Adventures are fun, but they can also be exhausting. If that’s the case, the amount of fun you’re having diminishes quickly as you run out of steam. As such, it doesn’t hurt to get a little help from time to time. Do the MAHLE X20 motor, suspension fork, and dropper post help or hinder the Mondraker Dusty XR in adventure mode?
This bike was tested as part of our 2024 adventure gravel bike group test – you can find an overview of the group test and the featured bikes here:
Spanish brand Mondraker are well versed in rough off-road adventures, launching their first bike back in 2001, the Mondraker Petrol, a thoroughbred downhill bike. Downhill racing puts a lot of strain on your body and mind. So, with that background, Mondraker know that riding over rough terrain can be exhausting. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Spanish brand’s gravel bike is clearly geared towards off-road riding. The dropper post and suspension fork provide a real MTB feeling, while the MAHLE X20 hub motor provides a helping hand and makes easy work of the climbs. Sounds like the perfect bike for relaxed adventures. Or maybe not?
Mondraker Dusty XR – Is more, more?
Considering its space-age styling, the Mondraker Dusty XR could also be called the Moondraker. There are a lot of angular and flat design elements, as well as the exaggeratedly low seat stays. You can’t see the MAHLE X20 motor or the battery in the down tube, so the fact that it’s an ebike can only be seen at third glance. Unfortunately, the RockShox Rudy suspension fork looks a bit like an afterthought – the matching rigid fork of the R and RR models blends with the frame a lot more seamlessly. Either way, the gravel bike is clearly recognisable as a Mondraker. The colour scheme isn’t that exciting: mostly dark with few frills, but it has some nice details and a shimmering finish. A beautiful technical detail is the integrated seat post clamp, which is inconspicuous and works well.
The components on the Mondraker Dusty XR suit its mountain bike genes perfectly. The 1×12 SRAM Force AXS groupset is combined with a SRAM X01 Eagle AXS derailleur, offering plenty of reserves on steep climbs thanks to the 10–52 t cassette and 40 t chainring. Added to that is the 40 mm travel RockShox Rudy Ultimate suspension fork and 75 mm drop RockShox Reverb XPLR AXS dropper post. Mondraker opted for the maximum travel in both respects – many of the other brands featured in our adventure group test went for the 30 mm Rudy fork and 50 mm Reverb dropper post instead. The Mavic Allroad Pro Carbon SL Disc wheelset also stands out from the crowd with its internal rim width of 23 mm, as does the 55 Nm MAHLE X20 motor and Head Unit in the top tube. The motor can be controlled with remote buttons on the hoods. For tires, Mondraker spec the very popular 45 mm MAXXIS Ramblers. There’s little to speak of in terms of mounting points. You can only fit two bottle cages inside the front triangle, and if you’ve got a range extender fitted, you’re left with just one bottle cage. There are bosses on the top tube, but attaching a bag here can obscure the display, which is your only source of information regarding the motor. Fortunately, the bike does have eyelets for mudguards and a luggage rack. In total, the Mondraker Dusty XR tips the scales at 14.1 kg (without the range extender) and costs € 9,999.
Tuning tip: matching Dusty bags from Apidura x Mondraker for bikepacking adventures
Mondraker Dusty XR
Fork Rock Shox Rudy 40 mm
Seatpost RS AXS Dropper
Brakes 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Force eTap AXS / XO1 2x12
Stem 90 mm
Handlebar 450 mm
Tires Maxxis Rambler 28"
Size S M L XL
Weight 14.2 kg
Front suspension and dropper post
MAHLE X20 drive system
Mountain bike geometry
Mondraker Dusty XR – A real help or more of a hindrance?
With so much technical support, it’s easy to lose sight of the goal: adventure. Is the motor turned on, and which support level are you in? Is the dropper post fully extended and the suspension fork locked or open? There are a lot of things that influence the riding experience, which you must pay attention to while riding. However, controlling the MAHLE X20 via the small buttons on the hoods is very pleasant, allowing you to adjust the assistance without taking your hands off the bars – very handy while riding off-road. The motor is sufficiently powerful and quiet in most cases, though you’ll have to tap into your own energy reserves a little on steep uphill trails.
It’s when you reach the trailhead and start heading back down, however, that the Mondraker Dusty XR comes to life. With the seat post dropped and the suspension fork open, you’ll realise that it’s much more at home on the descents. The Mondraker Dusty XR can’t hide its downhill heritage. However, there’s significantly less cushioning at the rear than at the front, which takes some getting used to. On flat and less demanding terrain, the dropper post, suspension fork, and even the motor are overkill. While these components certainly provide a lot of comfort and, above all, a high level of confidence, it can often feel like too much. Despite the relaxed riding position, it’s not the kind of bike that inspires you to go long distances. However, you’ll find your heart beating faster as soon as you spot a trail on the horizon.
The Mondraker Dusty XR will get you through the densest jungle.
What adventures is the Mondraker Dusty XR destined for?
The Mondraker Dusty XR is a bike for those who have a clear use case in mind. With a hub motor, dropper post, and suspension fork, it’s made for riding up- and downhill. As such, it’s aimed squarely at enduro and downhill riders who want to get a taste of the drop bar world. It’s ideal for exploring unfamiliar terrain, too. With the Mondraker Dusty XR, there’s no need for meticulously planned routes. Throw on a set of mudguards and a luggage rack, and you can also use it to spice up your daily commute to work.
Our conclusion on the Mondraker Dusty XR
The concept behind the Mondraker Dusty XR is spot on. The tech harmonises perfectly together on the descents and climbs, at least when going off-road. However, what makes the bike fun in these scenarios becomes a bit of a hindrance on easier gravel. It’s simply too much bike for relaxed bikepacking trips. More really is more, but only when the going gets tough. And at € 9,999, it also comes at a price.
- excellent off-road performance
- spacey look that stands out from the crowd
- comfortable thanks to suspension
- exclusive wheelset
- mostly limited to off-road riding
- lacks mounting points for bikepacking bags
For more information visit mondraker.com
This bike was tested as part of our 2023 adventure gravel bike group test – you can find an overview of the group test and the test field here:
All bikes on review:Argon 18 Dark Matter | BMC URS 01 ONE | Cannondale Topstone Carbon 1 Lefty | Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail | Falkenjagd ARISTOS TRAIL GRAVEL | Focus Atlas 8.8 | Ghost Asket Advanced | Giant Revolt X | Merida Silex 10k | Mondraker Dusty XR | Orbea Terra M21e Team Custom M | Ridley Kanzo Adventure | Rose Backroad AL Plus | Santa Cruz Stigmata | Scott Solace Gravel eRIDE 10 | Specialized Diverge STR Pro | Trek Checkpoint SL 7 AXS | Wilier Adlar | YT Industries Szepter Core 4
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Words: Martin Staffa Photos: Jan Richter