Mongoose’s Teocali Comp has been around for ages. It's a friendly, surefooted bike that squeezes impressive traction out of the trail. High overall weight and low-grade suspension parts leave it lagging behind the best mountain bikes at this price, though.
Ride & handling: Sound handling but weight & budget shocks leave it feeling soft and sluggish
The Mongoose's 15.3kg (33.7lb) heft is an obvious downside, except when going downhill. It’s slow to muscle out of corners and noticeably hard to heave from line to line or hurry through singletrack. Getting up slopes requires some serious grunt too.
While the frame is stiff enough structurally, the design of the Freedrive suspension system means there's constant interaction of the independent mainframe, bottom bracket and rear end pieces. This gives a soft, elastic feel to pedalling, and the skinny FSA crankset doesn’t help here.
The promise of downhill prowess from the 145mm of rear travel and natural block-eating rearward compression movement of the back wheel is compromised by the basic RockShox Ario 2.1 shock, which chokes and chatters rather than feeling smooth under pressure.
The RockShox Tora coil fork starts to clank and bind too as soon as you start working it hard down twisty or steep trails. There are no travel markings on the fork for U-Turn travel adjustment.
On the bright side, the Freedrive suspension dynamics produce a consistent connection for the blocky Kenda Excavator tyres, so the Teocali’s ability to crawl upwards when things get really steep and sketchy is impressive.
While the tyres’ plasticky compound is slippery when wet (like most of the rubber found on bikes at this price), the sharp edged lugs make a decent ﬁst of ﬁghting their way across off-camber sections or carving corners.
The tyres also roll faster than expected, so once you’ve got the bike going, it maintains speed well on ﬂat or rolling trails. Suspension issues aside, handling is well balanced and amiable too, with a relaxed, conﬁdent feel that suits the ‘take it easy’ ambience of the bike.
Frame & equipment: Freedrive system gives loads of traction; kit is underwhelming for the price
The Freedrive frame is super-complex, with three interconnected sections – a front mainframe, rear triangle and separate bottom bracket section – linked by a series of pivots, the rear shock and a small linkage to create a floating drivetrain system.
To Mongoose’s credit, the reliability and stiffness of this long-running design are good. Weight is high though, and the ﬂoating bottom bracket design produces distinctive pedalling characteristics. An ISCG mount adds versatility.
Extending the travel of the Tora 302 coil fork to 130mm doesn't do its tracking accuracy or stroke smoothness any favours, and the Ario shock feels very basic too.
Wooden feeling Tektro brakes don’t enthuse either – they're dependable but would benefit from a larger front rotor to take care of the Teocali's hefty mass – and while the orange rims will attract some buyers, overall kit levels are at best average for the money.