The Litelok X1 was launched amid much social media and YouTube hype, with videos of angle…
The Mongoose Fireball Moto is ready for any dirt jumps, pump tracks or big-wheeled street riding you can throw at it.
- Brand: Mongoose
- Product: Fireball Moto
- From: Mongoose
- Price: £550.00
- Tested by: Benji for 5 months
- Different enough without being overly irrelevant to MTBing
- Skills sharpener
- Taller riders may need higher rise bars
- Non-adjustable saddle angle isn’t great for middle-aged people!
There was a time in the noughties when my regular mountain bike would have been a similar to this; 26in wheels, cable disc brakes, short seat tube, singlespeed, shortish stem, 750mm ish wide bars, 69° head angle, irrelevant° seat angle. The only things that would be notably different would be the tyres (larger volume and knobblier), fork (more travel) and seatpost (much, much longer).
How times change. Why am I referencing the olde days? Mainly because I am aging mountain biker and that’s a gear we slip into very easily. But partly because riding this bike did have me experiencing a strange kind of ‘muscle memory’. Arms and legs bent out as far as possible, neck cricked upwards to see what lay ahead, legs aching was not-ever-sitting-down.
Not to mention the general ’emotional memory’ of being perma terrified about what the front end was going to do – without much warning – next!
Anyhoo. The Mongoose Fireball Moto isn’t a retro mountain bike. It’s a dirt jump bike. Or, in my instance, a street bike cum pump track bike. I live in a part of the world where the local council has gone bananas for pump tracks. They stick them everywhere. There’s literally one at the end of my road now. A lovely tarmac Velosolutions one and everything. Lucky me.
The bike has also doubled (trebled?) as a pub bike and a camping holiday rag-around bike. By its very nature (and diminutive stature) that any family member or friend can grab it and use it to go to nearest thing they need to go to it on (shop, bar, toilet etc). This bike has lived with a lock permanently attached to it somewhere (seatpost or handlebars usually).
This bike is the sort of machine that aging BMXers acquire because they can’t help themselves. They can try and rationalise it as a ‘skills sharpener’ or a bike to ride when it’s not suitable to ride a mountain bike (whenever that might be).
Both of those ideas being somewhat related to riding another bike to ‘help’ your performance when you get back on your normal mountain bike. BIkes like the Mongoose Fireball Moto are close enough to a mountain bike so as not to be wholly perplexing (like an actual BMX is) but different enough to be interesting.
So has this bike helped my regular riding? It’s hard to quantify exactly but yes, I think it has. It’s certainly reminded me to stay off the brakes (unless/until you really have to use them) and to get more over – and lower down – at the front of the bike. As terrifying as it may be at first, you really cannot ride this bike without being really over the front tyre’s contact patch.
The bike has almost totally cured me of the aging MTBer’s bad habit of hanging off the back of the saddle when things get hairy. If you hang off the back of the Mongoose Fireball Moto you go wrong. Usually you crash. Usually on hardpack or tarmac. You quickly learn.
I’m not sure that I’m any better at pumping trails. Possibly I am. Possibly the reduction in brake dragging is what I’m experiencing first and foremost. Regardless, I’m certainly not any worse at pumping, so hey. And as for manualling and bunnyhopping, the Mongoose Fireball Moto has made me feel better about how lame I am at those on a mountain bike; mountain bikes are mahoosive compared to this bike. No wonder I struggle to manual-bunnyhop them! 😉
The bike is not a comfy or easy-going experience. It is harsh. Which is not so much a criticism, it’s more of an observation of the way things inherently are on playbikes like these. You can feel everything.
Would it be worth spending more on a fancier, higher spec playbike? No, I don’t think so. Sure, the fork is not amazing but I’d rather it than a rigid fork. It does occasionally ker-bang back at you due to the lack of rebound control but in general having a suspension fork clearly helps the general handling. The fork is also super easy to take apart and freshen up to keep it moving up and down smoothly.
To be frank, I think it’s a good idea to not to overly bothered about the bike and the parts that it’s built up with. This bike is going to be abused. And crashed. And scraped along stone and tarmac quite a lot. Apart from the suspension fork, I don’t think think there’s any component on this bike that would be significantly improved by an upgrade.
The drivetrain, such as it is, has been fine. No dropped chains. The rear wheel has stayed up in the track end dropoouts. The tyres have been okay and decently tough. The brakes have been perfectly adequate and have not required much – if any – maintenance.
The cockpit has been fine generally. As a taller person, I think I would possibly put higher rise bars on it eventually. And I’d like softer feeling grips too. All in all though, I’d most likely just leave it it until I significantly damaged or broke anything on this bike before I’d invest in any upgrades/replacement parts.
Overall, I feel the spec is pretty darned well thought out. Not so cheapy or cost-cutting as to impair the bike handling but not so verly fancy as to make you worried about(ab)using this bike the way it’s supposed to be (ab)used.
Despite ‘amusingly’ saying A+E in the headline of this review, the Mongoose Fireball Moto never caused me to visit the hospital. Myself and others certainly had a few cuts and grazes from thrills ‘n’ spills but that’s par for the course. The bike has remained running true throughout. It’s been impressive how grab-and-go the bike has been throughout the time I’ve had it. I suppose a key question with bikes like these is whether the £500+ could be better spent on something else? It will totally depend on your personal circumstances. For me, as a parent living in pumptrackland, it’s been a bike that I’ve used – and enjoyed – a lot more than I expected it to.
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|by Benji for 4 months