After two full years of World Cup race testing since we first spotted it, the Mondraker F-Podium RR is finally racing without camouflage, and we dive into the full details. Built to remap their aggressive Forward Geometry for the XCO circuit and sporting 100mm of short-link suspension, Mondraker’s new F-Podium is one of the slackest bikes racing elite cross-country.

Mondraker F-Podium RR 100mm carbon XC mountain bike

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

The F-Podium has been one of the worst kept secrets in XC racing, since we broke the news of its race debut here at Nové Město back in 2017, camouflaged with an Escher sticker wrap. But since then, Mondraker has been open with their development of the new bike – putting a number of frame prototypes through the ringer.

While they have had a Podium hardtail XC bike in the line for some time, Mondraker had so far not produced a short-travel full-suspension cross-country bike. So they spent the last few years reworking their signature suspension design & modern trail bike geometry into a capable XC race weapon.

The result is said to be a fast Forward Geometry race bike, with plush & efficient dual-link Zero Suspension – a lighter, faster World Cup XC-ready 29er race bike.

F-Podium – tech details

Mondraker used the new F-Podium as a project to further refine how they build carbon bikes, developing a new hi-mod carbon layup they call Stealth Air Carbon with German carbon maker 3C from Formula 1, in hopes of producing the bike in Europe. But in the end, realism of production demands sent the new bike to the same Taiwan factory that makes the rest of their carbon mountain bikes.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike geometry

Known for the modern trail & enduro bike geometry they developed for the likes of the Dune & Foxy, that was the key starting point for the F-Podium. Mondraker didn’t want to just take the same geo from their XC hardtail, instead giving the new bike a slack 68° head angle, long toptubes with short stems (just 50mm for S & M, 60mm for L & XL), and a super steep seat angle. How steep? With the forward offset of the seattube, the effective seattube angle comes to 76.5°, keeping weight balance forward for efficient pedaling without wallowing into rear wheel travel.

That geometry still went through several iterations together with elite XC team Primaflor-Mondraker, before being finalized in late 2018 with the final even steeper seat angle, slackened headtube, and even longer reach. A big part of that apparently is the short 44mm fork offset of the F-Podium, designed to increase Trail for greater cornering stability.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

Besides modern geometry, Mondraker was uncompromising in maintaining a lightweight iteration of their short-link Zero Suspension. While most light XC bikes use a version of a single pivot design, Mondraker kept their pure 4-bar design for its more efficient pedaling & braking platform, and improved traction since the suspension can be left unlocked in most race situations.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

The result is a supposedly plush 100mm of short-link four-bar travel though the floating, trunnion mount metric shock, all rotating on oversized axles and pivot bearings. Plus, with the one-piece rear end, the F-Podium maintains clearance for up to 29×2.4″ tires.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

At the heart of the Zero suspension design is the small machined aluminum lower link tucked above the bottom bracket that ensures a more vertical rear axle path, and allows Mondraker to precisely tune the bike’s kinematics. Mondraker calls it Zero because of claims of zero power loss, zero pedal kickback, zero brake jack & zero bumps due to it soaking up small & big impacts.

Tucked inside that tight little space is also an integrated fender to protect most of the rear shock’s slider. There’s also notably a standard 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell, as well.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

Up top, a stiff one-piece carbon rocker link guides the rear end and drives the trunnion shock.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

The new F-Podium joins the bulk of new trail & race bikes going 1x only. Designed specifically for 1×12 drivetrains, the bike is able to keep relatively short 432mm chainstays while getting Boost spacing and room for big tires.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

Keeping with the 1x setups, the F-Podium gets an integrated rubber chainstay guard to protect against & quiet chainslap. Some – like the Primaflor-Mondraker team – might also run a BB mounted chain guide to pair with their clutched rear derailleur.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

The Boost 148 frame features a chainstay-mounted brake, using a curious looking adapter to tuck a standard post mount caliper tightly into the stays for even this 160mm rotor.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

