With Forward Geometry leading the way, we take the Vantage RR for a blast in the rough stuff
Mondraker’s Forward Geometry has been discussed at length in mbr, but one model that’s escaped our attention until now is the Vantage RR trail hardtail.
With a 140mm-travel fork, and a super-long front end, the Vantage RR is one rangy bike. The front end is also very low, making it incredibly hard to loft the front wheel. To combat this, and reduce the reach, I raised the 30mm stem to its max height. This improved the handing a touch but I still felt overly stretched. So I figured, in for a penny, in for a pound, and chopped 15mm off the fork steerer to fit the 10mm-long, high-rise Forward Geometry stem.
In terms of reach, swapping the 30mm stem for the 10mm is equivalent to going down a frame size. This made a marked improvement in the fit of the bike, and in the car park I really felt like I was starting to get somewhere with the Vantage RR. Dropping into the first trail, all of that initial promise disappeared in a flash as the front wheel washed out and I found myself on top of the bike in the bushes. The problem was, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to get enough weight on the front tyre and the steering felt super-twitchy and incredibly light.
There were a few things, other than the handling, that bugged me about the Vantage RR too. The first one was discovering cheaper steel bead tyres when fitting some Maxxis Shorty’s to better match the muddy trail conditions. Also, the hex nut for the 12mm bolt-thru rear axle isn’t actually secured into the drive-side dropout. After 10 minutes of crawling around on the workshop floor, I found it under the tool chest. No big deal, but if it had fallen out when fixing a puncture out on the trail, I’d have been screwed (or, rather, not). My final gripe is that there was no chainstay protector and the noise of the chain whipping the frame only served to increase my growing frustration with this bike.
Maybe the size L was just too long for me, but I suspect that the short 425mm chainstays and steep head angle are the real reasons why the handling of the Vantage RR felt like riding on a knife-edge.