Mondraker Dune RR Carbon | Longterm Test

October 19th, 2016

By Andrew Dodd in Features

Mondraker Dune RR Carbon – Doddy’s Longterm bike

I’ve had a bit of a love affair with Mondraker bikes since I first rode the 26in wheeled Foxy XR back in 2013.

Being tall, the longer wheelbase bikes just felt right from the second I climbed on board, and as a result I’ve pretty much been riding Mondraker bikes ever since.

You can read a bit more about my Mondraker journey right herebut now it’s time to look at the bigger brother I’ve been spending all year hammering…

Mondraker Dune RR Carbon 2016

Before Mondraker’s Forward Geometry, finding a decent sized XL bike was tricky – the shortest stem length I could run on anything was a 70mm. And there was always the problem of seat angles being too slack – which in combination with the short chain stays that far too many bike brands are obsessed with – meant frankly shit climbing for a tall guy like me. This Mondraker Dune RR is so good for me – the long 440mm chain stays put me nearer to the centre of the bike and give a lot more traction for climbing. They also aid more controllable drifts than a short chainstay that tries to dig in for grip.

The Dune has 20mm more rear wheel travel than the Foxy, but is much more of a bike all in.

The front end is stiffer to handle the sort of punishment that enduro racing and longer travel forks put on a bike, and it is designed to accommodate bigger shocks for increased performance on the descents. Out back, the rear triangle has more in common with the Summum downhill bike than it does the Foxy.

There are adjustable chain stays via bolt on drop outs, much stiffer seat and chain stays – and of course the ability to run a heavy duty shock. As standard, my Dune came with the excellent Float X.

Suspension changes

Although the Fox 36 that comes on the Dune RR is a great fork, the 20mm version that Chris Porter from Mojo Suspension built for my old Foxy was much better suited to the way I ride. Unfortunately the steerer tube on my previous 36 was cut down to accommodate the 20mm stem I used on the Foxy so a trip to Mojo was needed to get the fork working for me.

Mondraker Dune RR Carbon 2016

Mojo didn’t have a steerer/CSU unit in stock when I popped over there, so Chris swapped the CSU from the OEM fork for me. The original fork had 160mm of travel, but the custom fork Chris built for me has 180mm of travel. However, it’s so incredibly supple off the top, and very, very progressive so I rarely use full travel. That extra travel is there for those shit-the-bed moments, and never feels harsh.

Out back, the Float X paired with the Dune frame perfectly. It felt supple and responsive – though a trip to Tidworth Freeride exposed a slight issue I had on the shock. On any normal riding, the shock felt great – but for floaty jumps, I discovered to avoid getting kicked up the arse I needed to run rebound fully closed. Which obviously made the bike feel dead everywhere else. I explained this to Chris, who said he could build extra high speed rebound damping in to the shock with some fettling.

Mondraker Dune RR Carbon 2017

The Fox Float X that comes on the RR model is an excellent shock – but the X2 that Chris Porter built for me is hands down better for the way I ride. It is incredibly supple – to the point of double checking air pressure – and the damping control is excellent. It definitely masks rider error when you push your luck!

When I saw Chris in person though, he took measurements with me on the bike and explained the issue was more likely compression than rebound. As I was at the top end of what the Float X could be maximised for, given my weight; riding style and the bike it was on – Chris took a different route.

Chris built me a Float X2 shock, which has a wider range of damping and suits the way I ride. Although similarly supple, I could not believe how different the shock feels when you give it some stick in fast and rough terrain. And for jumping I’ve not had to fear getting kicked up the ass either – the bike is much more controlled under compression, and thanks to separate high and low speed compression adjustments feels just the way I want it to.

The climb switch has been very useful too – it’s not really needed off road on this suspension design as it’s very efficient, but I use the bike for my daily commute too. And there’s a few horrible hills that need out the saddle smashing to get done – not the one with a plush 160mm bike bouncing up and down!

