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Mondraker have worked hard to keep the details of both their new carbon fiber, 27.5'' wheeled downhill bike and their latest rider signings under wraps until now. With news breaking that Danny Hart and Emmeline Ragot have signed on the dotted line for MS Mondraker, we present this new carbon framed evolution of the 205mm travel Summum that they plan to race aboard in 2015. The carbon frame carries over the trademarks of the previous - and still available - alloy frame, including Mondraker's progressive Forward Geometry and Zero Suspension system, and employs the 'Stealth Carbon' construction process that's used to build their 140mm travel Foxy trail shredder. Enhanced stiffness and precision, along with low weight, are the claims, and there's plenty of adjustment options to be found should you want to tune it to your liking. Sizing options include small, medium, and large, and Mondraker will release two complete bikes: the Marzocchi-sprung model at €5,999, and the Pro Team with FOX suspension that I rode at €8,099. There will also be a frame kit available for those who want to start from scratch. There is no North American distribution at this point in time, and therefore no set USD pricing, but that could change in the near future.

Summum Carbon Details

  • Intended use: downhill

  • Wheel size: 27.5''

  • Rear wheel travel: 205mm

  • Stealth Carbon frame

  • Zero Suspension system

  • Evolved Forward Geometry with FG20/30mm stem

  • Adjustable chain stay: 445/450/455/460mm

  • Adjustable head angle: +/-2°, +1/-1, 0°

  • BB83 bottom bracket shell

  • HHG Hidden Housing Guide internal routing

  • Sizes: S (15.5""), M (17.5""), L (19"")

  • Frame weight: 2,837g (claimed, w/o shock)

  • Weight: 32.87lb, (claimed, Pro Team)

  • Lifetime Warranty

  • Available December 2014

 

Mondraker's Israel Romero holds the first ever prototype of the Summum chassis. This is the very frame that raised Fabien Barel to the top of the podium in Maribor, on one of his many great comebacks from injury.

Frame Design

With those strange short stems and hump-back top tubes, Mondraker's bikes have often been love 'em or hate 'em sort of things. The new Summum Carbon frame heads down the path of the Foxy, though, using the brand's Stealth Carbon technology and has looks that will struggle to be disliked by even the most salty of riders. Compared to the alloy version, the top tube flows more smoothly and the lines are seamless, making the whole bike look a lot sleeker than its predecessor. Cables are tided up using the Hidden Housing Guides for both the shifter and 200mm direct mount rear brake, and a carbon fiber down tube protector and robust plastic chain stay guard are used as protection from rock strikes and chain slap. The carbon swing arm itself is formed to act as a mudguard as well as a adding to the structure, keeping the shock free of dirt and avoiding ungodly homemade versions using old tubes and too many zip-ties. Mondraker also believe that this frame is near un-breakable, and they offer a lifetime warranty to back it up. How's that for having confidence in their product?

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Stealth Carbon - Mondraker says that their Stealth Technology is one of the most advanced carbon construction methods in the industry, and that the three years put towards developing the award winning Foxy Carbon gave them the know-how to produce the new Summum frame. The Vacuum Compression Process compacts the fibers after each layer has been completed in order to remove entrapped air and improve the epoxy bonds, and solid internal moulds made from biodegradable silicone allow for optimum compaction of the fibers while also being relatively simple to remove after the process is completed. The basic layout of the front triangle is borrowed from the Foxy, with the goal being to create the stiffest front triangle possible - the way the top tube splits as it joins the head tube tube is said to provide a huge amount of strength and stiffness. The finished result is a medium frame that weighs in at a claimed 2,837 grams without a shock, which is one of the lightest around.

Forward Geometry - Another feature found on all Mondrakers is their Forward Geometry. Five years of refinement is said to give the pilot better handling, stability and confidence. Mondraker were one of the first brands to really push the concept of longer top tubes and shorter stems which is an idea that's slowly being adopted by other brands, but rarely to the same degrees. The 10mm stems have taken a back seat to the in-house On/Off FG20mm and 30mm stems, although the ultra short version is still available as an aftermarket product for people looking to go to the limits.

What's the idea behind Forward Geometry? Anyone who has ridden both a pure cross-country bike with a long stem and more aggressive bike with a short stem on the same rowdy downhill can attest to which one made them fear for their life and which one had them looking for air time. But if using a short stem has that sort of effect, why not go to an even shorter stem? Well, it isn't quite that simple, because employing a shorter than average stem on a bike with standard geometry will create a very awkward riding package that will feel too short in reach, as well as not place enough weight on the front wheel for proper handling when you're climbing and descending. That's why Mondraker uses longer front-center lengths that are designed around the short stems found on their bikes. Simply put, instead of Mondraker designing the bike around an average stem, they instead added that to the bike's front - center length and then went with a minuscule shorter 20 or 30mm stem to balance it out. The result is that the rider is in the same position, but the front wheel is further out in front of them and the bike's wheelbase is longer.

