Rich T’s Mondraker Dune XR Review
Review by Rich Thomas / photos by Jacob Gibbins
- Aluminium frame
- 27.5″ wheels
- Mondraker Forward geometry
- Zero Suspension Design
- Fox Float X LV EVOL 3Pos Lever Performance 160mm
- Fox 36 27.5 Float FIT4 3Pos Lever Factory Kashima 170mm
Mondraker in my eyes at least gets a bit overlooked in the ‘what bike shall I buy next’ debate.
That’s a mistake because the bikes are here and they’re the real deal. Just look at the 2016 World Champs podium. First, second and third places were all riding Mondraker. Pro results don’t make a bike but that’s pretty telling.
The Dune XR 2017 is Mondraker’s middle of the range spec’d 27.5 machine. The 6061 alloy frame has 160mm rear wheel travel, 170mm with a Fox 36 up front and some really solid bits. With SRAM Guide brakes, a Rockshox Reverb, a Sram GX drive train and a DT E1900 wheelset it is, on paper at least, a seriously well equipped bike.
Perhaps the most talked about Mondraker feature is the forward geometry. In a nutshell it means that the bike has a super short stem as the extra stem length is built into the Dune’s top tube.
This forces the rider to get more weight over the rear wheel. It also means that your bars are closer to being direct over your front axle giving better feedback from the front wheel for grip and comfort.
Nestled in the frame is Mondraker’s Zero Suspension system. It’s a dual link system which allows the shock to float between the links meaning that it’s compressed from both ends.
That means you get very little chain growth (which affects suspension performance) and very little pedal feedback. What you need to know though is that the bike feels plush as hell… even to an old dog downhill veteran like me who’s still pining for coil shocks!
A rocket ship
The bike climbs brilliantly. When I was reviewing this bike I was stuck into Megavalanche preparation and doing some big three to four hour rides with 1500M or more of climbing.
The bike zipped up nicely, felt very comfortable and even with DH casing tyres (I’d rather be tired than fix a puncture!) it carried good speed up and along.
The bike feels great all round but when you point it downhill it turns into a rocket ship. I felt at home instantly and to be frank, I was quicker on it than 95% of all bikes I’ve ever ridden, including dh bikes. It really took me by surprise.
Big, fast, rough ground
I’d say that’s thanks to the excellent geometry. The bike has really relaxed angles and my size large tester has short chainstays, a lowish BB for fast and comfortable cornering, a nice long wheelbase and a slack head angle at 65.5d.
The reach is long compared to bikes you’d see elsewhere – my bike was a 495mm (for reference a Nukeproof Mega is 465mm).
The shape of the bike gives loads of stability on rough, natural trails and there’s loads of room to move around on the bike and deal with compressions at speed.
It’s on big, fast, rough ground that the Forward Geometry really comes into its own. It leads you into a comfortable and solid riding position that just makes you go faster with less effort.
I was a bit sceptical about the Zero Suspension system but, again, I genuinely felt the benefits of this.
More often than not these ‘buzz’ features are just marketing hype. In this case though, I was impressed. The suspension feels deep and plush and did nothing to hold me back on climbs or when charging downhills.
I didn’t end up getting to ride the bike at the Megavalanche, but had it been an option I’d have jumped at the chance. It’s clear here that Mondraker have put a lot of research into this bike and it works well. Really well.
What was I less impressed with?
There wasn’t much. I had to change the grips as they weren’t for me. I also destroyed the rear Maxxis High Roller 2 Dual EXO. They’re decent tyres but struggled on a bike this capable. It would be good to see something sturdy enough to match how capable this bike is.
My main gripe with the Mondy was the Zero suspension system, mainly its longevity. I found that the bike developed a loud squeak after less than 10 hours of riding. I stripped the bike, cleaned the linkage, greased and rebuilt and it disappeared.
Then it appeared again. Squeak, squeak, squeak. It didn’t slow me or the bike down but it did take some workshop time and, at its worst, made me conscious of the noise on the trail. A quiet bike is a fast bike, right?
In the case of my test bike at least, it was fixed by staying on top of maintenance and making sure that everything was properly greased and that the bolts were tight. They had a tendency to work loose and needed a regular tweak up.
So that’s it. If you want a bike that will make you faster, that you won’t see many of on the trails and that’s completely unique you should seriously consider the Mondraker Dune XR.
You’ll need to decide whether, for the same money, you’d prefer a carbon frame and how much of an issue a bit of maintenance will be. Personally, neither held me back from having an absolute blast on the Mondraker.
- Goes like a rocket ship
- Plush, confidence boosting suspension
- Comfortable, aggressive geometry that feels stable and easy to ride fast
Not so much
- Tyres couldn’t match the rest of the bike
- Linkage needed regular maintenance
You can learn more about Mondraker over on their homepage.
You can find your nearest Mondraker dealer here.