The bike includes modular, locking internal cable routing ports behind the short tapered headtube to run whatever wired or wireless 1x drivetrain you want, plus internal dropper routing of course. There are ports to route Fox Live Valve setups, or simply a remote rear shock lockout as is included on every complete bike.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

In developing the F-Podium, Mondraker had tested an extended toptube/integrated stem design like on the Podium hardtail, even having shown that version most recently on the RR SL we saw last summer. But in the end they chose to stick with a more standard 1.125-1.5″ tapered headtube setup, with an integrated headset and the flexibility of conventional stems, dropping about 80g off the frame in the process.

Pricing & availability

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

The new F-Podium is offered in three standard complete bike builds: the 4000€ F-Podium, 6000€ F-Podium R, and the 8000€ F-Podium RR like the team is racing including a Rotor power meter (and a claimed complete 10.21kg/22.5lb weight). A separate 3200€ RR frameset will also be available with a Fox Factory remote lockout shock (1987g claimed M frameset). All of these bikes share the same Taiwanese-made carbon frame and tech details.

2020 Mondraker F-Podium RR SL XC mountain bike, 100mm carbon full suspension MTB XCO cross country bike

If money is no object the limited edition F-Podium RR SL that we previewed last summer will sell for 13,500€ in just 100 pieces worldwide with an even lighter, hand-laid frameset and a killer, no-hold-barred build, available from November 2019.

The new bike is a 2020 model officially, but the standard frames are said to be available in limited numbers starting next month, June 2019. So if you really need to get your XC race on, better pop into your local Mondraker dealer quickly.

Mondraker.com

10 COMMENTS

    • I don’t. These bikes are just too long. I’ve found I’ve got to lean more forward than I feel comfortable doing when riding these longer front centre bikes. The SB100 is about as far as I’l go and I found it to be very sensitive to how much you can weight the front. Hitting something mid corner proved to be a major problem.

    • When you see a side profile of someone’s bike and the seat is slammed all the way forward, and the nose is tilted downward. That’s an indication that their bike is too long and too low. And it’s a pretty common sight to see these days. Long and slack are good for one thing only, straight lining rock gardens and the like. For everything else, they pretty much suck.

      • I have the seat slammed forwards on my Top Fuel, not because I can’t reach the bars but because I feel like it makes more position in relation to the bottom bracket more comfortable.

  1. I really wish the MTB industry would stop saying that added trail is “for greater cornering stability” or whatever other jumble of words are used. One very small byproduct of more tail is more front end stability. Almost all of the stability gain will be with the bike straight up and down though, not in the corners. Does the bike scare the crap out of you going straight down a hill? No? Then you don’t need more stability. Trail absolutely does improve front end FEEL. Especially at the limit. This means when you lose traction with the front end you get more warning and it happens slower. It also tens to push a bit more opposed to tucking. The motorcycle roadracing world has understood this forever. Most serious track machines have either different offset or adjustable offset triple clamps (triple clamps = crown). The purpose of them is to increase front end feel at the limit. As you can imagine, really important for a roadrace bike. I’m a retired roadracer. Got into MTB 3yrs ago. The first thing I did was take the “long & slack” bikes I got and switch them from 51mm to 44mm offset crowns. I also run a little more sag in the rear and a little less up front (this increases trail too). I had to do this to get in the same galaxy as what I was used to being able to feel as a roadracer. I never had a stability issue with even the most razor sharp XC bikes I’ve ridden. Only a feel issue.

  2. Additionally, instead of this “….with the one-piece rear end” a swingarm? You know, like everything else on the planet with two wheels and this sort of arrangement? 🙂

  3. SO sick of this long low slack mumbo jumbo being touted as the next holy grail. Bikes for going fast downhill have long front centres. Bikes that are built for going fast both up and down have shorter front centres to help the rider keep the front end down. This thing is too long. I’d have to size down to a small just to make that front end manageable in tight singletrack climbs. No thanks. But it does look very pretty

  4. Judging by the length of the stem on the bikes that were raced… it seems like their pro riders downsized their frames to run a more traditional reach amount. I find it interesting that the fastest guys appear to not really be on board with this “modern trail” geometry on their race bikes. Seems to me like this is a great example of how long reach sells bikes, but doesn’t necessarily make the bike any better to race.

