Performance at a very high level but doesn’t deliver as much in terms of good value
Mondraker Crafty Carbon is a weight-conscious enduro bike 29er with 160/150mm travel. The first Mondraker e-bike with their Stealth Air carbon construction.
Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR need to know
- Brand new 29er Crafty Carbon e-bike with 150mm travel and a 160mm fork
- Designed around the latest Bosch Gen4 motor and integrated 625Wh Powertube battery
- Full carbon frame with e-bike optimised Zero Suspension system
- Flagship bike in a three-strong range is under 20kg, making it the lightest full-power e-bike currently available
Mondraker’s all new Crafty Carbon e-bike range includes the lightest ‘standard’ full suspension e-bike currently on the market. At under 20kg the super-lightweight Crafty Carbon SL gets the latest Bosch CX motor and full power 625Wh battery, so you don’t have to scrimp on speed or range. Impressive as that weight saving is though; the flagship bike costs the best part of eleven grand, making it one of the most expensive e-bikes too.
The design brief for the Crafty Carbon SL e-bike was pure performance and Mondraker is open about this process ramping prices up, and how that’s not necessarily for everyone. Some of those costs are wrapped up in the proprietary Stealth Air carbon construction, with its denser, higher spec carbon lay up – the carbon stays and upper rocker save even more frame weight.
One rung down the ladder and the three grand cheaper Crafty RR ridden here is still super light and part of a trio sharing the same 150mm carbon frame married to 160mm Fox 36 forks. All 2020 Mondraker e-bikes have updated frame shapes and layouts with next generation Zero Suspension sporting beefed up links, hardware and revised kinematics that play nicely with the extra weight of an e-bike.
It’s a seriously sleek frame design. The beautifully streamlined carbon chassis wraps tightly around an integrated Bosch 625Wh battery, and cradles a lower aluminium rocker that’s now engineered to be three times larger than previously. The link rotates on an oversized 17mm collet-fastening axle to increase stiffness, which in turn eliminates side loading on the shock for a more fluid suspension response.
Rather than piercing the seat tube at an angle, like on regular Mondraker full suspension bikes, the e-bike Zero Suspension places the shock vertically in front of the seat tube. This shift brings a higher leverage rate and increases the progressivity of the suspension. There’s also a reduction in chainstay growth throughout the travel, in part thanks to the flatter lower-link angle. Taken together, these changes aim at more support and increased rider stability; important on heavier, pedal-assisted bikes that are subjected to different forces and loads.
Obviously the new Crafty gets Mondraker’s signature Forward Geometry. And while the stretched out sizing was once radical, with so many brands following its lead, the 490mm reach on the size L now seems pretty standard. The 65-degree head angle is relatively commonplace too, but the Fox fork uses the shorter 44mm offset to balance the lengthy wheelbase and 455mm rear end.
To power the new Crafty, Mondraker uses an integrated 625Wh Bosch Powertube. It’s not designed be removed trail-side, as you first need to remove the motor before accessing the battery to slide it out. Mondraker realises this is a compromise that requires power close to where you store the bike, but it was essential to achieve the class-leading frame weights.
To stop the battery overheating, cooling ducts behind the headtube funnel air inside the downtube to maximise battery performance, a huge 1.5in headtube with a custom headset cleanly guides all cables inside the frame. There are also bottle cage mounts under the top tube so as not to compromise the structural integrity of the lightweight downtube.
Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR first ride review verdict
E-bikes tend to squat more under power when the rider is sat down pedalling, but the new Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR bucks this trend with a very supportive response when you hit the gas. This latest Bosch motor is 25% lighter with way less internal drag; useful when exceeding the 25kmph assist limit and also to increase range and battery life. Bosch’s intelligent E-MTB mode works seamlessly, and there’s more top end grunt in Turbo mode than most rivals for scrambling up steep climbs.
During development, Mondraker preferred the feel of the Fox Float DPS shock to the reservoir-touting DPX2, in part because the Zero linkage design requires a very light rebound tune, plus there’s no ignoring that extra 140g weight saving.
On the launch I rode a mix of DH-style tracks and rough natural trails, the choice of shock proving just right, the rear end feeling exceptionally well tuned both up and downhill. Sure, the Fox DPS shock is marketed more as a trail product than enduro, but I had no issues with heat management or the damping fading even on really long descents.
Whether riding loose rocks or big jumps, the 150mm rear suspension on the Crafty takes it all in its stride. While not the plushest compared to some e-enduro bikes, there’s plenty of depth to the travel and it’s continuously smooth and supportive while providing excellent feedback from the terrain. Sensitivity off the top is still plentiful, so it traces and swallows small bumps and roots invisibly and offers tons of grip when leant over too.
Up front, the 44mm offset Float 36 fork has 10mm more travel than the rear, and a FIT4 damper that’s super supple, to the point I wound on 7 clicks of low-speed compression damping to better balance the more supportive rear suspension. The Crafty steers sweetly with a good balance between straight-line smashing, manoeuvrability and precision.
One glitch was Mondraker’s kooky carbon bar. With too little upsweep and too much backsweep, I couldn’t get the rollback I wanted. Also the fork steerer was cut too short, so the bar wasn’t as high as I’d have liked, negatively affecting weight distribution on steeper tracks. Thankfully all production bikes will ship with four headset spacers, so the stem/bar height is not a real issue.
In terms of sizing, the size L Crafty doesn’t actually feel massive. The 350mm BB height isn’t super low, so your feet don’t feel that far away from the bar despite the lengthy 490mm reach. If anything, the BB height probably makes the bike feel more dynamic, given the generous 1,270mm wheelbase. The saddle is in the sweet spot for extended pedalling too, and the chainstay length feels perfectly balanced at 455mm for both climbing and descending.
Overall, the Crafty RR’s performance level is extremely high. The chassis feels solid without being too stiff, and it pedals exceptionally smoothly with minimal bob or interaction, even with maximum assistance. With all of the revisions to the Zero linkage the rear suspension is really well rounded, gobbling up smaller hits and swallowing massive impacts with a smooth progressive feel that’s hard to bottom out.
One area where the Crafty doesn’t totally deliver is value. Plenty of e-bikes have similar motors and specifications for considerably less cash, and while the package is dialled and the reduced overall weight adds flick-factor, making it feel closer to a normal bike, there’s a limit to how much difference this makes.
For me, the main e-bike draw is assistance, extra range, all weather climbing ability and sheer fun factor, so it’s debatable how much extra cash Mondraker’s weight-saving philosophy is worth, even if you’ll get no complaints from me about the Crafty’s sorted ride quality and superb suspension.