We'll make no bones about it, Mondraker is at the forefront of mountain bike design. For 2018 it's taken one of our favourite trail bikes and (we suspect) made it even better.
Why do we like them so much? They were one of the first, back in 2013, to bring in super long front centres mated with slack-ish head angles and steeper seat angles — termed Forward Geometry.
The combination of this meant that the bikes had incredible levels of confidence on steep and loose terrain, while still maintaining well-mannered climbing characteristics. They might not be the lightest, or the best specced for the money, but virtually everyone who throws a leg over them is converted.
2018's Foxy has taken this philosophy and pushed it even further with the Foxy Carbon.
The Foxy Carbon, Mondraker's trail bike, is now longer and slacker than the current Dune enduro bike — a sign that Mondraker is clearly looking to push the limits of what's capable on trail bikes.
For 2018, the 27.5" wheeled Foxy will sport 150mm of rear wheel travel, with 150mm forks up front (save for the XR model with a 160mm fork). Mondraker continues to use its Zero Suspension system, though it's been tweaked for a trunnion mounted, metric length shock.
There will be two frame versions; the Stealth Air carbon (found on the top RR SL model) and a Stealth Carbon build, found on the subsequent three models (XR, RR, R). The Stealth Air is, as you'd expect, lighter, and Mondraker says utilises a more elaborate construction technique.
Like most companies, Mondraker has plenty of claims about its carbon fibre construction techniques — internal molding, high-pressure vacuum forming, tube specific lay-ups and resin mixes etc. Our longer term testing of more recent Mondrakers suggests it's got it pretty much nailed, though.
Joining the new shock architecture is a new rocker linkage, a three-piece design that includes a carbon central bridge, giving Mondraker control over the flex characteristics of this vital part of the frame. In total eight bearings are used in and around the rocker, doubling up at the seat-stay interchange.
Moving to the back, there's a Boost width rear end, with very short chainstays. They're adjustable between 425mm and 435mm, which is still short when compared to the lengthy front end (more on that later).
New dropouts are required to adjust the back end's length — they'll come as standard, along with +/- headset cups, in the top-end RR SL model, and will be available after market for owners of the other models.
Throughout the bike, larger bearings have been used to boost reliability and lifespan, whilst we're also seeing full internal cable routing and integrated down tube and seat tube protection. Finishing off the package is a removable rear shock mudguard, to keep it all running clean and smooth — over here in the UK we can't see us removing it!
The bikes will have ISCG05 mounts, a regular threaded bottom bracket (73mm wide), tapered head tube and chainstay mounted Post Mount brakes.
We've copied the geometry charts below, but check out the reach figures! For reference, we reckon a 460mm reach is pretty much ball-park for Large trail bikes. The 150mm Foxy Carbon, in Small, is 460mm.
The rest of the Forward Geometry stuff is there: 66-degree head, 75-degree seat (for the 150mm), mega-short 425mm chainstays and a 9mm bottom bracket drop.
Four models will be available: the RR SL (with the Air Stealth frame), the XR (with 160mm fork), the RR and R. We don't have prices just yet, but look out for updates when we do.
The RR SL comes with top-level Fox suspension — a 150mm 34 fork and DPX2 shock — Factory dampers, Kashima coatings… the works. It's driven along with a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain and Shimano XTR brakes, and rolls on DT Swiss M1501 wheels, wrapped by a Maxxis High Roller II / Ardent tyre combo.
The XR model is built around the Super Deluxe Coil RCT shock and a 160mm Pike RCT3 fork. Shimano XT brakes bring things to a halt while SRAM's GX Eagle drives the DT Swiss M1700 wheels.
The RR gets a DPX2 EVOL Performance shock and 34 GRIP Evole Performance fork, XT brakes and GX Eagle are there again, and a Mavic XA Elite wheelset.
Finally, the R gets a Deluxe RL shock and Revelation fork (same chassis as a Pike, but with a Motion Control damper), Shimano MT500 brakes, an 11-speed SRAM NX drivetrain and Mondraker branded wheels.
Across the board there's generally Mondraker dominated finishing kits, along with a Fox Transfer dropper on the top RR SL model.
We've not seen the bike in the flesh, but looking at the pictures, the geometry chart, and taking our knowledge of previous Mondrakers and other long bikes (various Pole Evolinks and Mojo Geomotrons), we reckon we can provide some educated guesses as to how the bike might be on the trail, and how the development of this Foxy may lead to others in the future.
First off, the geometry is pretty much as radical as you can get on a mass-made trail bike. The long front end, combined with the slack, but not super-slack head angle should make for a bike that's as confidence inspiring on the descents as you can find.
Slacker head angles give that confidence on a regular shaped bike, but by adding the length, Mondraker can get away with a steeper head angle than you might imagine. This generally means that there's confidence, without the feeling of having to steer a wallowy barge on anything other than the steepest of tracks.
We have, though, found on steep and rough tracks that the relatively steeper head angles can make square edged hits harsher, and the fork flex more noticeable — it's good to see here that the Foxy is now slacker than the Dune. It'll be interesting to see how the Fox 34 forks perform in this regard.
Looking at the back end, we were kind of surprised to see such short chainstays. Traditional thinking suggests that a shorter back end will make the bike feel agile, allowing it to turn quicker, and generally be a bit more fun on the trail. This is true to some extent, however the overall balance of a bike is also critical to the feel.
By having a long front and short back, there's a risk the bike won't feel dynamically balanced. Looking at the Pole Evolink 140's geometry we see a 456mm (effective) chainstay mated to a 480mm reach in size Medium (the Foxy carbon also has a 480mm reach in Med). One of the things our testers love about the Pole is how balanced it feels front to back.
There's also a risk that on an unbalanced bike, technical and steep climbs become more challenging as your rearward weight bias encourages the front wheel to go light, or lift. One thing's for sure, riding such radically long bikes requires a change of approach to how you ride the bike.
We are really keen to see how well the tweaked back end rides though. Our experience of the new metric length shocks is generally positive — they're supple off the top and supportive in the mid-stroke, thanks to the extra air spring volumes. If Mondraker has engineered the link well, there should be good feel through the frame, and the Zero Suspension has always performed well on test.
So where might this suggest Mondraker is heading?
It's quite possible that we'll see a new alloy version of the bike soon, along with a new Dune enduro bike. We'd expect to see an alloy Foxy taking on the same geometry as the Foxy Carbon, but will we see Mondraker push the Dune even further?
Could we feasibly see a Large Dune with a 510mm reach? This would punt it 50mm longer than many contemporary enduro bikes on the market. We're already seeing the Dune with a 430-440mm adjustable chainstay, but could we see this increased to 440-450mm?
While we at BikeRadar generally find the longer bikes advantageous on descents, and rarely a hindrance on the climbs, there has to be a practical limit to length somewhere.
We're also split between testers as to how long is too long. Needless to say, we're already badgering the guys at Mondraker to let us have one!