MONDRAKER CRAFTY CARBON RR SL REVIEW

Review by Drew Rohde
Photos by Dusten Ryen

The beautifully stealthy Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR SL made some waves when it was announced, not only because of its nearly $15,000 price tag, but because of its claim of being the lightest full-powered eMTB on the market. Hailing from the Spanish city of Alicante, Mondraker are no strangers to producing exotic, lust-worthy bikes full of wow factor. Their aesthetic vibe is always on point, their Forward Geometry has long been at the leading edge of the modern geometry trend, and they’ve got a suspension platform that has plenty of good traits that make it a great option for many riders. When the crew down at Fly Rides USA bike shops reached out to see if we wanted to test one of their personal shop bikes, we jumped at the opportunity.

QUICK HITS

• 150mm Zero Suspension
• HTA 65.5
• STA 76 (effective)
• REACH 490 (Large)

Price: $7,199 (Crafty R) – $14,999 (Crafty Carbon RR SL)
Website: Mondraker.com

THE LAB
Weighing in at 45 pounds for a size medium, the Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR SL is the brand’s flagship Enduro/All Mountain eMTB. Sporting 150mm of rear wheel travel courtesy of Mondraker’s dual link Zero Suspension system paired to a 160mm travel fork and rolling on 29” wheels, the Crafty RR can handle a wide variety of terrain. Zero is a dual link design that features a floating shock that is compressed from both ends. While brands like to make claims that their suspension design can do everything perfectly, the reality is nothing comes for free, and concessions made on one end of the spectrum will have affects elsewhere. We would say that Mondraker’s suspension platform lends itself more to those looking for a stiffer riding platform as it offers great pedaling performance and efficiency, but is a bit harsh on square edge hits, similar to VPP designs like Intense Cycles or older Santa Cruz bikes.

Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR SL Profile Shot

There are a number of Crafty eMTB models available to fit a wider range of budgets. The frames sport many carryover features like Boost 12x148mm rear axle; one-piece Monoblock upper suspension link; fully internal cable routing; MAX capacity sealed bearings on the frame pivots with 17mm axles; a small plastic motor guard; a direct mount upper chainguide; and an integrated speed sensor in the dropout. The Carbon frames also see an integrated mudguard in the rear to aid the bearing longevity and reduce the chance of small rocks getting into the linkage and causing damage, as well as an integrated Fidlock mount on the underside of the top tube to fit a bottle or tool mount.

Mondraker’s approach to geometry, termed Forward Geometry, was once at the absolute forefront of the long, low and slack movement. These days other brands have caught and even surpassed the numbers that Mondraker maxed out at, and the figures seem a lot more reasonable. Still, we opted for the shorter of the two frame options for our 5’11” testers, settling on the medium frame with a 470mm reach and short 420mm seat tube. Mondraker has 20mm jumps in reach between sizes giving quite a small spread of overall lengths, but also allowing riders to better pick a size that is right for them. The 65.5-degree head angle and 76-degree seat tube angle effective, (actual 73.5°) are decidedly average these days in the trail spectrum and are certainly mild for enduro shredders. Of course, the tradeoff is that this bike will make a lot of sense for those who are looking to retain a bit of tight and technical terrain maneuverability. The bottom bracket sits 25mm below the axles, which helps this lightweight eMTB a blast to corner.

Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR SL Rear Triangle

The Crafty we tested was the ‘21 model that precedes the new Bosch Smart System and features a smaller 625Wh battery than the ‘22’s, which come with the new 750Wh Bosch PowerTube unit. There have also been some component changes, with the Fox 2022 suspension kit, with Grip 2 fork damper and Float DPS EVOL rear shock replacing our ‘21 Fox kit; a slightly burlier DT Swiss HXC1501 wheelset replacing the HXC1200 tested; SRAM’s G2 Ultimate brakes to replace our Shimano XTR’s; and finally, the rear mech bumped up from SRAM’s X01 AXS to their XX1 AXS. The remainder of the spec is carried forward to the new model and is decidedly top shelf throughout.

An AXS RockShox Reverb seatpost matches the AXS gearing; E13 Race Carbon ebike cranks in 165mm length drive the Bosch motor; Maxxis Rekon 2.6” EXO+ tires connect with the ground with impressively fast rolling; and Mondraker’s in-house components brand, Onoff, takes care of the 31.8mm cockpit, with a 30mm stem and 25mm rise Carbon bar.  The changes for ‘22 add an extra kilo to the weight of the bike, but many will welcome the extended range the extra battery capacity offers and will benefit from the improved suspension performance and wheel durability. While we’re not thrilled about the brake change, the G2 Ultimates certainly have the bells and whistles to earn their place on this bling level spec, although we’d rather have the power and reliability of Shimano brakes.

Providing the power on the ‘22 models is the aforementioned Bosch Performance Line CX motor. This motor remains unchanged from the previous model year, and for good reason – it performs damn well on the trail. It puts out up to 85Nm but controls the power delivery well in order to make it effective, intuitive and manageable out on the trail. The system has a number of modes including a dynamic eMTB mode that responds to your changing demands and lets you focus on the trail ahead. The new 750Wh PowerTube battery is neatly integrated into the downtube, with a charging port up at the headtube and specially formed channels in the frame to allow for airflow over the battery to keep it cool in use.

Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR SL in action

THE DIRT
Our whole team has been dying to get on the Crafty since we pulled it out the Mondraker box, as it simply looks fast. The quality of craftsmanship is incredible, with everything blending into the carbon fiber beautifully. The intake scoops in the headtube are a unique touch and help promote air flow to the battery. The bike is full of touches that are not only cool because of their race car appearance notions, but we also appreciate the outside-the-box thinking. Riders in overly wet climates may have issue with dirt ingress, but it’s no doubt something that can be dealt with and still allow for some of the benefits to be retained. That integrated fender on the rear is another neat touch that does a great job of preventing rocks and mud from finding their way into the frame links.

On the trail, Mondraker’s Crafty RR SL is stiff and agile. When combined with the low weight, it makes for a very fun time engaging with the trail. We felt comfortable right out of the gate, with easy-to-handle geometry and a good base suspension setup being easy to obtain. Standout features are definitely the snappy handling and poppiness off features large and small.

The grunt from the Bosch Performance Line CX makes easy work of crawling up chunky climbs and is aided by the high anti-squat and firm feeling compression tune, which further increase the responsiveness under power. The 65.5 head angle offers very nimble handling that aids the tight terrain maneuverability uphill as well and allowed us to clear many technical climb sections with ease. The support and fast handling carry through on flowy trails, making it insanely quick in the right terrain and feeling energetic no matter the situation.

Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR SL Action

Through choppy terrain the benefits of the rear end’s firmness in pedaling and smoother descending scenarios begins to work against it for our 170lb testers, failing to iron out the roughness and giving a bit of feedback through the pedals. This will only be an issue for riders on extensively rooty and rocky terrain. Heavier riders may not suffer from such a rough ride, with their weight helping to overcome the stiffening effects of the kinematics. The steering can also feel a little nervous at times when things get very steep, fast and rowdy, leading to a slightly timid sensation through certain trail situations. These are very specific situations, and no doubt are ones that not all riders will encounter.

The top spec Mondraker Crafty RR SL we tested is clearly built for a rider looking for the absolute best in performance and looks. On the trail it really is an awesome machine to ride, however we believe that the slightly lower spec’d (read more affordable) offerings are still going to provide a similar performance. The 36 fork spec on the 160mm front end may have some people concerned, but there’s no doubt it helps keep that weight in check as a long legged trail eBike, plus it offers that little bit of compliance to aid comfort and grip. If you’re a rider who’s thinking you need to have a 38mm fork, you’ll likely already be considering a slightly burlier option than the Crafty as it’s more of an aggressive trail to all-mountain bike.

Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR SL Action

The Wolf’s Last Word

The Mondraker Crafty RR SL is without a doubt one of the best looking and lightest eMTBs on the market. Looks, spec and low weight only go so far however, and we do think there are some notable talking points when it comes to suggesting this bike. First up is the rattle from the battery on braking bumps or other high frequency impacts. One could likely quiet the bike up with some work, but for this price, it should be dialed. Second is the stiff suspension platform. For some riders, in certain locations, it will be absolutely welcomed, and it does make this bike a ton of fun, super-fast and ride even lighter than its 45lb weight would suggest. The downside is it can feel a bit rough and chattery for lighter weight riders on square-edge hits at speed.

Outside of those two talking points, which are certainly notable, the Crafty eMTB is an incredibly fun bike to ride! If you are looking for a super-fast, playful, poppy or snappy full power eBike that rides like some of the lightweight eMTB options on the market, this is certainly one to look at. If you don’t regularly find yourself on extended rides through square-edge rock gardens or roots and instead spend time snapping corners, hopping around the trail, challenging yourself on technical climbs or wanting to go as fast as possible, few bikes will compete with the Mondraker Crafty RR SL.

We’d like to thank the crew at Fly Rides USA for sending this bike out for us to test. They’ve got a huge inventory of eMTBs from a dozen brands. Give their website a check here.

Price: $14,999
Weight: 45lbs
Website: Mondraker.com

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SPECIFICATIONS

CHASSIS
Frame: Crafty Stealth Air full Carbon, Zero Suspension System, Forward Geometry | 150mm

Fork: Fox 36 29 Float FIT4 EVOL Factory Kashima | 160mm
Shock: Fox Float DPS Factory Kashima

ELECTRONICS
Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX Cruise Gen4
Battery: Bosch Powertube 625Wh
Display: Bosch Kiox

COCKPIT
Brakes: Shimano XTR M9120 | 203mm

Shifter: Shimano Deore, 12-speed
Handlebar: Onoff Krypton Carbon 1.0 | 780mm
Stem: Onoff Krypton FG | 30mm
Saddle: FIZIK ANTARES LARGE R1
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth AXS

WHEELS
Rims: DT Swiss HXC1200 Carbon

Hubs: DT 240
Tires: Maxxis Rekon 29×2.6, tubeless ready, 3C MAXX TERRA, EXO+ Protection, 120TPI

DRIVETRAIN
Cassette: Sram XG-1295, 10-50T, 12s
Cranks: E.13 TRS Race carbon ebike | 165mm | 34t
Derailleur: Sram X01 Eagle AXS

Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR SL Review

We Dig

Agile handling in tech
Pedaling support
Incredible parts spec
Looks and features
Fast and snappy

We Don’t

Downtube battery rattle
Rough terrain feedback through pedals
Steep head angle for some
Rekon Tire Spec

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