It’s been a long, long time since we last rode a Mongoose mountain bike (the Teocali for a TREAD review back in 2010 – Issue 7). Primarily a BMX brand in this country, Mongoose continues to provide budget-based model mountain bikes. This was the first 29er Mongoose we’ve ridden and to be honest, we were a little skeptical of it with a price tag just under R25 000. But the 100m-travel aluminium dual-sus 29er is pretty much the South African ‘sweet spot’, so we didn’t hold back – either with our riding or our opinion…
By the TREAD testers
Photos: Dino Lloyd
The aluminium frame looks both sturdy and sleek, with a tapered headtube, an uninterrupted seattube and low-position rear-shock suspension design. It’s a Horst-link style design where the rear shock is mounted on an alloy plit that extends from the main pivot. The floating shock mount means you can use all the available travel without having to run the shock too soft because, as the suspension compresses, the relationship between the upper link and the shock changes, offsetting the ramp up that’s a bit of a limiter with all air shocks. The X-Fusion 02 RLX shock has three settings, similar to the CTD of the more prevalent Fox. The fork is a Manitou Marvel Comp with 100mm of travel, lockout, rebound adjust and a thru-axle.
The 3×10 drivetrain is a mix of Shimano – SLX shifters, LX front derailleur, M612 triple crankset and a Shadow XT rear derailleur (with clutch).
The brakes are Hayes Radar hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors and the wheelset is Sun Ringle TR25 rims mated to no-name alloy hubs. Our test rig came with Chaoyang Hornet 29×2.20 dual compound tyres with sidewall protection (Shark Skin), but the bike normally has Kenda Honey Badger rubber fitted as standard (we were also testing the tyres).
The alloy handlebar (Kore), stem and seatpost and Mongoose Trail saddle are all colour matched (along with the rims) to make for a good-looking package.
A triple chainring is becoming a rarity these days. We actually never once felt the need to use the ‘granny’ ring during our testing, but that’s not to say it’s redundant. There are certainly less conditioned riders that will appreciate this gearing range, especially in areas with long and/or steep climbs. The drivetrain parts were quite a Shimano mix, but blended well with largely crisp, predictable shifts. A Shadow XT clutch rear derailleur is quite a bonus on a bike in this price range.
The Hayes brakes failed to impress us. They lacked the stopping power of other budget-level models such as Tektro and Shimano’s basic offering. There’s no official importer for Hayes in South Africa so spares sourcing would require some effort.
But those are really the only negative elements of the Salvo 9R Expert. It climbed surprisingly well on rough ascents, we think partly due to the fairly aggressive geometry (71-degree headtube and 74.5-degree seattube) and partly due to the efficient suspension, which gave the rear end ample traction when it was required.
Descending on moderately rough terrain was good, but we found the fork was outshone by the rear shock on the big, gnarly downs. It worked through its travel quickly and felt a bit ‘squirrelly’ at speed. To be fair, the rider that’s most likely to buy this bike isn’t likely to tackle such gnarly terrain, but it’s worth noting. We fiddled with the fork pressure and tyre pressure up front and found what we felt was a good compromise for the most common conditions – hardpack and mildly rough terrain.
Cornering was good in general. High-speed turns had us having to lean in a little more than anticipated. We don’t believe this was the tyres, rather the long stem/narrow bars/short toptube combo.
With a relatively short toptube, the Salvo does require a longish stem, so changing to a shorter stem isn’t really an option. Again though, riders that buy this bike aren’t likely to be too concerned about high-speed descents and super fast cornering. In most situations, it’s relatively stable.
A note on the fork: Its thru-axle design has to be the most frustrating system we have encountered.
You will struggle to find another 100mm-travel dual-sus aluminium 29er at this price. Our initial skepticism was short-lived. In most situations, the Salvo 9R is more than capable. The imbalance we noticed between the front and rear suspension isn’t likely to be noticeable to the most likely buyer of this bike. And who is that most likely buyer? Someone that’s keen to move from a hardtail, but is on a tight budget. Someone that’s keen to race marathons or stage races with greater comfort and improved control (over what a hardtail offers). Someone that’s interested in finishing a race, but not finishing on the podium. At 14kg, it’s a little heavier than most dual suspension bikes out there. But, as we’ve pointed out time and again, weight isn’t everything when it comes to a dual suspension bike.
SIZES: S, M (tested), L
TOP TUBE LENGTH: 592mm
SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 457mm
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 71 degrees
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 74.5 degrees
CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 455mm
PRICE: R24 995
COLOURS: Gloss Black with Blue/Gold detail
FRAME: Aluminium with Horst Link swingarm.
WEIGHT: 14.27Kg (incl pedals)
FORK: Manitou Marvel Comp, 100mm thru-axle
SHOCK: X-Fusion 02 RLX, 3-Position Adjustment
SHIFTERS: Shimano SLX
FRONT DERAILLER: Shimano LX
REAR DERAILLER: Shimano XT Shadow
CRANKSET: Shimano 3×10, 22/30/40T
BRAKESET: Hayes Radar hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors
WHEELS: Sun Ringle rims 32H, Alloy hubs, 14g straight gauge stainless steel spokes
TYRES: Kenda Honey Badger 29x 2,1, Tubeless Ready, Kevlar. Tested: Chaoyang Hornet 29×2.20, Sidewall protection (Shark Skin) dual compound
OTHERS: Alloy 31.6mm Seatpost, Kore Alloy 13mm rise, 690mm wide handlebars, forged 31.8mm Alloy Stem, Mongoose XC trail saddle.
CONTACT: www.ominco.co.za; 021 691 0110
TREAD Magazine is sold throughout South Africa and can be found in: Spar, CNA, Exclusive Books, Discerning bike shops and on Zinio
*Originally published in TREAD Issue 40, 2016 – All rights reserved