Review: Mondraker Foxy 29 RR | Bible of Bike Tests 2019
The Up Side
The Foxy is efficient: crisp pedaling without any hint of a chain-tension induced on/off feel. Unfortunately, it comes at the cost of traction due to its sprawling wheelbase, centralized placement and less supple suspension feel but for those looking for a 120-millimeter pedal feel in a 150/160 chassis, look no further.
Wide, with an emphasis on wide, open terrain is what the Foxy 29 likes, arcing spaciously unrestricted broad turns. Anything tighter than huge and it's a handful, even for people that like handfuls.
Dollar for Dollar
The Foxy 29 is not a value. It's an expensive sled that's decidedly different and not looking to lure a components for 'X' dollars type of consumer. It's for somebody after something completely unique who's willing to pay for it knowing that exclusivity totes a hefty price tag.
We're starting to sound like a broken record here: The Mondraker's a long bike, the Mondraker's a long bike, the Mondraker's a … it doesn't matter the model, the adage stays the same: a rhythmic trance of whining over cornering and body-positioning woes. We wrinkled our brows over it with the Dune at Killington's Long-Travel 27.5 Bible Summer Camp and we just bemoaned it in southwest Utah. So how bad is it?
It's not bad, it's different. We're all used to leaning into turns. You either pendulum off the side and dig side knobs incisively in, or angle the bike beneath you and arc an ample, appealing radius. But we're not used to moving forward and backward while performing our practiced task, it makes our heads spin. You mean we have to recite our times tables while jumping rope? Change isn't easy.
But there are benefits—well, benefit, singular—it's steady. At speed coming down our rock-strewn, shelfy, speedy fireroad, the Foxy was planted. If the front was half off, the back still approaching a ledge, it didn't matter, it didn't flinch. And approaching any obstacle was a blast—with a wide enough track and speed, it's like arcing GS skis in a cavalier manner. The terrain is yours to devour.
But on a tight singletrack with serpentine twists and disheveled terrain punctuating turns? Well, the trail eats the Foxy whole. Practiced cornering artists questioned their aptitude and pecking order in the universe. That's an overstatement. They just washed out.
At Bible we test a lot of bikes on a lot of the same loops so something significantly different really stands out, and the Foxy 29 really stood out. It does beg the question though: If one were to perfect fore and aft movement—while mindlessly cornering as we're used to—would you then be unstoppable? Speed, cornering and bumping over square edges unperturbed, all occurring simultaneously? Moving from 2D to 3D—boarding a spaceship you've mastered called the Mondraker?
It'd take time to adjust but it'd be an interesting case study for Bible 404: Advanced Cornering Studies in Multi-Plane Dynamics. But that's not why you're reading this review, you're reading to see if this thing's sweet and worth your hard-earned greenbacks. Before we get into is it worth it, let's cover sweet.
The Foxy's complacency through the stutter of higher-speed successive hits was noticed and praised in the drawn-out descent that concluded our test lap.
It's very efficient. Every pedal stroke munchingly moves you forward, biting at the ground. One tester mentioned it has a VPP-esque feel to it without the chain-tension and anti-squat-activated firming. It's crisp and body positioning is very centralized within the bike, it doesn't feel as though one would be jostled or prone to tipping over. For a 150/160-millimeter 29, it pedals in a nipping manner not associated with big travel and big wheels.
The sharp sensation does border on harsh when it comes to descending—initial hits are felt and it's as though one needs to break through the initial surface tension of the shock before getting a smoother sensation from it. But, once engaged and at speed in a straight line, it does its job without complaining. The Foxy's complacency through the stutter of higher-speed successive hits was noticed and praised in the drawn-out descent that concluded our test lap.
For a 150/160-millimeter 29, it pedals in a nipping manner not associated with big travel and big wheels. Photo: Anthony Smith
Along comes value. Mondraker is a Spanish brand that's chosen to use high-end, top-notch distributors in various countries to then sell to bike shops to then sell to consumers. In the U.S. market, using a distributor adds an additional price level at a time when brands are trying to eliminate rungs in the cost-structure ladder—bringing attractive MSRPs to increasingly discerning, value-focused consumers. Mondraker goes against this line of thinking. So, is the Foxy 29 RR a value at $7,200 for an X01-GX medley, Code Rs, DT Swiss 350s, Fox Factory-level-non-HSC/LSC suspension and an Onoff dropper? Not really, but based on Mondraker's model, the brand isn't intended to be a value-driven entity in the U.S.
So who is this different rocket ship for? Somebody who already has mastered cornering and wants a longer toptube to learn a technique that could bring the rider's overall speed to another dimension. The Foxy 29 RR wheelbase is 12 millimeters shorter than that of the Yeti SB150 but has 30 millimeters more in its toptube. The Mondraker's a long bike, The Mondraker's a long. …
Q&A With Israel Romero, Mondraker international communication manager
This year's Bible lineup had a lot of long-reach bikes, but the Foxy 29 was the longest by nearly 10 millimeters. We found it required a significant shift in body positioning to keep front wheel traction in turns. What's your advice to riders currently on bikes with more traditional reach numbers who are considering leaping into a Mondraker?
