Laguna Bicycles MR1 carbon hardtail review

Laguna Bicycles specializes in monocoque carbon frames like this raceable carbon hardtail

27.5 Cross Country
The Laguna MR1 is a carbon monocoque hardtail rolling on 27.5" Mavic Crossride wheels with a RockShox XC 32 fork and a Shimano Deore/XT 2x10 drivetrain.

The Laguna MR1 is a carbon monocoque hardtail rolling on 27.5″ Mavic Crossride wheels with a RockShox XC 32 fork and a Shimano Deore/XT 2×10 drivetrain (click to enlarge).

Laguna Bicycles is a new direct-to-consumer brand based out of Irvine, CA that features carbon monocoque frames for their hardtail mountain bikes and performance road bikes. The brand gathered inspiration for their name from their 20 years of riding throughout Orange County with Laguna Beach standing out as their favorite location. Laguna started developing mountain bikes 2013 and they branched out from there to now include a total of four mountain bikes, 4 road bikes and 2 new e-Bikes.

As a direct-to-consumer brand, they strive to offer greater value to the end buyer by cutting out the middle man. The bikes are ordered over the phone or through their website and the bikes ship 95% built. For our long term test, we reviewed the Laguna MR1 which is a monocoque carbon hardtail with 27.5″ Mavic Crossride wheels, a Shimano Deore/XT blend 2×10 drivetrain and a RockShox XC 32 fork with 15QR axle and 100mm of travel.

The Lowdown: Laguna Bicycles MR1

With little knowledge of the brand, we entered into our ride experience with the Laguna Bicycles MR1 with no preconceived notions. The shipping and packing of the bike was well done and setting up the bike was a matter of about 15 minutes. The frame itself has a nice finish, although the colors are a love it or hate it affair. The internal routing is a nice option and we were interested to find out how it rides. The sub-$3,000 carbon hardtail is a key market segment and the Laguna MR1 has some stiff competition in the category.

Stat Box
Intended Use: XC Wheel Size: 27.5-inches
Travel: 100mm front Wheelset: Mavic Crossride
Weight: 26.52 pounds (size S, no pedals) Frame Material: Carbon monocoque
Drivetrain: Shimano Deore/XT MSRP: $2,499
Suspension: Rock Shox XC 32 w/ 15QR Rating: 3 Flamin' Chili Peppers 3 Chilis-out-of-5

In the same league: Fezzari Solitude XT 27.5 1X11, Trek SuperFly 9.7, Giant XTC Advanced 27.5 3, Santa Cruz Highball 27.5 C, Fuji SLM 27.5 2.5, Jamis Nemesis Race, Haro FLC 27.Five Comp, Scott Scale 730

Pluses
Minuses
  • Efficient climber
  • Love it or hate it graphics (only 1 choice)
  • Burly BB shell and monocoque construction provides plenty of stiffness
  • Lacks the ride smoothing dampening of other carbon frames
  • Mavic Crossrides are a solid choice and stayed true thoughout our testing
  • Shimano M445 disc brakes require forethought and strong hands
  • Internal cable routing
  • Stock Maxxis Crossmark tires not truly trail-worthy

Full Review: Laguna Bicycles MR1

For the rider who is comfortable buying direct from a manufacturer via their website, the direct-to-consumer option offers a no-hassle way of buying. Laguna offers the customer 14 days to return the unused bike if they are not completely satisfied for a full refund. Shipping to the buyer is free and although Laguna’s headquarters is in Southern California, their warehouse is located in Michigan.

Climbing on the MR1 is definitely its forté, with a stiff and efficient frame being the source.

Climbing on the MR1 is definitely its forté, with a stiff and efficient frame being the source (click to enlarge).

We asked Laguna Bicycles Owner, James Pham about Laguna Bicycles and how they design and spec their frames. Pham explains, “We work with top tier frame factories and assemblers in Taiwan. The frames are exclusive to us and designed to our specifications. This allows us to nail geometry, axle specs, brake mounts, etc. for the perfect bike. For example, our soon to be released aero disc road bike will have a 12x100mm T/A fork, 12x142mm T/A rear, and Shimano flat-mount brakes.”

The frame of the MR1 is a full carbon monocoque design which means the carbon is molded as a structural skin (often in one piece, but not always) instead of pieced together from different carbon tubes. The main advantage is being able to make the frame lighter and stiffer. The MR1 carbon frame has nice internal cable routing, a press fit BB92 bottom bracket, a tapered headtube and a 12×142 thru-axle. The frame only has one set of bottle cage mounts, but this was sufficient for our uses.

The oversized BB shell and thick, stiff seatstay and chainstay ensure your watts won't be wasted.

The oversized BB shell and thick, stiff seatstay and chainstay ensure your watts won’t be wasted (click to enlarge).

The geometry is pretty standard XC fare with a 71 degree head angle and a 73 degree seat angle with a 430mm chainstay length. The size small we rode fit our 5’5″ tester well and there was enough standover clearance. The toptube reach is more old-school XC than new school stretch. The handling of this bike was nimble and the 27.5″ wheels kept it rolling free and easy through the bumpy stuff. However, you will never forget that this is a monocoque carbon frame and the stiff and efficient platform doesn’t translate to the dampening effect that other carbon frames have.

As a whole, the small frame MR1 that we rode had a measured weight of 26.52 lbs. While this is not particularly light for a carbon frame, it is not unusual for this price range. As mentioned, the climbing ability of the MR1 was solid and overall handling was good. It is a package that can pull race duty on Sunday, but also serve well as your after work, quick ride on less than all-mountain style trails. While we liked the rolling ability of the 27.5″ wheels, we wondered if a 29″ wheeled version of the MR1 wouldn’t make the solid climber into an awesome mountain goat.

Continue to page 2 for more on the Laguna Bicycles MR1 and full photo gallery »

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.


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