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Mondraker Raze RR

Photos Mike Ferrentino
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This is going to be brief, because I just got Mondraker's eye catching Raze Carbon RR in my grubby little hands Friday and it has been snowing since then until last night. So I haven't gone much deeper than setting the sag, taking some photos, and pedaling 10 miles of chunky singletrack. I'm not even confident enough to label this as "first impressions." That said, there's a ton of stuff to talk about here. Let's start with brand.

Mandrake Who?

Mondraker hails from Spain, and with the opening of a new office in Boulder, Colorado, is embarking on a new(ish) foray into the US and Canada. It is already a very well established and respected brand in Europe. This is not Mondraker's first appearance on these shores, but it IS a dedicated effort by the brand to establish a legitimate beachhead on this continent. The name Mondraker was derived from an old comic character named Mandrake The Magician. Neither here nor there at this point. Here's what you need to know: Mondraker pioneered long front center/slack head angle/steep seat angle geometry a loooong time before anyone else, they have a suspension system that is unique and very well thought out, and they punch out some of the most intricately formed carbon fiber frames on the market. This is a solid, well-established brand with a broad range of bikes, a clearly defined identity, and finally, hopefully, some real availability in the US and Canada. Looking for a bike that'll never get confused for a Session but still might hang with the big kids in the steeps? You've possibly come to the right place.

The RazeRR's Edge

In spite of Dakotah Norton just snagging a beautiful 4th place at Fort William, we are going to come down in travel substantially for the purpose of this tester. Mondraker have several big travel/serious intent bikes to choose from; the full DH 200mm travel Summum bikes, the 160mm rear/170mm front Superfoxy range, and the 150/160mm Foxy family. Asking me to adequately put any of them through their paces would be about on par with trying to teach a horse to type.

So, I will be testing the 130mm rear/150mm front Raze Carbon. In this case,the RR model, denoting Stealth Carbon frame, Mondraker's proprietary Zero suspension system, Kashima coated Fox goodies (Float Factory DPS rear shock, 36 Factory fork with Grip2 damper, and a 150mm travel Transfer Factory post), a bunch of SRAM drivetrain and brakes (X1 carbon cranks, X01 rear derailleur, GX cassette and shifters, G2 RS brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear), and some Mavic CrossMax hoops shod with Maxxis Dissector/Aggressor rubber. This is the middle of three carbon fiber optioned Raze models that will be available in the US, and it retails for 7500 USD (Canadian pricing for this model is a bit rougher sounding, at 10,499 CAD). The Raze line tops out with the 10,000 USD Carbon RR SL, and the least expensive carbon fiber option is the Raze Carbon R at 6200 USD. Then there are two alloy Raze models; the Raze R at 4000 USD, and the 3300 USD Raze (no initials afterward), both of which feature the same Zero suspension design, but more budget oriented componentry.

I would be lying if I tried to pretend that a huge reason for wanting to test this bike isn't aesthetic. It's gorgeous. It's different. The Raze somehow combines angular brutalism with subtle tube shaping and a design flair that can only be described as "European" and makes it all work beautifully. Eye of the beholder and all that, but damn, this is a good looking rig. And it has a "different" suspension.

RazeZero

Interrupted seat tube, one piece rear triangle, rocker upper link with trunnion mount, lower link also features lower shock mount: Zero Suspension, the reincarnation of the mighty Full Floater. Yeah, I remember Trek's version. Don't let that get in the way of me rhapsodizing about the glory days of '80s motocross...

Zero Suspension

I was a dirt bike kid. And every dirt bike kid who was growing up when the suspension revolution bomb went off in 1980 knew that Suzuki's Full Floater suspension was The Shit. Just ask Mark Barnett. Or Brad Lackey. Damn straight. No matter that Suzuki kinda stole the idea from a guy named Don Richardson, Full Floater suspension was The Shit. Fight me in the comments. One of the trademarks of the Full Floater suspension was that it compressed the shock from both ends. Kinda like what the Zero suspension on this here Mondraker does.

At first glance, this looks like another twist on the VPP/DW-Link/dual short links with a solid rear triangle playbook. There's a stubby link behind the bottom bracket that the swingarm pivots from, and at the upper end of the swingarm there's a rocker link that compresses the shock. But at closer glance, it becomes apparent that the lower shock mount is located on the lower link, meaning the shock is getting squeezed from both the rocker up at the trunnion mount AND the link below.

I'm not going to get into the weeds on this, because aside from knowing that Brad Lackey won the 1982 World Championship and became in that moment a god amongst the pantheon of American motocross gods after a decade of hard graft getting there, I don't really grok the engineering behind the design. I suspect it gives designers another set of parameters to tweak when fudging with virtual pivot behavior and honing anti-squat and anti-rise characteristics, but don't trust me. I was an English lit major, for dog's sake. According to Mondraker, this means "ZERO power loss, ZERO pedal kickback, ZERO brake jack, and ZERO bumps."

