Mondraker DH Racer
WORDS & PHOTOS: Matt Wragg
is the most important downhill track you have never heard of. It's on no major race circuit, either international or national - you simply couldn't get the infrastructure in place to make it work. Yet each winter may of the world's top teams, riders and manufacturers head there to dial in their settings for the season. It's a brutal test of body and bike, an unending, high-speed series of rocks that stretch even the best riders in the world to their limits. We caught up with Markus Pekoll on a test session there as he worked with Marzocchi to dial in his new Mondraker Summum with 27.5" wheels.
Pekoll's Summum may look like the current version, but while the tubing profile is unchanged, the entire front triangle has been altered to take the larger wheels. It's something that bike designers stress time and again - you can't just put bigger wheels on a bike and expect it to work. The head angle for the new bikes has been reduced to 64 degrees, but the team riders have dropped in 1 degree reducer cups to take it back out to 63 degrees - the same as they were running on the 26 version. At the start of the morning Lukas, the team manager, mentioned that the bottom brackets were lowered for the new frame, but when we asked him later for specifics he ducked our questions, not wanting to give too much away. We would be extremely surprised if the bottom brackets weren't lowered to compensate for the change caused by the higher axle height with larger-diameter wheels. At the back the rear triangle is unchanged, but the bike is only usable in the longer 450mm chainstay setting as there isn't enough tyre clearance in the 440mm setting. It is this improvisation at the back of the bike that reveals the true nature of this bike - it is a stop-gap, a temporary fix to dial in the geometry the racers want for an all-new downhill bike that the team say isn't too far away...Even Further Forward Geometry
One of the most interesting changes to the bike is the top tube length. The team are using the Forward Geometry version of the frame, which has a slightly longer top tube than the normal version. On this new bike with revised geometry they are still using the Forward Geometry frame, but have had the top tubes made even longer than they are on the current production bikes. Cesar Rojo, the designer behind Forward Geometry, intended the longer top tube to be paired with a 0/10mm reach stem to correct the reach to that of a bike with more traditional geometry, yet even with the new, longer top tube the team are pairing it with 45mm stems. Asking Pekoll about why they are doing this he explains that, "The short stems might are good on my enduro bike, but for World Cup downhill the slightly longer stem means I can get more weight onto the front wheel."Components
As part of the MS Mondraker team, Markus is one of the riders who has been helping Marzocchi dial in their new range of suspension products. At the front of his race bike is their top of the line CR380 C2R2 Titanium fork, with their new Moto coil shock controlling the rear. To save those precious few grams for World Cup racing, he uses a titanium spring. We didn't get a chance to see Markus' timings, but his teammate, Damien Spagnolo, had shaved 10 seconds off his time on a two and a half minute course thanks to the tuning from Marzocchi's in-house genius, Pedro.
|While we aren't surprised to see a company as willing to push the boundaries of bike design as Mondraker adopting larger wheels, the bike feels like a watershed moment in many ways. Mondraker don't have the budget of some of the bigger companies and it's clear that they have decided that the long-term development of their downhill bikes will be based around the larger wheels. Feedback from Markus Pekoll is unambiguous - with the revised the geometry, the bigger wheels mean they have been able to make a slightly better bike than the one they had before. What he was riding here in San Romolo is an evolution of the current bike to set the geometry they will use for the forthcoming bike. From what the team say, the new bike is very close and team manager, Lukas, describes it as "beautiful." Mondraker have always produced some of the wildest bikes in mountain biking and we can't wait to see what they have up their sleeve... - Matt Wragg|