The big blue Mondraker might be the most capable enduro bike I've personally been aboard, but calling it a downhill bruiser wouldn't be giving Mondraker the credit they deserve. The Foxy Carbon 29 combines confidence inspiring geo with a coil-sprung, mega-adjustable shock and class-leading efficiency, and the final product is more interesting than finding someone searching for you in the Missed Connections ads on Craigslist.
That combo of traits makes the Foxy an odd duck, but it's also a duck that loves getting wild.
I've ridden this rock spine on every test bike, but never with as much confidence as when I was on the Foxy.
If you threw a leg over the Foxy's low top tube and pedaled it around for a few minutes, you'd immediately notice that you're sitting farther behind the front axle than you are on your own bike. The roomy-for-a-medium 470mm reach and tiny stem put your mass farther back within the bike's wheelbase, and the seat tube is shorter than my dad's fuse, too. None of that is new - Mondraker and others have been doing this for years - but it does make for a bike that's ready to be ridden down the side of a building. If you want confidence on the steeps, it comes from Spain in baby blue and red. Squamish is home to some seriously vertical shit, and I've ridden more of it, and with more faith, on the Foxy Carbon XR 29 than any other bike.
And dear God, this bike on fast and rough chunder is a revelation. Big wheels, 150mm of travel, and its geo mean that this thing can smash through all the chunder like a wrecking ball, pretty much for the same reasons that it's so great on the steep stuff: Your body position is farther back, and because of the 29'' wheels. But straight trails are boring and we all know that corners are what counts, right? Of course, and once you're off the straights and into the bends, the story changes a bit.
Berms are the great leveler that make everyone feel good about themselves, but time is made by putting your skills to use on the tricky corners. Flat, loose, tight, slow and awkward, fast and awkward; corners are what counts, no matter what the shape or conditions. When I came into tight corners with some speed, I found that the Foxy responds well to a bit of rear wheel steering, aka skidding, which gets the blue bike quickly pointed in the right direction.
A more cautious approach with less speed, less skidding, and less leaning didn't feel as intuitive and required more effort on the Foxy. It'll do the slow speed jank, of course, but speed and aggression are your BFFs when you're on the Mondraker, as is minding the front-end.
If you don't adopt that attacking style, you might find the bike's front tire not wanting to do its job. My early rides on the bike showed this when I'd nearly lose the front-end unexpectedly. The cause? Nothing more than leaning back, really, which is kinda my go-to move when I get shit-my-pants scared. I did have quite a spectacular low-side while coming through a fast, loose, and gravely corner due to that exact reason, which really is a rider error on my part, but it also underlines how this bike responds best to someone who has a racer's mentality on most rides.
If you're anything like me, seeing a coil-sprung shock probably has you thinking that the bike is a ground-hugging, extremely forgiving machine. Surprise: It's not really either of those things. I love an efficient bike - it's one of the traits that I put at the top of the priority list - and the Mondraker checks that box and then some, but there's a trade-off for that spirited on-power feel in that it's rear suspension isn't quite as supple as you'd expect it to be, especially when you're pedaling over choppy ground. It still feels every bit the 150mm-travel bike that it is, sure, but it definitely also passes a bit more through to the rider than bikes with less anti-squat, and therefore less pep. Me? I'll take that trade-off every single day, which is why I've always liked dw-link bikes and Rocky's Slayer, but you might not.
The big wheels smooth out a lot of the ground, but the bike's rear suspension isn't as forgiving as some other bikes with similar amounts of travel.
Because of the bike's good amount of anti-squat, Mondraker went with a light compression tune as they don't need to depend on the shock's damping for efficiency, but the Zero Suspension System is also relatively linear... Maybe you can see where I'm going with this: To the bottom, which is where the shock's stroke ended up a bit too often for my liking, despite being bang-on 30-percent sag. ''We choose the 'light' option as the bike's pedaling efficiency is superb; if we chose the 'medium' compression, it feels slightly overdamped,'' Mondraker's Israel Romero said in response to my criticism.
And he's right, too; this bike doesn't need a firmer compression tune for pedaling, but I would like to see more ramp-up. I could run a 400 in/lb spring (my bike came with a 350 in/lb coil), but then I'd get less sag and, well, I don't want less sag.
It doesn't need to be steep and scary to get the most out of the Foxy, but it does need to be rough. The bike breezes through this stuff with ease.
All that can be summed up by saying that the Foxy's rear-end is crazy efficient, it isn't the best at small bump action, and it's a bit linear for my liking. If that sounds like I'm putting it down, I'm not - it's just the traits of this design. In fact, I'd rather have an efficient, plucky bike that's a touch less forgiving over one that wallows into its travel and doesn't light a fire under my ass. A mountain bike is human powered, and the Mondraker makes my meager legs feel more powerful than they actually are.
The entire package is extremely interesting, especially compared to more traditional, more boring bikes out there. You normally don't see this type of efficiency from an enduro sled, let alone one that feels every bit a downhill bike when the trail (or the speed) get scary. It's pretty neat that way, and it's also more well-rounded than I would have guessed. Even so, this ain't the bike for timid riders.