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Mondraker Crafty R 29 review

Plenty of composure for more aggressive riders

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £5,899.00 RRP | USD $7,199.00
Mondraker Crafty R 29

Our review

Easy to ride fast over technical terrain, but hard to handle on tamer trails and brakes let it down
Pros: Super-stable when riding fast, with excellent cornering grip; highly capable uphill thanks to powerful motor and good weight distribution
Cons: High weight and long wheelbase make it hard to move around; I’d upgrade the brakes ASAP
Skip to view product specifications

Mondraker is well-known for its Forward Geometry, based around long frames and short stems. We’ve liked it in the past, but does it work with a motor and how does the Crafty R 29 stack up against to two other full-sus e-MTBs?

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Mondraker Crafty R 29 frame and kit

The down tube contains a 625Wh Bosch PowerTube battery fitted from above, so debris won’t get in even if the cover gets damaged. I like the Kiox display, but not the charging flap’s position under the down tube, where it gets muddy.

The speed sensor magnet is mounted on the rear brake rotor rather than a spoke, so is less prone to damage. Mondraker’s twin-link Zero suspension delivers 150mm of travel, controlled by a Fox DPX2 shock with a climb switch and a fairly firm tune.

Mondraker Crafty R 29
The Crafty has plenty of composure for more aggressive riders.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

The Fox 38 fork is a highlight, with a slightly suppler early stroke than the Orbea Wild FS H10 and Lapierre Overvolt GLP 2 Elite also on test.

Being picky, I’d prefer an 800mm (not 780mm) handlebar on the XL bike, and the SRAM NX Eagle shifter sits slightly too far away from the grip. (A GX shifter would be better because it mounts onto the brake lever, rather than inboard of it.) The real problem is the SRAM G2 R brakes, which are simply inadequate for a 25kg ebike.

Mondraker Crafty R 29 geometry

SMLXL
Seat angle (degrees)76767676
Head angle (degrees)65.565.565.565.5
Chainstay (cm)45.545.545.545.5
Seat tube (cm)38424549
Top tube (cm)60.562.56567
Head tube (cm)11111313
Fork offset (cm)4.44.44.44.4
Bottom bracket drop (cm)2.52.52.52.5
Bottom bracket height (cm)35353535
Wheelbase (mm)1,2251,2451,2651,285
Stack (cm)62.262.26464
Reach (cm)45474951

Mondraker Crafty R 29 ride impressions

The Crafty is never going to be labelled with clichés such as ‘poppy’ or ‘lively’. The 25.1kg weight (that’s with pretty lightweight EXO+ casing tyres), long 455mm rear-centre and 1,300mm wheelbase make it an effort to lift the front wheel or hop over trail features. Even for a 190cm tall, 85kg rider, it’s a lump to move around.

The shock feels a little overdamped too, so the bike doesn’t respond to inputs with as much pop as some designs. It never feels harsh, but this tune probably adds to the more ‘muted’ feel compared to the other two bikes.

The climb switch may come in handy if you burn through the battery, but otherwise it’s unnecessary and I’d rather see low-speed compression adjustment.

Cyclist in black top riding the Mondraker Crafty R 29 ebike
The only component choice that lets the side down is the brakes. They simply aren’t strong enough for this beast!
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Composed is a better word to describe the Mondraker’s ride. Climbing steep terrain is easy thanks to a reasonably steep effective seat angle (76 degrees) and a long rear-centre, which helps to prevent the front wheel from lifting.

The suspension stays high in its travel under power, which helps too, but is a bit less supple when pedalling over bumps than on the other bikes. That said, the Crafty still powered up everything I threw at it, thanks to the punchy motor and balanced weight distribution. It’s far easier to handle on steep pitches than the Lapierre, but not quite as comfortable as the Orbea.

Similarly, when descending, the long rear-centre, down-tube-mounted battery (which sits further forward than the Overvolt’s) and the fork’s supple beginning stroke make it easy to keep the front wheel gripping in flat turns.

The Mondraker doesn’t flick between alternate turns as well as the Lapierre, but once leaned in it’s great, and the long wheelbase lets you attack fast turns and gnarly rocks with confidence. While the rear suspension doesn’t let you fly over chatter like on the Wild FS, it absorbs bigger hits well.

It takes a bit more planning to negotiate technical trails on the Crafty than on the other two bikes, not because of the long wheelbase or the weight, but the brakes. SRAM’s G2 Rs simply don’t seem powerful enough for ebike use.

On tarmac, the rear brake on my bike was barely strong enough to lock the rear wheel, and on steep descents, I had to use more strength than with the other stoppers here to make them work, forcing me to brake sooner and plan ahead more.

After a few rides, the levers started to pull further than I’d have liked before the brakes started biting, too. Thankfully, the rest of the parts are solid.

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The Crafty probably isn’t for everyone. Smaller or more timid riders will find it hard to muscle the bike around and ride it dynamically. But for taller, more aggressive riders its stability and traction make it easy to ride technical terrain flat out.

How we tested

We put three of the latest £5,000+ ebikes to the test on a range of terrain, from technical climbs to flowing singletrack and full-bore DH tracks.

All of the bikes have 150mm to 160mm of rear wheel travel and use Bosch’s super-powerful fourth-generation Performance Line CX drive unit – Shimano’s latest EP8 motor came out too late for this test – to remove the variable of power delivery and let us focus on the differences in handling.

The bikes were set up tubeless, weighed and measured, then checked to ensure they had the same shock sag and comparable tyre pressures to begin with.

Next, we made changes to get the most out of the bikes, experimenting with suspension settings, bar height and contact points and then tested back-to-back on the same varied test loop on the same day, for the fairest possible comparison.

Also tested:

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £5899.00USD $7199.00
Weight 25.1kg (XL)

Features

Available sizes S, M, L, XL
Motor Bosch Performance Line CX Gen 4 with a Bosch PowerTube, 625Wh battery
Tyres Maxxis Minion DHF (f)/DHR II (r), 29x2.6in
Stem OnOff, 30mm
Shifter SRAM NX Eagle (1x12)
Seatpost OnOff Pija 170m dropper (measured)
Saddle SDG Bel Air
Rear Shocks Fox Float DPX2 Performance
Rear derailleur SRAM GX Eagle
Headset OnOff Saturn
Brakes SRAM G2 R, 200mm rotors
Handlebar OnOff Sulfur, 780mm
Grips/Tape OnOff Desert
Frame Aluminium alloy, 150mm (5.9in) travel
Fork Fox 38 E-Bike Performance, 160mm (6.2in) travel
Cranks Race Face Æffect, 34t
Chain SRAM SX Eagle
Cassette SRAM PG-1210, 11-50t
Wheels DT Swiss H 1900 Spline 30 rims on DT Swiss 370 hubs