Okay, we'll see about that. For now, all I am willing to concede is that this is a ridiculously plush 130mm travel bike, and that for all the plushness that I experienced in one short ride with probably way too much sag, it is incredibly indifferent to seated pedaling. I am looking forward to finding out how this suspension behaves over the long haul, and am cautiously excited and optimistic about it.

RazeForward

Is it "raise arr arr" or is it "razerrrrrrr"?

Forward Geometry

Sprung from the fertile brain of Cesar Rojo over a decade ago, Mondraker's Forward Geometry ushered in the acceptance of loooong top tubes, ultra short stems, slack slack front ends and seat angles pushing riders forward to get after it. Now that everyone else is doing it, the geometry of the current Raze Carbon RR doesn't seem quite as paradigm shattering as it would have a decade ago. Head and effective seat angles on my size medium tester are an almost coy by modern standards 65.5/76.5 degrees, but nevertheless I downsized from my usual choice of large (at 5'9" and change, I'm a cusp rider most of the time, but I am short on leg and long on torso so usually err on the large side of things) because the medium pulls 475mm of reach. The large stretches out to 495mm reach. If the seat angle had been 78 degrees I might consider that much reach, but at 76.5 degrees, I am pretty happy with how 475mm feels so far. Also, that's effective seat angle. Actual seat angle is 71 degrees, so that 76.5 number might get a bit slacker the farther out the seat post extends. All frame sizes from S to XL get the same 435mm chainstay length.

Razegeo1

Gonna have to stack these images and hope this works. Here's the geometry decoder key...

Razegeo2

And here's the math...

On the trail so far everything feels very familiar per contemporary trail bikes. Like I said, this is a preview. I'm glad to report that my first ride wasn't one of those where I'm plagued with niggling doubts and errant handling quirks, and I am looking forward to seeing how a month or two of high country chunk goes down with this bike.

RazeFrame1

A lot going on here...

That Frame

Swoon. I'm not even going to write anything more about it now, but damn, some work went into this. The attention to detail everywhere is remarkable, from the pivot hardware to the flush upper swingarm mounts on the rocker link, to the corrugations of the chainslap rubber, to the rubber downtube strike protector, to the sweet little built in rear shock fender, to the "where the hell did they hide them" hose routing between the front and rear triangles, to the proportioned everythingness of the bike. Let the pictures do the work.

Crystal Ball Prognistication

Let's wrap this up so I can focus on some ride time instead of sitting here drooling at all that fancy molding work. I'm really looking forward to logging trail time aboard this little beast, but I'm not so smitten that I can't anticipate some potential issues.

Right off the bat, even though the suspension design is novel and potentially awesome, routing the shock through a cavity molded in the seat tube and then compressing it from both ends could imply that shock removal may prove to be "interesting," and checking the sag is definitely not as straightforward as it is on many other designs. Also, I suspect that intricate molding where a straight tube would normally be found has some bearing on Mondraker's decision to spec the medium Raze with a 150mm dropper. I am a stubby legged old luddite, and that length seems downright quaint even to my old eyes. I will need to do some investigating to see if longer travel droppers can get enough insertion to be run.

Much as I love the aesthetics of the flattened top tube and the subsequent, artfully co-designed, wider-than-they-are-tall seat stays (or upper swingarm bits, or whatever people call them now), my heels are noticing those stays every once in a while when I pedal. I'm slightly duckfooted, with a size 43ish shoe, running skinny XC footwear. If I was more pigeontoed maybe I wouldn't notice at all, but if I was running clown shoes or had much bigger feet, this could be an area of concern.

And damnit, even though Mondraker designed all the headset spacers to lock together and then lock into the upper headset bearing cowl, so that it rotates with the bars and keeps the cables looking so san-o, there's no getting around the fact that we've got two cables and one hydraulic hose routing through the headset. Grumble grumble, shake fist at cloud.

Further component niggling, value proposition-based chin wagging, shock tune prevarication, and any speculation about whether Roger DeCoster coulda won another World Championship if he had stuck with Suzuki and not gone to Honda for the final years of his career is gonna have to wait until after I've gone and scared myself silly a bunch of times.

I'm looking forward to this one. But I'm a already a known sucker for paella and jamon serrano.

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Comments

MTB_THETOWN
+9 Offrhodes42 Kos Mike Ferrentino rolly BarryW Tim Coleman Velocipedestrian Timer vunugu

Whether or not they ride well, I've always wanted a super foxy cause it's one if the best looking bikes made

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rigidjunkie
+2 Morgan Heater ohio

Agree, they look so good, but I have yet to read a review that made me want to actually ride one.

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FlipSide
+8 UMichael Lynx . Skooks Jerry Willows Dogl0rd Timer mk.ultra DBone57

Why, why, oh why did they have to go for headset cable routing?

