Land Rover’s Mezzana Disc boasts a great build and spec with a forgiving ride quality and nice turn of speed on long rides. Its cross-country race-inspired geometry can make the steering a handful at low speeds though.
Land Rover aren’t the first car manufacturers to try a mountain bike range, but their current line-up is among the better offerings. Alongside more exotic carbon monocoque-framed stablemates, the alu chassis-equipped Mezzana may look a tad mundane, but it wears a ‘UK designed’ badge and boasts a spec sheet that stacks up well – on paper, at least.
Ride & handling: all-day ‘marathon’ comfort
A glance at the numbers reveals a geometry that’s based heavily on the long, tight set-up favoured by cross-country racers. With a stretched-out top tube and a head angle verging on the steep side for a 100mm (3.9in) fork, the emphasis is on high-speed stability and efficient straight-line speed rather than low-speed precision.
At walking pace, the front end needs constant attention to keep it on the straight and narrow – easy enough to get used to, but still a distraction when you’re negotiating a rock-filled technical climb.
At speed, the Mezzana makes a lot more sense. Acres of room between saddle and handlebar means it’s easy to settle into the efficient, flat-backed ride position that experienced racers use to rack up the miles and any trace of low-speed steering twitchiness disappears.
The frame’s relatively conservative tube profiles keep any residual harshness under control, aided and abetted by a very assured performance from the Recon fork’s air spring.
Land Rover bills the Mezzano as a ‘marathon’ bike – and it’s a comfortable and efficient platform on which to rack up the miles.
For day-long rides it should be on your shortlist, but riders looking for a bike to come alive under them on tough, technical trails should look for their kicks elsewhere.
Chassis: no-nonsense frame with good forlk
In a market that’s bursting at the seams with ever fancier tube profiles – all claiming to disperse stress, increase strength and reduce weight better than the next shape-shifting aluminium pipe – the Mezzana’s relatively plain tubes and stealth black finish is a welcome breath of fresh air.
The top tube morphs from squareish section up front to a more slender roundish section at the rear, while the (slightly) chunkier down tube has a cross-ovalised profile that would have been cutting edge about 10 years ago. And... that’s about it. Up-to-the-minute design it isn’t, but then cutting edge hardtail design has a small element of reinventing the wheel about it anyway.
The Mezzana won’t win any awards for chassis innovation, but neither is it likely to cause any problems.
Bringing up the rear are square section stays with a full set of rack mounts and chunky dropouts.
There’s enough clearance inside the main triangle for two bottle cage mounts, and there are built-in Crud Catcher bosses below the down tube.
The whole lot’s tidily finished, with neat welds and paint that looks as though it’ll stand up to a reasonable amount of abuse.
At the front of all this no-nonsense aluminium plumbing is 100mm of air-sprung, RockShox-driven travel with all the adjustable bells and whistles.
Air springs are costlier to make because they demand tighter tolerances, but they’re lighter and often plusher than the coil alternative – and easier to adjust for different rider weights too.
The Mezzana’s Recon is a good ’un, giving a fair blend of comfort and control.
Equipment: bang up to the minute
The frame may not be cutting edge, but the componentry is mostly bang up to the minute.
Shimano’s rock-dodging Shadow Deore XT rear mech is light, relatively crash-proof and delivers crisp shifts, while Avid’s evergreen Juicy 3 hydraulic discs have reliable stopping power.
It’d be nice to see hubs with better sealing against UK trail conditions and the WTB tyres are fast-rolling in the dry but relatively ill-suited to mud.
The WTB saddle is one of the best and the lock-on grips won’t budge when things get slimy.
Tioga finishing kit works fine, but looks a bit cheap.