Mondraker Factor XR + (2017) review£2,799.00

Extra-long, big-tyred Spaniard delivers the X factor

BikeRadar score3.5/5

When it comes to having a ton of fun on the trails, the Factor’s great geometry and suspension, plus some smart component choices, overshadow the fact that it offers a relatively low spec for the price compared with other full-sus trail bikes in a similar price range.

Mondraker always creates distinctive chassis, and while the kink behind the head tube that used to be its signature has now been widely copied, the forked front end to the top tube still stands out.

From there, it slopes steeply all the way down to where the seatstays overlap the seat tube for good looks and structurally-smart force alignment.

Because the forged upper-link plates drive the shock backwards and down, through the split lower seat tube and into the centre of the lower link, the skinny bottom bracket (BB) area is isolated from direct shock/impact loading.

The rear subframe tubes are all thin too, with obvious flex if you heave the Boost back end about. While the welded gusset and external cable routing are old-school they make for easy servicing, and the Factor gets a threaded BB for extra longevity.

There’s also room for a full-size bottle on the down tube. It’ll take either a semi-internal or external dropper seatpost too, which is good news because the weld for the upper link stops you dropping the stock fixed-length post very far into the frame.

Mondraker Factor XR + kit

The XR + gets 11-speed SRAM NX, with a hefty 11-42t cassette and a 30t single ring. SRAM’s Level T brakes are basic in feel.

The Fox 32 fork isn’t as stiff as the 34s that can be found on the Scott Spark 945 and Trek Fuel EX 8 29, although the narrower stanchions do seem to provide a more sensitive feel. 

Maxxis tyres are as impressive in 2.8in plus size as they are in conventional widths, but these XC-weight boots can’t be hammered too hard or run too soft on rocky trails
Maxxis tyres are as impressive in 2.8in plus size as they are in conventional widths, but these XC-weight boots can’t be hammered too hard or run too soft on rocky trails

An excellent tyre combo — a grippier Maxxis Rekon+ up front and faster Ikon+ out back — helps you dominate the trail without things feeling dull under power. Mondraker’s own wheels are suitably broad too, giving the tyres a full 65mm width, although the extra metal and straight-gauge spokes make them heavy.

Upgrading to a dropper post will add extra cost, but at least you’re not paying for a subpar one that’ll need replacing.

Mondraker Factor XR + ride impression

While it’s a pain having to change the saddle height manually, the rest of the Factor’s ride means this is far from a deal breaker.

The vast 495mm reach (large) may seem weird at first, but if you give it a chance, the way it combines with the super-short 30mm stem starts to make sense within metres of hitting a twisty trail.

At 67.5 degrees, the head angle is relatively steep. This helps you twist the fatter contact area of the 2.8-inch front tyre around for a more responsive feel than you get from a lot of plus bikes.

Flex from the 32mm-legged fork and skinny back end is hidden in the less accurate tracking of the fat rubber. The tight-feeling ‘Evolution’-spec Fox shock and twin-link ‘Zero’ suspension system are made more small-bump friendly by the extra tyre volume too. It still feels more responsive than you’d expect under power, though. The result is a machine with the stutter-bump steamrolling and rattle-damping abilities of a plus bike, but without feeling distant or dull.

Mondraker’s ‘Forward Geometry’ makes it easy to access the comedy lean angles and grip levels that the huge front tyre can deliver too. Once you’ve grunted its mass up to speed it floats across sections that would choke smaller-tyred machines, and it’ll keep crawling over or up silly technical terrain well below the stalling speed of most bikes. While it’s not the most precise and pin-sharp ride, the Forward Geometry steering and tight, informative pedalling feel mean that the whole package still delivers a really enabling, skill-flattering romp.

The high saddle height, twangy fork, wooden-feeling brakes and puncture-prone thin-walled tyres do have a limit when things get rocky or drops get bigger, so don’t get sucked into thinking you can treat everything with total ignorance. But on less savage trails, it lets you get away with a lot more than most bikes.

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

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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