Review: Mondraker Level R eMTB

Mar 8, 2019
by Paul Aston  



Mondraker, the legendary brand from Alicante, Spain, introduced their Level platform recently and it is their wildest eMTB to date. With 160mm of coil-shock controlled suspension travel and 29" wheels, Mondraker expects the Level to, “become the new benchmark in the gravity eMTB segment.” Judging by its pedigree, it also should prove to be a worthy companion for eMTB racing.

The Level uses Bosch's Performance Line CX motor, a 500Wh integrated Powertube battery and is available in two spec levels – the R tested here and the high-end RR. Fox provide suspension both models with a DHX2 Performance Elite shock and a 170mm travel 36 Float GRIP EVOL Rhythm fork for the R. (The higher priced RR gets the same suspension items, but in Fox's elite-level Factory
Level R Details
Intended use: enduro
Travel: 160mm rear / 170mm front
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: 6061 aluminum
Suspension: Fox DHX2 shock, Fox 36 Rhythm fork
Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX
Battery: Bosch Powertube 500Wh
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Weight: 27.1kg (XL, tubeless, w/o pedals, actual)
Price: €5799
More info: mondraker.com
spec.) The R also uses a SRAM GX drivetrain with a Sunrace cassette, Shimano MT520 4 piston brakes with 203mm rotors, and DT Swiss H1900 eMTB wheels. The R retails for €6399. Meanwhile, the RR is upgraded to a SRAM EX1 eMTB drivetrain, Code RSC brakes, while sharing the R's DT Swiss H1900 wheels to justify its €8499 retail price.






Mondraker Level Bike Test
Signature head tube brace makes the Level R instantly recognizable as a Mondraker.


Construction, Features, and Motor

Mondraker aimed to keep the lines sleek with the design of the new Level R, with assistance from its internal, removable 500wh Powertube battery - the latest offering from Bosch to fuel their Performance Line CX motor. The distinctive brace at the head tube is carried over from their other models, along with the Zero suspension system that places the shock between the split seat tube. Aluminum is used throughout the frame that includes some nice touches, such as a mudguard for the shock and space on the down tube for a full-size water bottle. The cables are routed internally to further help those slick looks.

Mondraker Level Bike Test
Mondraker Level Bike Test
Bosch's CX drive system lends the helping hand for the hills.


Geometry & Sizing



The Level R continues with Mondraker's progressive frame design and is badged with the 'Forward Geometry' logo. The Spaniards proved to be miles ahead of the pack in 2011 when the long and slack concept was first introduced, which now looks more normal when compared to charts from leading brands in 2019. My XL test bike has a 498mm reach, 65° head angle, a 44mm offset fork, a 74° seat tube angle, and whopping 490mm chainstays that render a wheelbase of 1340mm. That 74° seat tube angle might not sound very progressive, but that is the actual seat tube angle, not the effective seat tube angle like most, so taller riders wont end up with a slacker-than-advertised angle and their weight hovering over the rear axle when the seat post is raised.

Other supporting numbers are the 490mm chainstays, which should prove interesting to ride. I've often said that eMTBs should have longer chainstays to help keep the front wheel from wandering on steep climbs so that all that power can be used. In keeping with its mission statement, the -15mm BB drop and 150mm head tube length work out to a 655mm stack, which should create a commanding position on the steep, wild trails it's designed for.


Mondraker Level Bike Test


Suspension Design

The Zero Suspension design is shared throughout Mondraker's range and has been proven at the World Cup downhill level on many occasions. Of course, the dual-link design is tweaked slightly for different bikes and their intended uses, and this eMTB's kinematics are more focused on anti-squat to keep the chassis stable under power. There is a significant amount of chain growth, which may explain the suspension's reduced suppleness while climbing.

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Mondraker Level Bike Test
Fox's DHX2 2-position Performance Elite shock
Mondraker Level Bike Test
Sorry, no 'one click' eMTB shifter for the Level R's 11-speed SRAM drivetrain.

Level R Build

Starting at the front of the Level R, we find a cockpit taken care of by Mondraker's own brand of OnOff components, with a 780mm wide handlebar and 30mm stem. Shimano MT520 (4-piston Deore) brakes are spec'ed with 203mm rotors front and rear to slow this bruiser. The suspension is all Fox, with an E-bike optimized 36 Rhythm 170mm travel fork, and a DHX2 Performance Elite shock, which uses a trunnion mount. The wheels are a DT Swiss Hybrid H1700 wheelset. The rims feature a thicker wall at the spoke bed, and the wheels feature thicker spoke heads and nipples, and a steel freehub body. The largely SRAM 11-speed drivetrain uses a GX rear mech and NX shifter, paired with a Sunrace cassette. The 150mm dropper post is by Onoff and is topped by an SDG Radar saddle

Mondraker Level Bike Test
The reliable H1700 eMTB wheelset from DT Swiss.
Mondraker Level Bike Test
Powerful Shimano MT520 stoppers with 203mm rotors.






