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Meet the Mondraker Team series is a space where you can meet first-hand the people involved in the development of our bikes.
As far as we know he hasn’t got a crystal ball, but Salvador is the go-to-guy if you want to know the future of mountain bikes. Check out how the world of MTB looks from the point of view of our Product Manager, Salvador Manchon in the latest instalment of our quickfire Q&A series, Meet the Mondraker Team.
Hey Salvador, as Mondraker’s Product Manager, what do you do?
Put simply, it’s testing and choosing the best parts for our bikes… by selecting the best you can’t go wrong!
What’s best about working at Mondraker?
To have the chance to ride bikes with the latest technologies, on different locations and with the best development teams from our great suppliers.
What are you riding right now?
Mostly prototypes. Somebody has to risk their life for development! I try to ride as much and as varied as possible, from XC to enduro (too bad for DH!), and both muscular and ebikes.
Who’s your favourite rider?
I’ve always been more interested in racing technology than riders, but I like racers like Tomac, who are not afraid to try new ideas.
And your all-time favourite Mondraker?
Foxy Carbon 2015. The first of our core models made in carbon. A very challenging project.
What's the single most important factor driving the design of the next model iterations?
Always performance. When considering any new evolution of frame, kinematics, motor, battery or parts, it should always be to improve the current model and the rider experience.
So you’re involved with Mondraker ebikes. From the outside it seems like they’re closely integrated with the ‘muscular’ bikes. Is that deliberate?
Yes, a Mondraker should look like a Mondraker. It doesn't matter if it's an XC bike or DH, with or without a motor. Mondraker bikes are well known for their performance, advanced geometry and efficient kinematics. Our priority is to keep our key points throughout the range, regardless of the category.
Many of our ebike customers are already Mondraker owners that look for the same experience but powered. We look for the same and try to ride as much as possible with our dealers, if they are convinced they will share this passion with new customers.
Where do you start with, say, the Crafty R?
We always start with the kinematics and geometry: Both are the soul of our bikes and will define the behavior of any model no matter if it has a motor. Then we will add the motor and battery because you can’t move them too much.
With ebikes, how much can you share across the disciplines?
The disciplines, targets and needs may be different but the team is the same so we learn from these cross experiences. We don’t try to make an XC bike – but a Mondraker XC bike. Of course we hear our racers and some key people, but the result should always represent our identity.
Is designing a hardtail (eg Thundra) simpler, or is it not as easy as that?
One project may look easier than others because it has less mechanical parts or no motor integration, and yes, it could possibly be easier to make. But we can spend a lot of hours achieving the perfect geometry and frame feeling for every model, or finding a new supplier for a custom part. We never get bored!
How much do you have to ‘design around’ the dimensions of a motor?
From the beginning we have to work with the system dimensions. It’s a challenge as the motor shares the space where our shock should be, but that's getting better as the motors from Bosch and Shimano are reducing their volume and we take it as an opportunity to improve the Zero Suspension for the ebkes.
How do you decide on a motor supplier, and how far ahead does that relationship work?
We always look for the better suppliers, and started with Bosch as we considered it was the leader on the ebike systems. They offer performance, reliability and service. We later added Shimano for the same reasons. With motor systems you have to think two to three years ahead as they involve future frame developments or even new market segments.
What's it like to be ‘the future’?!
It’s about considering muscular bikes that will blur the lines between XC and Enduro – that are light, efficient and capable. And it’s about creating ebikes that will blur the lines between muscular and motor-assisted bikes.
What's so special about Mondraker?
It maintains the same spirit of a small, passionate and product-focused group of guys from the beginning.
Global Product Manager
Conspiracy theorists, read on to discover the shocking secret of how the whole mountain bike industry works! Well, maybe. Mondraker’s Global Product Manager Luis Martinez reveals (nearly) all...
Why is Luis Martinez riding a bike with no name? What’s he working on right now? And what’s he most proud of? Find out the answers to two of those three questions in Luis’ quickfire ‘Meet the Mondraker Team’ Q&A.
Hi Luis, what is it that you do at Mondraker?
As the Head of Product, I’m planning what’s next.
Working here for almost 20 years and seeing that the roots of the brand are still the same!
Who’s your all-time favourite rider?
Fabien Barel. I’ve never met anyone else who took our sport to such a level of professionalism.
What’s your favourite Mondraker model from any era?
I can’t think of any other bike besides the one we’re working on right now! And that’s something that will see the light of day soon!
What are you most proud of?
Each season, when I see all the bikes in the showroom, it’s a magic feeling.
