Mongoose Khyber Elite£1,299.99

Sussed & sweet freeride rig that pedals as well as it descends

BikeRadar score4/5

Mongoose’s Khyber Elite tackles the trend for heavy duty, mid-travel bikes that can get you up as well as back down. Mountain bike legend Eric Carter raced one of these at last year’s Mega Avalanche; an early indicator that the Khyber was going to be a more than capable machine.

This is an excellent value freeride rig with a super-stiff back end to hand drops. Its cover star looks make it easy on the eye too

Ride & handling: hoons down, pedals up

This bike pedals really well. Whether it’s just rolling to the trails, spinning the granny gear uphill or belting out of a berm, the Khyber has it sussed. The chunky Kenda Nevegal rubber, double chainring and long travel means that it’s never going to be a cross-country thoroughbred, but it’ll get you back up to the top fine.

The back end takes a bit of getting used to, in a good way. The initial feel is super stiff thanks to the FreeDrive’s solid power transfer, but land a drop or hang it up on a double and it hoovers it all up after you.

If you’re after ultra sensitivity and a pure plush ride, we found running slightly more sag to get the Rocco into its travel quicker did the job. Hayes Stroker brakes aren’t a universal crowd-pleaser thanks to their ‘woody’ feel, and the bars and 10 degree/65mm stem felt a bit dated.

The bike is long (our size Large had a wheelbase of 45.5in and 24.4in horizontal top tube length) so it’s ultra composed when you point it downhill. Those Kendas dig in and there’s plenty of room to move about and attack the trail. This can make it feel like a bit of a barge on slower, tight and technical trails but that’s not what the Khyber is about.

For this sort of cash you’ll be hard pressed to find a better specced or more capable freeride machine. It’ll embarrass a lot of DH bikes out of corners and responds equally well to smooth, fluid riding as it does to plain old bullying.

Frame: big & beefy with sorted suspension

The Khyber gets 165mm (6.5in) of rear travel which flows through Mongoose’s patented FreeDrive system. Think of this as a floating bottom bracket, similar to GT’s i-Drive.

The bottom bracket moves independently of the main frame and swingarm, reducing the pedal feedback normally associated with such a high pivot.

The bike’s made from 6061 alloy throughout, with oversized sealed bearings and a meaty 1.5in head tube.

The head angle is a mellow 67 degrees with a trail-friendly 13.7in bottom bracket height.

Equipment: great value

For a snip under £1,300 the spec is impressive. Money’s been invested in both Marzocchi shock units. The 55 fork is ultra easy to set up and just gets on with soaking up the lumps. It also has a handy lock-out switch.

The Rocco shock linked to the efficient FreeDrive system helps the bike sprint but doesn’t hinder it on bigger impacts.

SRAM X-7 shifting is basic but does the job and the wheels stood up to abuse.

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