At just under 5’10” I opted for my usual size large test bike. When it arrived, the Mondraker was easily the biggest, longest and heaviest bike I had ever ridden or tried to fit in my van. This thing is huge, with a 1316mm wheelbase, 479mm reach and whopping 490mm chainstays. Yes, you read that correctly, 490mm, which is about 40mm longer than the Nukeproof Mega 290 which I would say has ‘long’ chainstays.
Build kit is all top drawer and very much focused on going down hill fast. The SRAM Code RSC are probably my favourite brakes right now with bags of power and a great, predictable lever feel. It also made me really happy to see DH casing tyres as well as I usually end up whinging about crap tyres whenever I write a review.
Suspension is covered by Fox’s top of the range 36 fork with Grip 2 damper and 170mm of travel and a DHX2 coil shock with 160mm travel at the back wheel. Combine this with a classy set of DT Swiss Hybrid Spline wheels, Bosch motor and a SRAM EX1 8 speed E-Bike specific transmission and you have about £700 and 25 plus kilograms of bike.
The entire frame is aluminium, with a solid, but sculpted feel to it. Despite its chunky proportions to make room for the battery, it still maintains a hint of Mondraker’s ‘Marmite’ top tube hump and in general has very good lines. I especially appreciated the way the top tube flows into the seat stays. Welds are all tidy and the paint was hard wearing, despite some properly muddy rides and quite a few crashes.
Obviously, this has a motor and a 500WH battery so it goes up hills pretty well, but compared to other E-Bikes it is heavy and cumbersome, in particular around switchback climbs where you have to run the front wheel around the top of the turn like a ‘wall of death’ whilst the rear wheel skids and pivots around the inside. Over wet and sloppy climbs the Level RR has loads of grip though, with the supple coil shock quietly working away with the soft and grippy Maxxis rubber to get you up pretty much anything.
Usually I would moan a bit about the 74 degree seat angle being too slack, but the monster chainstays helped to negate this and I found myself climbing insanely steep pitches of trail that would have shorter E-Bike pulling wheelies.
The bottom line is that this is simply a tool to get you to the top of the hill so that you can do what it is meant to do, which is smash the shit out of the trail on the way back down.
This is where the Mondraker Level RR starts to get interesting. It is undoubtedly a bike built for maximum speed over the gnarliest terrain. It is designed without compromise to plough through and over anything in its path and in this respect, it is very good indeed.
Take a section of rough trail in front of you, stretching out for 100m before the next turn. On another bike you might pick your way through the roots and rocks, hopping, popping and choosing an actual line. On the Mondraker, you don’t give a shit what line you are on. You just point it at the exit point, release the brakes, hold on, and then arrive there in a blur of dust, rocks and trail debris. Set up wide, lean it in to a smooth arcing turn and repeat.
That is the only way to ride this bike.
Thinking of cutting in early and squaring off the turn? The Mondraker won’t let you, at least not at any speed, as there is just too much grip and stability at the back of the bike. It doesn’t want to break away, get loose or skid. It wants to take, big, long lines, carrying speed and momentum from turn to turn.
Whenever the trail opens up and speed increases, the Mondraker excels as long as you have the balls to let off the brakes. It will get rough, it will get scary, but it won’t get wild. The suspension is well balanced and you have so much space to move your body between the wheels that you never feel like you are off the back or pushing the front end too hard. You won’t jump and skip over the roots, you just smash through them.
Fancy manualling across a trail feature? You better be strong, heavy or both, as getting the front wheel up on such a long bike is pretty much impossible for any prolonged period of time. Bunny hop? Good luck. I can just about get it up a curb as the rear of the bike just wants to stick to the floor. You need very good timing to get this of the deck without a ramp and it takes time to develop that timing as it is so different to any other bike I currently ride.
Having said that, rather like a motocross bike, when the Mondraker Level does jump, it absolutely flies. It is stable and confidence inspiring in the air and I actually found myself over jumping a lot of the big doubles at my local spot.
On the right track, the Mondraker is quite unstoppable. Not loads of fun, but bloody fast. It was also surprisingly capable on some of South Wales’ steeper trails where the grip, brakes and geometry made it possible to carry good speed and to make some quite tight turns as long as you were committed. On slower, techier and flatter terrain it is predictably sluggish and you feel over gunned.
Nothing broke or even came loose during the test period. My only gripe is the routing for the dropper post which passes by the motor housing and then inside the frame tunnel along the side of the coil shock. Firstly, it is basically wedged there and impossible to feed through either direction to alter saddle height, and secondly the cable was rubbing the coil and was super fiddly to adjust.
Battery life was good even after 6 months of charging cycles and I regularly clocked up 30km on it without issue.
High speed blasting through rocks.
Brakes, wheels and DH tyres.
Could Do Better
Tight turns are very tricky.
Heavy and expensive.
For a few people out there this bike will be perfect. They will live in proper big mountain terrain with gnarly trails and will need good levels of strength and skill to get the most out of this unique bike. For most of us though, this bike is overkill and will not be very engaging or efficient for the trails that we ride most of the time.
You can find out everything about the Mondraker Level range on their website here.