Mondraker blew accepted handling rules apart with the introduction of its radical Forward Geometry machines. The Foxy trail bike still destroys fast technical terrain like no other, but increased weight reduces responsiveness and all-day ride joy.
Frame and equipment: well-specced champ puts on some weight
A top tube that’s 50mm longer than most of the competition isn’t the only radical part of the Foxy chassis. The kinked top and down tubes get a cross-brace to keep the ultra-long frame stiff, and there’s another strut between that super-sloped top tube and extended seat tube. The seat tube sits on top of an open ‘cage’ that holds the lower linkage pivots, ISCG tabs and BB. The shock drives down and backwards through the centre, getting squeezed by both linkages simultaneously. The rear subframe has an offside strut to fix the stays together vertically and a 142x12mm axle to aid lateral stiffness – the loose thread insert that falls out when you remove this is a real pain.
This ‘cage’ in the seat tube is the physical and structural centre of the alloy frame and twin-link zero suspension system:
This ‘cage’ in the seat tube is the physical and structural centre of the alloy frame and twin-link Zero suspension system
Mondraker’s extra-long top tube is used to offset the super-short 30mm stem supplied as standard. There’s an even shorter 10mm stem available as an option too. The 760mm wide bar maximises leverage whichever you choose, and while it needs careful set-up to avoid a wobbly lever, the internally routed X-Fusion SLS dropper post is a useful addition for flowing climb-and-descent trails.
The Evolution series Fox 34 fork is stiffer than the Fox 32 found on the entry-level Foxy and last year’s Foxy R, and delivers unarguable control, but it’s a heavyweight option. Mondraker’s Zero suspension design, meanwhile, brings out the best of the Fox Float rear shock. The straight-pull spoked DT Swiss Spline 1900 wheels and Maxxis treads are a high-control set-up too, and the overall spec is hard to quibble with considering this Foxy’s price tag.
The twin-ring SRAM transmission will be appreciated by riders trying to grind the Mondraker’s hefty 14.52kg (32lb) weight up hills at the end of the day. The extra front derailleur, front shifter and chainring are one of the reasons it’s so heavy in the first place, but even with the same transmission and wheels as last year, our large 2015 Foxy R is a kilo heavier than the medium version we tested last year.
Ride and handling: superb stability, but a grind to get going
The weight isn’t the first thing you notice from a ride point of view though. As you might expect from a bike that’s 2in longer than normal and hides the fork under the bar as though you’re sat on the front seat of a double decker bus, the Foxy’s handling takes a bit of getting used to. Specifically, there’s a lot of twitching and turning of the super-wide bar and super-short stem. This fidgeting can be really distracting at first when picking your way up slow climbs or creeping down steep descents. Let it run though, and you’ll realise that the vast wheelbase gives incredible stability for carving high-speed turns or ploughing through root and rock chaos.
Tweak the bar and the Forward Geometry literally trips the bike up, dropping your weight inside the line of the turn and snapping it round with total commitment. Any grip slip from such dramatic changes of direction is easily caught and corrected thanks to the Foxy’s immediate steering reactions. The DH racing-derived Zero rear suspension setup is a remarkable balance of stability under power, high traction and suck-it-all-up big hit capability too. Even with minimal setup faff it just lets you get on with making the most of the handling, no matter how mental the trail gets.
The foxy’s long wheelbase gives it incredible stability: Steve Behr
The Foxy’s long wheelbase gives it incredible stability
While it’s not super-supple, this year’s Evolution series Fox 34 fork is consistent and progressive enough to communicate traction levels clearly and exploit the super-grippy shoulders of the front Maxxis High Roller II to the full. The mainframe seems stiffer than last year too and the Formula brakes are also richly communicative. The faster and harder we pushed the Foxy, the more it loved it – and the more we loved it back.
But as much as the Zero suspension is surprisingly power efficient and the semi-slick rear Maxxis Ardent rubber adds easy rolling speed, there’s no escaping the bike’s overall weight. While its ability to carry speed through corners is a cut above the herd, getting that speed in the first place is noticeably harder and restoring lost momentum or muscling it up a long climb is a leg and lung crusher. That unavoidably cuts into its all-day all-rounder versatility – but if you’re after a ‘crawl up and charge down’ bomber then the Foxy remains a standout ride.