Mom­sen Vipa Trail

THE MOM­SEN VIPA TRAIL

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - PHO­TOG­RA­PHER: TIM BARDSLEY-SMITH TESTER: MATT NAUTHE

INI­TIAL IM­PRES­SIONS

The Vipa Trail is fresh to the Mom­sen range, a big­ger brother to the XC/marathon thoroughbred Vipa Race which has been spot­ted at events like Cape to Cape in West Oz and the na­tional cross-coun­try se­ries. On first glance it looks like a car­bon copy of the tried and true XC model but on closer in­spec­tion you see that it is a to­tally fresh chas­sis com­plete with slacker and lower ge­om­e­try for higher sta­bil­ity at speed. At the heart of the bike is the full car­bon frame with all the reg­u­lar trim­mings like Boost spac­ing and in­ter­nal ca­ble rout­ing. The paint job is unique and a lit­tle retro with the de­cals and South African contour map on the top tube. The grey, black and red colour scheme works well. The South African contour map graph­ics on the top tube are def­i­nitely a talk­ing point and bleed of the proud SA her­itage. Put up against other trail bikes in this price bracket the Vipa Trail fairs quite well. This is only one of a hand­ful of bikes in this price bracket that of­fers a full car­bon frame, with most opt­ing for aluminium swingarms to keep the costs down. Sus­pen­sion is han­dled up front with the re­vamped Rock­Shox Rev­e­la­tion RC which is sport­ing larger 35mm stan­chions and up­graded damp­ener for this sea­son. It's cool to see this technology trickle down the added stiff­ness and im­proved small bump sen­si­tiv­ity com­ing at on a mar­ginal weight gain. Out the back the Fox Float EVOL Fac­tory with lock­out and Kashima coat­ing rounds out the sus­pen­sion pack­age giv­ing a bal­anced 120mm for each end. A full Shi­mano XT driv­e­train and brakes rounds out a solid parts kit. The 2x setup on first glance may seem like an odd choice in spec but the ben­e­fits of the ex­tra range are quite ap­pealling for those look­ing at this for trail and event du­ties. If this isn’t your cup of tea the cost of a 1x con­ver­sion is cheap as chips. The XT brakes are al­ways a bonus, they are solid per­form­ers and come sup­plied with finned pads and 180mm ro­tor up front for con­sis­tent power on the longer des­cents. Stans Arch rims are laced onto SLX hubs, which al­low for an easy con­ver­sion to tube­less. A good all round rim that can take some abuse with­out a penalty. The Vipa Trail is sup­plied with low pro­file VeeRub­ber 29x2.2” tyres though the clear­ance is there for some­thing like a 2.4”. The KS Lev Si In­te­gra seatpost is a new it­er­a­tion of their pop­u­lar ca­ble ac­tu­ated drop­per that has a light lever ac­tion and re­li­able long term per­for­mance. Mom­sen branded in-house aluminium han­dle­bars are of­fer plenty of width

aluminium han­dle­bars are of­fer plenty of width with a funky sweep, that is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to most other of­fer­ings on the mar­ket right now. The sad­dle is also a ba­sic in-house job. From the box the build leans more to­wards the XC end of the trail range with the dou­ble ring and low pro­file tyres while the ge­om­e­try sug­gests that it should be quite a ca­pa­ble de­scen­der also, with a 67.8 de­gree head an­gle, 440mm rear stays and 1128mm wheel­base on our medium test bike. As men­tioned with big­ger tyres and 1x this bike could have a to­tally dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity. All said and done the Vipa Trail weighs in at 13.3kg in­clud­ing tubes and pedals which is on par with other bikes in this cat­e­gory and price point. Drop a few hun­dred grams by mak­ing it tube­less.

ON THE TRAIL

The Vipa Trail is en­gag­ing and lively on the trails. Its rac­ing pedi­gree is clearly felt with in­stant ac­cel­er­a­tion when you put down the gas down, climb­ing in the sad­dle feels snappy and that was be­fore re­al­is­ing that there is a lock­out on the rear. Cruis­ing through un­du­lat­ing ter­rain the Vipa Trail was to­tally in its el­e­ment, tick­ing through the miles like an XC race bike with but with the a cheeky al­ter ego that wants you to push it into the rougher stuff. Tak­ing the hint, I took the bike onto trails that got faster and steeper and the Vipa Trail started to show its full worth. This is a bike that loves to rail cor­ners and feels su­per sta­ble at speed, this in­spires con­fi­dence to go that bit harder and to start hit­ting gaps that you don’t feel should be done on a bike sport­ing only 120mm of travel. There are a whole lot of 120-130mm travel bikes out there, and they can vary from long-legged XC bikes to shorter travel, hard-hit­ting trail bikes. And the Vipa Trail seems to walk a line be­tween the two, with the ef­fi­ciency of an XC bike but stiff frame and han­dling of a bike that can be pushed, and pushed hard, with an ex­pe­ri­enced rider. Drop­ping the seat and push­ing into the gnar the Vipa Trail feels to­tally pre­dictable, the whole pack­age feel­ing di­rect and re­spon­sive even through some pretty heavy rock gar­dens. It doesn’t shy away from the task and rid­den with con­fi­dence it al­lows you to hang it right out the back. Ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers with get a kick out of how hard this bike can be pushed. At the other end of this, some­one af­ter a bike for marathons, gen­eral moun­tain bik­ing and multi-stage events might love the ex­tra sta­bil­ity and con­fi­dence the Vipa Trail will pro­vide com­pared to a full-on XC bike. Sus­pen­sion choices are spot on and the front to back bal­ance was ex­cel­lent. The new Rock­Shox Rev­e­la­tions with the larger stan­chions and up­graded in­er­nals feel amaz­ing out on the trail - a real big step up from pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tions in terms of tun­ing but also how they use their travel. Fox EVOL cou­pled with the low lever­age sus­pen­sion de­sign gave re­ally good small bump com­pli­ancy and ramped up well with­out a harsh bot­tom out (which was tested on a few oc­ca­sions). The dou­ble ring was a pleas­ant ad­di­tion for the test with be­ing able to drop it into the small ring

“DROP­PING THE SEA T AND PUSH­ING INT O THE GNAR THE VIP A TRAIL FEELS T OTALLY PRE­DICTABLE, THE WHOLE PACK­AGE FEEL­ING DIREC T AND RE­SPON­SIVE EVEN THROUGH SOME PRETTY HEA VY ROCK GAR­DENS.”

and cruise the hills with lit­tle fuss. A god­send on fried legs. Through­out test­ing, all the de­scend­ing and rough stuff I didn’t man­age to drop the chain once which was the main con­cern of the setup. The low pro­file of the VeeRub­ber Rail Tracker roll su­per well eating up flow­ing trail though they did leave a lit­tle to be de­sired when the sur­face was looser or heavy brak­ing was required. With frame clear­ance up to 29x2.4” add some big­ger and more ag­gres­sive rub­ber and this bike can step it up another level again. Switch­ing to tube­less would be a mas­sive positive, to save weight and run lower pres­sures to in­crease trac­tion and also add com­pli­ancy to the ride.

OUR TAKE

For those who want some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to the pack, the Mom­sen Vipa Trail is a bike that will go all day hap­pily chew­ing through the trails. It is su­per efficient on the pedals and de­scends con­fi­dently straight from the box. Pop on some big­ger tyres and the Vipa Trail is bike that you would be in its el­e­ment on the trails of Derby, Buller and Falls Creek chew­ing up bulk trail miles. Keep the setup lean and you'd hap­pily line up on it at Cape to Cape or any en­durance event around Aus­tralia.

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