Test Bike Setup

As I have found with eMTB's in the past, preparing the suspension to give around 10-12% front sag and 20% rear is my preferred target. (I use more sag on conventional pedal bikes.) This helps to support the weight of the bike and keep it lively. Less sag doesn't seem to cause much of an issue, as eMTB's are generally more stable and supple in the rough. That view is likely to change, though, as some suspension companies are playing with 'mid-speed' compression tuning specifically for eMTBs.


bigquotesBy far and above, the Level is the most capable electric climber I have ridden.Paul Aston

Paul Aston
Paul Aston
Location: Finale Ligure, Italy
Age: 33
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 75kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @astonator
KM's ridden: 200

Mondraker Level Bike Test


Climbing

Being a tall rider, I was stoked to get on this XL monster to see what it was capable of, especially with its massive 490mm chainstay and good seat angle. The result? By far and above, the Level is the most capable electric climber I have ridden. It gave me a centralized position with hardly any front wheel wander or lift, which is great for the steeper climbs that eMTB's challenge you with.

The Level R was really firm under power, thanks to its high anti-squat level. This further improved the climbing potential, but it came with a minor downside. Bump absorption and grip from the suspension wasn't impressive when climbing and laying down big power. Being able to leave the shock in the open mode, to always be in a commanding riding position, and having sticky downhill tires more than made up for those minor flaws.

Mondraker Level Bike Test


Descending

Another downside of the aforementioned anti-squat was that chain growth activated the clunky feeling (compared to super smooth Shimano and Brose systems) Bosch drivetrain. It engaged and disengaged as the suspension banged through bumps, which was a put-off at first, but I became used to it.

The Zero suspension provided great small-bump sensitivity near the sag point, and there was ample support to push and pump the bike around. Once I exceeded two-thirds of the suspension travel, though, there wasn't enough support to keep the weight of bike and rider from smashing all the way to the end of the stroke.

Obviously, the long, 490mm chainstays made it impossible to go around corners, so I had to get off and push around them all... (just kidding.) It carves long corners superbly well, and the long stays are much less of a hindrance than you may expect for tighter turns. It will go around anything that a short chainstay bike will, up to the point where a rear-wheel lift is needed to get around the apex.

I liked the long chainstay on long fast sections, as it made it really easy - almost relaxing - to stand up in a central position and cruise over whatever was coming up. Manuals and shifting my weight backward felt strange to start with, but the high stack and handlebar height offset that somewhat.

The Mondraker has loads of downhill potential, thanks to its massive size, weight, travel, and big wheels, but it wasn't the weapon I was hoping for. The stock suspension was lacking guts and support. The more expensive Level RR model offers more capable suspension in terms of the full-fat Fox DHX2 coil shock and 36 GRIP2 fork damper which have a more adjustments to dial in more support and bottom out control.

Mondraker Level Bike Test

Later, I upgraded the fork with a GRIP2 damper and changed the shock for a Cane Creek DB CS which was a great improvement for both front and rear. Taking the stock bike to your local suspension tuner could get more out of the standard suspension if you need a less expensive option.

I am not a weight weenie, but the Level is pushing the boundary on the scales. I am really happy to see it spec'ed with correct components to get the job done, like full DH casing tires, but its total weight of 27kg is massive. Overall, that heft made it hard to move around and feel more sluggish on the trail. That said, there are no parts I would change to save weight. I'd rather ride a slug than carry a "lightweight" eMTB down the trail. If you are a downhill racer, take the Mondraker on your training rides for a few weeks and your downhill bike will feel like an XC racer when you get back on it – fun and free training.



Mondraker Level Bike Test
Mondraker Level R
August Aston Product
Specialized Kenevo


How does it compare?

After the awesome Specialized Kenevo and its near-silent ride, the Bosch-equipped Level is more comparable to a tractor. The motor makes more noise when turning and is clunky when connecting – though, this doesn't affect the ride in reality, but everyone prefers a quieter bike. But, the Mondraker has better sizing for taller riders, bigger wheels and better climbing geometry - all things that I prefer.


