After making quite an impression on the South African racing market with it’s all-carbon full-suspension VIPA in 2014, Momsen kicked off 2015 by introducing the VIPA AC, a sub-R40K version with a lower spec and an aluminium/carbon frame.
– Photos: Dino Lloyd
In a break from the latest matte finish trend, the VIPA AC has a high-gloss finish over it’s charcoal main colour with gold and white accents. It looks classy. The front triangle is aluminium and the rear triangle is carbon fibre. It’s the reverse of most carbon/alloy combos. We have seen it before, so it’s not unique, just different. The integration between the main-frame and the Patrick Morewood-designed swingarm is aesthetically and mechanically seamless. It has the same fairly neutral geometry as the full-carbon model – 70.5-degree headtube, 73.5-degrees seattube, space for one bottle on the downtube, a tapered headtube and through-axles front (15mm) and rear (142mm x 12mm).
An interesting addition is the mount on the front of the top tube. Looks a bit like a bottle cage mount but is actually for Momsen Design’s Integrated Toptube Bag intended to carry spares or food. Or both. A nice touch and ideal for long rides and races.
The suspension is managed by Fox Float CTD with 100mm of travel up front and 80mm at the rear – it’s a race bike remember – performance over plush… The wheelset sees Stan’s Rapid rims laced to Shimano Deore hubs, wrapped in Kenda Honey Badger tyres. Both the rims and the tyres are tubeless-specific in design, which mean a lower cost when converting to tubeless. The groupset is a Shimano mix with XT 2×10 crankset and rear derailleur, SLX front derailleur and Deore shifters and brakes. The cockpit comprises brand-neutral alloy bars, stem and seatpost with a Selle Royal Seta 1 saddle.
The VIPA AC felt comfortable and balanced immediately. All our testers reported this, which is rare. The only exception was that the 700mm bars were narrower than one tester would have liked. As far as ride-feel goes, the VIPA AC was really silky smooth in both suspension and shifting sensation and, well, just while pedalling. But like really smooth! Whatever it was, it was noticeable and appreciated. Note: we never felt this same smoothness on the full-carbon VIPA, which got us wondering if the aluminium front triangle contributed to this smoothness…
As a climber the VIPA AC is capable, but not nimble and we made the most the 2×10 range of gears on the steep, rough ascents. On more steady climbs we were able to settle into a comfortable climbing rhythm though.
Descending was superb. The rear suspension, as we discovered on previous VIPAs, fights well above it’s 80mm travel category and made us feel confident on any trail terrain, including rocky, steep drop-downs and drop-offs. The cornering was pin-sharp. We couldn’t fault it. The Kenda Honey Badger tyres may have helped contribute to this. They’ve got a soft tread compound and hooked up well on most surfaces, but the through-axle, super-reliable fork and the headtube angle all seemed to combine well. At 440mm the VIPA AC’s chainstays are also the shortest of the four bikes in the group, which helps tackle tight turns (and accelerating out of them) faster. A wider bar would be needed for bigger riders we reckon. We found the Selle Royal saddle a little too soft and wide on very long rides, but most of our testers are relatively narrow in the sit-bone dept, so this is more a personal thing. Shifting, as mentioned earlier was faultless and braking was good, but not the best in this group test.
With the VIPA AC, Momsen has successfully delivered a race-orientated dual-suspension bike at a sub-R40K price point. Besides lacking a bit of steep-climb agility, it hits the marathon/stage race bike sweet spot in every department. The VIPA AC is undoubtedly a serious performance bike, but has a definite playful side too.
SIZES: XS, S, M (tested), L
TOP TUBE LENGTH: 595mm
SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 432mm
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 70.5 degrees
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73.5 degrees
CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 440mm
PRICE: R36 500
COLOURS: Charcoal with gold/white detail
FRAME: Alloy front triangle, carbon swingarm
WEIGHT: 12.98Kg (Tubeless with pedals)
FORK: Fox Float CTD, 100mm travel, 15mm thru-axle
SHOCK: Fox Float CTD, 80mm travel
SHIFTERS: Shimano Deore Trigger
FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano SLX (2×10)
REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano XT
CRANKSET: Shimano XT (38/24)
BRAKESET: Shimano Deore M615 with 160mm rotors
WHEELS: Stans ZTR Rapid, Deore Hubs, Stainless Butted Spokes (32 hole)
TYRES: Kenda Honey Badger, XC Pro 29×2.25 Tubeless
OTHERS: Alloy Flat Top 700mm handlebars, Alloy Stem, Alloy Micro-Adjust Seatpost, Selle Royal Seta S1 Saddle
CONTACT: www.momsenbikes.com; 041 372 1418
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*Originally published in TREAD Issue 33, 2015 – All rights reserved