2018 Mondraker Foxy XR Review
I've been out and about on the flashy yellow Mondraker Foxy XR for a couple months now. You can see the first look article here. The weather hasn't been the greatest around these parts, so I've been traveling around, testing the Foxy's various geometry options through a wide range of locales and conditions. So how'd it all go down? I'll start off with a component check of all the major bits picked by Mondraker to go on the Foxy XR.
This bike came with the new 2018 Rock Shox Pike, and you can colour me impressed. I'm well used to jamming every air spring I ride full of spacers. But this new Pike was rather good out of the box. I pulled the top cap and found no spacers, woah! I would have added one to be perfect, but didn't have any that fit, so I just rode it as is. To be expected the fork isn't the stiffest thing around, but I think the performance to weight ratio here is excellent. The air spring feels great, and the damper is terrific too. The Rock Shox Super Deluxe coil was no slouch either and paired well with the Pike. Unless you're extremely picky you're going to find a setup that works well for you. The high speed compression damping isn't adjustable, but I thought it was very well judged. The climb switch worked very well, making the Foxy even more efficient on the pedals. The rebound adjuster had a wide range of adjustment. So good dampers on both ends then.
Normally house brands are associated with cheap knock off products that offer marginal performance. All of the Mondraker house parts (branded OnOff) were good. I liked the bars, stem, grips and seat post. The seat post lever was well positioned and easy to use. Only small issue was I noticed increasing force at the lever required to actuate the post near the end of the review. This would likely be resolved with a cable service.
Wheels and Tires:
The DT Swiss wheels were excellent. The tires were probably the biggest miss on the bike. The OE Highroller 2's were hard AF variants, which was terrifying on the Shore in the wet. I replaced the front with a soft compound DHR2 to survive the local trails. In the dry the OE Highroller 2 was good, but it seemed to have a magical repulsion from anything remotely slippery.
Going and Stopping:
The Eagle GX was flawless, and consistent with my previous review here. The Shimano XT brakes were great initially, and the best Shimano brakes I've ridden in ages. I appreciated the 203 mm front rotor, and 180 rear rotor. Even on long descents the XTs provided good stopping power. However towards the end of the review period the rear brake developed a bit of a personality, and probably needs a service.
On to the frame. This is the first Mondraker I've been up close and personal with. I think the fit and finish, the frame quality if you will, is excellent. Every bolt was perfectly greased and or thread locked. The way the bearings fit, the hardware, the shock fits perfectly in the eyelets. All perfect, except the rear brake mount. I had to shim the caliper to prevent it from rubbing the outer diameter of the rotor. I'm thoroughly impressed by the Mondraker in terms of build quality and attention to detail. The paint is flawless, the frame flows and I loved the colour scheme. The Foxy XR is a real head turner. Decals on the parts match the paint, which creates a cohesive theme for the Foxy XR.
The frame isn't without small issues though. The shock does get exposed to mud and debris, even though Mondraker added a little fender. This wasn't an issue during the test period but the shock is at risk of being hit by your huge roost brah. There is a good half inch of clearance from the seat stay to the tire on each side, and there were witness marks of the rear tire touching the frame. This may have been more due to the wheel flex than frame flex. The flex wasn't a big negative I noticed on the trail, but there is definately a bit more compliance designed into the Foxy than I'm used to.
The Foxy is available with a geometry kit that can add 10 mm to the stock chainstay length of 425 mm, and +/- the head angle by 1 degree from the stock 65.5 degrees. I liked both chainstay length options. My impressions follow current logic. The longer version was more stable. The shorter version was a bit more nimble through tight corners, and the front end came up very easily. I personally preferred the long version, but the bike was super fun in the 425 mm shorter setting too.
As for the head angle I tried the bike in the 65.5 degree and 64.5 degree options. With the 64.5 degree head angle and the long chain stays the bike is long, ok it's very long, measuring in at 1266 mm wheelbase by my measurements. Considering this is a size Large, it comes in an inch longer than most folks' eXtra Larges. But I didn't find the length ungainly or cumbersome. I liked how planted and stable the bike was. The longer wheelbase seems to make all those gnarly bits that normally trip you up, just a little bit easier.
Many of you have probably come wondering one thing; is it too long? I'm going to give the politician answer. It depends. I could be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see bike geometry settling out in the neighbourhood of where the standard Foxy sits. I think the stock geometry is going to work well for the vast majority of riders. The slacker and longer geometry is going to appeal to aggressive riders, and or folks that ride faster and more open trail networks. Even in it's shortest setting the Foxy is long, and I thing Mondraker is on to something here. I found the Foxy very comfortable to ride. The length gives the bike great stability descending, yet the Foxy never felt cumbersome. The only place the length was challenging was climbing the tightest of switchbacks in the longest setting.
On to the ride.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time aboard the Foxy XR. Pedaling usually isn't something you talk much about with super aggro 150 mm travel bikes, but I'm going to. I'm going to avoid the normal clichés and just say that the Foxy gets around the mountain with a grace and efficiency that is superb. It's not going to win any XC races, but pedaling up never felt like a chore. It's a bit like that friend you have that is always begging to go for one more lap. With the Foxy I just never seemed to want to stop ridin. I was late for everything I planned after riding. And that might be one of the biggest complaints I have.
In my mind the Foxy creates a cohesive package that focuses around being an efficient tool to get around a mountain. While it's fun to descend, and I love the aggressive geometry, as with all.suspension there is a compromise. Mondraker's Zero Suspension is designed to give almost no chain growth which means little pedal feedback. To accomplish this, the axle path is almost entirely forward. As a result the Foxy isn't particularly graceful over square bumps. Being conscious of your weight fore and aft in the bike is crucial. You need to move forward to adequately weight the front tire in the corners, but stay in this position over a jump, and you're going to get bucked. The coil shock makes up for a lot of the square bump compliance, by being so active. On trails with fewer square bumps or on steeper bits, the Foxy devours trail. Pedal strokes are efficiently converted into forward momentum. But on faster, rough trails, the backend of the Foxy was a bit harsher than I would have liked. The coil spring provided a nice firm base around sag that did a great job of controlling the chassis through corners, rewarding the rider pumping the bike through terrain. However the suspension didn't feel particularly progressive, which meant the Foxy gets through the second half of the travel a bit more eagerly than I'd like.
Cute Little Heartbreaker
With the sound of Jimi Hendrix's Foxey Lady blaring, I'll fondly look back at my time aboard this Foxy. I begrudgingly gave this one back. The Foxy isn't perfect, but comes together as a great cohesive package. Mondraker's attention to detail is evident with the Foxy. Criticism; I'd personally prefer a more progressive linkage, with a more rearward axle path, and maybe be a bit sitffer rear end. That said the Foxy XR surprised me with how it comes together as a whole. The Foxy proved to be so versatile, and may well be the best all round mountain bike I've ridden yet and I love the geometry. It never felt out of it's depth during the review period, whether on a technical XC loop, or hammering down steep gnarly trails. The Foxy isn't cheap at $7,900 CDN, but I think there is fair value for money here. Did I mention how pretty it is? Once out on a ride on the Foxy, I never wanted to stop. When I eventually ran out of energy or day light, I never got off this bike without a smile on my face. Oh and I never complained it wasn't long enough.