We’re seeing a lot of Momsens on the trails these days. The South African brand intends for that trend to continue with updates on its popular models, including the 2014 AL529.
The second generation AL529 has a revised geometry and a sleeker look than its predecessor. The chainstays have been shortened by 10mm to 445mm and the downtube is also less curved on the 2014 model, following a more direct path to the bottom bracket. The frame is made from 6061 butted aluminium, dressed in glossy black with subtle red and white detail. We like the ‘Inspired by the Mountain’ pay-off line, but even more so now that it doesn’t dominate the top of the toptube, but is positioned on the sides near the seattube – smaller, understated. The seattube has been revised to take the narrower 27.2mm diameter seatpost, which increases vertical compliance, adding a small measure of comfort over the 2013 31.6mm design. Another update, in this case upgrade, is the replacement of no-name brand alloy handlebars, seatpost and stem with reputable Ritchey cockpit components. The suspension fork has also been upgraded from a Rock Shox SID RL to a Rock Shox Reba RL. A SRAM X9 Type 2 rear derailleur (also an update) headlines the groupset line-up, mated with a SRAM X7 front derailleur and SRAM X5 shifters. The crankset is a SRAM S1000 3 x 10. There’s a very good wheelset with Stan’s Crest rims, Shimano SLX hubs and Kenda Slant Six tubeless-ready tyres. – a good combination of durable and light weight. There’s also a very sleek, race-specific Sella Royal Seta S1 saddle. We weren’t expecting this bike to be light and we were right. But at 11.83kg (without pedals), it’s still a trim welterweight steed. As with it’s predecessor, the 2014 AL529 comes with Shimano M505 clipless pedals.
Aluminium hardtail 29ers make up the bulk of the South African mountain bike market. As a result, we’ve tested more of these bikes than any other since the en masse arrival of the bigger wheels. The first thing we explore is ‘feel’. The AL529 feels stable and responsive on straight-line accelerations. Cornering feel can be affected by tyres and we noticed this on the AL529. We loved the Kenda Slant Six on the rear, but felt it to be a little inadequate on the front in very aggressive cornering. However for most riders, who don’t see every corner as an on-the-limit traction challenge, it does the job just fine.
Our testers agreed that the new AL529 seems more responsive than its predecessor, both through turns and when accelerating out of the saddle. This may be due to the shorter seatstays, or the more direct downtube-bottom bracket line – or both. Whatever it is, it’s noticeable and really gives the bike a racy feel. It’s not really surprising to see two bottle cage mounts inside the main triangle, but it’s worth mentioning for those that like their liquid nourishment on their bike, not their back…
With a triple chainring we never felt out of our depth on any gradient climb. And if you’re going to be racing on your AL525 (high recommended by the way), you’ll appreciate the relatively light wheels on the climbs and the race-level performance of the Rock Shox Reba RL fork on descents and through turns. Braking is good, but not exceptional. The larger 180mm rotor on the front is a smart addition, offering improved braking power. Shifting was predictable and we were pleasantly surprised about the minimal chain derailment incidents – something that can be a problem on a triple chainring set-up on long, rough descents. We assume the SRAM Type 2 rear derailleur had something to do with this improved chain management –reassuring, especially if you’re carrying race expectations…
We used to always think of Momsen as a brand on a mission to deliver value-for-money bikes. And while the brand delivers consistently on that front, the AL529 has altered our perception somewhat. The AL529 is a good-looking bike that’s been specced to ensure it’s quite at home on any marathon or XC race start line – and will hold it’s own until the finish line. The only changes we’d make are a front tyre with a more squared edge knob design and perhaps a wider saddle. But those are minor details on a popular model that’s been beautifully refined.
SIZES: S; M (tested); L; XL
TOP TUBE LENGTH: 595mm
SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 430mm
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 71.5 degrees
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73 degrees
CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 445mm
PRICE: R17 995
FRAME: Tech 2 6061 butted aluminium
COLOURS: Gloss black with red and white detail
FORK: Rock Shox Reba RL with 100mm travel and lockout
SHIFTERS: SRAM X5 trigger
FRONT DERAILLER: SRAM X7
REAR DERAILLER: SRAM X9 Type 2
CRANKSET SRAM S1000 44/32/22
BRAKESET: Shimano M596 hydraulic disc with 160mm (rear) and 180mm (front) rotors
WHEELS: Stan’s Crest rims, Shimano SLX hubs
TYRES: Kenda Slant Six 29×2.0
OTHERS: Ritchey Comp handlebar (720mm), Ritchey 4-Axis stem, Ritchey Comp seatpost (27.2mm), Selle Royal Seta S1 saddle, Shimano M505 clipless
CONTACT: www.momsenbikes.com; 041 368 5708
*Originally published in TREAD Issue 25, 2013 – All rights reserved