In an era of mountain biking where a half-degree change in a headtube angle or 10 millimeters of additional travel designates an entirely different so-called riding 'category,' rarely do we see mass-produced, performance-oriented mountain bikes with radically different design principles. Since 2013, Spanish brand Mondraker has been applying their Forward Geometry approach to bike handling. However, there once novel concept is rather ubiquitous today, as many cutting-edge brands build their trail bikes around 'long and low' geos, yet Mondraker's approach remains unique. To see how their Forward Geometry translates on 'Merican soil, we gave the top-shelf Foxy Carbon RR SL all-mountain bike the business on the fun and rocky trails of Marquette, Michigan.
The Foxy line features 150 millimeters of front and rear travel, 27.5-inch wheels and is available in five models. A slightly more wallet-friendly allow version starts at $3,500 and four carbon models follow suit, maxing out at our $9,100 Carbon RR SL test bike.
As expected on a $9000 build, you'll find Fox's Factory edition suspension, including the 34 Float FIT 4-damped fork and Float DPX2 LV EVOL Factory shock. Additional high-end componentry includes Shimano XTR Trail brakes, Fox's Transfer dropper post (150-millimeter drop on size Large frame), plus a carbon handlebar and DT Swiss' XM1501 wheelset. Notably, the Foxy features an adjustable chainstay, which can be run at either 425 or 435 millimeters. We opted for the shorter setting, which still offers a 1241-millimeter-long wheelbase.
The Forward Geometry concept is based around a longer reach, longer toptubes and a stubby 30-millimeter stem. The extra toptube length increases the front-center length and is ultimately designed to improve stability at speed. The Foxy's 150 millimeters (5.9 inches) of rear wheel travel is managed by Mondraker's Zero dual-link suspension design, which allows the shock to "float" between two suspension links, compressed from both ends with the end goal being a supple ride that progressively soaks up harsh, full-travel-worthy hits.
With nearly six inches of travel, yet weighing just 27 pounds, the RR SL absolutely screams up climbs. The rear suspension pedaled efficiently in the open shock setting, and the long wheelbase boosts stability and uphill traction on loose terrain. The long wheelbase took some getting used to, but the bike's light weight made handling remarkably agile. When pointed downhill, however, the Foxy reveals its true intentions. At speed, the long wheelbase and 66-degree headtube angle provide relaxed handling on rough trails. The faster the Foxy was ridden the more natural the handling began to feel. However, for as agile, playful, and outright fast as the Foxy felt, the rear suspension often delivered a harsher than desired ride. The consensus among testers was to run around 35-percent sag on the shock to gain a little more plushness and while speeding up the rebound for quicker recovery times between impacts.
Mondrakers are now available in the US, and riders looking for a versatile all-mountain machine can throw a leg over one at a local dealer.
Q&A with Israel Romero, Mondraker international communication manager
Mondraker's Forward Geometry translates to a stable and unique ride quality. How has Forward Geometry evolved over the years to this current version?
We introduced Forward Geometry in 2013, and over the years it has become the current benchmark for high-performance, progressive mountain bikes as most of the manufacturers have followed the longer trend we pioneered years ago. We’ve been refining the concept while maintaining our proprietary FG 30-millimeter stem and going slightly longer with effective toptube length and reach pursuing what we believe is the proper, most balanced and best geometry for the overall riding experience.
What sets the Foxy apart is the confidence you get at higher speeds, how quiet and planted it feels on rough terrain and its precise and snappy handling. With a 500-milliliter reach for the size Large, this is our longest Foxy generation ever. We’ve also slackened the head angle to 66-degrees, steepened the seat-tube angle to 75-degrees and shortened the chainstays to 425 millimeters. Following the Summum (DH bike) and Dune (enduro bike) adjustability, you can also lengthen the chainstays by 10 millimeters, and slacken or steepen the head angle by 1-degree using different rear dropouts and different headset cups (included with the Foxy Carbon RR SL) to properly set up the Foxy to your riding style. That said, the stock setting is the one we believe will satisfy the most users.
As the trail and all-mountain categories continue to converge, how does Mondraker see the Foxy RR SL fitting into the scene given today's current terminology?
If you check Mondraker's website, the Foxy Carbon sits as an all-mountain/enduro bike, which is what's called a long-travel trail bike to most riders in the US or the UK. For us, the 150-millimeter-travel Foxy has always been the best bike for anything and everything, with the best combination of pedaling efficiency and big bump absorption. The Foxy RR SL is the perfect blend between a cross country and enduro bike.
Anything Mondraker would like to add in regard to the Foxy RR SL?
We released the first generation Foxy Carbon in 2015, and this 2018 is the first major update we've made. We have increased the rear-wheel travel to 150 millimeters and optimized the geometry, offering the ability to adjust the chainstay length and headtube angle. It's also our first bike with metric-sized shock (205x65mm) and Trunnion mount, which also offer additional performance benefits. The Foxy RR SL is our lightest, most capable, most versatile high-performance bike and the best option if a rider is looking for their 'one' bike.