[Tested] Mondraker E-Crafty RR+ E-Bike

[Tested] Mondraker E-Crafty RR+ E-Bike

18/02/2016
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18/02/2016

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E-bikes are definitely becoming more common place in the trail riding world these days. Mondraker recently made a bold move and jumped on the bandwagon.  They recently sent us their new Crafty RR E with 27.5+ wheels along with Bosch’s latest motor and battery system. We put the Crafty RR through its paces on our local trails to see what you can do with this type of steed.

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Specifications

Frame – E-Crafty 29er Stealth Evo Zero Suspension System FG 140mm
SizesS / M / L / XL
Rear ShockFox Float X LV EVOL 3Pos Lever Performance 200x57mm
ForkFox 34 Float 27´5+ 3Pos Lever FIT4 Factory Kashima 15x110mm tapered 140mm
Headset Nº57 ACB Bearings integrated tapered 1-1/8”->1/5”
StemOn off Stoic FG 30mm
HandlebarMondraker custom design 0.5” 760mm
GripsOnoff Diamond 1lock-on
SeatpostRockShox Reverb 31.6mm
SaddleMondraker E-Crafty RR+ custom design
BrakesSram Guide R front 200mm rear 180mm
RimsMDK-EP1 40 27´5+ TLR wheelset
Hubs – MDK Disc Pro 15X110mm rear 12x157mm
TyresMaxxis Chronicle 27´5×3.0 TLR EXO
MotorBosch Performance Line CX system w/ PowerPack 400Wh Bosch battery, Intuvia On Board computer. Miranda Delta cranksets 14T
Rear DerailleurShimano XT SGS RDM8000
ShiftersShimano XT SLM8000 11s
CassetteShimano XT CSM8000 11-40T 11s
Weight21.9kg
Price – 6.599 Euro.

The devil is as always in the details, here Mondraker have packed quite a lot of bike into their e-Crafty system.  From the RockShox Reverb dropper seat post to 4 piston SRAM Guide brakes and a Shimano 11 speed drive train, it’s certainly a bike to take out of the box and start riding without having to add a ton of upgrades.

Geometry
eCrafty_RR_1_geometria_

FRAME SIZE S M L XL
A Seat Tube Length 380mm 420mm 470mm 510mm
B Top Tube Length 610mm 640mm 670mm 700mm
C Bottom Bracket Drop -25mm -25mm -25mm -25mm
D Bottom Bracket Height 340mm 340mm 340mm 340mm
E Chainstay Length 475mm 475mm 475mm 475mm
F Seat Tube Angle, Actual 75º 75º 75º 75º
G Seat Tube Angle, Effective 75º 75º 75º 75º
H Head Tube Angle 68º 68º 68º 68º
I Fork Offset 51mm 51mm 51mm 51mm
J Wheelbase 1211mm 1242mm 1274mm 1306mm
K Head Tube Length 90mm 100mm 115mm 130mm
L Reach 450mm 477mm 502mm 530mm
M Stack 595mm 604mm 618mm 632mm

Mondraker have stayed close to their 29er numbers with the e-Crafty, some adjustments have been made obviously to take into account the motor system and battery requirements of the bolt on Bosch system. Chain-stay length remains competitive compared to other E-bikes and should provide a fairly normal feeling ride. If you are coming from a snappy trail bike experience it’s not going to be like that with an E-bike as the motor system places limits on what engineers can achieve with wheel base layouts and chain-stay lengths.  At least so far…

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The end is nigh with the pickup truck if you have a power assist system? More trails more riding? Punta Ala provided us with an ideal test location to compare.

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There no doubt the Mondraker is doing alright aesthetically, with their classic hump on the frame and forward geometry layout, the idea is clear : a bike for speed and stability on the trails. This is not a metropolitan E-bike.

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Classic Mondraker “Zero” rear suspension layout provides stiffness and stability on the rear.  While the chain stays are a bit long, that is to be expected with a motor worked into the equation.

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Fox 34 up front with their new cartridge providing excellent levels of mid travel support.

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Yes the motor is here, it’s not beautiful, but for the bolt on segment of the E-bike market it is a solid performer that fits.

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Remember the hump can be tricky to position correctly when running a low stack height with respect to the shifter placement, take the time to set-up the bike well before riding.

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The display is central and comes from Bosch’s standard E-bike system, we are not a fan of displays…we want to ride not stare at a screen.  However, this type of design feature is in the hands of Bosch.  Maybe they have not yet developed a more discreet, off-road specific setup.

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This is reflected in the power setting remote control : easy to use and easy to position.  However, it is vulnerable to trail side knocks and crashes. E bikes a few years in now and it would be nice if Bosch could give us a tougher, lower profile off road unit.

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Rear stoppers from SRAM with the Guide R.

 

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Pivot layout.

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The Bosch battery is mounted directly on the down tube, no preformed cradle or specific tube shape.

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With the wider 3.0 27.5+ tyres, tread patterns can utilize lower profile knobs and still remain grippy.

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On the rear Mondraker have decided to keep things rolling fast.

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Shimano give us an 11 speed rear cassette out back mated with an 11 speed XT rear mech.

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From the front, the bar system is not too busy.  The positioning and bar angles are all complimentary to the preferences of most trail riders.

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Wide rims and boost standard hubs. It’s all about increasing traction while still providing a robust feel.

