Rossignol Mandate Shift XT eMTB
Loving bikes as much as I do comes at a price. The time and effort put into building, riding, analyzing and eventually, when Pete prods me, writing about them for you to read. It takes time and patience and I have to dig deep to extract valuable information on each and every ride. And then figure out how to put it into words. It may seem easy or even glamourous and sometimes it is. Other times that couldn't be further from the truth. Especially when the subject is eMTBs. There is bullying and name calling, there is unjustified and justified criticism that we have to take when we are putting these essays out into the world. Sometimes the products are good and sometimes they are just bad or fall short in expectation delivery. Sometimes they are expensive and sometimes their pitfalls are shrouded with attractive pricing. I set out to find out if the Rossignol Mandate Shift XT fit any of the scenarios above and if it was a good option in the current, extremely-heated bike market.
I received the Rossignol Mandate Shift XT in September of this year and have been putting as many miles in as possible. During that time, with a stable of attractive options, I rode non-assisted mountain bikes significantly more often. This was a conscious decision on my end to increase cardio and overall fitness while embarking on large adventures. The Mandate Shift did do some heavy lifting as well putting in around 400km(250 miles) of riding. That may not seem much, but distributed between 4 bikes that is as much riding a bike will get around here. If you have ridden eMTBs on the North Shore, you would know what a full body workout it is to wrestle these 50+lbs machines around. Whoever tells you otherwise has not experienced the opportunity to take these machines up impossible climbs.
The size medium, Shimano XT and Fox Factory-appointed Rossignol arrived in a large box, mostly assembled. The mostly-cardboard package arrived from Rossignol Canada headquarters in Quebec. You, the customer, if you live in Canda, will have a similar shipping and unboxing experience as you can only order the bikes online from Rossignol Canada.
Mandate Shifts are served with three different dressings; Deore 11, Deore 12 and XT 12speeds. They are all well-appointed in the drivetrain department but they differ in Suspension components and, in the case of the Deore 11, the powerplant as well.
While the 12 speed drivetrain bikes have the Shimano EP801 motors with 85Nm outputs, the 11speed bike comes with a Shimano EP601 powerplant with the same 85Nm output but heavier and bulkier packaging. Both motors support the new Linkglide and Hyperglide + chains and auto and freeshift options if you upgrade to the new XT Di2 drivetrains. Pete wrote an excellent, but somewhat hefty article about the new system HERE.
The Mandate Shift XT catches the eye with lovely Kashima-coated suspension bits that we know represent a good time. The Fox Factory level 38 fork and the Float X shock are cornerstones a positive experience on the North Shore trails. The Mandate Shift has 145mm rear wheel travel accompanied by 150mm up front. These numbers are generally reserved for other parts of the world where terrain is flatter and less chunky than what we end up riding but the versatility of the bike was obvious right out of the gate.
|Head Tube angle
|Seat Tube angle
|Top Tube length (horizontal)
|Head Tube length
|Seat Tube length
|Bottom Bracket Drop
|Chain Stay lenght
I had not seen the 150mm Fox 38 version until the arrival of the Mandate Shift. Taking one of the more stout and stiff forks and reducing it the 150mm is a brave OEM move. The results however are nothing short of stellar.
95 psi in the fork with wide open compression settings and 180 psi in the shock, with the rebound a couple of clicks from fully open, settled the bike's 65degree headtube angle into a confident, Shore-ready stance. When embarking on an eMTB journey, I carry more with me than usual. Camera, lenses, chainsaw, lots of water, food, beer; you name it, I pack it in. The pressures in the air chambers tend to be higher than normal for my weight for that reason. I weigh 160+-2lbs these days.
The Mandate bikes are spec'ed well. The XT bike comes with full XT drivetrain and brakes. The Deore 12 bike comes with full deore group and a Zeb Select fork and Super Deluxe shock. My tester rolled on Shimano XT hubs in boost 148 spacing laced to E13 LG1+ Enduro rims with 32 spokes. The hubs are trouble-free and quiet. Under the strain from a 85Nm motor, the rear hub did not skip a beat. The rear rim however, sustained damage on the first ride.
