Mongoose Salvo Elite £999.99

Sturdy yet agile choice

BikeRadar score 2.5/5

The Salvo is an all-new bike for 2011, with the unusual feature of tool-free adjustable rear travel from 95 to 120mm. Mongoose have come up with a good value package with the Elite, and the suspension performance is good. But it would be a more convincing all-rounder with more relaxed geometry or less weight.

Ride & handling: Sturdy yet agile bike for twisty trails but it can be a handful at speed

Our size large Salvo looked enormous, and with a 20.5in seat tube, it’s pretty tall. However, the position of the rocker arm low on the seat tube causes an optical illusion, meaning it’s not as big as it looks. It actually comes up short for its size.

While the graphics and 31.5lb weight might suggest an all-mountain attitude, the Salvo turns out to be very cross-country in ride feel. It’s a steep, agile bike; at home in the twisties, but pay attention on the steeps. The weight and draggy Kenda Excavator tyres mean it lacks the get-up-and-go to exploit the quick handling.

The floating shock design contributes to a supple feel on small bumps, and we were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Suntour rear shock which managed to maintain composure without any of the gasping noises we’ve become used to from budget shocks. The Turnkey damping in the RockShox Recon fork steps in on wheezing duty, though. It works fine, just noisily.

The adjustable suspension setup – a quick-release lever locks the top of the seatstays into the slotted rocker arm, letting you change the leverage ratio and hence the wheel travel – lets you choose anywhere between 95 and 120mm of travel. Static geometry remains unaffected, but the bike sits a bit higher in its travel in the shorter settings, which seems to steepen things up with a rider aboard. We tended to leave it in 120mm mode.

Frame & equipment: Strong spec, distinctive graphics and capable suspension

Despite being a fresh design, you won’t  find in-vogue frame features like a tapered head tube or press-fit bottom bracket on the Salvo. A machined head tube with semi-integrated headset leads the way, with gently curved top and down tubes following closely behind.

Both tubes have a rounded triangular cross section, with the top tube flat on top and the down tube flat underneath. Cable routing is split, with rear brake hose and fully enclosed rear gear cable running under the top tube and the front gear cable taking the direct route under the bottom bracket.

At first glance the rear suspension looks like a regular linkage-driven single pivot, but in fact the bottom shock mount is part of the swingarm, so the shock’s floating between two moving parts rather than being attached to the main frame. This gives Mongoose's designers more freedom to tune rate curves, helping to make the most of the surprisingly capable Suntour shock. The lockout lever is a bonus at this price.

You’re getting a decent spec for your money, with a Shimano/WTB wheelset, FSA outboard-bearing cranks and Shimano Deore/SLX transmission mix. The Tektro Draco brakes are competent but a little wooden.

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