This is our second Momsen VIPA on test, the first being the 650b (27.5) wheel size, which we had mostly our women riders review due to the sizing. Momsen makes Small frames with 650b wheels and Medium and Large frames with 29-inch wheels. We think this makes sense as our experience of wheel-size suitability confirms rider proportion is often a primary factor.
– Photos: Dino Lloyd
The VIPA has a high modulus carbon fibre frame, shaped to offer what Momsen believes to be an optimal combination of high performance strength, stiffness and lightness. The suspension design is courtesy of South African bike design guru, Patrick Morewood. Placing the Fox Float CTD shock beneath the toptube, it offers a rising-to-falling linear suspension curve, which is claimed to ‘supersize’ the bike’s moderate 80mm of travel. The bike is specced for reliability and performance, should you be the racing type. The wheelset is Stan’s ZTR Crest, while the fork is a Fox Float with 100mm of travel, CTD adjustment and a 15mm through-axle. There’s a complete Shimano XT gear and brakeset and Ritchey Comp alloy handlebars, stem and seatpost with a Fizik Tundra saddle. Our test bike was fitted with a Momsen Downer stem (90mm with -20 degree drop) and Momsen Mount Graham tyres, by Arisun. The VIPA normally comes with a Schwalbe Thunder Burt on the front and a Kenda Slant Six on the rear.
We got to ride the VIPA in three provinces (Eastern Cape, KZN and Gauteng), giving it a full range of challenges including a few races. As a climber, it’s incredibly responsive. And it’s light. At a touch over 11kg, It may not be the lightest full-suspension carbon bike in terms of weight, but it RIDES light uphill and that’s something all our testers noted. We weren’t afraid to climb in ‘Trail’ mode, but did appreciate ‘Climb’ mode for very long ascents, which felt more efficient. This may seem obvious, but we have tested a few marathon/XC bikes that have been happy ascenders in ‘Trail’ mode. There’s no remote shock adjustment on the VIPA, which didn’t really bother us. It’s when a similar category bike costs R20-30K more and doesn’t have remote shock lockout that we feel a bit ‘done in’. The 80mm of travel certainly does feel like more, which is testament to the design.
The VIPA handles with superb precision and poise. Be it tight turns, fast corners, high-speed downhill, technical descents or tricky singletrack the VIPA never felt skittish. The geometry is about as neutral as you can get on a Marathon/XC bike (71-degree headtube; 73-degree seattube), but we still felt incredibly secure on steep descents, which is where we’d normally notice the benefits of a more relaxed headtube. The wide bars (720mm) definitely help improve handling confidence, as does the 15mm through-axle.
The Shimano XT groupset reaffirmed its status as our current favourite groupset with consistently precise shifting and braking performance, while the Stan’s Crest wheels were light and strong and the Mount Graham tyres surprisingly versatile (see full review on Page XX).
Marketed as ‘South Africa’s first superbike’, the Momsen VIPA doesn’t disappoint. A high-quality, full-suspension carbon fibre frame with this reliable, high-performance spec at two-thirds (at least) of the price of similar models of international brands is quite something. That it’s a South African brand is a bonus and confirmation that this country has as much talent behind the bike as it does on it… The VIPA isn’t only a race bike, but if you are serious about racing, it’s a bike you can put all your faith in.
SIZES: S, M, 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: R50 995
COLOURS: Matt carbon black. White/red/gold ascents
FRAME: High modulus carbon fibre
WEIGHT: 11.76kg with pedals
FORK: Fox Float with CTD adjust, 100mm of tavel and 15mm Thru-Axle
SHOCK: FOX Float with CTD adjust and 80mm of travel
SHIFTERS: Shimano XT Rapidfire Plus
FRONT DERAILLER: Shimano XT
REAR DERAILLER: Shimano XT
CRANKSET: Shimano XT Hollowtech 38/24
BRAKESET: Shimano XT hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors
WHEELS: Stan’s No Tubes ZTR Crest
TYRES: Schwalbe Thunder Burt 29 x 2.1 / Kenda Slant Six 27.5 x 2.1 (Tested – Mount Graham 2.0)
OTHERS: Ritchey Comp Handlebar (720mm), stem and seatpost (stem tested – 90mm Momsen Downer) and Fizik Tundra 2 saddle
CONTACT: www.momsenbikes.com; 041 3721418
RECREATIONAL- COMMITTED-HIGH PERFORMANCE
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*Originally published in TREAD Issue 30, 2014 – All rights reserved