Have Mondraker just made the lightest downhill frame ever? … And have they just signed up a fast, northern lad to ride for them?
Wideopenmag’s Jim Smith hopped on a plane to Mondraker’s Press Camp at La Fenasosa bike park to go find out for himself.
In October I hopped on a plane from Bristol to Spain, to visit Mondraker HQ. It was a last-minute invite to go meet their brand new bike and hear about their brand new race team. Sun, dusty trails, good food and downhill bikes? Who was I to say no?!
Firstly, let’s get the headlines out of the way – the Mondraker Summum Carbon is one of the lightest downhill bikes you can buy off the shelf. It’s 14.91 kg or 32.9lbs (size medium) which for a build that includes Fox 40’s and a selection of components that are carrying a bit of beef in places is impressive.
Frame weight is 2.8kg (6.25lbs) without shock, the fact Mondraker are so candid about the figures speaks volumes for the pride they have in this bike, never mind the fact it has a lifetime warranty. The previous welterweight title holder for that would be the Trek Session 9.9 at sub 34lbs. Imagine Boxxer World Cups and a bit more carbon fibre in places – the potential for sub 30lbs is definitely there.
The other headline is where you’ll see this bike in 2015 – Danny Hart will be heading up the World Cup assault alongside Innes Graham, Markus Pekoll and Emmeline Ragot. The MS-Mondraker team have been testing this bike in the mountains above Mondraker’s headquarters and were our hosts for the two day press camp at La Fenasosa Bike Park near Alicante, Spain.
So, whats the deal?
Well this downhill bike is lighter than my day to day trail bike, that’s a shock for the system. There are two models of the bike – the Summum Carbon Pro (£4999) and the Summum Carbon Pro Team (£6799) or frame only for £3199 (inc headset, geo kit, axle and shock), all on 27.5 wheels.
I spent the majority of the time on the cheaper Pro which had Marzocchi 380 forks, Fox DHX RC4 shock, a smattering of SRAM components and a DT Swiss FR570 wheelset – realistically you could happily race this bike out of the box, the frame is exactly the same as the Pro Team so you’re set for future upgrades too. I kept the frame setup right in the middle of its settings but adjustability is built into every possible area, a head angle that can be adjusted from 61 to 65 degrees, adjustable chainstay length (445 – 460mm via ‘chucks’ at the rear axle) and although you can run a zero reach stem, the bikes come with a 20-30mm adjustable stem to give you better steering precision. In super aggressive setup you could have a 1270mm wheelbase and a 61 degree head angle without having to buy a single extra component, lean back and let ‘er rip!
Mondraker reckon their ‘Stealth’ carbon technology is new to mountain bikes, essentially they vacuum pack the frame after each layer of fibre has been laid in order to compress it together and remove any possible air which improves adhesion and thus strength. The frame certainly looks the part – the designers at Mondraker have spent a lot of time making sure the aesthetics are spot on, the Summum looks like the bastard child of a Lamborghini and a motocross bike and just looks fast.
Drop the cash on the Pro Team and you’ll get Fox 40’s, Renthal bars instead of the own-brand, Formula brakes, better wheels and X0 drivetrain.
First impressions, what was good?
[quote align=right]a long, stable bike that feels comfortable at speed[/quote]
It would be wrong to write a review of a frame after perhaps 10 runs on totally unfamiliar territory, but it definitely feels like a racer. The Zero suspension system floats the shock between two links which probably contributes to the lack of stiction felt on the trail and makes the bike feel very responsive, especially on small bumps. For a bike with 200mm of travel it also pedals well, picking up speed fast and threatening to get me into trouble on more than one occasion – a racer I am not.
It’s a long, stable bike that feels comfortable at speed and the designers have really gone to town with the attention to detail. Neat internal cable routing, integrated fork bumpers and custom made chainstay and downtube rubber protectors all add up to a quality package.
What could be improved?
Immediately it was clear that even a large, the biggest Summum Mondraker make, is too small for my 6ft 4″ stature. Even with a 30mm stem stacked up with spacers I just couldn’t get fully comfortable to really let it go – if you’re above 6ft it’s definitely worth spending time in the shop and out on the trail trying it out before investing. They cater for bigger riders on other bikes in their range (Foxy Carbon for example) so why it’s been missed here I’m not sure.
Another minor issue is related to the suspension layout, it can be pretty tricky to get access to the shock bolts to get it out to swap springs but then again, this is classic of nearly all top level downhill frames these days and how often do you change shocks? But invest some time in getting the right spring rate setup before heading out for a full weekend of riding, quick changes they are not!
Does lighter really mean better?
In a nutshell – yes. In the world of top level racing that this bike is designed for, less mass will accelerate faster and when podiums come down to thousandths of a second every little bit helps. But the fact this bike could be even lighter heralds some real scope for development if you’ve got the cash for it!
So overall, is it worth it?
The Summum Carbon is a top level downhill frame, delivered at a price to sit alongside other top end bikes like the Trek. We’d love to get hold of one to put it through the wringer but chances are this will fly off the shelves and we’ll have to wait a while. If racing is your thing and you’re under 6ft tall – take a serious look at the Mondraker, it will be interesting to see what Danny manages to do in 2015 having spent so much time on Giant. But don’t buy it and leave it in the stock settings – experiment!
For more information on all the bikes and the team for 2015, check out the Mondraker website, Mondraker is distributed in the UK by Silverfish UK. All photos with thanks to Mondraker.