Is the Mondraker Forward Geometry really an improvement on traditional designs?
DIRT ISSUE 141 – NOVEMBER 2013
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Andy Lloyd
When ‘Forward Geometry’ was launched by Mondraker it marked a major shift in the focus of weight placement on a bike. Or so it seemed. The bikes came shod with long front centres and short stems, the 10mm reach that put the weight straight down through the headtube. For 2014 ‘Forward’ is still in the mix, an alternative to what they describe as ‘traditional geometry’ and in which they say offer improvements in control, handling, confidence and safety.
For 2013 Mondraker offered the Dune XR and Foxy XR (both with 26” wheels) in ‘Forward Geometry’, although both were still available in ‘traditional’ geometries as well. The Dune featured 180mm up front and 160mm on the rear, whilst the Foxy XR ran 160mm up front and 140mm on the rear. The Foxy was a proven bike even in standard form (140/140) – a bike that Fabien Barel used to notable stage success in the 2011 Trans–Provence (although with a longer 160mm fork up front).FOXY XR 160/140
Offering 65mm more in the front centre compared to the Dune (bottom bracket to front axle) yet with the same length chainstays (430mm) the Foxy is a long bike by any standard, be it DH/enduro or its chosen category ‘all mountain’. Unsurprisingly it’s a degree slacker and a shade higher on the bottom bracket – which is no surprise with the longer 160mm fork – than the standard bike.
It’s a nicely made bike, the hump in the top tube is a matter of taste, but overall the graphic and visual give it a very characteristic look. In terms of engineering standards we’d been less than impressed with previous bikes from the Spanish company, particularly in the linkage area, and had continually to tighten the pivot areas and certainly went through some amount of Loctite!
Nevertheless, Mondraker are proven bikes, race winners in both downhill and enduro. The Foxy in previous 140/140 format was always a fun bike to ride as well and particularly well suited to UK trail riding. Which is kind of where we were heading with the new Foxy XR – a trail bike (although categorized by Mondraker as all-mountain) with a bit more punch we thought.
The bike arrived high up front as well as long. The almost direct stem comes stacked with spacers between it and the top of the head tube requiring experience and guess work to get the correct height for a system to which most people will be totally alien. The fork steerer needs correctly cutting off to enable the stem to attach. There is little room for error, get it wrong and you are stuffed as you cannot have a comfort zone whereby you put the unwanted spacers up top, because the stem restricts access.
Cutting the steerer down we reached a good outside bar end to ground measurement of 41.5”, pretty much a middling setting, and headed out. Anticipating all the good things about this more stable geometry we were taken aback at the Foxy’s climbing ability, it stays squat up front and delivers good power through the crank and into the back wheel, it climbs better than traditional geometry that’s for certain. Yes there’s a bit more stiction in the system than we’d have liked and this does aid the flat ride characteristic on the hills, but the shock lock–out definitely helps more in that respect. Diving into classic fast, but not overly steep, singletrack the Foxy feels more than capable, if anything the first impressions are that the bike is simply going to tear everything apart. With this mindset you drive hard into the first rock section confident that the bike will deliver given its robust 160mm up front.