You may be an aspiring Chris Akrigg or just a normal Joe wanting to dart across town, but whatever you need from a fixed you'll get good value from Mongoose's Maurice, which is a fine ride and comes in well under most of the competition on price. There's a few cut corners along the way but the frame and fork are solid and you can upgrade the rest of the bits when they wear out, so it's certainly worth looking at as a starter fixed or a town hack.
The Maurice is based on a tightly built Cromoly steel frame and fork. The main triangle is butted and the chunky plain gauge stays end in a cast horizontal dropout. The black and orange livery is continued in the kit which is dominated by the garish orange wheels (Weinmann Thunderbird rims on Formula hubs) and the similarly pungent crankset, a painted FSA number. Mongoose finishing kit does most of the rest of the control and contact point duties – stem, bars, seatpost and grips are all own brand and sturdy enough, while stopping is the domain of Promax calipers mated with Radius BMX levers, also orange. A velo saddle, Wellgo flat pedals and Conti 25mm tyres are the finishing touches.
Given that this Mongoose, at £349, is £150 or more cheaper than machines from the likes of Charge, Marin and Felt, what's been sacrificed in the name of economy? Well, not that much is the answer. The chainset is not as well finished as the ones you'll find on the dearer city fixeds, and the paint wore off and there was a bit in the threads making swapping pedals a chore, but there's nothing functionally wrong with it. Similarly the Mongoose own brand kit is probably a half pound of extra weight over more expensive replacements but it's fit for purpose, and at 10.52kg the Maurice is hardly lardy, even with the overbuilt wheels. So far, so promising.
One thing to note on this steed is the sizing: it's awfully big for the stated size. I'm 1.90m and was perfectly happy on the medium that we had on test, which boasts a 56cm effective top tube that was just right, with the longish stem, for hacking round town. I'd have probably been okay on a large too as I'm perennially between sizes, but only the most vertically-endowed amongst you will ever need to look at an XL, and you'll probably need to look elsewhere if you're under average height as the small isn't that, well, small.
So what's it like to ride? Well, it's immensely fun to ride. The 65in gearing means it's quick away from the lights and it's easy to build up some pace, although obviously it limits top-end speed. On the freewheel side of the flip-flop rear hub it's a perfect gear for hilly Bath, riding fixed it makes the long descents a bit of a chore but other than that it's fine. If you're not blessed (or cursed) with hills round your way then best to budget for a smaller cog at the rear.
The bike feels lively and nimble, even considering the fact that the wheels are very much built for strength rather than light weight. The main triangle is short and the front is steep, tucking the wheel in and making the steering quick for traffic dodging. The downside to this is that there's plenty of toeclip overlap, which means taking care at slow speeds, especially when riding fixed. I ended up setting my cleats right to the front of my shoe to minimise the overlap but that didn't eradicate it completely. It's no worse than something like a Fuji Track but worth noting.
The Continental 25mm tyres do a bang up job of keeping things comfy and the frame feels more springy than you might think from looking at the burly stays. The raked fork has a bit of give too and overall it's a comfy bike for longer trips. You'll not do many centuries on it but for a 20 mile blast it's perfectly happy. It'd make a fine middle distance commuter with a slightly taller gear and you can even fit full mudguards and use it as a winter hack, all the relevant holes are there.
The Velo saddle isn't bad but it's easily swapped if you don't get along with it. The grips are a bit mushy but they're not uncomfortable, and the brake levers fall easily to hand even though they're small. I'm not a freestyle rider but I have heard both positive and negative comments regarding the Maurice. I think its capability in this regard, though, can be summed up in two words: Chris Akrigg. If it's no good for freestyle then perhaps you can explain this. And this.
So what is bad? Well, supplying a bike with brakes and fully painted rims is bad. I don't care if the hipsters are immediately going to whip the callipers off (and the fact that the rear cable is just cable tied on suggests that's what Mongoose reckon will happen), I want brakes that work if a bike's supplied with them. I fear for the rider who buys this bike on a rainy day from a bike shop at the top of a steep hill, set up singlespeed (as it inevitably will be) with brakes that are basically ornamental in the wet.
