A genuine all rounder and one that sets a high precedent for other brands to aim for
Nov 9 2017
Class leading geometry
Fantastic rear suspension design
Practical design with user friendly features
Tyres hold the bike back - a 3C High Roller 2 on the front would be better
Seat angle is a tad slack
Fork gets overwhelmed occasionally
You want a genuinely versatile trail bike with geometry which is still miles ahead of the competition
The Mondraker Factor RR is a true all-rounder trail bike and despite some minor niggles and imperfections, it sports trump cards of supportive, progressive suspension and well-balanced, modern geometry that makes it easy to forgive the flaws.
The Mondraker Factor sports 27.5" wheels and 130mm of fork travel linked to a progressive 120mm travel rear end. It's designed to be a bike that’s as happy on day-long cross-country rides as it is pushing your boundaries on some of the more technical trails as you foray off the beaten path. However, the Factor has a trump card up its sleeve in the form of Mondraker's Forward Geometry, which uses an extra long frame reach paired with a shorter than average stem to give greater stability thanks to a longer overall wheelbase.
The Factor RR is the highest spec bike in the range, with 27.5" wheels from Mondraker’s own stable with SRAM’s cheap but uber-powerful Level T brakes slowing them down. A SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain keeps shifting smooth and linked to the 11-46 Sunrace cassette the gearing is more than adequate for all but the steepest of climbs. The cockpit is all Mondraker’s own brand Onoff componentry using their short 30mm stem and 760 mm wide bars. They’re also using their own branded 125mm internally routed dropper post, which worked fine for the duration of the test.
The specced Maxxis Ardent tyre on the rear and High Roller 2 on the front use the cheaper dual rather than triple compound rubber, though they are tubeless ready and use the mid-weight reinforced EXO casing.
With a price tag of £2,900, the bike is on the more expensive side considering the kit you get. It does have Fox suspension throughout though, utilising a Float DPS Performance shock on the rear and their Boost wheel spacing 34 Rhythm fork with FIT GRIP damper up front. Neither unit gets as much adjustability as pricier options from the Fox range and you don't get the slippery Kashima coating either.
When you buy a bike, you’ve likely deliberated over it for a substantial chunk of time and with a price in mind, it’ll probably mean you could choose from several different brands. It could also mean that for a few hundred quid, you discounted something like a Mondraker because of the higher price for potentially a lesser spec. However, having a great spec and higher end shocks doesn’t mean it’ll ride better. It is how a bike uses that spec that matters most.
Mondraker’s Zero rear suspension kinematics deliver an action that is supple off the top for small bump sensitivity, but with considerable progression towards the end of the stroke for those big hits, all packaged into a bike that still pedals well uphill. The 120mm of rear travel is more than adequate for everything but the biggest of loon bin hucks which I should say, are well out of the Factor’s remit anyway. The Rhythm 34 fork is a great fork for the dollar, much improved over 34 gone by with increased stiffness and support.
Trump Card Triumphs
Out on the trails and the Factor is a pleasure to be aboard. I’ve long been an advocate of Mondraker’s long and low geometry design, offering confidence and comfort often lacking in the competition. The long reach figure of 471mm (size medium) means there’s a tonne of room for finding your sweet spot or reacting to terrain when descending. It also means that it keeps the front wheel planted on climbs. At 440mm, the chainstays aren’t obsessively short either and the 67 degree head angle is on par with other brands. I’d rather have it slacker due to the very minimal negative effects but that said, it's not so urgent on a bike with a strong front centre length as there’s plenty of room to move around. You do have to ride the front wheel more on a Mondraker but unlike other bikes, it gives you the option to be over the front when you want to, not just because there’s no choice.
Another very interesting inclusion, and one that could easily be overlooked, is Mondraker’s choice of rims. The 27mm internal diameter is adequate, especially for a bike of this level of travel and intention. However, the choice to use asymmetrically spoked wheels is a demonstration of Mondraker’s continued focus on providing innovative ideas even on lighter trail bikes. Asymmetric spoke lacing should theoretically offer more consistent spoke tension on both sides of the rim resulting in a lighter, stiffer and more durable wheel build.
Other than the seat post, fully external cable routing is a delight to see. Less aesthetically pleasing maybe, but you won’t care about that when you need to change a brake hose or gear inner in a hurry. Nor will you care what it looks like when you can’t hear cables rattling on a rough descent.
The Factor will handle full-blown cross-country rides as well as lure you off the trodden path and into the steeps, should you desire. It only becomes slightly out of its depth on steeper and rougher tracks where the low front end and impressive rear suspension action can overwhelm the fork. That said, bunging some volume reducer tokens in fork's air spring and the front end would likely stand a bit taller and offer even more support.
My only real criticism is that Mondraker still seem to be lagging behind with their seat angle figures. A bike with a longer than ‘average’ reach means it’ll feel stretched out when seated unless the seat angle is made steeper to ensure an effective top tube number closer to the reach figure. A steeper number also means climbing is way more efficient, ensuring your weight is kept further forward and your hips are in a more powerful position. The 74-degree seat angle and subsequent 635mm effective top tube on the Factor means the seated position does feel a little stretched out and marginally recumbent-like on steep climbs. I just slammed the the seat forward in the rails and dipped the nose and the Factor felt better, but not great.
Once again, superb suspension kinematics and generally ace geometry make the Factor immensely versatile. Bung a token in those forks and ditch the tyres and you have a bike just as happy sending laps of the black as it is on a 50-mile weekend exploration ride. The crux of it? A genuine all-rounder and one that sets a high precedent for other brands to aim for.
A self confessed bike geek, Adam has been riding bikes for over two decades and breaking things for nearly as long. With more facial hair than on his head, his appearance is one of a hard paper round! He's friendly, approachable, critical and fair - loves a good stoppie and a turnbar tuesday, real ale and long bikes.