Welcome to the Pinkbike.com time machine. Let's forget about visiting historical moments in time and get down to business! We're going to jump forward and take a good long look at the 2009 Mongoose Boot'r. Its price tag is impressive, but does the 'goose perform?Read on and find out! Riding and tech video's inside!
Some of you lifers out there should know a bit about the Mongoose
of yore, but things have changed a bit since those glory days. Changes were made and the Mongoose name was starting to be found in places that it maybe shouldn't be. Due to that Mongoose has lost a bit of street cred over the years, but they are back to reclaim some of that respect in a big way. Over the last few years they have been steadily pumping out some proper mountain bikes and for 2009 they are taking another step in the right direction with some newly revamped bikes that look promising. The 2009 Boot'r is one of them.The Details....
The Boot'r frame is impressive, with a lot of little bits and touches that I was not expecting to see. The blue 'goose sports a 1.5" head tube up front, filled with a low-stack internal headset to keep things low and strong. Both the top and down tubes feature multi profiled shapes in the name of stiffness and stand over height. Cable routing simply disappears into the frame, with the built in guides under the forward shock mount being one of those "little bits" that all add up to a quality build. It's also good to see that the Boot'r uses as short as possible hardware for its Vivid's shock mounting reducers and bolts, a load stronger than running long bolts that bend easy. Those same bolts are also countersunk into the frame, for aerodynamics obviously! Every bead on the entire frame is even and consistent, no shoddy Friday afternoon welding to be found on this 'goose.
The rear wheel is attached with a 12/150 mm Maxle, and there is gobs of spare room in there for mud and squirrels. It's matte blue with orange highlights and I like it, especially with the orange Boxxer decals and e.13 bit's. I've had riders tell me it's a looker, and I've had other riders tell me it's "fugly". I think it's one of the sharpest looking rigs out there, but that's me and I have a bad track record....
So, what is the "FreeDrive" suspension all about? Before you break out the abacus and protractor, I'll ruin your fun: it's really just a variation of the proven single pivot suspension design, with a link and rocker arm to have greater control over it's action. FreeDrive is built around an extraordinary high main pivot, with the rear end being a single sturdy swingarm. There is some suspension trickery happening closer to the bottom bracket though. The BB is actually floating on the same link that activates the shock, and is connected to the swingarm via a short link. What does it all mean? You'll have to read the entire review to find out, but it should pedal well, carry speed over the lumpy sections, and work well in general. I'm not familiar with the '08 versions, but I'm told the 2009 Boot'r that you're reading about uses larger pivots and nicer hardware all around.
Before I give you the low-down on the parts spec, I should tell you about the '09 Boot'r's msrp of only $4000
. Keep that in mind as you read on....Suspension is all RockShox, a proven Boxxer Team up front (with matching orange decals!), and the new and extra tune-able Vivid 5.1 (also with a pro looking orange decal job). Braking is to be done with Avid's Elixir CR brake grabbing two 8" rotors. The CR versions feature the ability to adjust the bite point, as opposed to the regular Elixirs. This is the second test bike I've ridden with Elixir CRs, I was stoked with the first set and these are hopefully no different. SRAM has control of the shifting duties also, an X9 shifter does the clicking while an X.0. mech does the moving. The X9/X.0 combo is quite popular, and for good reason as you seem to get the best of the full bling setup, but you get to save some money for your energy drink addiction. Cranks are some relatively light Holzfeller OCT's with the corresponding Howitzer BB between them. A solid parts spec that sounds like a lot of bang for your buck so far, right?
Turn the large red cylinder to adjust bite point, turn the small black dial near the lever to adjust reach
Whoever is deciding what parts are going to be hung on the Boot'r must be a rider because there are a few smart additions to the build that most riders would have had to upgrade to later. Keeping your chain "chaining" is the racers choice of guides, an e.13 LG1 with a orange Taco bolted on for good measure. The blue 'goose comes stock with an integrated stem, a sharp looking Funn unit, with a 28" wide Funn bar bolted to it. Super sticky Funn pedals are at the other contact point on the bike, with proper tall set screws instead of cheaper flat-top pins. The I-Beam seatpost (the new micro adjust version) and custom Mongoose SDG seat is a nice surprise, the I-Beam system makes too much sense not to use, as long as you are happy with the seat selection.
Keeping the bike well under the 42 lb. mark, 41.7 actually, is a set of Sun ADD Lite wheels that use Sun's Jumping Flea hubs. The white rims, black spokes, and black hubs look amazing. The Jumping Flea rear hub has a aluminum freehub body, shaving a load of grams from earlier model Sun hubs. The Kenda Excavator tires are a new model and look like they would be more at home on a moto, not a pedal bike. Huge lugs and huge volume hopefully equal huge traction. The final touch is a set of aluminum bar end caps, nice!
Kenda's 2.5" Excavator
Riding The Boot'r....
A proper DH bike should do a number of things, and do them well. In order of importance: geometry and cornering, suspension action and how it responds to rider input, and the confidence that a good bike will instill in a rider. I'm sure you could argue those points to death, but what is obvious is how each of them relate to the other, and that if you manage to string them together you probably have a winner on your hands.I'm going to go ahead and spoil it for you right now though: The Mongoose Boot'r is one of the most competent DH bikes I've ridden.
That's a bold statement considering I've spent time on bikes that would retail for well over twice the Boot'r's asking price, and gotten good and loose on bikes with a lot more hype than the blue Mongoose. To put it as plainly as possible, this bike is very easy to ride fast and in control. Now that I've spilled the beans I'm going to do this review a bit differently than most. Instead of droning on about how good it is, I'll try to explain to you (and me!) just why it works so damn well. -First things first. It corners amazingly well and with very little effort, no matter what the speed. Why?
