We made a ride together with Israel Romero, the CCO of Mondraker, a young but popular Spanish bike company. After the ride, we discussed the evolution of mountain bikes.
Why are modern bikes better than those built ten years ago?
Current bikes are better generally in everything. There’s been a big evolution. High end carbon mountain bikes are stiffer and more comfortable and lighter than aluminium ones, and they also have better performing. Suspension has seen a great evolution too, with better and newer designs and more adjustments. Wheels are lighter, we have wider rims, better tires with better grip overall. Our position on the bike ten years ago was longer, more stretched out. You can’t stop the progress!
How much will the bikes change in upcoming years?
For the near future I’m not expecting big revolutions. The next step will be the appearance of electronic shifting for more affordable bikes. We will also see bigger volume 27.5” and 29” tires that will offer more grip and more comfort compared with smaller widths. Disc brakes and suspension still need to improve. I mean, suspension is getting better with every season but we will see greater evolution on air shocks.
What kind of feedback from your team riders is important for you in designing new bikes?
This is really important. From the very beginning we have been supporting racing teams, especially in downhill that we believe is the “Formula 1” of mountain biking. We test our bikes to the limit and this technology and everything we’ve learnt out from downhill is trickled down and shared with the rest of the bikes from our line.
Are there some preferred frame materials today? What’s changed in the last twenty years in this field?
For any high-end mountain bike carbon is mandatory. But not all carbon bikes are the same. Just a few manufacturers are making really great bikes which are light and stiff enough. And reliable. High-end carbon mountain bikes are expensive to manufacture and need a lot of resources. If we want to have the best performing and more advanced carbon bike with the latest and most exclusive technology we have to pay the costs. There’s been a great evolution in aluminium too, but some of the big brands are introducing cheaper and heavier less exclusive aluminium frames to save costs rather than invest in this material.
Do you have a recipe for a really good full suspension bike?
The key is always a perfect geometry for the bike’s intended use and a great rear suspension system. Longer frame top tubes and short stems have become the norm and the standard. We set this new trend that eventually will change mountain bike geometry forever.
Is it better to buy a bike from a big company or to find original bike made in a garage workshop?
For sure it is better to buy a bike from a recognized brand with the proper quality and reliability!