Does Mondraker’s Forward Geometry match the hype?
When my eagerly awaited Mondraker Foxy first made its debut on Fresh Goods Friday, the barrage of abuse it received was staggering.
Its unusual looks seemed to offend readers, with the cutting comments coming thick and fast. As a designer, aesthetics are of course hugely important to me – but actually, what I believe to be far more exciting are those designers who don’t follow the norm and are bold enough to go against the grain and experiment with radical new ideas.
Mondraker introduced Forward Geometry to their Foxy and Dune ranges in 2013. Developed with its then team rider Fabian Barel, Mondraker extended top tube lengths by a good 65mm while reducing stem length to 10mm, creating a longer bike without significantly changing rider position. In theory a longer bike is a more stable bike, though it does require extra strengthening – leading to the much-derided hump on the top tube. The protruding front wheel affords the Foxy a slack head angle of 66.5, and combined with 160mm Fox 34 CTD Floats up front, 180mm brake rotors and 142mm rear dropouts with a 12mm thru-axle, the Foxy places itself firmly in the ‘burly all-mountain’ category.
The rest of the stock Foxy XR build kit includes a Fox Float CTD LV Boost Valve Performance rear shock, Formula T1 brakes, a SRAM X7/X9 drivetrain, Race Face Evolve double chainset with 24/38t chainrings, Easton EA70 XL 27.5in wheelset, Maxxis Ardent tyres, RockShox Reverb seatpost and own-branded saddle, bars and that odd-looking non-stem.
Standover clearance is great, with a low top tube flowing cleanly into the seat stays. Bracing struts between the top and seat tube keep the front triangle strong, and struts are also found in the nape of the top tube and on the non-driveside of the chain stays. The Foxy also employs the patented Zero Suspension system: this is Mondraker’s take on a virtual pivot point. The rear shock is attached to upper and lower links to compress it both from top and bottom, allowing precise control of the travel.
The finish is raw aluminium covered in a clear, matte varnish. Componentry colourways have been carefully selected to complement the logo. The more time I spent with the Foxy, the more I saw the beauty in its eccentric looks.
First things first: I cut down the steerer tube by 35mm, as the handlebars sit directly on top of the fork and out of the box they were ridiculously high. Next I whisked the Ardents off – I find them great in the dry Spanish home of the Foxy, but less so in British winter slop and slime.
There’s no denying that the first ride on the Foxy felt odd. I’d previously always preferred bikes on the smaller side, which I thought were more flickable, yet here I was with the longest bike on the market. There is a degree of adjusting your bike positioning to learn, because if you sit too far back you’re a fair distance from your front axle. Once I’d sussed shifting myself forward on the bike and trusting the stability afforded by the longer wheelbase, I could really start to play and see what this bike is capable of.
Steep, tricky terrain is where the Foxy excels. The bike is completely planted and inspires confidence, while the slack head angle chews up the steeps in its path. Sitting a tad forward means more weight on the front wheel, driving it into the trail and railing round corners with incredible grip and balance. Steering is agile and immediate, as it’s centred straight down the head tube directly into the front wheel – with no cumbersome long stem requiring greater turning angles. And this direct steering means the long bike still feels nimble when the trail is twisting in and out of tight trees and around sharp corners.
The rear suspension set-up works a treat too, and while Mondraker’s claimed ‘floating sensation’ might be a little far-fetched, it does feel incredibly plush, and as though it has far more travel than its 140mm. On the climbs the Foxy retains its nimbleness and grip. It’s not the lightest bike, but the front wheel stays firm with the rear obediently following with superb traction. It climbs with more ease than you’d imagine from such a slack head-angled bike.
For me, the biggest downside of the Foxy must be the Formula brakes. I’ve not got on with mine at all – and despite nearly ten bleeds, I had to send them back to Silverfish for an overhaul. I also had to tighten the rear shock pivot bolt several times, before whacking on a ton of Loctite to solve the loosening issue. There was also a problem with the Reverb hose snagging in the bolt-on guide on the saddle clamp, which I simply removed and replaced with a loose cable tie. So no niggles that couldn’t be fixed – and certainly nothing which rocked my Foxy love.
Mondraker’s Forward Geometry seems like such an obvious tweak once you’ve ridden it – especially if you like trails with a bit more gravity spice, which you probably do if you’re considering a 140-160mm travel bike. The Foxy XR can happily take you through gentle, undulating singletrack… but it will be frothing at the bit to drop off the edge into something more exciting. Big thumbs up, Mondraker – for me, the Foxy rocks.
Posted on: September 3, 2014