero Suspension System means the rear shock ‘floats’ because it’s mounted to both the linkages rather than a fixed point on the swing arm or front triangle. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
Mondraker claims its system suffers no pedal-induced losses because it provides an entirely stable platform under power – essentially stopping pedal bob.
There’s minimal chain growth as the suspension compresses, which equates to no pedal kickback and suffers from no brake jack either, according to Mondraker, by isolating braking and suspension forces from each other.
12 gears should be enough for even the steepest of climbs. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
We’re looking forward to verifying Mondraker’s claims about the F-Podium DC R’s suspension, geometry and downcountry capabilities, so stay tuned for a full review.
Mondraker F-Podium DC R
Frameset: F-Podium Stealth Air Full Carbon, XCO optimised Zero Suspension System with 100mm of travel, XCO Forward Geometry
Fork and Shock: Fox 34 Float GRIP EVOL Step Cast Performance, 120mm travel, 44mm offset fork / Fox Float DPS SV EVOL Performance Elite shock
Groupset: SRAM 12-speed NX/GX Eagle mix with Truvativ Stylo 7K Eagle crankset
Tyres: Maxxis Rekon Race 29 x 2.35in (f) and 29 x 2.25in (r) Exo Protection, tubeless-ready
Cockpit: OnOff Sulfur 760mm wide bars with Mondraker Chrono Carbon stem