As well as simplifying the travel arrangements, Mongoose has fettled the frame to bring it up to date, removing nearly a pound in weight while upsizing the suspension pivots. Gone are the straight top tube and seatpost-supporting strut, replaced with a formed top tube, curved and flared to perform the function of the missing strut. 6061 series aluminium is still used for the main frame, and the down tube shares the new, more organic look, that includes a gusset-esque form at the head tube.
The biggest changes are around a ‘floating drive’ set-up. Rather than individual tubes, where the shock passes through the seat tube area, a new forged arrangement is used, reducing width and simplifying the whole affair. One thing that has remained is the huge tyre clearance at the rear end. We still had over half an inch around a tall 2.1inch tyre.
Our early model still had the pre-production cable routing at the bottom bracket, with the front mech cable being forced through too tight a 90-degree curve, stiffening the action.
At first glance, the Free Drive system looks like a simple URT design but it’s not that simple. A short link between the vertical link — where the cranks attach — and the swingarm allows rear wheel and cranks to move separately. As the rear wheel moves up and back under compression, the cranks move in a similar direction, but not as far. The chain growth as these get further apart keeps rider induced bob in check. With six possible adjustemnts, the RP23 shock can confuse the less technologically minded, but we ended up running ours on the minimum setting (level 1) rarely using the blue Pro-Pedal lever. Up front, Marzocchi’s XC600 ATA2 forks incorporate a 40mm travel adjust feature that seems slightly at odds with the now fixed-travel rear end; we didn’t touch the adjuster once during on-the-trail testing as adjustment is far too long-winded.
Rather than allow the user to switch between the five pre-set compression damping options on the TST2 adjuster, Mongoose has chosen to bypass the whole assembly and fit a bar mounted lock-out. It’s an odd choice in our opinion.
WTB’s Laser Disc Trail rims use a wider-than-average 17mm channel width, allowing the use of a larger tyre without compromising its profile. However, Mongoose have chosen a 2.1inch Nevegal, keeping the weight down. A complete Shimano XT groupset is amazing at this price, and performance is as great as we would expect from Shimano’s best trail group. Particularly impressive are the brakes, with lever feel being except-ionally tuneable, and power aplenty.
A full Easton finishing kit keeps the matching theme, and the full-width bar is a necessity, given the travel. Own-brand lock-on grips and WTB’s saddle make sure the contact points cause no issues.
On paper the Mongoose wins hands down, and there’s nothing at fault with a single part, save the lock-out on the fork.
Seated, this bike is plush. The slack seat angle places rider weight well over the long chainstays, giving plenty of traction, and the suspension copes admirably with small and medium-sized hits. Bigger rocks and compressions result in a small amount of noticeable pedal feedback, but standing up shows the true weakness.
When standing, under compression the suspension has to lift both the rider and the swingarm (compared to just the swingarm when seated). The result is a completely different feel; it’s as if the bike had a much higher spring rate. This hardening of the suspension means that the bike is harsh, when what you actually need is a supple action from the rear end as the trail gets ugly. The compression tuning doesn’t help either, with the high-speed compression damping adding a further harshness to big hits.
Any Mongoose with FreeDrive suspension will suffer the same fate, as the Teocali Super. It’s exceptionally plush when seated, and very capable. Under power the chain growth prevents any undue bobbing, without robbing too much traction-enhancing movement, but stand up and everything changes. The Teocali’s no rotter though. Plenty of good kit is hung from the frame, attracting shop floor magpies, but if you’re after a six-inch bike for trying out ‘bigger’ riding, then look elsewhere.
MBR RATING: 7/10