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The drive side of the E-system is mated to a 14T front sprocket.

On The Trail

Getting straight to the point with the e-Crafty RR+, mountain biking with this bike is about assisted riding. E-bikes are different beasts when it comes to what you might expect compared to a normal MTB.  You already knew that. Our experience with pedal assist has lead us to the conclusion that E-bikes keeps things going longer and further or quicker than whats possible with a normal bike on a normal trail. Strides have been made to improve the handling in general.  At least to a point that now with a bolt on system like that on the e-Crafty RR+, for a fun trail with out too many technical obstacles, the rider is going to be happy with his ride as he didn’t have to  hurt as much whilst getting to the top, more on this later.

Uphill – Grip is astounding from the 27.5+ wheel set. It’s perfect for steep uphill and has virtually no issues with slipping. We could ride sections we couldn’t normally ride.  Line choices become wider, with the e-Crafty the front end stays down when it gets really steep and we could cruise up most hills at 12 km/h maintaining a superb pace. We did not need to walk once.  Basically, you can choose whichever line you like.

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Just ride through the middle on the way up. Line choice becomes wider, the 27.5+ tyres combined with the pedal assist system means flexibility.

Downhill –  Obviously, the bike feels heavier than a normal mountain bike, you need to anticipate descents more in the beginning because it can be  difficult to read the trail layout correctly. The e-Crafty rolls over trail elements easily with the wider tyres, it smooths the trails out that on a normal bike might be more choppy, but cornering is slower in and out of tight turns, this though is more a function of the extra weight and the less snappy action a bike with 27.5+ tyres and 21 kilos of weight like this. It’s a different type of fun on the way down compared to normal biking.

It was hard to make the bike go faster than 30km/hr in most situations, after the motor has cut out, in trail relaunches the bike feels heavier but when the power kicks in the boost helps keep speed up.  Simply put, it’s a different way of riding. Our geometry setup was clearly a “trail” rated setup.  We found that we needed a higher stack than the default setup, but once this was dialed in, the bike felt like a stable, well balanced trail cruiser.

Suspension –  The Zero system is supple and allowed us to keep a constant flow down the trail. The front fork worked well and felt like a solid platform to support the extra weight. We use a 15-20 percent sag ( not 30% as we prefer) to balance the extra weight that dives forward when braking. Our rear shock we setup as normal, the weight that the e-system adds to a bike is more noticeable on the front than the back.

Components – Our time on-board was met with very little problems, everything that has been specified is reliable and stable with well placed performance. Brakes become more critical though with the heavier weight and 4 piston stoppers give that extra grab that is needed. We found the tyres hold on well when braking, it was fun to slide… The only thing we would have preferred would have been extra stack height to play with to optimize our bar height a bit more.

Wheel Size – We’ve tried a lot of Ebikes, 27.5+ in our opinion is the sweet spot for the weight and power delivery. Their form smooths out trails, slideablity is legendary, anything rough and techy you just roll over better. The real difference can also be felt with extra lateral grip that the wide rim and tyre affords. We wrote in our notes, “Roll over roll over roll over…” which pretty well sums up how we felt about the bigger tyres. Our time on the tubeless setup was flawless, with the Maxxis tyres giving us most of what we need on a trail bike, we were unable to know how robust they are as our time has been limited on plus size tyres. You do lose some agility compared to a standard wheel size, but that is made up by the fact that you can plough obstacles through more easily.

Bosch Drive System – We have been using e-bikes for a few years now and the system installed on the e-Crafty is better than the last generation; power take up is smoother. When we ride and test these bikes, we use turbo mode as much as possible , trying to empty the tank. Our classic 301 ride that takes in 450m of altitude changes and is around 27 km, we normally complete in 2 hours. On the e-Crafty we completed it in 1 hour maintaining a constant 27km/h average speed. We arrived back at base with 25 percent of the charge remaining. For a bolt on system with no phone app control over power based on distance like that of the Specialized Turbo Levo, it was reassuring. The power switch in our opinion needs to be made more robust for off-road use but it is easy to use. We would also prefer a more integrated magnet for the speed control on the rear wheel, it is vulnerable for off-road use. The display is clear and easy to read but we prefer though an Ebike without a display as it distracts us from our riding. It probably wont be long before Bosch offers a phone connected solution and power management based on distance and intended routes.

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Conclusion

The e-crafty is a blast of a trail bike that delivers a fun trail riding experience smoothly and safely. The use of 27.5+ tyres and an improved Bosch pedal assist system put it solidly as bike that opens up the possibilities of tougher trails to much less advanced riders and those on a time/fitness crunch.  The ease of riding over technical sections and the overall improved “flow” that can be extracted from a trail with the wider tyres will leave many happier than they might have been on a standard trail bike. The fact they got there assisted is also a bonus.

The maturity of the E-bike market is growing. We are now at a point where bikes are being produced that open up greater distances and more trails in an average day. The advent of the use of fatter tyres on E-bikes is welcomed; it balances the extra weight with greater stability and is a boon in providing extra grip on the way up. Is it directly comparable to normal trail riding? Well, in our opinion we think that rather than trying to put E-bikes in the same place as non assisted bikes, a clear distinction should be made for making them about a different type of longer distance trail fun. In this case the e-Crafty RR+ from Mondraker is a bike that delivers and does so smoothly.

Mondraker
Test Center Punta Ala

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