Mongoose’s Teocali suspension bikes have been around for a few years now but don’t seem to have made big inroads. That’s a shame, because the unusual suspension setup and generally excellent value for money usually make for a good ride.
2010’s Teocali Elite takes Mongoose’s proprietary Freedrive suspension platform, adds a few subtle tweaks and a bunch of decent mid-range componentry, and hits the showroom floors at just £1,500.
Ride & handling: Pedal-friendly package that's on the heavy side for all-round trail use
With all the extra metalwork of the Freedrive setup (see below), the Teocali Elite was never going to win any awards for light weight. That said, 14.1kg (31lb) all-in for a bike offering just shy of 6in of travel front and rear isn’t at all bad, particularly at this price. This bike isn’t exactly a hill-climbing whippet, but then it never set out to be that.
Approach the Mongoose on its own terms and it works well. Climbing is better than you’d expect, thanks to a roomy top tube and ground-hugging rear suspension, which sucks up everything from the smallest undulations to large, square-edged wheel-eaters in its stride. The Freedrive set-up creates a slight ‘inchworm’ sensation as the bottom bracket moves independently of the saddle position, but it’s easy to get used to and a price worth paying for the suspension’s suppleness.
Winding the Teocali up to speed is equally satisfying. A high bottom bracket allows stacks of pedal clearance, making it easy to stay on the power later and get back onto it earlier. The full 145mm (5.7in) of rear wheel travel feels progressive and surprisingly taut under power, giving stacks of confidence for tackling tricky lines without ever descending into mushiness.
If there’s a fly in the ointment, it’s the lacklustre performance of the RockShox Recon coil fork. With a stiff spring and limited adjustment, it can’t match the rear end’s alacrity on the climbs and needs to be worked hard on descents to make the most of its potential. But with the right spring the Teocali Elite would be worth considering if you’re looking for plenty of travel on a limited budget.
Chassis: Stacks of travel, and Freedrive setup works remarkably well
At first glance, the Teocali Elite is just another suspension bike. Hydroformed top and down tubes? Check. Ring reinforced head tube? Check. Pivots and a shock mounted somewhere in the main triangle? Check. Take a closer look though, and the whole Freedrive concept begins to fall into place.
For starters, the one-piece swingarm’s main pivot is unusually high – just below the shock, well above the big chainring and in a position, frankly, that no main pivot should be. Why? Because, under normal circumstances, putting the pivot here would result in massive chain growth problems when the suspension compresses, leading to nasty pedal feedback and all kinds of trouble.
Ah, but here’s the clever bit – the Freedrive system isolates the transmission from all that high pivot nastiness by mounting the bottom bracket on its own large rocker link, which pivots just below the main bearing and is connected to the shock at the top and to the swingarm via an additional link at the bottom.
Confused? Well, it’s fair to say it’s not the most elegant system around, either to look at or to describe. But it works well and does exactly what it promises, delivering 145mm (5.7in) of rear wheel travel – nearly 50 percent more than some of its price-equivalent competitors, with none of the squirelly, noodly bounciness that you might expect.
Equipment: Needs a better fork for it to really shine
All that plushness at the rear is matched up front, millimetre for millimetre, by a RockShox Recon U-Turn fork, along with a 20mm Maxle Lite through-axle for better steering precision. It’s a shame that it’s a coil fork, with a spring that riders under 12st will probably find firm, but you can’t have everything at this price. Bringing up the rear is RockShox’s Ario 3.2 air shock, complete with a lockout lever.
A bike like this is likely to be thrown around a bit, so the massive 660mm bars and stubby stem make a lot of sense. Lock-on grips and a comfy SDG saddle provide the rider contact points, and connection with terra firma comes via a pair of the appropriately named Kenda Excavator tyres. Mid-range SRAM X.7 and X.9 componentry keeps the wheels turning, while Avid’s Elixir 5 brakes – with a 180mm rotor up front – haul everything to a halt.