  

The bike's 205mm of travel is controlled by Mondraker's Zero Suspension design.

Zero Suspension Design - Mondraker employs its 'virtual pivot system' across its entire range, with the rear shock floating between two links and being compressed from both ends. In the 205mm travel Summum Carbon the shock mounts run on needle roller bearings that Mondraker claims ''yields an unknown sensitivity in downhill bikes''. Both versions of the Summum Carbon feature the same Kashima treated FOX RC4 shocks, and Mondraker have developed exclusive settings to compliment their Zero system who's name comes from its claimed ability to neutralize braking and pedalling forces. The Zero Suspension System features new bearings, along with oversized axles and a newly designed lower link that have both been specifically reinforced for added rigidity.

The 5,999 EUR Summum Carbon will come with Marzocchi's R2C2 Ti fork, and it's no coincidence that the newly signed Danny Hart will be rocking Italy's finest in 2015. 

Thanks to the swift, WWII style uplift at La Fenasosa Bike Park, I managed plenty of runs on varied terrain with mostly sand and gravel under the tires but plenty of jumps, rocks and corners. I'm not going to pass this off as a review despite others possibly doing exactly that - it was too brief to call it that - although I did get enough saddle time to form a strong opinion on Mondraker's new downhill race machine.

I started with middle-of-the-road settings and a basic set-up thanks to some direction from the MS Mondraker Team mechanics. The usual sag, rebound, tire pressure, bar height and the all important brake lever angle were adjusted to my preference and I was off. I felt comfortable after only a few runs, and the pair of FOX's equally matched dampers felt spot on - throughout testing I only strayed a couple of clicks in either direction. The suspension feels near bottomless, with a smooth progression that didn't let on that it might have been getting close to the end of the stroke, and it feels like there is more in the bank when getting involved in the big stuff. Braking has no noticeable affect on the suspension action and pedalling is efficient, up to par with Mondraker's blurb.

The Summum felt far more maneuverable than its geo numbers would have you believe is possible.

Compared to other downhill bikes that I've put some time on recently, the Summum is roughly 6lbs lighter, which is closer to the weight of my current carbon 160mm bike. Bearing this in mind, the weight of the tubed, Schwalbe SuperGravity tires, added robustness of the bike and its monster trucking capabilities, the weight is pretty astonishing. The icing on the cake being that a big slice of the weight that is there is centralized low down between your shins. But what does this mean on the track? Direction changes were sharp and easy despite the slack angles and long footprint, and it's surprisingly easy to move around in the air and accelerate out of corners. Downsides? If your not on-point, deflection from your designated line choice might take you by surprise, it's that light. I experienced this when getting towed up to speed by MS Racing's Innes Graham during a maiden voyage on a new track, but, if you're racing, your path will hopefully be well rehearsed. The low weight really helps you when it comes time to accelerate out of corners, but with the confidence you have entering them, you shouldn't need too many pedal strokes on exit.

I felt comfortable enough on the bike right off the bat to not shy away from pointing it over some good sized gaps.

The stock geometry was more than capable in the La Fenasosa park, but the frame has enough adjustment to get really extreme if you live somewhere like Champery - remember that Damien Spagnolo rode to 2nd place at the World Champs there on a Summum - or just trying to prove that your's is longer than your mates. My large frame had 1255mm wheelbase in the short setting, which jumps up to 1270mm if you elongate the chain stay, and removing a couple of degrees using the included headset cups might be somewhere near 1330mm. Bottom bracket height is no longer adjustable like older versions of the Summum, but if you're desperate to drag heels then get some off-set bushings. Direction changes were sharp and easy despite the slack angles and long footprint.

My usual bugbear of sizing struck again, though, as being 6'1"" with silly long arms had cockpit feeling a little cramped for me despite the long (for a downhill bike) 443mm reach. I would have been closer to comfort with a 50mm stem, but this would negate the benefits of the Forward Geometry that Mondraker have worked towards so diligently. This has me thinking that some riders over the 6' mark could be requesting an XL frame option to benefit from the short stem. I didn't ask the question but assumed the generic response from manufacturers is that they sell such a small percentage of XL frames that fabricating another mould simply isn't cost effective. Then again, some brands don't even make frames to fit the multiple tall riders on their rosters.

 

The big line at the La Fenasosa park was too much fun to not hit up a few times. Anyways, who would say no to following Danny into a few 45ft jumps?

Pinkbike's Take: Light is fast, isn't it? It's amazing how agile a bike of the Summum's size can feel after a good diet, especially with most of the remaining weight sitting so low and centralized beneath you. This fact, along with the progressive geometry that adds confidence when things get really rowdy, show that the the bike is built to perform at the highest levels of the sport. Yes, it is a lot of money for a bike, but with Mondraker you're buying the equivalent of an F1 car and the outside of the box thinking that goes along with it - it's different, but that mentality could see you with an advantage in certain moments. - Paul Aston

Mondraker MS Racing Additional photos by Óscar Santiago

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