We first got the Mondraker Crafty SE from Fly Rides Bike Shop a couple months back so we could do a fun Dissected feature and give one away to a lucky YouTube subscriber. Since then we’ve held onto the bike Fly Rides sent us and done some long term testing and part swapping to see how it held up to a couple months of hard riding. We’ve recently reviewed a few bikes from Mondraker’s eBike lineup, like the Crafty RR SL and DUSK. The Mondraker Crafty SE is the special edition model, you could think of it as a mid-year or COVID model, that is meant to offer consumers some updated spec with some cost-conscious decisions designed to get more riders on bikes sooner than later.
We like lots of things about Mondraker bikes, but they’ve also got a couple things that are worth pointing out and we’ll talk more about those, and how we’d fix them, down below.
• 150mm Optimized Zero Suspension • HTA 65.5 • STA 73.5 • REACH 490 (Large)
THE LAB Built around a Bosch Performance Line CX Cruise Gen 4 drive unit and 625Wh Powertube battery, the 6061 aluminum Mondraker Crafty SE is a 150/160mm Class 1 eMTB. Mondraker also uses a Bosch Kiox display to give riders a plethora of options when it comes to mid-ride data. The Crafty also ships with a 4Ah charger to get you back on the trail quickly.
Features include oversized 17mm axles, MAX capacity bearings, exclusive plastic motor covers, a one-piece upper link and more. Mondraker’s Forward Geometry concept gives the Crafty a frame geometry worth looking into. We tend to size down whenever we get a Mondraker bike as they run long and we prefer bikes on the shorter, more playful size. This is especially true with heavier eBikes as overly long front-centers make for an even more planted feel.
At 5’11 we opted for a size medium, which has a 470mm reach and 1,245mm wheelbase. The 65.5-degree head tube angle is a touch on the steep side for those who really want to shred the steeps or love a slack bike, but we found the Mondraker Crafty did pretty well handling fast trails and still let us have some fun on flatter trails and while navigating through technical bits of trail.
Another area worth noting is Mondraker’s Zero Suspension platform. Like the rest of their eMTB line, the Crafty SE uses their eBike-Optimized tune, which we still think has a bit too much platform and causes a rough feel on repeated, sharp impacts. We installed a product that greatly improved the performance on those types of hits and will get into that below.
When it comes to evaluating the build on the Crafty SE, there are a few points worth noting. We were happy with the Fox 38 Float GRIP EVOL fork and Float X LV shock overall. We added a volume reducer to the fork but felt it was a fair value and offered performance that will be more than sufficient for a majority of riders. SRAM’s GX Eagle derailleur and NX Eagle shifter worked fine however, they do not have the durability or refinement of higher end products, obviously, and we feel that a step up from NX would be reasonable on a bike of this price point. The SRAM G2 R brakes weren’t ideal for us, but we really love lapping super-steep downhill trails and riding them hard. If you’re not a heavier rider or someone who’s seeking out big downhills, perhaps the G2’s will be enough for you. We also would have loved a Double Down rear tire instead of an EXO + and feel that is the proper spec for all eBikes because of the weight. Our last highlight of the Crafty SE build is the Mavic DeeMax wheels. We pushed this bike hard, had some flats, dinged some rims and overall, really tried to see what this bike was capable of. By the end of our test period a couple of spokes became very loose. We suggest that after your first few rides you do a tension check as things settle in. Beyond that we were quite happy with the ride quality, stiffness and how the wheels performed.
While we touched on a few of the issues we had above we’ll expound on a couple keys areas and where we think the bike excels, and where it could be improved. First up, we’re fans of Mondraker’s Performance Line drive unit and love the power, speed and torque the system delivers. It does have some quirks, some of which can be tuned, and others which can be adapted to after the learning curve. For example, the slightly long continuation of power delivery, specifically in Turbo mode. While it could be problematic if you’re new to the system, or navigating a tight switchback with a narrow trail, we found many benefits as well. We learned to use the delayed assist as a sort of dirt bike throttle assist to help us with technical step ups, maintaining speed through awkward rocky sections and for low-speed drops where we wanted to keep the front end up. Our crew is pretty unanimous in voting Bosch-equipped bikes as the best option for hill climb challenges.
The geometry on the size medium Crafty SE worked was a touch short for our 5’11-6’1 riders, but we’d rather have a slightly shorter bike than one that’s too long. While climbing the bike felt comfortable and efficient and we could easily navigate the bike though the many technical rock gardens we encounter. On more open climbs with uphill flow, the power and speed were impressive and we regularly set PRs on climbs. When it came time to attack the downhills, the geometry worked well for most terrain. On all but the steepest of trails our riders felt confident and comfortable in terms of body position and balance. It is a playful eMTB that rides stiff, high in the travel and can be pushed around.
If you saw our Dissected, or read our other reviews on the Mondraker Crafty eBikes you’ll likely remember our issues with the rough and somewhat harsh feeling suspension on the square-edge hits our desert trails are full of. The feeling carries over on the Crafty SE and led us to contacting Ochain for a chance to test their chainring decoupling system. Check the review out here, but essentially, the Ochain system separates the chainring from the crank arms to isolate forces that generate pedal-kickback. That reduction helps smooth out the Mondraker’s suspension quite a bit. It greatly reduced the tired, crampy feel our feet would get on the long, choppy downhills we regularly test on. If you own a Mondraker and have felt similarly, we’d suggest checking out the OChain system.
On trails that aren’t full of washboard braking bumps, sharp rock edges or other repeated, abrupt impacts, the Mondraker Crafty SE is a lot of fun. When we got this bike into the woods and away from the desert trails it really came alive. It loves snapping corners, popping off lips and having fun on the trail. The way the bike sits up in the travel combined with the overall feel of the bike meant our riders were regularly looking for fun lines, or ways to inside corners and get on the pedals quickly. The bike carries speed very well and is very capable of going fast without much effort.
The Wolf’s Last Word
From component spec and value to Mondraker’s suspension platform and their Forward Geometry, there are a few things really worth taking a closer look at when considering the Crafty SE. Compared to other brands offering bikes around this price point, it seems that the spec could be a talking point for thrifty shoppers. Luckily Fly Rides usually has great rebates and other discount sales that could help tip the balance a bit, especially if you tell ‘em The Loam Wolf sent you. But, regardless of perceived value, Mondraker’s geo could be a topic that causes some uncertainty as some may be unsure if they should stick with their normal size bike or size down. Our suggestion would be to look at the reach numbers from bikes you are comfortable on now, and go with what’s closest, for us, we chose to size down to a medium. Lastly, for some of our local terrain, the Mondraker platform isn’t the best performing as it’s a rather stiff-feeling suspension that required us to invest in an Ochain to help reduce pedal kickback and foot fatigue on very rough and rocky descents. Once we put the bike on some smoother, faster trails where the hits were more spaced out and not so constant, this bike really came alive.
Mondraker’s Crafty SE isn’t for everyone, but for those who like the Mondraker suspension feel, their Forward Geometry or are looking for a bike that’s actually in stock, this could be a good option for you. Once we installed that Ochain system on our test bike, our whole crew bumped the bike’s rating up at least 1 to 1.5 points, which is great because when you get the bike in all but the roughest of terrain, it is a lot of fun and very fast to ride. Plus it climbs like a beast.
Bosch speed and power
Fast and fun
Good descending body position
Spokes came loose
Exo+ Rear tire spec
Mondraker suspension is stiff
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