When it comes to mountain bike geometry, longer and slacker head tube angles and steeper seat tube angles seems to be the common theme these days. But while other brands are just stretching out, Mondraker has been pushing the limits of geometry for years. In 2012, Mondraker’s Forward Geometry was taken to the extreme with a 10mm stem that basically sat directly on top of the steerer tube. While the stem has gotten longer (barely), Mondraker is still offering bikes with progressive numbers – bikes like the Foxy RR SL.
My first ride on the Foxy RR SL was concurrent with the launch of the Mondraker brand in the USA, and it started at the top of Pike’s Peak. That is quite a bit different from my average ride, so I was excited to get the bike on some of my home trails to get a better feel for the Forward Geometry.
At 5’8″, that puts me towards the smaller size of their medium frame, but past the realm of a small. I’m typically on a medium frame so that wasn’t much different, but the reach certainly is. The medium Foxy has a whopping 480mm reach, which compared to something like the new Specialized Stumpjumper, is the same reach as their XL frame. It’s long. It’s also interesting to note that the 2019 Foxy 29 has a 10mm shorter reach per size.
That reach is designed around a short stem like the house brand Onoff Stoic 30mm stem included with the build. Coupled with that extremely long front end is a very modern 66° head tube angle and 75° effective seat tube angle, long 1213mm wheel base, and a chainstay length that can be adjusted from 425 to 435mm.
Frame details include Boost 148mm rear spacing, a BSA 73mm bottom bracket, dedicated 1x drivetrain, and an integrated mudguard for the shock – which is a nice touch, otherwise you’d be pelting the shock with debris right off the rear tire. All pivot points also feature Enduro MAX sealed cartridge bearings, and there are custom frame protectors on the chainstay and downtube (note that the clear protection sheets on the frame in the photos were added by the crew at QARV Imports since this is a demo bike). There’s also plenty of room in the front triangle for a water bottle, even one of the extra long bottles that carries 25oz or more.
The chainstay length is adjusted with the included geometry kit which effectively moves the axle back and forth in the frame.
To accommodate for the different axle positions, the rear brake mount also has two positions to keep the caliper in the right place.
Even though the geometry might be one of the biggest talking points, out on the trail, it’s the frame design that gets the most comments. The Foxy’s gorgeous lines are very unique making it stand out like a mountain biker in a road crit. Maybe more than any mountain bike I’ve ridden lately, other riders were fascinated by it and wondered where I got it. Which is a fair question – Mondraker is now available in the U.S., but the number of dealers is still fairly low. If you’re looking for a unique bike, you won’t see many of these out on the trails.
Carbon, Suspension, and Setup
The 2018 Foxy RR SL uses Mondraker’s Stealth Air Carbon frame structure which is their lightest carbon construction, but for 2019, all of the 27.5″ wheeled bikes will use their slightly heavier Stealth carbon build. However, the new Foxy Carbon 29s for 2019 will all use the Stealth Air Carbon constructions.
Like other high-end Mondrakers, the Foxy uses the Zero Suspension system to provide 150mm of rear wheel travel. Sandwiching the shock between the two suspension links, the suspension uses a “floating” design that seems to control the back-end very well over the course of the ride. The design may be slightly more active when sprinting than other designs, but it remained very supple over small bumps while shrugging off big hits.
Running just over 25% sag, the Foxy was easy to set up. I would occasionally use the compression setting to firm or open the suspension, but most of the time I left it in the middle setting which seemed to work well overall. However, long road climbs were the exception where I would almost always flip the lever to the firmest setting to be efficient as possible along the climb.
Up front, the 150mm Fox 34 seems to fit with the overall build and feel of the bike. The Foxy RR SL is extremely capable, but it’s also built to be very light. Built as pictured ( with original X0 crank and Absolute Black oval chainring) with the bottle cage and sealant in the tires, the bike comes in right at 27lbs (12.25kg). To me, the resulting bike feels like a trail bike that can be ridden very aggressively, or a very light weight enduro bike.
That’s one of the reasons I like this bike as much as I do. For the most part, our trails in the midwest don’t require the likes of a full on enduro bike, but there are enough jumps, steeps, and drops that a playful bike with fun geometry is a huge bonus. Add in a bike that is also very light, and you end up with a bike that just wants to go fast all the time. That last bit is probably critical to the bike’s acceptance though. This is not a bike that is built to go slow. It’s not a bike that you’re going to grab to noodle through the woods. This bike is built for absolutely charging not only the descents, but climbs as well.
Gotta get on it
To me, when I wasn’t completely on it, it felt like the front end would do some weird things. Like maybe the bike is just too long for casual riding. The flip side of that is that when I was 100% focused on pinning it, the bike rewarded me with some of the fastest times I’ve recorded on trails that I’ve ridden for years. The Foxy ended up being my bike of choice for our underground Frienduro race-that’s-not-a-race due to these very reasons. The extra length may force you to set up for turns a bit wider than you normally would, but the added control when you’re at the limit is confidence inspiring to say the least.
With that said, I wouldn’t recommend the Foxy RR SL for riders everywhere. If your trails are slower and more technical, the super long front end may be a hindrance rather than a benefit. But for faster trails, the Foxy really comes into its own. Also, if you don’t consider yourself an aggressive rider, it might be wise to look somewhere else.
29″ > 27.5″?
What really stood out to me though, wasn’t actually specific to the Foxy. Lately I’ve been testing a lot of trail and enduro bikes with 29″ wheels, and going back to 27.5″ wheels has been eye-opening. The smaller wheels still provide a great ride and may be better for a select group of riders, but after years of being team 27.5″, I think I’ve finally grown to appreciate the bigger wheels (now that the geometry has caught up).
And if you look at Mondraker’s 2019 lineup, it seems that they might agree. Instead of four models for the 27.5″ Foxy, in 2019 there will only be two – the XR and R models. That’s apparently mainly due to the addition of an all new Foxy 29 which should tick all the right boxes. The 29er will be available in three carbon models and two alloy models. Based on how fun and how fast the 27.5″ Foxy RR SL seems to be, I really can’t wait to throw a leg over the new Foxy 29 in 2019.