First Ride – Mondraker Podium R
Mondraker has been making their mark on mountain biking with their game changing approach to geometry. While most riders are very familiar with Mondraker’s longer travel trail bikes, the Podium line is a dedicated cross-country race bike.
Mondraker offers 3 levels of the Podium, each using the same carbon fiber frame but with different build kits. The Podium R that we tested uses Mondraker’s Stealth Air Carbon with full internal cable routing and Integrated Stem Technology (IST). The IST design essentially integrates the stem as an extensive of the toptube saving riders the weight of headset spacers and the upper cup for a very clean and aero finish. Mondraker offers 4 different stem lengths aftermarket so riders can dial in the fit.
The Podium is one of the most unique and striking looking frames we have had in the test fleet with very aggressive lines. The toptube has a very aggressive arch allowing for a lower standover height but not compromising on the overall reach. Mondraker uses a slimmed down seat-tube and slim 27.2-millimeter seatpost for added vertical compliance. The rear triangle uses Boost spacing and Flatstays in conjunction with flattened out seatstays for a smoother ride over chatter.
A lot of companies have gone with slacker head angles on modern XC bikes. The Podium is sporting a 70-degree head angle with 44mm offest fork. We will touch on this more.
The build kit is a SRAM Eagle drivetrain (XO and GX mix) with Level TLM brakes (flat mount), Fox SC32 fork with remote, and Mavic Crossmax wheels. Adding to the Spanish flare is a Rotor Rex 2.1 crankset with 34-tooth ring.
The be honest, the Podium looked a little intimidating out of the box. We dialed in the saddle height and seat angle, and rotating the bars up a touch. Once we actually got on the saddle, the geometry and reach felt surprisingly comfortable. In the fork we are running 20% sag with one volume reducer (we will most likely add another though). We did install a pair of Red Monkey Cam grips right away opposed to the stock lock-ons.
We did a 30-mile XC ride to get a feel for the Podium. The first couple descents required a little extra attention with the steeper head angle and shorter fork offset, but after some practice we started to get used to the handling.
This bike can climb, no doubt about it. On fire road and steep singletrack, the forward position made for a very efficient pedaling platform.