Sunday, January 4, 2015

My 2010 Mongoose Otero Elite: Long Term Review

Purchased new in 2010, my five year old Mongoose has seen a lot of upgrades, but the bones on this bike are still strong.

My Mongoose Otero is the bike that is behind most of my modern day mountain biking adventures and has seen everything from pinewood forests to sandy beaches. Nearly every part of this bike with the exception of the frame, derailleurs, handlebars and seat post has been replaced. I have not been kind to this bike in the slightest; it has taken a beating and continues  to come back for more. With my recent shock upgrade it rides better than it did when I purchased it new.

Exploring the sandy beaches at Tybee Island

At $550.00, this bike was one of the most affordable full suspension bikes of it's time. 2010 was the last year this model would be available before being replaced by the Salvo, a full suspension bike with a vertically aligned rear travel not available here in the U.S. This year would also be the last year we would see well specced, 26 inch wheeled bicycles at this price and of this quality. The following years have placed a greater emphasis on developing 29er bicycles as well as 27.5 inch wheel mountain bikes. 

As readers of my blog are already aware, I'm a big fan of steel bikes. Some might wonder why I'm writing an article on a five year old aluminum full suspension bike when I do most of my riding on a rigid steel one. The explanation is simple; the reason why I now ride rigid mountain bikes as an adult is because a full suspension bike gave me the confidence to do so. The risk of failure isn't as great if I don't land a jump on a full suspension bike properly. On a rigid bike, landing hard on the front wheel almost always ends up hurting either the bike or the rider involved. In addition to landing, cornering my full suspension bike is a lot easier, especially with the 2.32 inch wide Vredestein Black Panther tires I have on it. I am able to run the tire pressure as low as 30 psi and paired with my wider profile Sun Rims Dynolite wheels, I get great traction over loose surfaces. Who knows, with my mongoose up to date I may put off getting a fat bike, at least for now.

Although climbing speed is sacrificed due to the travel eating up the uphill pedal stroke, speed is more than made up for going downhill. This is where the Mongoose shines and proves it's worth as a well designed yet affordable bicycle. The robust aluminum frame is durable and has taken some big hits and spills. After five years I have yet to find a cracked weld on it. 

The best part about this bicycle are the infinite possibilities of upgrades that can be done to it. The bicycle's rear shock eye to eye distance is a standard 6.5 inches, impressive for a bicycle manufactured at it's price range. By swapping out the old hardware from the original shock I was able to upgrade the Suntour Raidon shock to a much nicer shock made by DNM. This shock features a dual air chamber, lockout capabilities and adjustable rebound. For $85.00 I got a shock that has been compared to the much more expensive Fox RP2 in performance. DNM shocks are available at online retailers like eBay and Amazon and no, I don't get paid a royalty for telling my readers that.

I upgraded the rear shock with a DNM dual chamber air shock by removing the new hardware and replacing it with the original bolts.
In addition to upgrading the rear shock, I also upgraded the front fork, which was a heavy behemoth Suntour XCM that weighed about 10 pounds. The bike now has a Rockshox XC28 fork with 100 millimeters of travel and a 220 pound rated, aftermarket coil spring. The front and rear shock can easily take my weight and stand up to the style of cross country riding that I do. This bicycle handles with confidence and there is no feeling of being thrown over the handlebars, even on landings that I don't make perfectly. 

Good 26 inch full suspension mountain bikes are not really manufactured anymore these days, unless they are uber expensive downhill bikes. In general, mountain bikes of good quality are no longer sold to consumers at the price that I paid for this one. This has proven to be a dependable trail bike that has given me confidence to improve my mountain biking skills by providing me with some room for error in should I land incorrectly. Riding a full suspension bike like this one is a great way to hone mountain biking skills after cross training with a rigid, old school mountain bike. My Mongoose Otero has amplified my riding skills by making jumps higher and downhills faster than they would be otherwise. Stay tuned for more reviews and tips from A Bicycle's Point of View.

  



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