When we first met Miguel Pina, Mondraker Bikes’ CEO, it was in a hotel conference room surrounded by fellow MTB journalists and some key Mondraker employees. The Spanish brand had gathered us together to announce their intent to bring bikes to North America. It was a highly anticipated move. After a quick introduction and background about the company, like a proud father, Miguel began showing us his figurative wallet full of baby pictures. Except the baby pictures were sexy carbon fiber bicycles filling the room around us. One bike stood out amongst the svelte Spanish machines – it was noticeably plumper than the rest. The E-Crusher.
“Just a few years ago you would have heard me tell you that Mondraker is a mountain bike brand, and we would never make an e-bike!” proclaimed Miguel. He continued, “I was not a fan of the performance of the heavy electric bikes and did not believe they were what mountain bikers wanted to ride. Then we started developing our own, mostly due to market pressure. Within the first year it was our number one selling bike.” It was as if he couldn’t believe it himself, “We had worked years to create our brand and build bikes that people grew to love, and within one year an e-bike surpassed all the others,” Miguel said.
As our presentation and lesson concluded we looked at the itinerary and geared up for the upcoming day’s riding. We’d be spending time aboard several bikes, most of which were human powered and highlighted in our original post.
On our second day of riding we spent some time in an e-bike friendly location and got the chance to pit the E-Crusher head to head against lighter, more nimble mountain bikes like the Foxy RR. It was one of our first proper rides aboard an eMTB and we were skeptical.
The E-Crusher is a 150mm all mountain rig with a 160mm of travel up front. It is designed around Mondraker’s Forward Geometry philosophy and built as a truly capable do-it-all e-bike. The fully carbon bike utilizes many contemporary features Mondraker employs on their other dual suspension bikes. The Boost axle spacing, 27.5+ tires, tapered head tube and Enduro MAX sealed bearings are all features that mountain biker’s have grown to expect from a high performance bike. Mondraker also specs a quality build with a Trunnion mounted Rock Shox Super Deluxe shock, Yari RC fork, Shimano XT shifting and SRAM Guide RE brakes.
The Zero Suspension System is Mondraker’s take on a virtual pivot design that utilizes two short links to compress and control the shock from both ends. The intent was to create a floating shock that pedals efficiently, handles bumps with confidence and gives aggressive riders the progression they need towards the end of travel.
Mondraker was among the first bicycle manufacturers to embrace the longer, lower, slacker geometry philosophy before it was trendy. Their Forward Geometry theory placed riders in a balanced position over the bike with longer front-center measurements and shorter stems. The goal is to create bikes that make the rider feel safer and more composed at speed and on steep terrain. A longer wheelbase will slow down the twitchiness of a bike at speed, but this comes at a cost to slow speed agility on flatter trails.
Shimano Steps 8000
The XT drivetrain mates up beautifully with the Shimano Steps 8000 motor and 500Wh battery. With a slick integrated battery, Shimano’s system offers users three pedaling assistance levels: Eco, Trail or Boost. We have many things to praise about the Shimano system but the easiest to mention is the integration between the left-hand Firebolt shifters and the LCD display screen. With both hands on the bar you can switch between any of the three modes and see your current speed, cadence, distance, battery range and more. There is even a walk-assist mode for when the trail gets too technical to ride or you’d rather push passed an obstacle.
The E-Crusher falls into the Class 1 e-bike category, which means it has fully operational pedals, no throttle and offers pedaling assistance up to 20 miles per hour. Power will only be delivered while pedaling and depending on rider weight, power mode and terrain, the range can vary from 25 to 45 miles. Obviously if you’re doing massive climbs or super long descents your range could be quite different.
After familiarizing ourselves with all the beeps and buttons we were ready to take the E-Crusher out for a spin. We departed ahead of the non-eMTB group ride and zipped out of the parking lot and onto the singletrack above.
After having just completed the same loop aboard a human-powered bike it was safe to say we were thankful to have Shimano Steps power beneath us. Our average speed on the way up was notably faster. We found ourselves using the brakes in the same segments of trail that we were wiping sweat out of our eyes on just thirty minutes earlier.
It wasn’t all smiles though. Even though we made the climb in a fraction of the time, our heart rate and breathing were still elevated throughout the ride – something that surprised us to be honest. On the flat undulating sections of trail we put the bike in Trail or even Boost mode and had grins planted on our faces. It was like a mix between dirt biking and mountain biking. We felt superhuman in our ability to maintain speed and link up corners quicker than we could on a normal bike. Fun factor increased.
Our test loop featured some lengthy sections of very technical rock gardens. They came at us on climbs, descents and even flat sections of trail too. We had to thread the needle between rather large boulders, make powerful up and over moves and also dropped our saddles to charge through sections at speed. While we haven’t spent a ton of time on different eMTB systems, we can certainly appreciate Shimano’s 177mm Q-factor. A downside to some e-bike motors is a wider Q-factor, which would have seriously hindered our ability to navigate such terrain.
Along with having a narrow pedal stance, Shimano’s Steps motor is one of the most compact systems and allows brands to design bikes with short rear ends. This helped give the E-Crusher the ability to handle terrain similar to its non-battery powered brothers. In fact, aside from the weight, we could hardly tell we weren’t on one of Mondraker’s other equally capable all mountain rigs.
The weight however, is an issue – not just an issue unique to Mondraker, but all e-bikes. Weighing in at just over 50 pounds, the E-Crusher is over 30 pounds heavier than its non-electric siblings. Depending on your riding style and terrain, this could be a real issue. In the rockier terrain where we’d normally be picking the bike up and man-handling it into corners or gapping over rocks, we found ourselves feeling a bit more sluggish and making up for the slower lines by getting on the juice between obstacles. Once we got onto the smoother trails with plenty of corners, the bike showed us that portly isn’t always bad.
Cornering traction, confidence and stability were all impressive traits of the E-Crusher and were no doubt a reflection of the weight combined with the Forward Geometry. On high-speed sections of double track with flat and loose corners, we felt doubly planted when compared to our previous lap aboard the 27-lb Foxy RR. Similarly, the bike maintained speed very well and picked up momentum when pointing downhill. These are things we like.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Although our time aboard the E-Crusher was short, it left us wanting more. The short 17.72-inch (450mm) chainstays kept the bike maneuverable in tighter trails while the compact and narrow Shimano Steps motor delivered power smoothly and promised range greater than we could reach in our short test session. While we didn’t love the size of the downtube, especially in relation to Mondraker’s other streamlined bikes, the E-Crusher has plenty of promise.
With 150/160mm of capable travel, a quality build and aggressive geometry, the E-Crusher seems to be a worthy candidate for those looking to step into the aggressive e-bike world. We hope to get some more time aboard the bike on our local trails and getting a detailed review up in the near future.