  5. So there are a few anti-long reach comments here (and generally in the bike media) that I don’t think really stack up in the real world. For me the long reach and steep seat angle thing made sense, so I put my money where my mouth was and bought an XL (I am fairly tall) Pole Evolink 140 (which has a 535 reach and 78º SA) to replace my Evil Wreckoning. It’s certainly got its pros and cons and they aren’t for everyone. I’ve also recently built a hardtail with much more conservative geo, which I also love riding.

    One comment that pops up often is about leaning more forwards, or seats needing to be slammed forward, which are really just wrong. Pretty much every long reach bike also has a steeper seat angle, which keeps the effective top tube length (i.e. your seated cockpit length) consistent with what you’d expect in that size of bike. For example, my Pole has an ETT of 660mm, which is actually shorter than the 671 on my old Evil Wreckoning, despite the Pole having a reach a full 63mm longer. This Mondraker has a 650 ETT in an XL, which will work out similarly with the longer stem (vs my pole or wreck).
    So if the longer reach is coupled with a steeper SA, then there is no change to how far you reach forward when seated, only when standing.

    The second is that long bikes can’t climb well and even comments about struggling to keep the front down (which physics would disagree with). With your weight further forward and the bike having more weight further forward, it’s much easier to keep the front wheel on the ground. Despite the Pole’s weight (it’s definitely a bit fat and built for the descents), it blitzes my hardtail on the steep technical climbs, namely because it keeps the front wheel on the ground and engaged. Especially very tight steep switch backs where you maintain positive steerage the whole way…..and without needing to move your weight forward on the bike. It really just works. Yes….with a 64º HA, the front end is a bit floppy, but that doesn’t actually have any impact on performance. I also personally far prefer the steep SA pedalling position, with the BB more so under me than in front of me. I’m amazed at how many people tell me I won’t get the bike around a given tight corner (up or down)…..and it just does it.

    The third is that these bikes are only fast in a straight line. They certainly are….substantially faster….but in my experience they go around corners brilliantly at any speed. This stuff about needing to move your weight around to get traction in the corners is a load of shit. You stay centred and it just works.

    In general, on easy, pedally XCish tracks, I’m about as a fast on either the Pole or the hardtail. Once the trail turns down, the pole is faster, even on the tighter and more technical tracks. In the high speed DH stuff, it’s a weapon…..and a LOT faster than my Wreckoning was. Grinding out fire road climbs, something lighter would be nice…..but I’d keep the steep SA. On high speed jump lines, you become aware you’re on a bike heavy bike. In the very steep, very technical stuff (genuine double blacks) I think I was more confident on the Wreck, where I could be a little further off the back of the bike. With such a long front end, there’s no danger of going over the front on the Pole, but still don’t feel quite as confident. 99% of people won’t every ride that kind of stuff though, it’s a niche case.

    The big question for me is fun. I get on the hardtail on the easier tracks and well…..it simply makes them more fun. I’m just as fast, but need to work harder for my speed…..but that IS fun. I’ll ride it for a few weeks and think, shit, these long bikes dumb it down too much and take the fun out, small and nimble is where it’s at. Then I get back on the Pole and it’s fucking amazing. I have ball riding it on anything. They’re both fun. They’re both different.

    In an ideal world, I’d have slightly more conservative geo on a short travel trail bike, because nimble is fun. For the balls out fast bike it’ll be at the more extreme end if long and slack.

    I’m interested to hear any counter arguments, or explanations of these things, preferably based on actually experience on long bikes and not just internet here-say. Like I said, they aren’t for everyone, but some of the misconceptions need to get called out for what they are.

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