Technical Report

On/Off saddle: The On/Off saddle was horrible. It's fairly normal that a new saddle can make you sore until you get used to it, but this one took things to the next level and killed me on the first short ride. The center of the saddle is really high compared to the edges so your sit bones can't be properly supported. I can't imagine any rider being comfortable on this thing.
Mondraker Level Bike Test

Shifter: The one-click eMTB shifter, which is good for stopping people mashing gears, hasn't been specced – disappointing to see and could cause issues for inexperienced eMTB'rs if they shift too many gears at once and under power.

RaceFace Aeffect crank: After having to moan about crank arms being too long on eMTB's for years, it is great to see the 165mm version fitted as standard.

Shimano MT520 4-piston brakes: I thought the 2-piston Deore spec brakes were fantastic for the price, these take it up a notch. Highly recommended if you want maximum power for a minimum price.


Pros

+ Built suitably heavy for its purpose
+ Great climber
Cons

- Really heavy
- Underdamped suspension



Is this the bike for you?

Overall, the Mondraker is a killer eMTB. It destroys both climbs and descents. But, you need serious terrain, strength, and skill to get the best out of it - plus, some good comebacks when your buddies make fun of you for riding a fatty. You will be having the last laugh, though, when waiting for them at the top - and the bottom of the trail. Stump up for the better suspended Level RR, or take your model R straight to your local suspension tuner to get a stronger tune from day one.


Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesIf you want to tackle gnarly ups and downs on an eMTB, and you have a lot of them at your disposal, the Level R is one of the best. If you have Green trail-center loops on your doorstep, look elsewhere for something lighter and more nimble. Paul Aston







41 Comments

  • + 17
 Does its coming in 2 stroke version??
  • + 12
 Yawn
  • + 21
 If you have real motorbikes ride up your local trails, or past your house at 7am on a Sunday, then you'll appreciate the difference between e-bikes and motorbikes.
  • + 1
 soon.
  • + 9
 Rode it (actually the RR) for a full long weekend. Didn't like it in comparison to others (Focus Jam2 / Sam2 / Stereo 160) Riding DH it was fast but almost uncontrollable at times due to the horrendous weight. Bosch drive unit lets it down too. Climbing was ok, but it's an e-bike...

It was painfully slow on the flat and the power came suddenly and unpredictably. When the power stopped, it felt like running into sand. I feel like it was just too heavy and cumbersome. I just couldn't help wondering what it would have felt like with a Shimano drive-unit too as the Bosch power was just terrible and almost un-useable.

I honestly don't know why this bike exists right now, I feel they are just on the bandwagon without much thought given to what the bike actually rides like. This Pinkbike review is a VERY kind one in my opinion.
  • + 9
 €5799 and an NX shifter?
also, 27kg is insane.
  • + 8
 27 kg?????!!!!!!!!! WTF - are you insane????
  • + 3
 Sounds like old school DH rigs
  • + 4
 "tubeless, w/o pedals..." - haha
  • + 4
 Add pedals, tire inserts, etc. to hit the magic number of 30kg. What a pig.
  • + 8
 27 lb's sounds ok to me. Wait, what....?!!
  • + 3
 Got to ask a couple of things here Paul Aston? Since when is a 74 degree seat angle steep? Think you were after 81 degrees not too long ago. Also built suitably heavy for purpose as a pro, then really heavy as a downside. As a rule for pros and cons lists any answer that fits both categories shouldn’t be included. Happy to hear some explanation for these points though. Here to be proved wrong,
or right.
  • + 2
 A lot of bike companies have a steep effective STA, but the actual STA is fairly slack, meaning th higher the saddle, the slacker the angle. The Mondraker has a seattube that goes straight to the BB, meaning the effective and actual angles are identical. As for the weight, it can be a benefit when descending, as your sprung/unsprung mass ratio is higher, resulting in the suspension isolating bumps better - hence the pro ,but the high weight is still a con when climbing and trying to handle the bike.
  • + 6
 ‘It climbs well’ great! Wouldn t have expected that from an ebike.
  • + 1
 Not all ebikes are created equal. Even with the same motor brand, some climb better than others, because of the geometry.
  • + 2
 I recently demoed this bike when it was called the Mondraker Crafty. This was my first time riding an e-bike and I was e-agnostic, open and curious about them. My riding experience was as follows:

-It was heavy! Heavy enough to make manhandling it a chore, it I needed to get it over a stile, onto a roofrack etc

-It was so heavy that it was very hard to bunnyhop, lift the rear wheel over obstacles, or ride ‘light’ in techie sections. In combination with the thin 2.8in tyres, this made it almost impossible to ride rocky descents without puncturing. I ending up have to walk down rocky descents to avoid puncturing.

