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Mondraker Crafty XR review: a super-capable yet easily controlled e-MTB

We take Mondraker’s stunning, Ohlins-suspension-equipped Crafty XR e-mountain bike for a thorough charge around the Lake District to test its Bosch Smart System and 750Wh battery

Mondraker Crafty XR 2022 e-MTB
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Bike Perfect Verdict

More range and much smarter interaction on an awesomely controlled-and-charismatic hardcore e-MTB.

Pros

  • +

    Excellent geometry

  • +

    Superlative Ohlins damped suspension

  • +

    Bigger 750Wh battery

  • +

    Bosch Smart System controllers

  • +

    Light for its category

Cons

  • -

    Ohlins damper difficult to tune

  • -

    Fixed battery

  • -

    Cheap chain

Mondraker’s Crafty XR keeps its Xtra Radical Ohlins suspension boost and Xtra Responsive Forward Geometry handling. This 2022 version adds Xtra Range thanks to a 750Wh battery and Xtra Rider interaction via Bosch’s new Smart System remote control, head unit and control app. The result is super well-damped, long-range chaos tamer that’s dynamically and aesthetically charismatic, but has it got what it takes to jostle for a place among the best electric mountain bikes

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

The 2022 Mondraker XR Crafty e-MTB

The 2022 Mondraker Crafty XR e-MTB – helmet kickstand tester's own (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Design and geometry

Despite squeezing a bigger battery into the box section downtube, Mondraker has kept its signature super-slim, split-front, sloped top tube and rear-stay alignment. It still looks as fresh and fly as ever, too, especially as Mondraker has ‘hidden’ the bulky lower half with a much darker purple contrast color to the rest of the bright red bike. 

Even with a larger battery, the geometry and suspension kinematics are unchanged from last year. That includes a 480mm reach (on the large we tested) bookended with a 64.5-degree head angle, and 75-degree effective seat angle. A 450mm seat tube that only kinks at the bottom still leaves room for sizing up or down if you want a longer or shorter bike. Rear subframes are the same across all sizes though with the 455mm chain stay length balancing the medium and large sizes the best.

The 2022 Mondraker XR Crafty e-MTB

Despite a larger capacity, the Crafty's battery is cunningly hidden away in the downtube (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Mondraker’s twin, short-linkage ‘Zero Suspension’ has done the business since if first appeared on the radical Summum DH bike. The surprisingly light ‘Stealth Alloy’ construction also comes from that gravity racing DNA. Mondraker has maximized the stiffness-to-weight ratio by using a fully enclosed battery tube, too, but that does mean you can’t remove the motor without taking it to a dealer. If you’ve got an extra £2k you can get the same spec but with a lighter, full carbon frame.

Components and build 

From an ‘E’ point of view the big specification wins for the 2022 Crafty XR are the Bosch Smart System suite. This includes a new 3D multi-button remote control just inboard of the left grip and a new highly customizable, high-clarity Kiox 300 head unit on an ‘out front’ mount. The 750Wh battery is new for this year, too, but the ‘racers favorite’ Bosch CX Gen 4 motor is still the same well-proven unit, albeit with Mondraker custom covers. The big suspension news on the XR is that you get the latest RXF 38 M.2 fork and TTX Air piggyback rear shock from Swedish damper legends Ohlins. The XR front fork also has a 170mm stroke while other Crafty bikes use 160mm forks of different types.

The Ohlins RXF 38 M.2 fork on the 2022 Mondraker XR Crafty e-MTB

The Ohlins RXF 38 M.2 fork and TTX Air piggyback rear shock are spec highlights on the Crafty XR (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Drivetrain is mostly SRAM GX, with a single-click shifter and large 34T chainring on Race Face Effect 165mm alloy cranks. Brakes should be G2 Trail callipers according to the Mondraker website but happily we got Code DH stoppers with 200mm rotors on both ends. The wheels are Mavic E-Deemax with Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR tires in a large volume 2.6in size and lightly reinforced Exo+ carcass.

170mm dropper post, slim 31.8mm bar and super-short 30mm stem are all Mondraker’s ONOFF house brand, while Fizik provides the Terra Aidon X5 saddle.

Ride, handling and performance

While I only had a couple of hours on the Crafty XR, the route included both rocky and wet technical climbs plus the same mix of surfaces on narrow-channel ‘toboggan’ trails and a loose rocky gully with some surprise drops. That made it clear very quickly that the Ohlins fork and shock give the XR a distinctively damped feel straight away. However, while the end result is a bike that felt totally locked onto the ground and almost inert in the way it tracked over loose rock and sucked up drops, watching ‘look back’ video footage of the shock showed just how much work it was doing all the time. 

