Landscape Magazine

MONDRAKER DUNE XR

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Mondraker Dune XR Review

 
Most of you know Mondraker from the downhill scene for quite a while now. The unique style originating from years of developing and testing by Fabian Barel. The Dune XR is immediately recognisable as a thoroughbred Mondraker. Their signature design feature is the 'Forward Geometry’ with ultra short stem and long top tube. Mondrakers have been on my wish-list for quite some time now. So I'm excited to finally try one.
 

FIRST LOOK

The Dune looks aggressive and fast, even just standing still. The geometry gives it a look like a cheetah with wound up muscles ready to leap forward. The rear end together with suspension system makes you feel confident that this baby will suck up everything you will throw at it. The wide handlebar puts you in control of taming this beast and the Formula brakes are well equipped to supply the necessary stopping power.
The aluminium frame is built very well and looks sturdy and powerful (with the next version we should see a carbon variety as well). Both suspension parts come from Fox with the 36 fork in front (can you ask for more?) and the Float X in the rear. The Reverb Seat Post puts you easily behind the seat with enough manouverability on those steep and technical trails. To make the specs complete you get Mavic CrossMax 27.5 wheels, SRAM X01 derailleur and X1 Shifter. 
The other thing that struck me first was the workmanship of the aluminium frame and spec of the Dune. Aluminium frames usually lend themselves to looking less smooth and sleek than a carbon frame, but the Dune is very intricate in its design yet still creates a smooth, sleek feel. Combined with the great colour ways available, the first impressions are stunning.
 

ON THE BIKE

 
First thing you notice getting on a Mondraker with Forward Geometry is that your front wheel is a bit further in front than you are used to from other bikes. Mondraker creates a longer wheelbase with this design as the top tube is longer than usual. But with the ultra short stem it puts the handlebar in the normal reach. This all creates a bike where your center of gravity is more ‘in’ the bike instead of ‘on’ the bike. The result is that you don't have to get so far behind the seat when descending and not so far on the bars when climbing. So the rear wheel stays on the ground easier in steep descends and the front wheel doesn't get much lift when climbing. 
Being around 183cm tall I tested a Dune in size Large which fitted me perfectly. I also loved the 780mm wide bars. 
A nice feature of the Dune aluminium frame is the cable routing. Mondraker have done a great job designing this under their frames down tube with sturdy ‘X’ clamps. It may sound like such a small thing but good cable routing plays a huge roll in keeping your bike quiet on the trail and looking good.
 

TO THE TRAILS

Wanting to see how versatile this bike really is, I didn't only use it as an Enduro Bike. I really wanted to see if this is the ’one-ring-to-rule-them-all’ bike so to say. I must admit that I hate Strava, I don't care one bit about my average speed on the local XC trails nor if I'm 'king of the hill’ or anything stupid like that. I want to have fun when I'm out on my bike. I'm the kind of guy that doesn't go for the fastest and easiest lines, but for the challenging and fun lines. I see drops and jumps everywhere on my local trails and try to hit them all. This bike is light enough for XC riding and the very stable climbing even on the steepest uphills helps a lot. This bike is really nimble and playful. You do notice the slightly longer wheelbase a little bit on the short and technical parts, but I got used to that pretty fast and it surely wasn't a negative point in my view. 
From one side of the MTB spectrum (XC) I moved to the complete opposite side: Freeride and Downhill in a bikepark. Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis was going to be the proving ground. The Dune handled great on the DH trails. Of course you notice that it is not a downhill bike, but it surely impressed me how well it took technical rock and root sections, steep drops and tight hairpins. Never did I feel under-equipped. For sure a DH bike would have gotten me down faster, but the Dune surely did the job as well and with a lot of fun and confidence while doing it. 
On the Freeride line (Strada Del Sol) it also impressed me with the stability at speed. Long, fast banked corners became rollercoaster sections. This bike sticks to the ground and excelerates out of every corner. The Forward Geometry with the longer wheelbase is really noticeable here. I had a good benchmark for testing the Dune here: last time in this bikepark I was shredding the Evil Undead downhill bike (which I loved), so I knew how to take the bigger drops and longer jumps and gaps on this great track. And I must admit that I was truly amazed. The Dune took every drop and jump with the greatest of ease. It even took to the air easier than the Undead and was very easy to control in the air and could be perfectly placed into each landing, keeping your momentum and speed for the next part. 
But as the Dune is positioned as an Enduro Bike we did ride some awesome enduro trails with it. All in the Nauders area (Austrian-Italian-Swiss Alps region) where they have an awesome trail network set-up for you to keep you riding for days without getting bored. Having read the previous parts on XC and Bikepark ability it should not come as a surprise to you that this bike is an Enduro machine in optima forma. Offering so much confidence and control resulted in me shredding down new trails at full speed on first runs, something I never did before. So thank you Mondraker, you've built a truly versatile do-it-all machine! 
(I did have this nice crash on a tight steep corner where the front wheel got caught op in loose loam. But no harm done, just dusted myself off again and kept on riding with a smile on my face.) 
 
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WHAT I THINK

The choice in bikes and disciplines is huge these days. No problem if you have tons of money and are able to buy one bike for each of these. Sure, a light XC bike will get you around your local XC ride with less effort and a downhill bike gets you down a DH track faster. But some of us search for a bike that can do it all, that can take you round your weekday XC ride but also takes a weekend of bikepark-beating without breaking down. Well, I can say I have found such a bike: the Mondraker Dune XR! This beast certainly will take you up and down every trail you put it on and putting a smile on your face when doing it. It might not be the cheapest bike out there, but with three different equipment levels to choose from it should be possible to find something that fits you. And keep in mind: you actually are buying a three-in-one (at least) bike with the Dune. No need for seperate XC, Enduro and DH bikes as this one will do it all!
 
 
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