Mondraker has taken its long front centred, steepish angled Crafty with plus wheels and bolted a Bosch Performance Line CX motor and 500Wh battery into the downtube/bottom bracket, for a bike that, on paper at least, should be unstoppable.
The theory is that the longer dimensions (495mm reach, size L) add stability, while the steeper than you’d expect for such a rad bike head angle (67.5) and short 30mm stem keep steering snappy. Tested on the trails of Snowden against Scott's E-Genius 710 Plus and Specialized's Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie, at first glance, the 22.6kg Mondraker stood out as one which had potential winner written all over it.
As with the Scott E-Genius, the Bosch Performance Line CX is our favourite motor, which once used to, gives intuitive power delivery in five different assistance levels, and plenty of life with its 500Wh battery. This combines with plenty of anti-squat from the Zero Suspension System that Mondraker uses across its range to give climbing prowess.
Mondraker has stuck relatively basic Maxxis Chronicle tyres on the e-Crafty. In dry trails they roll nicely and with a 3” volume on a 40mm rim there’s a lot of volume there to give traction in normal conditions. However, in wet, sloppy conditions the lack of bite impacts on climbing grip out back and cornering up front. Mondraker has clearly spec’d this from their Spanish base.
We love Mondrakers when it comes to descending. The Forward Geometry and suspension system works incredibly well when you’re pushing the bikes hard and the e-Crafty is no exception. Even with tyres that don’t give the highest levels of confidence I was able to push the e-Crafty harder than the other bikes on test. Even with these higher speeds, it was the only bike not to suffer any punctures in testing (although getting the wheels to seal tubeless was more of a chore).
Geometry isn’t the only area where the e-Crafty shines, as the suspension system is also on point. The anti squat that gives good pedalling dynamics does make the start of the travel a little clattery, but once you’re into the mid stroke there’s acres of support, traction and control.
The downside of the geometry and suspension is that it doesn’t have the same playful feel of the other bikes at regular speeds. This is definitely a bike for charging 100 percent of the time on, and not one you can really sit back and enjoy the ride with. If you want a bike to get out into the hills for long days, it’s perhaps not as ideal. Where it shines are winch and plummet rides on steep trails.
Pays your money
All sounds good for the Mondraker then. So why did it miss out on the top step to the Scott? Simply put, Mondraker cannot compete in the value stakes.
£4,600 is a hell of a lot of money for a mountain bike, whichever way you look at it, but while Scott and Specialized offer decent drivetrains and finishing kit, Mondraker doesn’t.
The bike is propelled by SRAM’s 10-speed version of its GX groupset — this means fewer gear ratios and more importantly no clutch on the mech, making an already clattery top stroke even louder. Some might say this doesn’t matter that much, but when Scott offers the second tier Shimano XT for the same money, the feel and longevity of the shifting is sub par here.
I’ve already mentioned the tyres, but if you want to upgrade to a set that are more suited to UK conditions you’re looking at around £250 for a pair, if you can get hold of them. Likewise, while the budget SRAM Level T brakes with 200mm rotors bring speed down effectively, they don’t have the heat-dissipating S4 caliper tech that a set of pricier Guides would have, the modulation giving SwingLink tech, nor four pistons.
Finally, and perhaps most frustratingly, there’s no dropper post. On a £4,600 trail bike. Arguably you use a dropper less on an e-bike, as your uphill power is less contrained by poor pedalling positions, however you still benefit from being able to adjust saddle height on the fly.
Mondraker does claw back some spec credability with the fork and shock, and this does count for a lot. The RockShox Yari fork is stiff, and while the RC damper isn’t fancy, it does its job. Out back there’s a Monarch Plus RC3. This is a piggybacked shock, which dissipates heat well and has plenty of air volume for supple performance.
The e-Crafty was the hardest bike to rate. Once it’s up to speed, it rides great, and you can almost forget the poor spec. But realistically, to get it near the spec of the other bikes here, you’d need to spend north of a grand on top. It’s a heavy price to pay, meaning this is a bike for deep pockets and committed riders.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.