Rossignol wrapped the wheels in tires that define the word mountain biking: Maxxis Minion DHF in EXO casing on the front, Maxxis DHR II in EXO+ casing out back both in MaxTerra compounds. On a trail bike that weighs 20 lbs less, these would be great options. Rolling fast and predictably and providing enough grip to lean into corners in various climates and trail conditions throughout the globe. For this rider, on the NSMB testing grounds, they fall short in both grip and casing thickness. After the first ride, and product photographs for the first look, I switched them out to a couple of Reinforced Casing Delium Versatile tires that are far more appropriate for the conditions.
On the first ride, on a particularly chunky Squamish trail, I managed to put a massive dent in the rear tire when I tagged a sharp rock. The tire held air long enough to get me down to the truck.
The E13 rim was not immune to the damage with the Delium tire but I was happy to see both survived long enough to get down to the truck with air still left inside. Once I got home, I took it all apart to address the problem.
This damage is not a warranty situation. It doesn't matter if it happened on the first ride on the first feature. This was a rider error and if you email Rossignol or E13, you will not be making friends. The nice folk at Rossignol Canada offered to send me a new rim, which I kindly declined because I wanted to see if I could actually hammer the rim back into shape myself.
Resting the rim on a wood surface, I used the plastic side of a ParkTool hammer. After 7-8 gentle hits to gauge my accuracy, I wailed on the bulge and bent it back into shape in 4-5 strikes. The rim was round again with decent spoke tension and it immediately sealed up tubeless with a floor pump. I patted myself on the back for a job well done and tossed in a Tannus insert for peace of mind, and for future rocks I would tag. Since this repair, tires held air consistently and I've had zero issues with them through the chunkiest of descents.
The Mandate changed the way I assimilated eMTBs into my life slightly. The Canyon Spectral ON I tested prior with its 900Wh battery erased all range anxiety. Pedalling the 12km from my house to Cam's, then riding a 1500m(4500ft) lap and riding back to my house on a single charge was a great luxury on the Canyon. With a 630Wh battery on the Rossignol, this would not be possible without a big velocitycompromise. No one wants less battery capacity and a 750Wh would have been awesome to see on the Mandate Shift. It may require a new frame design but a reviewer can wish, right?
I rode the bike to the shop I work at often and my commutes were extremely enjoyable. I took forest paths more often and opted for technical challenges along the way from the comfort of a 145mm suspension travel. The 32km/h maximum assist was a welcome changed from the 25km/h cutoff of the Canyon.
450mm chainstays on the Mandate Shift set the bike up for a great climbing experience. A 455mm reach and a wheelbase of 1228mm all point to a long-and-stable geometry, especially when paired with a dual-29er chassis. With the reinforced casing Delium tires aired to 19psi front and 20-22psi rear (depending on the trails on the menu), the Mandate Shift claws its way up even the most challenging trails with confidence and without lifting the front wheel up on every pedal stroke. I have yet to come to obvious conclusions about the size of the rear wheel that suits eMTBs best but the rate of acceleration and agility of 27.5" rear wheels are evident on heavier bikes like the Mandate Shift. I do enjoy the overall trail speed and momentum provided with the full 29er setup too. Only on the steepest downhills and in the air did I find the bigger rear wheel had a minor impact on my enjoyment.
The Mandate Shift switched between Eco, Trail and Boost modes, each have noticeable differences in output. Once I got used to the bike's climbing character in Trail, I mostly kept the power at Boost except for the slipperiest the conditions, when I turned the power down to avoid rear wheel spin on slippery roots and rocks. I also installed the E-Tube app on my phone and connected to the bluetooth unit on the display to fine tune the output to my liking. which was mostly to the Trail mode, where I wanted the full 85Nm to kick in earlier in the powerband. The amount of adjustments you can make from the app is impressive if not a little overwhelming.
I am a kind of person who will happily roll around on a shorter travel bike than my mates on a ride. The way I ride favours a poppy, playful bike. While I wouldn't call myself an excellent jumper, but I love getting air no matter how small or big. If the bike can cater to that instead of taking away from it, I tend to get along better with that platform.
