Proves that good geometry and sizing stands the test of time
Launched over three years ago, the Mondraker Dune XR is still streets ahead of its rivals in terms of sizing, our size L dwarfing most brands XXLs.
Mondraker Dune Carbon XR review
Mondraker’s Forward Geometry, which took the length out of the stem and added it to the frame, was a great idea but it was probably too early and too extreme for most. As the rest of the mountain bike industry catches up however, Forward Geometry is more relevant than ever.
But sizing is just one small part of Forward Geometry, as the Mondraker Dune XR is also one of the most adjustable bikes ever produced. With the geometry kit supplied, you can grow the chainstay length by 10mm and change the head angle by +/-1 degree.
There are keys in the head tube to ensure correct alignment of the angle set, an option that’s rare on a full carbon frames. And by full carbon, we mean only the lower suspension link is made from aluminium.
Mondraker’s Zero suspension design is a twin-link affair pumping out 160mm travel. The twist here is that the shock is compressed by both of the links, rather than having one end of the shock anchored to the front triangle.
It’s a neat design that allows for additional manipulation of the leverage rate, but it also means that the lower shock bushing sees more angular rotation than most. And it means that the Mondraker has more stiction than a Santa Cruz Nomad or Giant Reign Advanced, robbing it of some small-bump sensitivity. As such we ran the High and Low speed compression adjusters on the Fox DHX2 shock completely open, and the rear end still felt a little sluggish. The fix would be a Metric size shock like the one on the Santa Cruz with a cartridge bearing in the lower eyelet, or bearings in the link like on the Giant.
We had some teething problems with the 170mm travel Fox 36 fork too. When running the rebound less than four clicks from fully open, the fork would top-out, when pulling up hard of a jump or manualling though rollers. This didn’t affect the performance of the fork in any other way, it’s just annoying and not what you’d expect on a £7.5k bike. Fortunately Fox has a retro fix for it, which is covered under warranty.
DT Swiss EX 1501 wheels are the benchmark for enduro racing. They are relatively light, the hubs are satin smooth and the 30mm internal rim width is perfect for 2.3in – 2.5in tyres. So hopefully you’ll never need to change them as the front hub is Boost but the rear hub use the older and narrower 142mm spacing. The alloy Dune has already made the switch to a Boost back end, so hopefully the carbon Dune will follow suit.
Given that the Dune XR platform is now three years old, the outdated dropout spacing is understandable, what we don’t get however, is how Mondraker could fit harder compound Maxxis High Roller II tyres to a £7.5k bike. Yes, they are easy to change, but at this price point nothing should need swapping out straightaway.
With a 493mm Reach measurement, we were concerned that the size L Dune XR was going to be too big, and even considered downsizing to the M which is still a fair but longer than the size L Santa Cruz and the same length as the Giant. It was the 347mm BB height on the Dune that raised an eyebrow though. That’s pretty tall for a 160mm bike but it works perfectly the other proportions on the Dune, making the bike feel more dynamic than the sizing would suggest.
The fit on the size L was comfortably with the 30mm stem fitted and there was no adjustment time needed to get used to the sizing. In fact, we were alarmed at how fast this bike was once we changed the tyres. Stable and unflappable at speed, the Mondraker may not have the most supple rear suspension, but it doesn’t seem to slow it down.
Even though it’s an 'older' design, the Mondraker Dune XR is still cutting edge in terms of geometry and sizing. And if you're not 100% happy with the standard geometry the adjustment kit provide with the bike lets you tweak the head angle and chainstay length, the latter being a massive boon for taller riders. We were less impressed by the performance of the rear suspension though, a sticky lower shock bushing robbing the Mondy of some small bump sensitivity. It’s nothing a bearing mounted shock wouldn’t fix. Ultimately though, the Dune XR is just too expensive compared to the competition.