Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR review

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The Mondraker Carbon Crafty RR has 150mm of rear travel, a carbon frame, a Bosch Performance Line CX Gen4 motor and a 750Wh battery.

  • Brand: Mondraker
  • Product: Crafty Carbon RR
  • Price: £8,499.00
  • From: Mondraker
  • Review by: Sim Mainey for three months

Three things I loved

  • The looks
  • Suspension
  • All-round ability

Three things I’d change

  • Position of the head unit
  • Seatpost
  • Longer fork steerer

Scan through the Mondraker range and you’ll see that the Spanish brand has fully embraced e-bikes. From the 170mm Level range through to the Grommy balance bike, if you want some electrical assistance Mondraker has you covered. The Crafty range pitches itself into the Enduro / All Mountain segment with 150mm of rear travel, aluminium and carbon frame options and the latest Bosch Performance Line CX Gen4 motor with a 750Wh battery.

The Crafty Carbon RR (let’s just call it the Crafty) we have here is a good looking bike. Even die-hard e-bike sceptics would have to concede that with its clean lines, low-slung profile and just-so application of cherry rojo on matte carbon, it cuts quite the dash. The swollen downtube even looks well proportioned compared to some of the Crafty’s anaconda-digesting-a-deer competitors.

Okay, the new-fangled cables-through-the-headset is likely to draw eye-rolls but it does make for overall aesthetic, if not mechanical, joy. There’s a nice balance to how it looks, and without too many spoilers, that sets the tone for the rest of the bike.

Mondraker made their name bringing the whole longer, lower, slacker concept to the wider mountain bike world. But looking at the spec sheet the Crafty appears on the more conservative side of progressive – a 470mm reach and a 65.5º headangle on this medium seems pretty ordinary these days. As it turns out Mondraker didn’t design the Crafty to appease spec-sheet spotters.

The Crafty deftly avoids the trap some full-fat e-bikes fall into of being great fun on descents, using their mass and brute thuggery to monster through rock sections, but leave you feeling slightly out of control in the process. Direction changes even at speed are easy and it’s quite happy being thrown from tyre edge to tyre edge. This means that away from brakes-off, balls-out descents it’s just as much fun – possibly more so.

It doesn’t feel bored or boring and on singletrack, it feels like it’s pressed fast forward on your ride. Big XC rides are not only possible but hugely entertaining, whatever the gradient. It’s this do-anything any-time attitude that really defines the bike. Whatever kind of riding you’re in the mood for, the Crafty is equally up for too. 

Some of this comes from that not too extreme geometry but another seemingly conservative decision also plays a part. Where some e-bikes with similar travel sport very on-trend mullet setups (with a 29 inch front wheel and a 27.5 inch wheel in the rear), the Crafty keeps things short-back-and-sides trad with 29 inch wheels at both ends. Current thinking is that on the steepest steeps a smaller rear wheel is beneficial, but on the Crafty it felt like the seatpost length was the limiting factor (more on that later) and the matched wheelset gave it a balanced and predictable feel. 

The Crafty uses Mondraker’s Zero suspension system to get 150mm of travel from the Fox Float X Factory shock. A hench 160mm Fox 38 Factory sits up front to keep the Kashima theme throughout. On a bike weighing in at just over 24kg and as up for it as the Crafty is, decent suspension can make the difference between composed and careering.

It didn’t take long to feel comfortable letting the bike gather speed and do its thing, knowing you were part of the ride and in control rather than just a passenger. The Fox units play a huge part in keeping the Crafty calm, balanced, but also light on its toes – no matter what’s going on beneath the tyres. 

As anyone who has spent time with a suspension tuner will attest having quality suspension is one thing, having it set up to make the most of its performance is another. This is where Mondraker’s MIND telemetry system comes in.

Telemetry in mountain biking is nothing new, the Sunn downhill team were strapping black boxes and sensors to bikes back in the early ‘90s, but having it integrated into a production frame hasn’t been done before. So why would you want telemetry if you’re not a racer? First up, set up. With a sensor in the frame monitoring the rear shock and another in the bottom of the fork steerer tube doing an impression of a mini mudguard, it’s possible for the bike to check sag measurements and, through the myMondraker app, help you get the suspension just right. It’s clever, complicated and deserving of a review of its own, so, stay tuned for that very soon!

Despite MIND being integrated into the bike it’s not integral to the ride experience. I found it useful for setting up the suspension initially but as someone who doesn’t use a GPS, STRAVA or anything that collects data about rides other than a camera, I didn’t find it particularly useful or interesting. Tech heads, data squirrels and dedicated suspension tweakers might get more out of it than I did though. The biggest downside though is that whether you use it or not you’re paying for it.