Well, it’s great that this year it is just 10 millimeters longer than the closest contender, where it maybe was 20 millimeters last year or 30 or 40 millimeters maybe 3 to 5 years ago! Everybody is catching up lengthening their bikes for the last few years, as it really make sense going longer so that means we made something great back in the day leading this—let’s call it—new geometry trend that has become the current standard today. Forward Geometry is not based on being the longest on any platform, but the best balanced overall. It’s true that our approach to Forward Geometry started its development around 2010-2011, going longer (top tube, front center) because bikes were really small back in the day. The original FG Foxy prototype back in 2010 was a medium frame size with a XL toptube welded into it paired with a really short 10-millimeter stem. That way we made the bike 60 millimeters longer and, from the previous (2009) year’s 70-millimeter stem, we shortened it to a 10-millimeter one, so the that the overall riding position didn’t change. Handlebar position in relation to saddle stayed the same. We rode several prototypes—Damien Spagnolo from MS-Mondraker finished second at Champery Worlds 2011 behind Danny Hart that year on a Summum Forward Geometry prototype—and we launched the concept in 2013 in just one model per platform in two sizes on Factors (120-millimeter frames), Foxys (140-millimeter frames), Dunes (160-millimeter frames), XRs and Summums. One year later for 2014 it became our benchmark as we spread Forward Geometry across the board on all models on more platforms on all sizes with our proprietary FG30-millimeter stem.
Coming back to your question, we notice with some riders even on some brands today—if they’d go up one frame size and reduced the stem length that would mean a better riding experience.
For us it’s natural the way our bikes ride as we are all used to riding them, but yes, you need some time to get used to leaning or shifting your body position and weight towards the front of the bike a bit more than with—let’s call it—a traditional geometry, but this is something that really becomes natural in a few days when riding our bike(s). It gets more noticeable when, after riding a Mondraker for a few days, you go back and ride your personal bike or any other brand bike with shorter reach. That is when you realize the difference.
How does the concept of the reduced-offset fork interact with the concept behind Forward Geometry? Did reduced-offset lead to any re-working of this bike's approach to Forward Geometry?
We had been testing shorter offsets forks since 2016 and this was something we realized was the perfect match to our Forward Geometry concept. We instantly felt our bikes even more composed and stable at high speeds with added front-tire grip that allowed us to attack more in corners and somehow made the riding more fun. We’ve been pushing both Fox and RockShox since then as we wanted to introduce shorter fork offset as an improvement to Forward Geometry bikes but it took until 2019 for Fox and RockShox to finally offer widespread shorter fork offset options for 29-inch and 27.5-inch models—before it was only available on a few select fork units. We started the development of the current Foxy Carbon 27.5 and Foxy Carbon 29 in 2016, working on kinematics mainly and we knew we’d introduce shorter-fork offsets sometime in the future once available. We simply designed both the Foxy Carbon 27.5 and 29 as an evolution (and yes our new Carbon 27.5 just slightly longer than the original Foxy Carbon we had released in 2015) but shorter-offset forks have proved to be an improvement for our geometry across the board. What happens with shorter-fork offsets is that it somehow slows your steering and it even makes the bike feel smaller. We are seeing many brands are jumping to the “shorter-offset trend” but they are making their bikes feel even smaller and the handling becomes not as agile or snappier than with a standard-longer offset fork.
To get philosophical about modern geometry for a moment, there are riders who get along with Forward Geometry right away, and there are others who don't and maybe never will. Do you think it would make sense to approach frame reach the same way we do things like suspension travel, wheel size and tire width? In other words, are there people that Forward Geometry is right for and people who it isn't? For whom and for what types of terrain did you optimize Forward Geometry?
We agree that maybe our bikes might feel too long for a certain rider who prefers a smaller bike, we understand, we are okay with it of course. We are constantly evolving and we know where the limits are and try to offer the most comprehensive range of bikes “tailor made” for each application. For instance the 2019 Foxy Carbon 29 size large frame has a 654-millimeter top tube length and 490 reach while 2018/2019 Foxy Carbon 27.5 has a 663-millimeter top tube length and 500-millimeter reach. We designed the new Foxy 29 with a slightly shorter reach after testing prototypes back and forth and decided a shorter frame reach matched bigger (29er) wheels better. But there are some guys at Mondraker who get along better with the 27.5″ geometry (and also maybe their preferred wheel size too). We try to optimize Forward Geometry for every platform and every application. And even there with our Foxy Carbon models, geometry is different. It’s not for cross country, that would look rather than be too extreme for these guys but we’ve offered FG bikes from trail to downhill bikes for 7 years now, since 2013. We do believe that Forward Geometry is right for everybody. Time will tell but, as I started replying to the first question, we are seeing everybody making their bikes longer and longer every year so maybe in 2 or 3 more years, more brands will arrive at Mondraker’s current figures. We’ve tested crazy long, slack, low, shorter, steeper, higher and everything in between for the last few years and we’ve kept evolving and believe that, what we are offering today is the most refined mountain bike geometry we’ve ever released. Well, we could say that every year right? LOL. But, honestly, after going way beyond (testing longer prototypes) and playing with extremes, we believe current geometry figures are the most suitable ones for each and every application we offer.