What are you riding now and why?
I normally ride prototypes, it's part of my job! Most of them don’t have a name yet.
Riding prototypes... how does the program work?
Every project requires a different prototype program depending on what we need to achieve. Starting with the kinematic prototypes, they are generally made in alloy with different pivot points that allow us to easily interchange or move the kinematics to have a different suspension behavior. We also use these protos to test different geometries if needed.
The last stage of the prototyping program is the layup prototypes where we try different carbon layups. Normally the fight is to get the most comfortable frame inside the target weight. Everyone in the test program works on a shared file of feedback and notes.
What’s different about the Mondraker way of working on prototypes?
We make many different prototypes. Many of them aren’t even with a clear commercial intention, just for our “what if…” research. It’s what we call experience prototypes, just to try what is in our mind. Once we see it and test it we know if it can be used or adapted for production. If not, we keep it in our background; from every idea there is always something you can take for the next.
I think that is one of the strengths we have here at Mondraker. We are not a big company with many people involved in the projects, so decisions can be made quickly and without many filters to pass.
How do you know when it’s ‘finished’?
We know that the prototype is ready for the next step when all the targets have been achieved. Sometimes it’s not easy to make that decision as we always want to implement more and more details...
What’s the top secret R&D stuff going on that if you told us about you’d have to kill us?!
We meet with all the bike brands once a year and decide what should be the next standard. Kidding.
What’s the most useful feedback or advice you receive?
We have a lot of demands from people working in the bike industry, including component brands, suppliers, journalists… and their demands provide the best feedback I could have. Especially when it comes from those experts who can ride whatever brand they want.
What's special about Mondraker?
Mondraker is something unique, and everybody riding our bikes can feel it.
Alex is responsible for all the graphic design at Mondraker, so he and his creative team work closely with the product design guys to bring all the Mondraker bikes to life! Check out what inspires him, what he’s riding and what he thinks about in the shower… in today’s edition of our quickfire Q&A series, Meet the Mondraker Team.
Hey Alex, as Mondraker’s Art Director, what do you do?
Currently I’m in charge of the Creative Department. When you work for a brand like Mondraker, Graphic Design becomes a bit trickier and more complex – because you find yourself surrounded by ‘the final result’ all the time. It doesn’t matter what you do or look at, bikes are always there!
Working side by side with the engineers and Industrial Design guys massively help us to understand what kind of designs we should consider for the upcoming bike models.
It’s the people at Mondraker, with no doubt, specially my workmates at the Design Department. Naturally there are always some exceptions… no, just kidding! Working for a brand which shares your passion for mountain biking also counts a lot, but really it’s the people in the company that make the best part of it.
What’s your current bike?
Believe it or not, I currently ride a Foxy Carbon 27.5’’. I keep thinking of stepping forward and moving on to the 29’’ model, but it isn’t easy since I feel sooooo comfy riding it! There must also be some long-standing emotions for the bike and the design, which is one of my favourite designs ever.
Is the Graphic Design work at Mondraker a collaborative process?
It really depends on the project, I’d say. When we talk about big campaigns, a few departments get involved. On smaller projects each of us is able to act individually and take some time to think and bring up ideas.
As I mentioned, the guys at the Design Department and I have a close relationship, either as friends or workmates, and we always try to share our own thoughts and brainstorm together, even though the final decision is made by just one of us.
When it comes to new designs, something that happens in our department that I find curious is the way we sometimes pass projects around to each other. This way each of us adds his point to the basic idea and sometimes, after the ball was with Fran or Alberto and it comes back to me, the result is just fantastic and I see things I wouldn’t have ever thought about.
How much freedom do you have to come up with new ideas for designs?
Mmmm, let’s see. After all these years working for the brand, I truly feel like I can be independent and design with total freedom, however, I’ve got to say that I find my designs way more conservative than they were back in the day. This is because I try to fit our designs with the end consumer trend, which sometimes differs from my tastes, which could come up with really risky colours and graphics.
Miguel (Mondraker's CEO) is always there to give us his personal opinion about our design ideas although he makes us feel free to go ahead with any design, always keeping our feet on the ground.
What’s the weirdest place a great idea has come to you?
I love this question! Well, it’s all about the video filmed for our Foxy Carbon 29, the one at the petrol station.
The idea emerged while I was having a shower after a ride. That evening, as I was washing my bike at the petrol station, scenes came to my mind, with loads of water drops splashing everywhere on my bike, the mud drops off the bike, and all I can think off is the route I’ve just done on that bike as I’m washing it. At the same time, I can’t stop staring at the bike and feeling amazed. That’s the story, hahah!
