Mongoose’s Selous provides a lot of ride at a reasonable price. We rode the Selous extensively, testing its very limits, and by and large the Selous rode outside of its pay-grade. The gearing is excellent, with a Shimano cluster in back, 11-32 married to a FSA 50X34 double up front—providing ample gearing for painful grunts or downhill flying. Front and rear through axles and a tapered head tube provide for outstanding carving in the turns, and appropriate stiffness when required.
Mongoose’s Selous Expert is an aluminum double-butted framed bike with a carbon fiber fork that is run through a tapered head tube. It’s a fine line between too stiff and too flexy on a gravel bike. On the one hand, you get sufficient rigidity, but suffer the vibrations from riding gravel. On the other, the road feels smooth, yet the bike steals your momentum. Mongoose errors on the stiff side, but with 40s on the front and rear (WTB Nanos Kevlar), you hardly notice. Frame stiffness allows you to positively hammer out of the saddle, and the FSA Gossamer cranks (50X34) maintain their poise. Yes, you do feel a bit more fatigued on an especially long ride on the Mongoose, as the vibrations do catch up eventually, however they have done an excellent job to keep them down.
Mongoose’s Selous Expert comes equipped with FSA Gossamer cranks, which pair well with the already stout aluminum frame. At 23.5 pounds, it’s not the lightest bike we rode, however it feels prompt and even responsive under the rider. The carbon fiber fork runs through a tapered head tube which all come together to enhance that front end stiffness that makes climbing a pleasure and downhills a thrill.
If you enjoy a stiff set up, with a medium wheel base bike (1,052 mm for the 56), a reasonably wide and stiff handle bar, you will enjoy climbing on the Selous Expert. Rear wheel traction was a challenge on the steepest of gravel grunts, but beyond that the gearing was generous, seldom leaving you without a remaining cog. There is no discernible flex in the bike, so we would grade efficiency as high. The FSA Gossamer cranks were plenty stiff, and the double-butted aluminum frame does the job.
We rode the Selous on several different rides, one was very long with a demanding descent. All the pieces are there for a well descending bike. The handlebar is fat, with reasonable dampening tape, Shimano hydraulic disc front and rear with 160 mm rotors and a stiff cockpit, typically these add up to a downhill grin. On the Selous we had a good experience, however it was marred by the Alex 700c Volar front wheel coming out of true, and some scary brake fade on the most treacherous pitches.
Components: Drivetrain, Shifting and Brakes
A mix of Shimano and FSA parts rule the drivetrain. FSA Gossamer cranks with 34/50 tooth rings paired with a Shimano cluster 11/32 tooth was an excellent gear range. Often gravel bikes feature a stiffer setup, we enjoyed this spread on the sharp climbs. 11-speed Shimano STRS hydraulic road shifters did the job when paired with Shimano 105 derailleurs, with a shift that is a bit mushy though accurate. The brakes, hydraulic Shimano with 160 mm rotors, are good in all but the most extended downhills, where fade is evident.
Alex 700c Volar wheels with Xposure through axle hubs performed admirably, though eventually succumbing to our demanding testing. A quick trip to the truing stand, and they will live to fight another day. The WTB Nano 40c tires work well, hooking up nicely. They are more knobby than some may prefer, especially for smoother dirt roads and pavement — but they excelled on trails.
At $1,999 this bike is a good value. As previously mentioned, last year’s is available on the market at nearly half that price, which is a steal for anyone wanting a gravel bike.
Seth Portner has been riding and racing mountain bikes since the late 1990s, specializing in XC, marathon and ultra-marathon events. He also enjoys regular multi-day road tours, and is an accomplished ultrarunner and XC skier. Seth, his wife and their daughter all split their time between Lyons and Winter Park.