BMX mainstay Mongoose has always been popular with hardcore riders. The new Black Diamond Single (BDS) combines its traditional high value spec with serious strength and innovative suspension.
The BDS is very much a frame of two halves, visually and mechanically. The mainframe uses a conventional head tube rather than Mongoose's older latticework designs, with a monster ovalised down tube forming the main spine. The box-ended top tube is supported by two big square section pipes which straddle the bulky piggyback shock, while the stub seat post also gets a big saddle gusset to hold it neatly in place.
It's a big beast of
a bike, and there's
a lot going on
Then all hell breaks loose from two pivots off the end plate of the down tube. The upper pivot connects straight to the big square section rear sub frame. Then there's a multi-piece bottom bracket section composed of various pipes and lattice plates, and a separate shock carrier bolted on top. A small pivot then attaches it to the rear subframe, so the chainset and shock mount floats between the mainframe and what is effectively a very high pivot swingarm. The shock also has two mounting positions to give either 170 or 190mm of travel. As you'd expect for a serious freeride iron, it's fully disc brake-specific with plenty of room - even for 2.5in tyres.
The big slab QR dropouts are replaceable with bolted 150mm fixtures and there's even a chequer plate chainguard on the chainstay. We are slightly concerned by the amount of bolts and maze of frame pieces involved, but we had no trouble on the test, apart from knocking our knees on the two seat tube braces.
All this complexity translates into a relatively straightforward ride, though. The combination of 'platform' damping and a heavy spring on the Manitou shock meant we really had to work to get it feeling fluid. The backwards swing of the high pivot swingarm appears to work really well when you're hitting big stuff fast though, and the 'freedrive' linkage reduces kickback to easily managed levels.
Steering is nimble with gravity on its side,
but you need to stand up or push weight forward to keep the front wheel connected
The constant interaction between the three pieces of the bike can make it feel a bit soft through the pedals, but traction is excellent and the super high bottom bracket means you can easily spin through almost anything. Overall height, combined with a massively laid back 58-degree seat post leaning you way off the back if you extend it far, means that it's definitely a bike that performs best with the saddle down, though.
Steering is nimble with gravity on its side, but you need to stand up or push weight forward to keep the front wheel connected. Also, while the front end lifts relatively easy, the rearward weight and rider balance makes it very tail heavy in the air. That's not a bad thing off big drops though, and the big shock takes the sting out of serious slams.
Considering its 40lb weight, it climbs better than we expected, but you'll still need plenty of power and patience to wind it up the hills and along the flats.
Mongoose has done a great job of outfitting the BDS, considering the price. Marzocchi's DOIII fork serves up a fluid 150mm of travel once it's been ridden enough times for initial notchiness to go. It's also rebound adjustable, as is the Metel RP shock. Truvativ's Hussefelt gear is all rock solid kit, and the Ruktion crankset gets the new extra strong Howitzer bottom bracket, too.
It's a big beast of a bike, and there's a lot going on involving multiple bolts and pivots, but the BDS is undoubtedly a very solid presence on the trail.
Handling balance is fine as long as you keep the seat down, and while lighter or smoother riders will need a lighter spring, the long travel Marzocchi and Manitou suspension team works well together - especially over big stuff. Add a top value kit collection and you've got a fine introduction to serious freeriding.