The Boot'r is steeper than the average "plow through" machine. I didn't want to be biased in anyway, to which I avoided scanning the Boot'rs geometry chart until I was done with the bike. It was pretty obvious right off the bat that the bike doesn't sport the common 64 degree head angle that is found on a lot DH bikes. The actual number turned out to be 65.5, although I would have guessed it to be another half a degree steeper. That number, combined with the bikes tallish seat tube/stand over height gave the Boot'r more of a "sit on" feel, rather than "sitting in" the bike. It also puts more weight on the front end, rewarding you with a boat load of traction up front. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the front end to push at all. I did dial in a touch more compression damping than usual to compensate for having more weight up front. For whatever reason the entire bike managed to stay remarkably level into, and through, corners. Hard braking didn't seem to upset the chassis at all, despite it being a high single pivot bike. Once I was used to the bike's quicker handling manners and consistent angles I could carry speed through any curve faster then ever I was used to. My answer to the question would be that all the angles and numbers work well together, and the stable nature of the bike only adds to the cornering prowess.
-The suspension isn't as forgiving as some, but in the same breath it outperforms most that comes to mind. What's going on?
As soon as I rolled through the roots and rocks up on Garbanzo I knew that something good was happening under me. No matter how tall the root or how deep the hole was, the Boot'r didn't seem fazed. Momentum is the secret to speed and the Boot'r has it in spades. The exceptionally high pivot gives the bike it's rearward axle path, and in turn it's easy to find speed in the rough sections of a trail. The whole "rearward axle path" thing seems to be played up quite a bit these days, but when it's done right it is a real advantage. Even with such a high pivot the FreeDrive system manages to keep chain growth to a minimum. People can go on and on about single pivot bikes and what they do wrong, but it was hard to fault the FreeDrive system. Under braking it felt just as active as any other bike I've ridden and pedaling was very decent.
I was also surprised at the bike's ability to absorb the terrain but still give me feedback as to what needed to be done. In other words, it managed to do it's job without being overly active. Some designs work well at absorbing the bumps but seem to wallow in their travel, the Boot'r isn't one of them. The Mongoose had a lively feel that encourages the rider to change lines quickly or pop up and over obstacles if needed. For a big DH bike it is quite nimble. I'm sure this is more design related than shock, but the Vivid surely plays a part also. This was my first go on a RockShox rear shock since the Deluxe series and I was impressed. Rather, I was impressed that I was never surprised by what was happening back there. It worked well and seemed to take everything in stride.
The Elixir CR brakes are amazing. There seems to be between 20%-30% more power at the lever than the standard Juicy 7, but modulation and feel was very similar. I find Codes to be over the top, especially early in their stroke. The Elixir's are the best of both worlds: Code power and Juicy feel, all wrapped up in one brake. I wouldn't hesitate to put a smaller 6" disc out back.
The Vivid 5.1 was nice and never surprised me. I played around with the early and ending stroke rebound a bit, but to be honest it didn't seem to make that much of a difference on the trail. I don't have any complaints about it though as I can't think of any time it was overwhelmed or reacted badly, always a good sign. The Boxxer Team did surprise me, being by far the smoothest and nicest feeling Boxxer I've used. Not that I have been disappointed with any Boxxer, but this one was especially good.
The Kenda Excavator tires were impressive, but they rolled like shit. What would you expect though, they look like they belong on something with 250 cc's of displacement. If your home trails are hard packed or require a bit more leg work mount up a set of less aggressive tires and you'll be happier.
The Sun ADD Lite rear wheel managed to nearly come apart on me after half a day on Garbanzo, Whistler's upper trails. The wheel was up to par the night before, but all tension went A.W.O.L. on me very quickly and bad enough that it rendered the bike un-rideable. 10 minutes spent sitting on a log while twirling a spoke wrench let me finish out the day, but it was obvious that it missed getting any spoke prep at the factory. Half the nipples were only a turn or two from being lost in the rim!
So, where doesn't the Boot'r shine?
The Boot'r is much more of a finesse bike than most. Pick your line, be light on the bike, and you'll be rewarded. In the super-gnar sections where consequences are high (picture the steepest of the steep and then add some roots, rock, and rain!) it's not as easy as shutting off the brain and leaning back. Then again you shouldn't be doing that anyways! If you straight line everything and go through rear wheels like they're going out of style, then maybe this isn't the bike for you.
She's quite tall. The medium has a 17.5" seat tube length and not a lot of room for your bit's while standing over the bike. I'm 5'10" with legs that just won't quit and was comfortable with the medium size. If you have shorter than average legs you may not feel at home.
The Bottom Line
I was very impressed with the Boot'r, which is pretty obvious if you've managed to read the entire review. Forgetting about how good of a deal a complete Boot'r is, it is one of the best DH bikes that I've ridden, period. Everything about the bike manages to come together and the end result is a DH bike that does everything right. Just to make sure I'm not getting soft, I handed the bike over to a few other riders and the consensus was the same. If the performance of the bike opened my eyes, the price is a complete shock. At $4000 you could take the Boot'r to any mountain, any race, and it will perform for you right off the shelf. In fact, if you had planned on spending more you could also lay down the coin on some upgrades and easily drop a few pounds to bring it in under the 40 lb. mark, or buy yourself some lift tickets , and still come home with change.
Check the entire 2008 range on the Mongoose site
. Be patient, it's not even close to 2009 yet!
*Canadian Distribution is in the works