Alongside all the long-travel eMTBs of the riding group, the Mandate definitely stands out as the short-legged corgi of them. "Hey guys, no discrimination for its size, look at that burly Fox 38" I say when someone asks me about the number of the Rossi. A 150mm Fox 38 paired with a 65 degree head angle is a magic combo. Extremely stiff and bottomless in feel, I could chuck the bike into some seriously steep terrain without the feeling of the front folding in half. Only when the repetitive hits got big did I feel I could use another 20 or so mm of fork to deal with it all. The Mandate never got out of shape and the Fox Float X provided an excellent low volume aircan to ramp up the pressures for a bottomless feel. Rebound damping set to mostly-open(2 clicks from fully open) also brought the bike alive on rolling terrain with things to boost off of. It's a free way to make the heavier bikes feel lighter as they push out of depths of stanchion burial with excitement.
I would like to run a little longer fork to see If a 170mm is a good option for this bike. The BB drop is 25mm and I think a longer fork and a smaller real wheel would really bring this bike alive on the way down without affecting the uphill pedaling position too much. I hope to make those changes happen in the next couple of months and see if ruins the Mandate or not.
What I didn't like
The rims are the first problematic parts on the Mandate Shift XT. However they are not alone. The biggest problem with the bike is the seatpost and the seattube design. The interrupted seat tube design could be the deal breaker on recommending the bike to the masses. Sure the frame is from a catalog but it rides well. The horst-link design is proven and everything is burly and problem free when it comes to maintenance and construction.
The size Medium Mandate is equipped with a 125mm KS LEV Integra seatpost that makes me really sad. At pedaling height, there is 4" of seatpost sticking out of the frame for the 125mm dropper. The maximum insertion before jamming the actuator to the bend in the frame is again not appropriate. For my height and inseam (5'8" - 31" ) a 150mm Oneup is possible (it also can be detuned to 140 and 130mm if need be) I hope a 180mm will work for the size Large frame but if you want a seat slammed experience for the downhill, you shall look elsewhere.
On the trail, there were a few instances where I wanted the seat to get out of my way. On eMTBs with the cable and housing routing around the motor, adjusting the seatpost insertion trailside is not always possible. One has to remove the battery and sometimes even the motor to be able to slide the housing up and down for bigger adjustments.
The seatpost issue is really an unfortunate one on a bike that is otherwise lovely to live with.
Well this is the most interesting part of the review right now. As we type this, there is a 40% off sale going on at Rossignol website. Which reduces the originally 8999 CAD bike down to 5399 CAD or 6499 USD down to 3799 USD.
But hold on now!!
The Deore 12 model is 4439 CAD from 7399 CAD. That is some good deal right now.
The Deore 11 model is 3779 CAD from 6299 CAD. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!
At that price, if you can make it work (and are interested in some boost in your rides), you would be silly to pass that opportunity. Even if you didn't care about eMTBs, you could turn the Mandate into a sweet commuter with the ability to tow a trailer. Some Maxxis hookworms at 2.5" wide and some big fenders, you could easily ditch the car for the office commutes through traffic. I am not sure how long the sale is supposed to last but it is here and you should might consider taking advantage of it.
If you are concerned with after sales support, any bike shop will be able to help you with your Shimano XT problems for 3 years, Deore problems for 2 years. Fox CSU is under warranty for 18 months and the frame is backed by a 5 year Rossignol warranty. If you break a small frame component, you may have to send it to Rossignol but otherwise they will be able to work with your LBS to compensate for the labour charges for the bulky stuff like front triangles.
For the Mandate Shift XT, you could use the savings on new tires for a 160mm airshaft for the fox 38, OneUp dropper post, and a 27.5" rear rim to increase the downhill prowess. I am looking forward to bumping up the fork travel and sourcing a smaller wheel for the Mandate for some experimentation in the next while.
In the meantime, I am going to load up the chainsaw in my pack and head up to clear some fallen trees from the trails with the Mandate Shift, the perfect trailbuilder's companion. Because if there is a tool to make my life easier, I don't need any excuse to use it!