Opinions vary on looks, but the Mongoose Tyax Comp's suspension fork nudges it ahead of many of its price rivals, despite the fact it’s otherwise not as well equipped as some.
Ride & handling: Average bike with a better-than-average fork
The performance of any entry-level mountain bike is dominated by how well its fork works. Fortunately, Mongoose have got it roughly right. Most of the componentry on the Tyax Comp is simply average, but the compression and rebound control of the SR Suntour XCM V3 fork adds a whole extra point to the overall score.
It's not a great fork but it achieves its promised travel and the recoil is as soft as the compression, making a big difference to conﬁdence on rough terrain. It’s a bit spiky when you tackle a long series of bumps but just having a fork that doesn’t ﬁght back allows you to focus more on your riding generally.
Steering is conﬁdent and even high-speed descents can be managed without too much fuss, at least until the hits and drops get too big. Here the fork dives quickly through its travel and shows you its limits.
There are times when a slight shifting clunkiness in the low cost drivetrain reminds you of the budget. Inevitably there are times when the 14.2kg (31.5lb) heft is an issue too – mainly on long climbs, as the tyres roll well on the ﬂats – but you’re not going to ﬁnd many lighter bikes at £500.
Frame & equipment: Okay, but we've seen better at this price
The frame is a beefy looking offering – we’d say cautiously overbuilt – that relies on the softening effects of the fork and tyres for comfort. Chunky hydroformed tubes make for a severe ride feel under duress, so the plush fork action is a real bonus.
It’s hard to work out what distinguishes one SR Suntour fork from another around this price, but this XCM V3 model is just slightly better controlled than the simpler XCM. We suspect that’s mainly down to the hydraulic lockout: the leg-top lever progressively adds to the pressure needed to compress the fork, from very plush to fully locked, and the rebound damping is well enough controlled to make riding over rough terrain a relative pleasure.
The rest of the kit is average. Tektro Draco Pro hydraulic disc brakes are decent but little more, the Shimano/SR Suntour drivetrain performs without ﬂinching and the Mongoose house-brand ﬁnishing kit is sturdy and comfy. That psuedo-suede saddle top isn't a great idea, mind you – we prefer being able to move a bit more easily on saddles.
The wheels are well built but the durability of the KT hubs remains to be judged. We do like the quick roll of 2.1in Kenda Small Block Eight tyres though. Sure, they block in sticky mud, but that’s a price worth paying for their performance in drier conditions. That said, bigger tyres would soften up the ride a bit.