I love these Mondraker bikes and the Foxy would probably be my #1 pick to replace my current bike...but headset routing puts them on the "Do not buy" list right away.

After years of suffering, bitching and moaning about bike standards...why did they have to come up with the stupidest standard of all now? Can't we just enjoy the well-deserved era of no-nonsense mtb standards we currently live in?

Reply

Timer
+1 FlipSide

Its a really misguided transfer from the road cycling world. There, it makes a bit of sense for aero reasons and its not much of an issue because defects are rare, maintenance is less frequent and most riders get their ergonomics set up by the shop when they buy the bike and never change anything ever again.

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rnayel
+3 Mike Ferrentino Cr4w DanL

For those on the North Shore who want to see them in the flesh, Lynn Valley Bikes just became a dealer, they have the Summum, Foxy and Super Foxy in stock;

https://www.lynnvalleybikes.com/product-list/bikes-1000/?rb_br=3882

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DanL
0

and they are as gorgeous in the flesh as I expected!

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kekoa
+2 Kos Cr4w

Sano. Thanks for digging that one out of my brain. Hadn’t thought of that word in years.

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kos
0

It also appears to qualify as "zoot-capri".

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craw
0

Pineapple Bob sends his kudos.

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burnbern
+2 Mike Ferrentino Skooks

Hey Mike eager to hear what you find out about longer droppers. Don't think I can go back to less than the 180mm length now...

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mk.ultra
+2 FlipSide Lynx .

Dream bike material for me except that the cable tourism makes it a hard pass.

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Lynx
+1 UMichael Skooks dhr999

Mike, ya had me right up until 3 cables routed through the headset - BIGTIME LOOSE.

Don't understand how a Hobbit such as yourself can ride a bike with the same Reach as me that's 6'2", really can't.

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Jotegir
+3 Lynx . Timer ohio Spencer Nelson dhr999

Mike on a size Large:

big bike

You and I on a size Large:

small bike

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mikeferrentino
+1 ohio

As for sizing, one of these days I will get around to measuring the torso and wings... But my bb to saddle height is around 29-29.5", depending how my legs are feeling. So, shortish legs. I tend to run my saddle and bars close to level. On most size L bikes these days with 175mm or longer droppers I can usually get it all to work.

Reachwise, the slacker the seat angle, the less I want long reach. The current trend for super long reach numbers is, I think, more indicative of super steep seat angles and super short stems being in play. 480 reach on a frame with a 77+ seat angle and a 35mm stem doesn't feel like a stretch. But kick that seat angle back to 75 or less, or run a 50mm or more stem, and only orangutans will be celebrating.

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Lynx
0

Hey Mike, late replying, sorry. Curious with that 29-29.5" BB to saddle height, what length cranks are you running, because honestly that seems pretty tall for someone your height? I run my saddles 32.25-32.5" tall with 180mm cranks and I have a 34.25" cycling inseam, 6' 2.25".

Absolutely 100% agree that the Reach has had to get that long for people to not feel super cramped on those insane steep STAs. 

The problem being the chase for the perfect all round bike, which there isn't, other sports have learned this, but it seems MTBers haven't - you wouldn't try to race a Baja Buggy on an F1 track against F1 cars, or take an F1 car to the WRC and try to run it against WRC rally cars, so why do MTBers keep trying to find the "one perfect bike to do it all", there's no such thing, a Jack of all Trades is what you end up with, there's a reason for the saying " The amount of bikes you should have is N+1" because different horses for different courses.

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morgan-heater
+1 Velocipedestrian

Finally sort-of fixed the seat post insertion. I would never buy a bike without an uninterrupted seat post though.

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Frorider
+1 Mike Ferrentino

The Zero suspension system gained a reputation for pivot bolts that loosened, poor bearing life etc; curious if the current Mondrakers are improved in this area.

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mikeferrentino
0

Noted, will keep my eyes peeled on that front.

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katko
+1 mk.ultra

My friend got one from his shop/employer, the frame did not last that long. Warranty still not sorted after 2 months. Now he rides a Bronson and could not be happier.

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Mtbguru
+1 Mike Ferrentino

Please have your friend reach to Mondraker USA. I assure you that he hasn’t contacted Mondraker USA for a warranty. Go the the Mondraker.com website and send in a contact request. They pride themselves on 24hr contact. Turn around for that is very fast!!

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katko
0

Well we live in Europe, so closer to the HQ. The local dealer should follow the same standards.

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kos
0

Dead sexy. A free cup of coffee to you (gotta come to NW MT to get it) if you sticker it up with "RM 250"!

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rolly
0

I rode with a couple of guys last year that had Mondy's. They had so much good to say about them that the bikes have been stuck in my head ever since. Would love to spend a couple of months (years) on one.

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Jotegir
0

Mondraker: just the right amount of foreign.

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lacykemp
0

Very curious about this rig.

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