Last year the Foxy XR aluminium won our Singletrack seal of approval. It broke Jorji’s heart when it had to go back to its rightful owner. It didn’t take too long before Mondraker launched a full carbon version of the Foxy, which quickly made it’s way on to my list of most sexy bikes of 2015. I spent a little bit of time on our previous Foxy, but not enough to form a well rounded opinion.
Generally, I am happy on medium sized bikes veer towards the large side of things (obviously like the Foxy), but I really wanted to see how a large would ride. So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s my Foxy carbon XR SE in large:
My weekends have been packed full of races this year (much to my wife’s annoyance) so we asked distributor Silverfish nicely if we could test the special edition Foxy, which Silverfish claims is a nice blend of the Foxy, and bigger brother the Dune. A perfect British race bike.
I’ve entered the full PMBA series which takes place at various venues across the North, usually at a trail centres, with fresh cut sections. The Foxy’s 140mm rear travel, paired with a 160mm fork should suit these races well, but how has the bike performed at bigger events like the EWS and Enduro2 in the Alps?
Firstly, lets take a little bit more time to look at what you are getting for your money. Mondraker seemed to listen to riders about the love/hate look of the hump on the top tube of the aluminium frame; on the carbon models they have smoothed it out to create a more elegant curve.
Now, I can see past the hump and didn’t really mind it, but the carbon frame is drop dead gorgeous. I can’t take it out on a ride without commenting to somebody about how much I love the Foxy’s looks. Sad, I know, but it’s important to tell the lady you love precisely how much you love her – isn’t it? Mondraker are (rightly) standing by their Forward Geometory but previously the XR’s came with 10mm direct mount stems – the current models are now being stocked with 30mm stems. You can still choose to run a 10 or 20mm if you’d prefer, but this is now a retro fit only option.
Back to what I was saying – spec. and what you get for your pennies.
A stealth carbon frame with 140mm of Mondrakers zero suspension: this is a floating system, with the shock connected to linkages at the top and bottom. The shock, a Fox Float CTD BV, is compressed from both ends, creating a floating pivot.
Mondraker pitch the Foxy as an all mountain/tail bike, with that in mind they have designed the frame around inline shocks (but not a Cane Creek). If you are in the market for a bike that can run a shock with a piggie back you should check out the Foxy’s big brother the Dune. The weight of the shock and linkages is nice and low, which I feel gives a very well balance bike in the air and through the rough. I’ve been pretty impressed with how much crud the small shock protector provides, keeping most of the mud off the stantion. Obviously with this position you are going to get some mud collecting when it’s truly horiffic weather. The times the foxy was clogging up pretty much every bike around me was too.
The SE version benefits from a 160mm Fox 36 RC2 Fork, which are stiffer and lighter than the 2015 34’s. The drive train is made up of a combination of Shimano, Sram and Race Face with Mondraker finishing kit. Adding the likes of a 36 fork and sexy carbon frame does bump the price up. In order to try and keep the price down the SE gets a Sram cassette with e13 extender cog, instead of a true 1×11 set up. I was going to strip the extender cog out and put the 17t back in but never got around to it: I’ve been surprised how often I’ve found myself reaching for the 42t extender.
Stopping power is provided by Formula CR1 breaks with 180mm rotors and the wheels are Easton EA70 XL’s. And of course, with any bike of this nature you get a dropper post – in this case a Reverb.
I’m 5’10 – yes I know I’ve not quite made it to six foot, but I’ve come to live with that – and around 74kg (on a good day). Most manufacturer’s larges struggle to have a top tube length of 630mm, with a reach of no more than 460mm. The medium sized foxy reaches way more than these. Although I’d briefly ridden the medium, it still took me a few days and several conversations with riding pals and people in the industry to decide on a large.
I asked myself questions like: what if I don’t get on with it? Am I going to be able to turn such a long bike on our local steep, tight trails? Well that’s the whole point isn’t it? It’s forward geometry. If you usually ride a medium/large the large will be the bike for you. I must admit the first few rides I spent some time stood still tweaking my riding position to ensure it was as efficient as possible. But it was all worthwhile. I’m running my saddle slightly further forward than I usually, would and I’m running around 15mm of spacers under the stock Mondraker bars.
The geometry of a bike can be a very personal thing. Some bikes suite your local riding more than others. Previously I’ve heard a lot of people commenting on the long wheelbases of Mondrakers. Saying things like, they’ll be useless at climbing up a technical sections. Or how will you turn that in some steep switchbacks. If you’ve tried it and still don’t like it, fair enough – but I am a lover [not a fighter – Ed].
I was quite surprised at how quickly I adjusted to the feel of the forward geometry and I was soon getting up to speed. The long 1220mm wheel base provides an amazing amount of confidence. So much so that the Foxy has got me out of as much trouble as it has gotten me in to. The Foxy has great ability to find speed through medium to slow sections and before you know it, you need to start raining it back in. When I was taking things easy and just riding the trail I felt very central and comfortable, attach the trail and you’ll be finding speed everywhere.
Weighting the front wheel enough in the steeps took a little bit more getting used to but once you do, I’ve found the front has loads of grip and tracks nicely. It is easy to switch direction in tight turns. When climbing I’ve found the Zero suspensions system has provided ample traction and again that long wheel base has helped get the front wheel over obstacles nice and early so I could keep the power down and maintain traction. I’ve experienced no more front wheel lift than I’ve had whilst riding previous bikes. Being a little lazy I hardly ever use the CTD on the shock to change the compression dampening. I really find I need to, as when climbing there is little bob.
There you go – my opinion so far. I’m loving the Foxy. But so much riding and racing has forced some minor changes. Sure, the Foxy’s level of tech runs at the pricey end of the spectrum, but the cost is similar to other carbon bikes at this level, and Mondraker do things sufficiently differently that the Foxy is a genuine alternative to the cookie-cutter norm.
Tune in next time to find out if I’ve been forced to change any parts (from this race ready bike), or if I’ve swapped things out due to personal preferences. Take care my friends, get out and ride your bike. That’s where I’m heading!
Race photography by Nick from NMP Photos (thanks!)
|Product:||Foxy Carbon XR Special Edition|
|Tested:||by Richard for|