Mongoose Tyax Super review£649.99

Long-forked trail ride

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A long-forked trail bike with fast tyres and classy finishing kit, the Super sits at the top of Mongoose's four-bike Tyax range. Its RockShox Tora SL fork claims to offer 120mm (4.7in) of travel, compared to 100mm (3.9in) on the SR Suntour fork on the lower-budget bikes in the range.Combined with the big-volume, fast-rolling tyres, decent finishing kit and long ride posture, the fork boosts the Tyax Super’s performance and comfort on the trail and helps justify its price tag.

Ride & handling: Lively but reliable

Out-of-the-saddle climbs and acceleration out of the bends felt easier than usual on a 28.8lb bike. Fast tyres helped but it was the efficiently stretched ride posture that had the most effect.

The steepish geometry and plush initial fork compression might make beginners a bit nervous, because the steering is fairly lively. A couple of riders said they wanted to sit back all the time on rough terrain, but they soon relaxed and got used to letting their weight shift forward, enabling more fork compression.

Big, hard-edged hits still couldn’t get us close to the 120mm of travel claimed, but the fork still allowed an aggressive riding stance on bumpy ground, absorbing enough shock to enable the stiff back end of the frame to skip through. Singletrack handling was superb, well balanced and thoroughly predictable, but with fast responses in the tight, twisty bits between the trees.

Downsides? Well, the fork has budget compromises in its internals when the going gets really rough and fast, but so do most other forks on bikes at this price. You might find a better fork on a £650 bike if you look hard, but it’s not until you hit the £750 mark that high performance forks become regular fare. We liked everything else about the way the Tyax Super feels. It may not suit a total beginner but it’ll be good for those with performance ambitions.

Frame: Long fork, top speeds

Our ex-display test bike came with the stem set low on a trimmed steerer. All production bikes will have steerer washers for height adjustability, but we liked it as it was. With the longer-than-usual fork and generous top tube length (23.25in on the medium size) it felt instantly well balanced on the sort of trails where you need full power.

The Tyax shuns the more typical short, upright beginner bike stance in favour of a more speed-biased set-up. Its weight – 12.2kg (28.8lb) – is typical for a cross-country trail bike at this price, and the frame’s construction is good enough to take parts upgrades as your riding demands grow.

The frame is made from 6061 heat-treated aluminium, with some clever hydroformed tube-shaping to add strength, rigidity and talking-point aesthetics. The burly down tube is vertically ovalised, reinforced where it drop-curves away from the head tube, and laterally ovalised into the bottom bracket shell to boost drive stiffness. The long, low top tube is almost box-sectioned and the heavily ovalised rear stays leave plenty of room around the tyres.

Equipment: Disappointing travel but otherwise adequate

We couldn’t get the claimed 120mm of travel from the Tora fork, but the 100mm we achieved was better controlled than the 100mm that typically comes on cheaper bikes. The rebound damping dial under the right-hand leg does the job, as does the lockout level on top of the leg, which still leaves a little compression movement for unexpected hits.

Rather than go for a Shimano drivetrain mix, Mongoose have fit SRAM’s X.7 rear mech, X.5 shifters and SR Suntour’s front mech and cranks. Front shifts were clunkier under pressure than an all-Shimano set-up, but we had no real cause for complaint and the gear range is excellent. Tektro’s Draco disc brakes worked superbly after a short first-ride bedding-in period – we never felt the need for a bigger disc rotor than the 160mm one fitted up front.

The wheelset, WTB rims laced to no-name hubs, are average on a £650 bike, but the tyres give the Tyax a boost. Kenda Slant Six tyres are big for their stated 2.1 size, adding shock absorption and comfort, but they also have a low knob profile that results in them rolling faster than the more usual offerings of mid-budget bikes. Traction is good in all but the sort of sticky mud that blocks and compromises most other tyres.

The rest of the Mongoose finishing kit is pretty good – the saddle is comfy, the post is long, the stem is sturdy and the 27in low-rise bar is good for precise control on challenging terrain.

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