Mondraker Crafty Carbon XR with built-in MIND suspension data acquisition. Yep, integrated data-logging comes to mountain biking courtesy of Mondraker.
Besides the data logging, the Mondraker Crafty Carbon XR MIND is an ebike with Öhlins TTX Air shock delivering 150mm of rear travel and is paired with a 170mm Öhlins RXF38 M.1 fork.
MIND technology is calibrated to each specific model and as such it cannot be swapped from one bike to another. Will this unique aspect give the Crafty XR MIND a genuine advantage over the best electric mountain bikes out on the trail?
We live in a world of big data. We willingly give it away and it’s mostly collected for the benefit of third parties – whether that’s serving up your favourite products when shopping online or predicting which trimester you’re in. It’s scary, but US retailer Target is likely to know if your daughter is pregnant before you do. That’s how sophisticated data collection, analysis and prediction has become.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “what’s this got to do with mountain biking?” Well, have you ever wondered what’s going on with your suspension? We set the sag with O-rings on our shock and fork, but we really have no idea how much travel we’re using as we rip down the trail, the two basic data points being static sag and maximum travel. What happens in-between is anyone’s guess, unless of course, we use a suspension data logger.
And while the days of bulky black boxes bolted to the down tube are long gone, even state-of-the-art units like Motion Instruments require a certain amount of home engineering to get them mounted to the shock. And the reason is simple – a universal system needs adapting to each specific frame design so some degree of ingenuity is required to get it to fit.
But what if your bike came with a discrete data logger pre-installed? Well, that’s exactly what Mondraker is offering with its MIND system, available as an upgrade for £299 on selected models. And by discrete, it’s barely even noticeable. The only giveaways are a small magnet mounted to the back of the fork lowers, and what looks like an ultra short mudguard protruding from the fork crown. On the MIND rear suspension it’s even more subtle with a rotational magnet mounted to the main pivot of the rocker link calculating and recording shock movement.
No wires or linear potentiometers, MIND is as unobtrusive as it gets.
Both sensors have rechargeable batteries and are charged using the USB 3.0 cables supplied with the bike. Tucked up inside the head tube, the fork sensor has a much bigger battery capacity than the one on the shock link. Being small rechargeable units however, both batteries drain quite quickly, even when not in use. In fact, when the Crafty XR MIND first turned up, I couldn’t get the MIND system to sync because the batteries had gone flat during shipping. And while I think non-rechargeable batteries wouldn’t have that issue, I can only assume they weren’t an option as you’d have to remove the MIND system to replace them and then the system would need recalibrating.
Everything you do with MIND is controlled through the myMondraker app. You register your bike using the QR code on the fork sensor, fill in some details about yourself, then sync the MIND system and you’re good to go. Providing of course the batteries have charge. Thankfully you can see the power status of both sensors in the app. First, the app walks you through a traditional suspension set-up with suggested pressures and damping settings based on your weight and riding style. And even for someone like me, who is constantly setting up different suspension components, I can’t overstate how useful this is.
Once you’ve completed the baseline set-up, the app instructs you to get on the bike and assume the attack position. This is when you first get some useful data, as the fork and shock sensors calculate if your static sag is correct. My initial set-up based on the recommended pressures for my weight was too soft, so the app instructed me to add pressure and then repeat the process. I did this twice before getting the green light. The app doesn’t tell you how much pressure to add, so it’s a trial and error process. Also you have no idea how big the window of correct sag is, as there’s no live reading of your static sag, which would be a useful addition to the app.
Hit the play button, wait for the GPS connection, then MIND starts recording data from your ride. You can leave it running and record your entire ride, but if you’re looking for specific set-up info, say for optimum downhill performance, it’s best just to record individual descents or make adjustments then repeat the same section of trail. That way you can easily compare the specific suspension traces for each run. Unfortunately, it also means getting your phone out and stopping and starting the recording at the top and bottom of each section.
Turn on the Mondraker Crafty Carbon XR MIND
After one ride on the Mondraker Crafty Carbon XR MIND I increased the pressure in the fork, as I wanted it to sit higher in its travel. You can see on the screen grab that my dynamic shock sag – which is the average travel (blue trace) – is roughly 60mm or approximately 40 per cent of the 150mm available. That’s a soft shock set-up by anyone’s standard.
This was no doubt impacted by me running the fork firmer than recommended to get the front end to sit higher, which in turn shifted more of my weight to the rear end of the bike.
You can also see that I wasn’t using full travel on the rear. Without the MIND system, one big drop could have pushed the O-ring to bottom out and I’d have been none the wiser. In fact, it’s why I often stop after a drop and reset the O-ring when I’m testing bikes.
With MIND, all I had to do was upload the data to my phone and I could see that I needed to remove some volume spacers from the Öhlins TTX rear shock. Once I’d done that I repeated the set-up process and could instantly see from the trace that I was using more travel with the same dynamic sag. Bonus!
Now, if you’re not interested in geeking out on the specific suspension graphs, Mondraker provides simple metrics like maximum travel, number of bottom-outs and amount of air time. The latter is calculated every time the fork and shock simultaneously reach full extension. What’s missing though, is dynamic sag, so you’ll need to interpret the graphs yourself to figure that out.
And while having data at your fingertips is incredibly useful, there are a few things that I found frustrating with the MIND system. The first was having to wait for a GPS connection before I could start to record a run. If you know a trail well, sometimes you just want the raw suspension data. Also you need a 4G signal to transfer data from the MIND system to your phone so you can actually see the graphs. Not something that’s available at all riding spots.
And for real suspension geeks out there, MIND currently only provides traces for the amount of travel used, also referred to as displacement. With no data on shaft speed – how fast the fork and shock are compressing and rebounding – you can’t really use MIND to adjust your damping setting. I’m sure the magnet sensors can record shaft speeds, so maybe Mondraker just didn’t want to overwhelm riders with too much data from the outset.
So while the data that MIND provides is limited compared to a full-blown data logger, the beauty of this system is that it’s super easy to use. And as with any new technology it remains to be seen how it will be employed, but I suspect that unless you’re racing or riding on a wide variety of terrain, once you have your bike set up, there’s every chance that you will no longer need the data MIND provides.
So by serving its purpose well, MIND could have inherent obsolescence. Unless, of course, Mondraker keeps adding features. Still, for a £299 upcharge, MIND is well worth it. And if Mondraker having access to my suspension data, how and where I ride, helps it improve the performance of its bikes, then this is one invasion of privacy that I’m more than happy to sign up to.