Though the Dune's spec isn't the best value for the cash, its composed ride characteristic and confident handling make it a blast on the trail
Buy if, The stretched out geometry and well-balanced suspension matter more to you than the relatively cheap spec considering the asking price
Pros: Composed geometry that feels great at speed; supportive, well-balanced suspension; feels solid and very capable
Cons: We'd have hoped for better brakes and tyres at this price; bottom bracket could be lower
We first threw a leg over a Mondraker sporting its Forward Geometry (FG) at the start of 2012, before it was released to the public the following year. Its concept of lengthening the bikes front triangle and shortening the stem has caught on for the most part and got brands re-thinking their approach to bicycle geometry.
Mondraker’s enduro bike, the Dune, has been a staple in its line up and has always proved popular among racers.
The Mondraker Dune is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
The Mondraker Dune made it all the way into the top five contenders for Bike of the Year in 2018
Mondraker Dune frame
Much of that popularity comes down to the fact that the Dune’s geometry encourages lots of high speed stability and confidence.
My medium test bike comes with a massive 475mm reach — more than you can expect to find on most size large frames — and a roomy effective top tube of 630mm. This is all designed around a 30mm stem which, combined with the 66.1-degree head angle, makes for a responsive and lively feel through the bar.
Though the bottom bracket isn’t exactly low at 345mm (with a 5mm drop), the length of the bike means this goes almost entirely unnoticed (shorter bikes with the same bottom bracket height can feel a little tall in the turns by comparison) when laying the Dune over through corners.
A RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 shock does a great job of controlling the 160mm of rear wheel travelMatt Wragg/Mountain Biking UK
Mondraker’s proven Zero Suspension System consists of an upper and lower link which attach the solid rear triangle to the front end of the bike. The two links compress the RockShox Monarch shock (Mondraker hasn’t switched the Dune over to metric length shocks sizing) to deliver the bikes 160mm (6.3in) of rear wheel travel.
While both alloy Dune frames have 148mm rear axle spacing, the carbon models are yet to be updated.
Some early Dune frames suffered issues with some of the linkage hardware loosening off (particularly the lower shock bolts), but thankfully I had no such problems with this test bike, even after some serious saddle time.
Mondraker Dune kit
Mondraker has done a nice job making the Dune look like a seriously pricey machine. Coloured accents on the wheels, forks and bars tie things in together nicely. Look a little closer though and there are some serious chinks in the Dune’s armour considering its price tag.
The SRAM Level T brakes lack power and punch over longer descents and the lever doesn’t have a MatchMaker clamp, so the controls aren’t as cohesive as they could be.
Considering the price of the Dune, it’s a little disappointing to see SRAM’s NX 1×11 transmission hereMatt Wragg/Mountain Biking UK
While the NX gearing works well enough, when we’re seeing numerous other bikes in this category that cost a good chunk less coming with Shimano XT, SRAM GX or even GX Eagle, it is a little disappointing.
The last spec niggle for me are the tyres. Again, take a look at the competition at this price and the rubber wrapping the rims is all, with very few exceptions, really quite good.
Okay, the High Roller II up front on the Dune is dual compound and a decent performer, but the rear Ardent is of the wire (rather than folding) bead variety and not tubeless ready. It’d been nice to see a 3C compound tyre upfront and at the minimum, a tubeless-ready rear tyre considering the Dune’s price.
The low treaded Maxxis Ardent is a fast roller but it isn’t tubeless-ready, has a wire bead and uses the firmer single compound rubber, which isn’t great in the wetMatt Wragg/Mountain Biking UK
Mondraker Dune ride impressions
That roomy top tube, reasonably steep effective seat tube angle and the stable suspension platform mean the Dune winches up climbs far easier than you might expect for a bike with this sort of travel and weight, with very little movement from the suspension when you’re sat down spinning the pedals.
Point the Dune back down the hill and you’ll be rewarded with a well-balanced, composed descender. It’s nicely quiet too and despite my spec quibbles, the package as a whole works well enough together.
Ed Thomsett rails one of San Romolo’s finest turns. While the Dune might not be the best in terms of value, Mondraker has done a great job with the overall aesthetics of the bikeMatt Wragg/Mountain Biking UK
Skip into a wet, rocky chute and you’ll notice the rear wheel skipping about as the back tyre fights for traction, but on the plus side, it is a fast roller which makes a difference on mellower hard pack trail centre descents.
That lengthy front centre does take time to acclimatise to where you need to commit weight further forward than you might on a bike with more traditional geometry. Once you have adapted though, the Dune feels seriously capable, never getting flustered as the speeds pick up.
It’ll handle the tight, twisty stuff too without feeling awkward or incompetent. Despite its length, I never felt like the Dune wasn’t lively or fun, allowing me to play around on the bike and throw it around on the trail as and when I wanted.
Up front sits the RockShox Yari RC fork. While it’s not as composed as its pricier counterpart, the Lyrik, it’s still nicely controlled for the most part and feels reasuringly stiff and accurate when it mattersMatt Wragg/Mountain Biking UK
Thanks to the sturdy Yari fork chassis, accurately placing the front wheel where you want it feels easy, regardless of what lies ahead. As the Yari’s damper doesn’t feel quite as supportive or as forgiving as the Charger damper found in the more expensive Lyrik fork, it’s worth adding a little more air to the spring to keep the front end propped up, though this does translate to a little more chatter through the grips.
As the Dune uses a 170mm fork, I was able to run a touch more sag, which helped to keep my hands that bit fresher, though the lack of punch from the Level brakes on long, high speed trails means your hands will start to feel it after a long day on the hill.
Level T brakes work fine on mellower trails but struggle when the speeds increase and the downhills lengthenMatt Wragg/Mountain Biking UK
On chunky, high load hits, the Dune’s back end ramps up nicely, using its travel in a well-measured manner and never once felt overwhelmed with what I was putting it through.
There’s support where its needed too, letting me load the bike hard through my feet as I popped from berm to berm or when launching jumps. And despite the less fancy build, the bike as a whole feels reassuringly solid, happy to take a pummelling without wincing or backing down when it counts.
While there’s no doubt the Dune gets marked down when it comes to value for money, there’s no knocking its confidence-inspiring ride that had me happily hammering wild downhill at a fair old lick.
If you’re in the market for a new enduro bike, long travel trail bike or all-mountain bike, check out our reviews of those we’ve thoroughly tried and tested.