Where do your inspirations come from?
I found many inspirations outside the bike industry along the path; my dad used to paint at home, he was an interior designer. I’ve always loved drawing and reading comics, so it seems like my artistic side was always there somehow.
As time passed, I got into surfing, and snow sports – mostly skating. There weren’t many people who shared my hobbies in my small town throughout the 90s! This is how I got into the extreme sports disciplines and developed a passion for designing equipment such as skateboards, that really was crucial for my career.
I still remember those awesome designs by Jim Phillips for Rob Roskopp back in the day.
At the moment, I get really stoked by Emil Kozk’s designs, I could keep mentioning artists all day long…
Who’s your all-time favourite rider?
Cam McCaul comes to mind. I watched his video, “Seasons’’, with Two Shoes by The Cat Empire as the soundtrack, and I loved it! Since then, McCaul became a sort of idol for me, although the top riders list is huge. My favourite riders are those with loads of flow on the track, rather than the aggressive riding skills. So right now, my top guy would be Brandon Semenuk.
Ouff, that’s a tough one for me to answer! If I answered based on the design, it would be different every year... like from Foxy Carbon 2016 to Crafty Carbon RR SL 2020, huge differences but still top models. I suppose if I had to choose one model over the rest, it would be without a doubt the 2020 Foxy Carbon RR, all matte black with some bright black sections and yellow details… Ouuu mama!
What classic bike design do you feel proud of being on your CV?
Of course, Summum models are the bike that really makes me feel special! Although it’ll always be close with our Foxy Carbon.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Experience is key... something that only time can provide you with, hehe! Then it’s perseverance and massive effort and hard work. Always remember to choose great typography and keep in mind that sometimes, the very little details are the most important ones. Stay curious and explore as much as you can through different tools like books, music, paintings… everything counts.
As Nacho Lavernia once said: “Designing must help people to improve their life better. Graphic Designers are communicators who use images and words as raw materials.”
What I think is special about Mondraker is its feeling of belonging, which is very positive. In my opinion, the brand achieved this by putting together a group of friends, all MTB lovers, under the same roof. This must have definitely helped to become what we are nowadays.
Miguel’s the boss at Mondraker. Hand in hand with Paco Sanchez, they both started the company back at the start of the millennium and is still every bit as passionate today as he has always been about the brand, the bikes and the whole team that make up Mondraker. Find out what’s making him tick with today’s quickfire Q&A.
Hey Miguel, as Mondraker’s CEO, what does that mean you do?!
Mainly, keep everything in order! But really, I’m proud to lead the direction of our brand.
So that’s ensuring that the team make the best mountain bikes possible?
In theory, making the most of our crew is my responsibility, but that’s one of the easiest parts of my job, since the guys all have amazing skills! And that’s just where the best possible bikes made come from.
What’s best about being at Mondraker?
Everything! I mean, I don’t know where to start? Hard times and massive achievements are involved along the way, but my highlight at the end of the day would be… we’re living the dream!
For anyone who’s not familiar with Mondraker, what’s the first thing they need to know?
Mondraker is a mountain bike brand for real mountain bikers… That sentence may sound simple, but it means a lot. And behind it there are a lot of questions and a lot of answers.
For any rider who had an early 2000s Mondraker but hasn’t bought a new one recently, what will amaze them most?
Hehehe! Well, in general terms, anyone who swaps a 20-year-old bike for a new one wouldn’t believe the upgrades they’d be getting!The progress that Mondraker has made from the very beginning until now is, without a doubt, major. In terms of technology and design we have seen such huge improvements over that time, they are of course far superior bikes now. But the emotions that you get when riding our new models, that’s something that still compares to what we felt riding them back in the day.
What are you riding at the moment?
On paper, the Foxy would be my choice. However, the truth is that I haven’t gone on one for months! I always spend the very little free time I have riding my Crafty. But either way it’s Enduro that we’re talking about after all, with or without assistance.
What’s your all-time favourite Mondraker model?
Next to the Foxy and Dune, the 2013 Factor XR was a particular favourite model, early in the Forward Geometry Era. It had a 10mm stem, Zero Stealth, 120mm travel rear shock and 140mm fork travel at the front, with a 26-inch wheelset. An authentic Enduro MTB on the inside, with a Trail look on the outside… what a bike!!
And your all-time favourite rider?
Throughout the last 20 years, I’ve been really lucky that I’ve kept a close relationship with our riders, and many of them are really top guys! There are also some good relationships I have outside those guys riding Mondraker. But right now, most of my thoughts are with Brook [Macdonald]… his self-development skills and human values are simply unsurpassed.
