Moda Presto review£1,699.99

Lightweight cross-country bike

BikeRadar score3.5/5

We first reviewed the Moda Presto last year, and the company’s UK design team took our review on board. The result is an outstandingly light cross-country trail bike for the money. The old-school handling and limited shock performance mark it out as more of a mileage than mirth machine though.

Ride & handling: Seriously lightweight cross-country/marathon bike

The Presto's low weight is the most obvious aspect of its ride. As soon as you step on the pedals, the light wheels and low overall weight leave the competition standing in acceleration terms. This clear gap in speed is even bigger on climbs where the decent cockpit stretch and long stem keep it heading skyward with real enthusiasm.

Initial stickiness in the shock also works in the bike’s favour by stopping suspension bounce under pedalling loads. You lose some fine control and grip as a result but there’s definitely more traction than on a hardtail, and without much of a weight penalty. The Presto’s low weight and agility also help offset the fact that it’s only got 100mm (4in) if travel, because a skilled rider can hop and pop it about with ease.

If you have to tackle stuff head on it still does okay though. The Recon fork uses RockShox's basic Turn Key damping, rather than the Motion Control found on higher-end forks, so multiple hits like rock gardens or rough steps will push it beyond its control limits, but it’s okay on tamer trails. Moda have obviously spent a while with RockShox dialling the performance of the often dreadful Ario rear shock to an acceptable level of control over mid-size and bigger hits.

Like the suspension, the handling is definitely biased towards tamer trails and longer mileages. The 90mm stem gives ample breathing room, but combined with the steep head angle it can leave the Presto feeling flustered if you try to turn or brake hard. It’s not very happy on more vertical descents either, where it can start to tuck under and jack-knife if you’re heavy on the brakes.

The Kore bar is a decent width though, so there’s enough leverage to keep most trail trouble at bay even if the basic angles aren’t always on your side. We can’t comment on the longevity of the pivots and other frame parts because we’ve only spent a few weeks on the bike. The guys at Moda are very enthusiastic, with a high level cross-country team under their sponsorship and big distributor backup; hopefully their support to customers will be as good.

Moda presto: moda presto
Moda presto: moda presto

Frame: Well thought out chassis, with good attention to detail

The triple-butted frame uses a classic swing link design that adds minimal extra pipework to the chassis and therefore minimal extra weight. A hydroformed down tube adds extra support behind the inset headset head tube, and the top tube/seat tube junction gets a small saddle gusset too. The custom tuned RockShox shock is mounted horizontally under the top tube with 3D shaped linkages transferring the suspension movement from the seatstays.

The linkages, seatstay bridge and dropouts are all pocketed and sculpted to remove excess weight. The double-sided pivots on the chainstays ahead of the rear wheel mean this is a true four-bar bike, not a simple swingarm setup. The cabling is semi open, but routing it along the top tube should keep it clean and there’s bearable tyre clearance at the rear. Considering all the cutouts, it’s pretty stiff under sideloads.

Equipment: Good value package, including impressive American Classic wheels

Moda have obviously made a big effort to keep kit weight down on the Presto, and they get off to a flying start with the American Classic wheels, which come in at nearly a pound less than many wheelsets found on other bikes at this price. We haven’t managed to warp or wear them out during testing so far either, although they’re definitely more of a cross-country than an all-mountain choice.

Moda will upply the bike with either the all-rounder Kenda Nevegal/Blue Groove tyre choice seen here or a speed-specific Kenda Small Block 8 pairing. The SRAM X7 20-speed transmission is a great weight-saving choice for a more cross-country orientated ride, and works well with the neutral suspension. Moda have even specced Matchmaker combination mounts to save every possible gram.

The RockShox Recon Gold TK fork gets alloy rather than steel legs, which saves a whopping 300g from the fork alone. Add lightweight Kore and Barelli finishing kit and you’ve got a complete bike weight that’s a league lighter than most £2,000 full-suspension bikes, let alone £1,600 ones.

The american classic terrain wheels are impressively light, and perfect for the presto’s fast not furious character: the american classic terrain wheels are impressively light, and perfect for the presto’s fast not furious character
The american classic terrain wheels are impressively light, and perfect for the presto’s fast not furious character: the american classic terrain wheels are impressively light, and perfect for the presto’s fast not furious character

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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