OUT OF AFRICA
THE MOMSEN VIPA RACE TWO
Momsen bikes are new to Australian shores, and hail from somewhere due west. Not just Perth where the importer is based, but all the way from South Africa. South Africa might be known for Rugby, boerewors, braais, but bikes are also a pretty big deal. Mountain bikes in-particular. With names like Greg Minaar, Andrew Neethling, Erik Kleinhans, Mariske Strauss and of course the late Burry Stander, South Africa has some serious mountain bike pedigree considering their size. The strong point of South Africa’s mountain bike scene is stage racing and marathon racing. Having hosted the XCO and DHI World Championships in 2013, then the Marathon (XCM) World Championships in 2014, and now a World Cup in Stellenbosch, South Africa is still best-known for the Cape Epic. The eight-day UCI HCS (beyond categorisation, which is ironically a category itself) race has live television coverage, and a huge followong. Yet, this is just one race in South Africa. Erik Kleinhans once commented that he could do a stage race every weekend, and through many weeks, without leaving South Africa. From 2-day events to 9-day events, and immense challenges like The Munga – South Africa has an addiction to endurance mountain biking. And that’s exactly where bikes like the Momsen Vipa Race Two fit. Momsen Bikes is the brainchild of Victor Momsen, who launched the bike brand in 2009. With a background in the bike industry and qualifications in mechanical engineering, the brand was in it’s infancy as 29ers took off, and by offering a frame kit at a great price it was easy for people to upgrade and re-use much of the running gear from their current 26” wheeled bike. With a lot of success at home, Momsen are now branching into Australia and Europe.
The Momsen Vipa Race is one of about eight full-suspension mountain bikes on the market that can take two water bottles inside the main triangle – and only about 4 of those are readily available in Australia. This might not seem like that big of a deal, but on longer rides, or more demanding events like the Cape Epic, Crocodile Trophy, Joberg2c or even The Pioneer, fluid carrying capabilities can make or break your day on the bike. The silhouette of the Vipa Race looks a little ungainly at first to some of it’s counterparts, until you look closer to seethe details. The headtube is quite tall, but not overly so, which helps add stiffness to the front end. The down tube is oversized and the press-fit bottom bracket shell is as well for added rigidity. The top tube drops for clearance, with a strut to reinforce the seat tube, and the chain and seat stays are both full-carbon. For a bike at about $5500 this isn’t always the case, typically you will find a carbon main triangle with alloy swing arms. Spacing in the back end is 142x12, and the RockShox SID RL fork is 15x100 up front. Both have tool-free operation which is a little heavier but a nod towards race use – as it’s faster that way. The geometry is pretty spot on for the purpose, with a steep 73.5 degree seat angle keeping you on top of the pedals, a moderate 40mm bottom bracket drop offering a good mix of stability and pedal clearance, and a head angle of 70.5 degrees keeping the bike quite agile. Reach on the large I tested was 436mm with a 615mm top tube. I have long arms and typically ride a large when others my height might prefer a medium. It’s worth noting this is the largest frame size. The cables and hoses are internally routed, and the bike is routed for and equipped with a SideSwing Shimano front derailleur, for a 2x11 Shimano XT M8000 group set. Like any Shimano 2x11 group, stripping the front shifter and derailleur off and swapping out to a single ring (and maybe trade the 11-42 cassette for an 11-46) is an easy change. But if you are looking at longer events, the