What’s the best bit of feedback or advice you’ve received?
About ebikes becoming part of the MTB scene has definitely changed the concept of this industry: for us, seeing this coming in time and giving it our “Mondraker point of view’’ was crucial. Although I have to admit that listening to the advice provided by Davide Bonandrine, DSB owner and Mondraker Italy Heart keeper, was decisive for our brand in 2014. Davide was always keen and convinced of this new eMTB concept from day one.
We saw the “20 years of winning” video https://youtu.be/qo9y48a8MYU // - how much fun was that to make?!
Every single part of that project was spectacular! Loads of emotions all at the same time, from the day I went to my mum’s house to pick up the kit we used to wear back in the day, till the last filming day at Val di Sole. I enjoyed one of the best days I can remember, surrounded by riders, technicians, staff, camera guys and a wonderful film team.
Our bikes are different, not only aesthetically, but also in the way they ride. Anyone who rides one of our models will easily recognise what I’m saying, and that’s the key. What’s also really special is the people who make up Mondraker, and their passion for riding and racing and making things the best they can be. That passion for racing reflects directly onto our bike range, and it all comes with Mondraker’s ability to surprise, and keep things fresh!
Keep it here for more team interviews! #MondrakerDNA
Hola - time to meet today’s Mondraker team mate: Industrial Design guru, Andés Climent. Can you imagine when the Foxy Carbon 29 wasn’t actually a bike, it was just a picture in someone’s head? That was Andés’ head… welcome inside. Quickfire Q&A with Andés:
Hey Andrés, so what do you do at Mondraker?
Design bikes and components, from sketches right through to full production drawings
So that helps ensure we make the best mountain bikes possible?
Yeah – being just a few people on the development team helps us to control some aspects that could get lost in a big team.
My brother, Pau Climent, he introduced me to the bike world and he never gets tired… believe me, never!
Foxy Carbon 29 prototype. It was the first bike I designed at Mondraker, and it will always be in my garage…
And what’s your favourite Mondraker design you’ve been involved in?
That question is like asking a father, ‘which son do you love more?’
But yeah, it’s the Foxy Carbon 29er for sure, hahaha!
What’s your all-time favourite Mondraker technology?
The best one is about to come…
So is there some crazy secret R&D shizzle that if you told us about you’d have to kill us?!
Well, it started out just as you describe: “crazy”, but it will become a reality in the near future. However, if I told you about it, maybe someone would kill me, not you!
Riding your own creations. And the passionate team behind the bikes and the brand, for sure!
Product and Communications Manager
Goggles on and first out of the starting gate it’s Israel Romero. He’s our Product and Communications Manager, which means he's kinda involved in everything. Isra’s been a big part of the Mondraker family almost since the very beginning, and has seen a lot – and ridden a lot of different bikes – in that time. Here’s how it looks to him right now...
What do you do at Mondraker, Isra?
Really, I’m here helping to make the best bikes in the business – and of course spread the word about them!
And the best thing about that is...
Personal fulfilment, knowing that I’m working at the best MTB company and best group of people in the business.
What are you riding?
Usually prototype Mondrakers or current model-year bikes with some updates. Always testing and thinking about what’s next!
What’s your all-time favourite Mondraker?
The 2015 Foxy Carbon was a groundbreaking model for Mondraker… and the 2018 evolution was another amazing bike. Any Mondraker Foxy, any year, has been a favourite for me.
John Tomac. Even though he was winning 25 years ago, he’s always been the role model for me as the most complete mountain biker.
I’m proud to have met him many times at different events and we’ve shared some great rides together over the years. The first time was in 1994 at Casa de Campo Grundig World Cup in Madrid where he won what turned out to be his last ever WC XC victory. Right through to the most recent time in 2019 at Thunder Valley AMA US National Motocross race in Colorado, where his son Eli, was the winner.
You’ve been at the heart of the Mondraker family for a long time. How has it changed?
It’s changed a lot, and for the better! We have grown to become an established company making some of the coolest bikes in the business.
You were in that amazing ‘20 Years of Winning’ film - how much fun was that to make?!
It was so much fun to make of course… But riding Val di Sole with 10- to 15-year-old models and trying to look “fast” was also very scary!
We are unique in everything we make.
Look at our bikes: the confidence-inspiring ride, the best performing rear suspension system you will ever experience. Every bike has its distinct identity. It’s this uniqueness that defines Mondraker as a brand.
Next Monday more interviews! #MondrakerDNA
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