Ah, Home and Away. A TV institution, a series that seems to have been around forever and which, despite its longevity, basically remains the same. Tinkered slightly – a family division here, a druggy subplot there – but never drastically overhauled. The 2013 version of the Mongoose Teocali is the bicycle equivalent.
It has a few evolutions from the previous generation, but beneath the new finish, frame tweaks and spec changes it’s basically the same underlying machine. And that’s not necessarily a criticism. Home and Away has been beamed into lounge rooms for 24 years, making dinner times less painful for millions of Australians – it’s part of our social fabric, and it’s obviously pretty good entertainment or it would’ve been axed last century. The Teocali too – it is a bloody good bread and butter bike for the intermediate rider.
So what are you getting in this striking red and white beast? A trail bike, with a penchant for rough and tricky trails, and good value too. It’s not light, and not pushing any technological boundaries perhaps, but it hits the nail on the head for riders who prefer the satisfaction of conquering tricky trails on a two hour weekend ride, as opposed to all-day fireroad adventures.
The Teocali packs 150mm travel (front and rear), which is the magic number for many riders, hitting the balance between forgiveness and manoeuvrability. Despite the bike’s fairly hefty 14.38kg, it’s really quite efficient (a hallmark of the Freedrive system), so it’ll trundle along nicely, rolling surprisingly quickly on the aggressive Kenda rubber. Mongoose have been smart enough to keep the rims quite light, so there’s not too much rotating mass, and the rear tyre is a skinnier 2.1” (the front is 2.25”) to reduce drag. The rear suspension doesn’t feature any kind of lockout, and we didn’t ever feel like we wanted it either.
While the tall bars do their best to make climbing a chore, it will chug up most ascents happily. Some people will instantly want to pop on a longer stem and lower the bars to give the bike a little more direction on steep, seated climbs. In contrast, it actually relishes the odd technical out-of-the-saddle pinch; jump up on the pedals and it’s easy to make quick, snappy accelerations as the suspension doesn’t wallow under power.
The handling is even and predictable as well. It scoots casually through singletrack without any nasty surprises, and good weight distribution makes it easy to pick up the front wheel for drops. The upright riding position gives you plenty of confidence and the angles are nicely suited to picking your way down technical descents. We love the addition of the X-Fusion adjustable seat post too. It’s the perfect item for a bike like this, letting you hang it all out with your hanging-out bits getting snagged on the saddle. We were surprised by the level of confidence we had on the Teocali from the first ride, negotiating steep chutes that we’ve baulked at on other, pricier bikes.
Suspension balance is more questionable; we were very impressed by the fork, which is ultra smooth (though heavier riders will need a firmer spring), but the rear end is a little choppy in comparison. The Freedrive suspension is very firm near the end of its travel, and the Rockshox Monarch is not known as the smoothest suspension item in the business. If you’re the kind of rider who is good at hopping or pumping through the terrain, you’ll appreciate the Teocali’s ability to generate speed but pumping the terrain. If you’re more of a ‘plougher’ you’ll find the rear end a bit harsh. The frame and fork are both laterally stiff, so even hard riders will find the Teocali can hold its line when pushed into uncomfortable situations.
At under $2800, there are few holes to be found in the ’Goose’s component spec. The SRAM/Avid mix isn’t flashy, but it’s all appropriate gear, especially the 2×10 drivetrain and aforementioned X-Fusion post. The lack of lock-on grips is a shame, don’t leave the shop without them, and the rims seemed to dent up a little easily too. Grip gripe aside, the Teocali’s components should run trouble free for years of rough riding.