Bike review: Mango Fresher

MANGO FRESHER
£309
www.mangobikes.co.uk

Unlike the vast majority of bikes tested by the London Cyclist team which are sourced direct from a manufacturer or distributor, the Mango came via a different route – as a present from friends to celebrate a 'special birthday'. As long-time riding partners they were fully aware of my two-wheeled obsession but had clearly spotted a gap in my mini fleet, somewhere between the road bike and mountain bike!

For commuting and general urban riding I tend to swap between an aluminium road bike and a seen-better-days mtb with semi-slick tyres, and it had been a while since I'd owned a one-geared bike. I used to ride a fixie, cobbled together from old components, but slowly migrated away from it in pursuit of speed to and from the office. However, with its salvaged frame, mismatched wheels and tyres, iffy braking and perished grips, it was a million miles away from this shiny new Mango.

As I discovered Mango is a relatively new name in the UK bike world. It seems that while the fashion for fixies and singlespeeds – or certainly the visibility they've enjoyed for the last five years – has peaked, as their followers seek out vintage road bikes, cyclocross bikes or the 'next thing', these simple bikes still sell in their tens of thousands and Mango is riding this perma-wave by offering a range of ready-built or custom options.

The spec and build is no-nonsense, with various Mango-branded in-house components mixed with durable parts from more familiar names. The frame and fork are hi-tensile steel and, as you'd espect at this price, the latter sports a 1-1/8in steerer to slot into a threadless A-headset; the welds are surprisingly neat and the paintjob (which most people will notice first) is almost flawless. The 535mm top-tube on my small-sized frame may be a little lengthy for shorter riders, but you could always swap to a shorter stem if needed.

My bike came with a narrow riser bar but you can opt for bullhorn or drop bars to suit your favoured riding position. Like the bars, the stem, seatpost, seatpost clamp, saddle and grips are pretty generic items, robust rather than pretty. Colour-matched deep profile rims are laced to high-flanged hubs, the rear hub being a 'flip-flop' unit to allow you to swap between a freewheel and fixed gear; tyres are 25c Kenda models. The Chasewood-branded chainset has a 44-tooth chainring (the rear freewheel/fixed cog is 16-tooth) and there's a tough KMC chain, while brakes are basic dual pivot calipers.   

Much to the consternation of my friends, I swapped the saddle for a comfier model I already had – it was one of the colour-coordinated parts, but I don't think my black replacement detracted from the overall look. 

I've been using the Mango for fair weather commutes, mainly as I've found the tyres aren't the grippiest in the wet and changing them would mean another style compromise – but also because I don't like to cruise when the weather turns bad, I'd sooner get home or to the office quicker which a wider range of gears allows. But for those slower commutes and weekend city rides it's been great. No quibbles with the standard components, though it's worth mentioning that while the 44x16 gear is ok up smaller inclines it will be a struggle for all bar the thunder-thighed on longer climbs. In the long run I'd probably swap the rear cog for something larger for more speed on the flat and avoid climbs wherever possible.

It's attracted lots of positive comments about its looks – and as many when I let on how much it costs – and that's always a nice feeling from fellow cyclists. I'm pleased with my Mango, but if you're after something with even more standout colours or a custom spec, then visit the website and click away.

Review by: Mark Baron (LCC member)

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