-It was very slow on flat sections or mellow descents. Whether this was the big, draggy tyres, motor drag or heavy weight, I don’t know. But I had to pedal constantly on mellow descents just to maintain speed.

-There was an annoying ‘pulsing’ of the motor, even in the lowest eco mode. There was also lots of free-hub lag due to the fact that there was an extra freehub in the motor. Once you put the power down, there was a delay, and then lots of power, all at once. This, in combination with the huge weight, made it a handful on techie climbs.

-It was very un-satisfying on any kind of uphill section. The short cranks meant I couldn't get proper leg extension to put power down. Moreover, the pleasing bio-mechanical sensation of riding a bike- that wonderful sense of forward momentum powered by your own two legs-was gone. The sense of connection with the trail below you was gone, replaced by a distracting pulsing, whining motor.

-I never got full range out of it due to the constant punctures. I had it in eco-mode, and judging by the amount of battery uses, you would need to put in eco mode and take more than one battery for any ride more than a few hours. In eco-mode it was faster than a normal bike, but it wasn’t night and day.
  • + 1
 are you sure it was this one? as Crafty has like 140mm of travel at first, also 475mm chainstays. Anyway after a day spent on Turbo Kenevo.....I don´t see a reason to say its better because you can ride the same trail more times. You will simply not as it is so boring you can jump into a truck tire a roll down in that while having more fun than on the plus size e-bike
  • + 2
 The Crafty is now 160/150. I got one in December, it took a month+ to build up the endurance and strength (esp shoulders) to enjoy it fully. Avg and Max heart rates are the same, and I get double the riding in (aka double the fun).
Also, I'm actually faster on the non ebike now, it's so light to manouver, can accelerate faster and sprints last longer.
  • + 1
 Wake up fellaw... all bikes are too short, and CSs are too short! anything below 450 is satan! ..... PAUL RuLES!.... " Obviously, the long, 490mm chainstays made it impossible to go around corners, so I had to get off and push around them all... (just kidding.) It carves long corners superbly well, and the long stays are much less of a hindrance than you may expect for tighter turns. It will go around anything that a short chainstay bike will, up to the point where a rear-wheel lift is needed to get around the apex. "
  • + 0
 That sentence when you say that after a phew runs on the Ebike your DH bike will feel like a Xc one it’s really true ,it’s like what the hell,and switching to an enduro/trail one it’s like your on a road one ,it’s just incredible how an Ebike feels ,but not yet :-))
  • + 1
 @astonator: Did you ride it on Camporotondo (Megalithic)? Just wondering if such a long and heavy bike can work there without smashing the motor on those rocks and getting stuck in those tight switchbacks.
  • + 3
 No rim issue this time? I'm out...
  • + 3
 That paint job is doing it NO favours
  • + 3
 If I'd go E, I'd go for eeWings
  • - 1
 Please label motorbike articles with something else than "Pinkbike reviews" (maybe "Motorbike review or simmilar) to stay clear immidiately for us non-motorbike people on the site. Didn't look closely on pic and accidently started reading thinking its DH bike... Its like labeling "Contains peanut butter" on restaurant menu to warn peanut allergic people to avoid vomiting and scratching. .. Thanks for understanding, Your valuable peanut allergic readers
  • + 1
 What's the problem? I guess You shuttle a lot for DH and/or use Lifts? I do the same but I absolutely have no problem with a LEVEL R or similar bikes. I don't need shuttles anymore, I can leave my truck in the Garage, and on the uphills I can train technical stuff like never before. This ain't a motorbike with a throttle, it is a Pedelec. You can workout on that thing very hard, did you ever try it yourself?
  • + 1
 @dropperposter: Don't waste your time with people commenting only to cause a stir, but not ready to listen answers. It's called low-key trolling.
  • + 2
 I went straight down to comments.
  • + 1
 youtu.be/yYyhd8i1BdY

Look here! Awesome Bike
  • + 1
 Looks like Bumblebee. Sounds like him too.
  • + 1
 Damn... that colour scheme is Fugly AF
  • - 1
 Might as well buy a KTM Freeride instead of this thing..... And that's the gas powered version I mean... Those machines are so nimble and almost look like an Ebike, haha!
  • + 1
 I just e-barfed!
  • + 0
 Brrraaap
  • - 1
 We really need a pinkebike
  • + 0
 Shed of the year award
  • - 2
 Looks like a ....motorbike.
  • - 2
 Well I never!....a review of a metal bike! Keep them coming.
  • - 2
 Kill it before it lay eggs
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