The Bike The construction techniques and alloy materials used to make the frame are very similar across brands in this price category and have proven to be strong and reliable. What Momsen claim to have done differently is to adapt the modern long, low, and slack geometry trend that we see across the board in higher end bikes to entry level offerings.So what does it mean for a bike’s geometry to be long, low, and slack? There are traditional frame shapes, angles, and lengths that bikes have stuck to for some time. In the last few years, the bike industry has started to question and adapt these shapes, angles, and lengths to better suit modern mountain biking. This process includes slackening the angle of the head tube and hence the fork relative to the ground, increasing the top tube and down tube lengths to make more room for the rider, and increasing the distance between the wheels (usually by bringing the front wheel forward). What is the benefit of LSG geometry? Without writing a whole separate article, the aim of this modern geometry trend is to make a better handling, better fitting, and more stable mountain bike. While this geometry trend is now common across mid to top of the range bikes, entry level bikes have generally stuck to the traditional layout. This is unfortunate as it is probably at the entry level that riders would most benefit from the boost in confidence that modern geometry can bring. So how long, low, and slack is the Momsen AL229 LSG then? In comparison to modern bikes, the Momsen’s geometry is still very much a traditional design. However, amongst entry level hardtails, it is definitely more progressive than most. For those wanting numbers: on our medium frame the head angle is 70.5 degrees, reach is 423 mm, wheelbase 1113, chainstay length 450, and the bottom bracket drop is 60 mm.
The Components It is unfortunate but R10,000 simply does not get you as much bike as it did a couple years ago. That said, for the price tag, Momsen have managed to squeeze an array of reliable kit onto the AL229.The SR Suntour XCR32 fork with rebound adjust features an air spring rather than the coil spring often specified in this price category. While there is nothing wrong with a coil spring fork, the air sprung variants are usually far easier for riders to set up for their weight, resulting in a better suspension feel. For those looking to put down the watts, there is a remote switch on the handlebar to lockout the fork. The drivetrain is made up of Shimano’s entry level Altus and Acera components. Shimano have gone a long way to improve their base offerings. The Altus and Acera combo proved to work flawlessly. Compared to much more expensive drive trains, the shifting under power can be a bit clunky, and you need to plan your shifting in advance of steep climbs, but on the flat shifting is smooth and hassle free. The three chainrings are a bit overkill, as the gear range is more than adequate, but it seems that the cheaper groupsets are sticking to them, so no fault to Momsen on that one. Lastly, the chainstay is going to need a slap sock if you do plan to ride the rougher stuff, as chainslap noise can be alarming on bigger impacts. Overall, the drive system is perfectly suited for general mountain biking, and particularly covering distance on dirt roads.
The Shimano M365 disc brakes have a sharp on or off feel but for the riding this bike is aimed at, they stop very well.In this price range, the wheelset is never going to be anything amazing. All you can hope for is something solid and reliable. The combination of the Weinmann rims and Shimano hubs show promising signs of being just that. The CST Jack Rabbit tyres rolled very efficiently on dirt roads but in the corners the lack of sizeable tread means there is very little grip for the front tyre, and I was not too comfortable cornering at speed. Contact points were good. The Kraton Composite lock-on grips were grippy and provided some shock absorption, and the Momsen 2017 custom, satin steel rail saddle was comfortable for short rides. Considering that I take the stock saddle off most bikes, this is no poor reflection on the saddle. To match the increased length of the bike, the 80 mm stem is a bit shorter than is usually found in this price range, providing a more direct steering feel. At 700mm across the size range, the handlebars unfortunately won’t provide stability for bigger riders, but the bars felt adequate on the medium frame. In terms of appearance, reactions were mixed in the office. The red and blue colour scheme is fun and striking, but we found the matching blue handlebar, and saddle with red decals to be a bit excessive.
Frame2017 RaceTech TWO Alloy, Exclusive LSG Design, Integrated Toptube Box ( I.T.B ), Tapered Headtube ProfileSpeed27-SpeedSizesSmall, Medium, Large, X-LargeForkSR Suntour XCR32 RL-R, 100mm Travel, Air Adjust, Remote Lockout with Rebound AdjustBrakesShimano M365 Hydraulic / SM-RT10 Centerlock Rotors / 160mm Front and RearCranksetShimano M351 44/32/22TFront DerailleurShimano M370 AltusRear DerailleurShimano M3000 AceraShiftersShimano M3000 Acera TriggerHandlebarMomsen Oversize Flat Wide Alloy, 700mm, 6 Degree Sweep, 31.8mm OversizeStemMomsen Alloy Forged , 31.8mm OversizeHubsShimano RM33 CenterlockRimWeinmann XM260 Alloy Doublewall, Custom Decal, 32HSaddleMomsen 2017 Custom, Satin Steel RailSeatpostMomsen Alloy, 31.6mmTyresCST Jack Rabbit, 27tpi Wire Bead, 29 x 2.10 Front and RearEstimated Retail PriceR10,995.00
The Ride Compared to an older AL329, the AL229 LSG geometry of the Momsen is more planted on the trails which goes a long way in boosting confidence. On the steeper descents, being more centred on the bike relieves the fear of being pitched over the bars at any moment. The LSG geometry also increased the room in the cockpit which goes a long way to making the bike feel less cramped and an all-round a better fit. It is about time that the lower end of the market starts seeing the benefit of longer, lower, and slacker geometry. That said, I would not say no to even slacker and longer specs on the AL229 LSG.Weighing in at 13.9 kilograms without pedals, it is no XC race bike but competitive in the price bracket. It is very comfortable chugging along on the flats, and once up to speed is quite capable of moving it with the best of them. Handling is agile, and aside from the lack of grip on the tyres, the bike nips through berms happily. The fork was impressive with its smooth travel, it is probably not the lightest, but functionally it punches way above the bikes price bracket.
Conclusion The Momsen AL229 is a solid all round package with the dependable Shimano groupset and air fork. The LSG geometry is a step in the right direction, with a noticeable improvement in fit and handling over previous models. It is good to see this thinking trickling down to entry level bikes.If you are looking for a comfortable and capable entry-level bike this is a good place to start. The AL229 has all the basic requirements to ignite a passion for mountain-biking or, at the very least, allow you to have a good time with your mates outdoors.