(For more details on the suspension set up, check the feature out right here)

Components

Over the year I’ve used the Mondraker Dune as a test bench for products that need riding and reviewing on Factory Jackson.  

The Rockshox Reverb 170mm post was one of the very first things installed. Though the Mondraker Dune came with a 150mm drop post, the extra 20mm makes a huge difference for long legged folk like myself. The post has worked flawlessly all year, though it now looks like the side of a keyed car – after a snapped bungee cable in the back of a van left a stack of bikes having a fist fight.

Alex from SRAM came to visit earlier this year with the 12 speed Eagle transmission, which has been on the Mondraker Dune since (check it out here). It’s been shifting flawlessly since day one – and has been exposed to some properly muddy conditions – everything is still just as fine, though I’ll do a proper update on it once the really dire weather has had time to grind it down a bit more.

Although the 780mm carbon bar that came stock on the Mondraker Dune is a great bar, it’s not long enough for me so I quickly popped up to 800mm when the Renthal 35mm bars became available. I tried the alloy bar first, but went to the carbon as it seems to feel comfier for longer. There’s less buzz at the end of the bar, which means more fun for me – I went for the 40mm bar as I like a high bar, and also longer bikes are harder to pop, so the extra height makes quite a difference.

Mondraker Dune RR Carbon 2017

The Renthal 35mm cockpit is stiff, light and looks amazing. Despite not being in iconic Renthal gold, I definitely prefer the carbon bar over the alloy – I’m sure there’s an extra element of comfort about it.

The Mondraker Dune comes with a 30mm On Off stem – which although absolutely fine was replaced with a 33mm Renthal stem when the bars came in. A lovely looking combination, that compliments the bars.

And the new Ultra Tacky Traction grips are just bonkers good. My absolute favourite grips of all time – I need to get a box of these things in case they stop making them!

The DT wheels were light and felt good, but the e13 TRSr carbon wheels (review here) are a touch lighter, much stiffer and have that magical carbon feel when you fire out of turns. They have given me absolutely zero issues since I put them on in January – I had some early e13 wheels when I was working for MBUK magazine that suffered a few teething problems, but these new wheels are properly sorted.

The Ride

I can’t emphasise how much I loved my old Mondraker Foxy – but without the ability on the carbon model to run a bigger rear shock I found the limit of that bike, hence choosing the Dune. Although the Dune has just 20mm more travel it’s a totally different kettle of fish – and once I’d swapped out the standard dropouts for the longer ones and took a degree off the head angle I found my sweet spot. Approx. 1290mm on the wheelbase; a 440mm chainstay and a 65degree head angle .

The Mondraker Dune is wild – an ultra stiff back end, and the combination of an extra 20mm of travel with the Fox X2 makes of one hell of a bike. A bit overkill for my local trails, granted – but every time I throw it down something steep, long and rough it makes me grin.

I’ve not ridden many bikes that you can genuinely push you luck on as much as the Mondraker Dune – it really flatters riding input and lets you get away with murder.

Mondraker Dune RR Carbon 2017

The Mondraker Dune RR is such a damned good bike. Overkill for a lot of riders no doubt – the Foxy will suit the all round trail thrashers, but those wanting extra DH performance will love the Dune. #selfie

If I want to go faster, I just brake less and aim a little straighter.

The Mondraker Dune never seems to reach crisis management levels like other bikes when I push my luck. And it doesn’t seem to be affected by surface conditions like other bikes I’ve ridden – if this thing was a boat it would have hydro foils – it’s that good at covering rough ground at speed.

Mondraker has been championing their Forward Geometry long wheelbase bikes for a few years, and whilst the rest of the industry is catching up, I’m still a sucker for a pioneer. I love what they do, and the Mondraker Dune is an exceptionally good bike.

Longer is better. Fact.


So what do I get next?

I’m tempted by a lot of new bikes like the Mojo Geometron and wild looking Pole Evolink bikes. 

What do you reckon?

 

 

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