- Mongoose Teocali Super
- Hot Wheels
- 01202 732288
Mongoose is a brand that’s been around for years, but it’s been through quite a few pairs of hands and been repositioned all over the shop. It’s now owned by Pacific (which also owns GT) and does a range of good-value mountain bikes. Previous Mongoose FS designs have been nothing out of the ordinary, but the Teocali is something different.
The “Freedrive” suspension design, found on three trail-oriented Teocalis (of which the Super is the top of the range) and two longer-travel freeride ones, is a reinterpretation of GT’s I-Drive (for which Pacific owns the patent). But while it’s very similar it’s not the same in a couple of important ways. More of that shortly…
The Teocali is certainly a distinctive-looking beast. Some people seemed to think that it’s ugly, which is going a bit far. It’s not conventionally attractive, but it’s got a purposeful sort of stance about it. All the tubing is 6061 aluminium with various interestingly-shaped bits to accommodate the suspension design.
The down tube has a flared round-to-square cross-section, with a gusset-supported headtube (that takes an integrated headset) at one end and a forged piece that carries two of the suspension pivots at the back end. The top tube is a perfectly ordinary round tube, with the very abbreviated seat tube held up by a selection of square-section struts.
Out back is where things get really interesting. As far as the back wheel can tell, the Freedrive design is a single high pivot swingarm – the rear axle arcs around the pivot you can see right in the middle of the bike. That gives the kind of initially-rearward suspension action that leads to impressive small-bump sensitivity and pedalling stability (because bumps come from the front and the rider’s weight doesn’t) but ordinarily would lead to lots of chain growth, unpleasant pedal feedback and chain tension effects. This is where the Freedrive gubbinses comes in. There’s a linkage between the bottom corner of the swingarm and the BB shell, which lives at the bottom of a tube that swings on a second pivot below the main swingarm one and drives the shock from its top end. It’s rather hard to explain, but the upshot of it is that as the suspension compresses the bottom bracket moves backwards and up to reduce chain growth.
A Fox Float RP3 shock holds the back end up, while two mounting positions allow you to choose 4.5 or 5.5in of travel. Unfortunately the position of the shock rather limits the scope for dropping the seat, and there’s no stop to prevent you from actually thwacking the shock shaft with the end of the seatpost. You get one pair of bottle bosses, although they’re under the down tube so more use for light batteries than water.
We’ve got used to £2,000 bikes having seamless componenent specifications with no obvious weak spots, but more mid-priced bikes tend to have the odd unevenness. Not the Teocali, though. Mongoose have done a great job of speccing it out. Suspension components are from Fox, with the RP3 shock at the back and TALAS R fork at the front. We like this fork a lot – you get all of the performance of spendier Fox forks but without stumping up for extra adjustments that you’ll probably never use. You get the important stuff (travel and rebound adjustment) and none of the fluff. It’s also gone up to a max of 130mm travel for 2005.
The fork runs in a WTB integrated headset. We’re not huge fans of these (regular headsets fall firmly into the “ain’t broke” category) but they work fine. Truvativ supply the forged stem and oversize bulge riser bars.
SDG’s I-Beam seat/seatpost system puts in an appearance at the back. Rather than the conventional arrangement of saddle rails and clamp, I-Beam moulds a single rail into the bottom of the saddle with a pivoting clamp on the top of the seatpost. Again, we’re slightly in “ain’t broke” territory here, although the saddles are very light and it’s going to be tricky to bend or break the single moulded-in rail.
The all-WTB wheel package features Laser Disc Lite hubs with funky hollowed-out flanges laced to Laser Disc rims and shod with 2.1in DNA compound Exiwolf tyres. Brakes are Avid’s Juicy Sevens, featuring handy leverage adjusters to dial in the brake feel. You’re only getting a 160mm front rotor, though, which seems a little meagre on a bike with this amount of travel.
SRAM supply most of the transmission, with X.9 triggers, rear mech and cassette. There’s a Shimano front mech (SRAM’s X-Gen unit wouldn’t fit the space available) and our test bike had a Shimano HG chain. Cranks are Truvativ’s new outboard crank Giga X Pipe Stylo Teams and a pair of Shimano M520 SPD pedals finishes things off.
This is a seriously impressive spec for the money. The tyres possibly wouldn’t be our first choice for the UK and we’d like a bigger rotor at the front, but other than that there’re no obvious holes in it. And the whole shebang comes in at a not-too-shabby 29lb. Good stuff.
We’ve already mentioned the relationship between this bike and GT’s i-Drive design, but there are important differences. The main one is that the swingarm pivot is higher up, imparting more rearward movement to the early part of the axle path. The second (and related) one is that the bottom bracket moves more – you’re getting a good couple of inches out of it at full compression. You’re probably thinking that that feels odd and at first, it does. But you only have to ride up a square-edged steppy climb to realise that it makes a lot of sense. The rear wheel just sucks over the lumpy bits and the BB moving backwards is a lot less distracting than the pedals kicking back at you. Stood up on bumpy downhills you hardly notice the BB shifting about as you’re probably moving about a lot anyway. And there’s something to be said for automatically moving slightly further back on big hits…
Performance-wise, this is a really good suspension design. Even with the RP3 shock set to its minimum ProPedal setting there’s only a little bit of movement under power, and that goes away on the middle setting without unduly affecting small-bump sensitivity. The maximum setting seems to be largely redundant, although big or pedal-mashing riders may have a use for it. Similarly there doesn’t seem to be any particular benefit to the shorter-travel setting at the rear. In theory it’ll be better controlled due to the lower leverage ratio, but in practise it doesn’t seem to make any difference except that you run out of travel earlier. In the long-travel setting with the TALAS fork at 130mm it’s beautifully balanced.
The handling is excellent, striking a great balance between agility and stability. We took it down some quite alarming trails and it proved itself to be a staunch ally – no surprises, no quirks, just a feeling that it was on your side. The relatively small brakes started to complain on longer descents, but they doled out plenty of power for their size and being able to dial in your chosen feel is a real boon.
The Teocali’s no slouch uphill, either, clawing itself up lumpy climbs and not getting in the way on smooth stuff. So it’s all good? Well, almost. It’d be nice to be able to drop the saddle further than is possible, and the Freedrive linkages are something of a mud trap in typical UK winter conditions, although room around the rear wheel is OK.
Positives: Impressive spec, great ride
Negatives: Not great in mud, limited seat height adjustment
The long-travel trail bike market is a crowded one, and Mongoose may not be the first manufacturer that you’d think of. On this showing, though, it deserves a higher profile. The seat and mud things limit its all-round appeal but it’s an excellent ride and a killer spec. Well worth shortlisting.