MIND doesn’t take into account tyre pressure, which makes as much of a difference to grip, feel and support as suspension. On the Craft Carbon RR we tested it on the 2.6inch tyres could feel undamped at certain pressures, so even if the suspension was set up as per the myMondraker app the ride feel was off. Bikes work as a system and an old fashioned tyre pressure gauge is still a vital part of the set up process.

So to the other electrics. The motor is Bosch’s latest Performance Line CX Gen 4 offering. 85Nm of max torque is the headline number but what really matters is how it feels. And it feels balanced. There’s that word again. The mapping of the motor in all modes feels natural with each providing a useful step-change from each other. Which is great, but you’ll likely stick it in the appropriately named ‘e-bike’ mode and leave it there unless you really need to eak out a bit more range or want to deplete your battery as quickly as possible in Turbo mode. But really, e-bike is all you need.

As I’ve mentioned the ‘r’ word, let’s talk range. With a 750Wh battery stashed inside it, range anxiety quickly went from an obsession to an irrelevance. The numbers I became more concerned with on the Kiox 300 display were what time it was and whether I could squeeze in one more trail before I had to be home. Always a good sign.

Speaking of the display, it’s neat, clear and easy to read but if this was my bike I’d take it off – it feels like smashing it off in a crash is a case of when not if. It’s been close a couple of times… The accompanying Bosch phone app is simple, unobtrusive and allows you to track rides, customise ride modes and more. Or ignore it all together with no detrimental effects.

Any problems or niggles with the rest of the bike were minor. There was a slight creak from the cable eating headset area, the charging port was fiddly to open, a bit more steerer would have been useful to raise the bars a smidge and the Fox Transfer Factory dropper post could have done with a longer drop – 150mm on a bike with so much standover feels stingy. The post was also fussy about cable adjustment and became sticky, requiring a good bum-bounce to get it moving. A wireless seatpost wouldn’t be out of place on such a high-tech bike and would solve some of the issues, but for that (and other wireless trickery) you’ll need to step up to the range-topping Crafty Carbon RR SL at £11,499… gulp.

Overall

The Crafty is a brilliant mountain bike. There’s no condition on that statement either. No, ‘for an e-bike’ or, ‘in its category’, it’s a bike you can get on, ride faster than you could possibly do unassisted uphill and then, quite possibly, faster on the downhills too. Whatever you’re into it’s into and with that large capacity battery it can go the distance. This makes it very easy to live with, to the point where this is the first e-bike I’ve ridden that feels like it could be a replacement for a purely pedal-powered bike. 

I could live without MIND – it doesn’t currently offer anything that interests me beyond setting up the suspension – but I’d definitely want to keep the looks, geometry, Bosch system and superb Fox Factory suspension. Which makes the aluminium framed Crafty RR 29 at £6,499 a very tempting option.

simmainey.co.uk

Specification

  • Frame // Stealth Air full Carbon
  • Motor // Bosch CX Line Performance Gen 4
  • Battery // Bosch 750Wh
  • Head unit // Bosch Kiox 300
  • Shock // Fox Float X LV
  • Fork // Fox 38 Float Grip 2 Factory
  • Wheels // DT Swiss HX 1501 (production models have Mavic E-Deemax S)
  • Front Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHF, 29×2.6, 3C MAXX TERRA
  • Rear Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHR II, 29×2.6, 3C MAXX TERRA
  • Chainset // RaceFace Aeffect ebike, 165mm
  • Shifter // SRAM GX Eagle
  • Rear Mech // SRAM X01 Eagle
  • Cassette // SRAM XG-1275
  • Brakes // SRAM Code RSC, 200mm rotors (production models have SRAM G2 RSC)
  • Stem // ONOFF Krypton FG, length: 30mm, dia: 31.8mm
  • Bars // ONOFF Krypton Carbon 1.0, rise: 25mm, width: 800mm 
  • Grips // ONOFF Diamond, lock-on, 135mm
  • Seatpost // Fox Transfer Factory, 150mm drop
  • Size Tested // Medium
  • Sizes Available // S, M, L, XL
  • Weight // 24.2kg

Geometry of our size M test bike

  • Head angle // 65.5º
  • Effective seat angle // 76º
  • Seat tube length // 420mm
  • Head tube length // 110mm
  • Chainstay // 455mm
  • Wheelbase // 1245mm
  • Effective top tube // 625mm
  • BB height // 350mm
  • Reach // 470mm
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Viewing 2 posts - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)
  • Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR review
  • ooOOoo
    Free Member

    Quite nice. Still waiting for an AssBike with a high power USB out, so you can do more useful things with that heavy ass battery.

    montylikesbeer
    Full Member

    It may be just me but £8.5k

    I just cant get my head around why so much.

    I’ll stick to my 10 year old Orange 5 and Sonder Camino.

Viewing 2 posts - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)

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