In the dry the pads wear their way through the paint to the Aluminium which has the multiple effects of making the rims look shabby, covering the rest of the bike (and possibly the inside of your lungs) in orange dust and eating through the blocks at an alarming rate: you can almost see them wearing down. Ours were ready for the bin after about 40 miles, that's not great. Machined rims please. At least as an option, and certainly on the front wheel. I've taken the sandpaper to my front rim to make my own braking surface.
Anyway, moan over. For £349 you can't expect miracles and the Mongoose has its flaws, but it's cracking value for money. Okay it's not loose change, but it's a lot of bike for not very much if you're thinking of trying singlespeed and fixed. If you bought this bike on Cyclescheme (other bike to work schemes are available) and you pay normal tax than you're probably looking at a monthly outlay of about 17 quid, who couldn't afford to part with that? just riding it in one day a week instead of jumping in the car would probably save you the cost of the bike over the year.
Not without its flaws, but a great value entry level fixer that's comfy and fun to ride.
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Make and model: Mongoose Maurice
Size tested: M
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Cromoly frame and fork, butted main triangle.
Frame: 4130 double butted Chromoly track frame
Fork: Chromoly track fork with investment cast crown and dropouts
Chainset: FSA Alloy
Chainrings: 44 tooth
Bottom Bracket: FSA sealed cartridge
Cassette: Dicta 18 tooth freewheel and 18 tooth fixed gear
Chain: YBN half link
Pedals: Wellgo Alloy
Front Brake: ProMax dual pivot calliper
Rear Brake: ProMax dual pivot calliper
Brake Levers: Radius hinged BMX
Handlebars: Mongoose mini rise
Stem: Mongoose alloy Ahead
Headset: Tange STR Ahead
Grips: Mongoose BMX flanged with motomag plug
Rims: Weinmann Thunderbird deep section double wall alloy
Front Hub: Formula track sealed bearing bolt on 36 hole
Rear Hub: Formula track sealed bearing flip flop bolt on 36 hole
Spokes: 14G stainless
Tyres: Continental Ultra Sport 700x25c
Saddle: Velo race
Seatpost: Mongoose alloy with micro adjust clamp
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Not bad for a cheap fixer, the fork especially is nice
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Cromo throughout, double butted for the three main tubes
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
For a medium it's basically enormous, i'm 1.90m and it fitted me fine. shorter in the top tube than a road bike, but just right for a city fixer
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Hammers along nicely accompanied by a lovely steely thrum
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Plenty of stiffness in the back end with those big stays, just the right amount of flex in the fork
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Single speed tranmissions are normally good, this one no exception
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Yes, lots. it was a problem trying to trackstand at the lights, i moved my cleats forward in the end
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Fairly lively
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The bike feels short and the steering quick, it's very agile in traffic
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Conti tyres are excellent, the Velo saddle is comfy too. Grips are a but mushy.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Nope, it's all good
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
They don't get much more efficient than one gear running smoothly
Lowish gear makes the lights good fun
You spin out too quickly
Not the most stable at speed but not scary either
Nice for city cruising
Agile but stable
Very easy to change direction
A bit sketchy if you push it
Gear is fine for most stuff
Very good setup
Painted chainset has pretty mucky pedal threads, fine other than that
Not what you'd call lightweight
Good kit at a low price
Well built, look good... until you brake
Should last for ages but they'll look tatty after the first ride
Longevity is the watchword here
Tyres are excellent
For the money, no complaints
Brakes aren't great but that's the wheels' fault
One set of blocks in 40 miles?
No issues there
Grips are a bit mushy
The whole bike is good value
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
A few niggles with the kit but the frame's neat and fun to ride, and the price is excellent
Age: 37 Height: 190cm Weight: 96kg
I usually ride: whatever I\\\'m testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with Ultegra 6700
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.