In the same way the stable-and-efficient pedaling that felt over-damped at first, soon proved it was actually just extremely accurate in how it applied any shock movement. In particular, the linear rebound has a very distinctive ‘monster truck’ feel as the wheels move rapidly underneath you but bike and pilot stay totally poised and calm. Because the ‘Twin Tube’ damping design means oil is continually circulating rather than being displaced by compression and rebound, it’s also very sensitive and supple over small stuff. This happens right through the speed range, too, and it’s not overly choked by the direct pedaling feel of the Zero suspension. So, while the seat angle isn’t that steep and the front wheel can twitch around, it was seriously tenacious in terms of climbing traction on loose and/or wet and/or steppy rock surfaces.

The Bosch Smart System controls are intuitive and simple to use

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

Mondraker has done a typically awesome job of marrying up two seemingly conflicting characteristics in the Crafty XR. Even with limited tuning time, it’s clear that the Ohlins fork and shock offer superlative damping control and sensitivity to flatter an already excellent suspension set-up. 

Despite the Pro DH connection vibes, the frame, cockpit, geometry and relatively low weight still keep it very alive, responsive and hugely entertaining to play and slay on and I finished every tech section with a really big grin. Bigger battery and better display/management multiply the amount of time you’ll be getting those grins, too. 

You’re getting the Ohlins suspension comparatively cheap compared to buying it separately, so presuming the more powerful brakes are a stock upgrade, that means there’s only the fixed battery as a significant potential downside. 

The Crafty's Bosch CX motor

The Bosch CX Gen 4 motor is a proven piece of excellent kit (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

I only had time to do some basic tweaking on the trail (essentially just to check where we were in the damping range) but the high- and low-speed compression and rebound tuning mean there’s a whole load of custom setup potential, too. The shock adjusters use Allen keys not dials though so it’s more of a faff than a similar RockShox or most Fox shocks. Changing volume to alter progression can be done in two different ways too, so, again, going Ohlins does add some complications and demands some tuning skill to get the best from the extra £500 spend over the Crafty RR with its Fox Factory setup. Either way, the extra mass of the big battery, high-volume Maxxis tires and the generous reach of the Crafty makes it feel outstandingly planted and confident when everything around you is getting loose. The extra sensitive and accurate damping also helped the big tires from feeling too vague and drifty when I was pushing the limits. That meant I regularly had to haul the brakes much harder than normal, which made me very glad of the Code brake upgrade.

While it sounds like it might be too glued down to be fun, the super-short 30mm Zero geometry stem and the slim top line behind the tapered head tube keep Mondraker’s signature super-responsive vibe alive. That means slides from the tires on wet or loose surfaces feels like playing not panicking. While there’s nothing clever about the battery weight placement within the frame, the ultra-short stem makes it much easier to counter-flick the bike into turns. Using EXO+ rather than DD carcass tires also adds a livelier more agile feel. It obviously has ramifications with survivability in really rocky, impact-heavy trails but the larger volume helps here and we had no issues on some jagged geology. The Mavic E bike wheels held up fine as well, although pick-up can be a bit laggy and clunky. 

The smaller-caliber cockpit also reduces buzz and blunt-force trauma compared to other e-MTBs with oversized bars, stems and head tubes. The extra communication and control options offered by the Bosch Smart System switches and displays are very welcome and easy to learn. Bosch is generally regarded as one of the most reliable motor choices too and our cumulative test experience certainly supports that.

Tech Specs: Mondraker Crafty XR

  • Price:  $9,999 / £6,999 
  • Model name:  Mondraker Crafty XR 
  • Discipline:  Trail/Enduro 
  • Head angle: 64.5-degrees
  • Frame material: 6061 Alloy Stealth Evo 
  • Sizes:  S, M, L (tested), XL 
  • Weight:  25.4kg without pedals
  • Wheel size:  29 x 2.6in 
  • Suspension: Ohlins RXF 38 M.2 29, 170mm travel, 44mm offset/Ohlins TTX Air 205X65mm 150mm travel 
  • Drivetrain:   SRAM GX Eagle 12 speed rear mech and single click shifter 
  • Cranks: Face Aeffect ebike 165mm cranks with SRAM X-Sync 2 Eagle 34T steel chainring 
  • Brakes: SRAM Code R brakes with 200mm rotors 
  • Cockpit:  ONOFF Sulfur 1.0 double butted 6061 alloy 800mm bar and 30mm stem 
  • Wheelset: Mavic E-Deemax S 29 
  • Tires:  Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR 29 x 2.6, tubeless ready, 3C Maxx Terra, EXO+ Protection 
  • Seatpost: ONOFF Pija 170mm dropper post 
  • Saddle: Fizik Terra Aidon X5 145mm 

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg