Momsen VIPA Two long term review

The vibrant Momsen Vipa Two has been a member of our test fleet since December 2016 and over the period I’ve had the opportunity to get a good feel for the bike through a range of terrain and riding conditions.

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The Vipa is Momsen’s cross country marathon bike featuring 80mm of rear travel. The Vipa Two is a full carbon model sitting one notch up from entry-level, effectively replacing the “XT” version from earlier years.


Although the frame itself remains largely unchanged, you may notice that this latest iteration has a far cleaner look thanks to the addition of full internal cable routing. While at first, I was admittedly “on the fence” regarding its looks, the boldly contrasting yellow and black colourway of this model has grown on me over my time with it.



For 2017 Momsen made many notable updates to the specification of this model over prior iterations. The new Rockshox SID fork was a welcome change up front, paired with a Fox Float DPS Performance series shock on the rear.


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The bike also made the move to one-by with the Shimano M8000 11 speed groupset featuring a 32T chainring and 11-46T cassette providing good range. The switch to one-by means the Vipa Two sports the beefier chainstay previously seen on one-by specific models on the higher-end of the lineup. Interestingly, for 2018 the Vipa Two goes back to two-by with a 2x11 Shimano XT drive train.


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The Momsen Vipa Two is fitted with a sturdier one-by specific chainstay which, along with providing better chainring clearance, should stiffen up the rear end.


A final highlight was the Stan’s ZTR Crest Mk3 rims which are wider, lighter, and stiffer than the immensely popular previous generation Crest. I did have some trouble with the free body on the Shimano XT rear hub. From the get go there was lateral play in the freebody which resulted in creaking under load and reduced shifting performance. The simple and relatively inexpensive fix was a freebody replacement and since then they’ve been hassle free.


A handful of items on the specification list were a bit less exciting, namely the Momsen branded saddle, seatpost, handlebar, and stem. All of the above are no doubt where Momsen is able to shave some costs and keep the price down, and, from a functionality viewpoint, they all work just fine. However, the yellow theme which generously extends over the component decals just pushed my yellow tolerance that little bit too far. Thankfully the 2018 range has a notably subdued approach to colour which is welcome in my books.


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Finally, the alloy bar at 700mm was 20mm too narrow for my natural position and I often found myself slipping off the edge of the grips. The narrow bar relative to more recent trends was a bit of an oversight in my mind, but once again it’s something that has been addressed in the 2018 model which sports a 720mm bar. While on the cockpit, the generic looking stem was also out of proportion for my liking, just that little bit too long at 100mm on the large. Again though, it’s also worth noting that the 2018 range features a more aesthetically pleasing alloy stem which is 10mm shorter across the size curve.


On the trail

With 100 millimetres of travel up front and 80 millimetres in the rear, the Vipa is firmly a cross-country marathon specialist but is still capable on most moderately technical trails. Coming from a Vipa XT, I was naturally at home on the new Vipa Two.


It did take some time to dial in the Rockshox SID RL which replaced the Fox Float 32 on earlier versions, and, compared to my old Fox, has a far firmer (and better) feel. A few tuning sessions on my local Tokai trails quickly found the sweet spot. While overall it has performed well and for me a big improvement over the Float 32, the remote lockout is something I’d prefer to do without in favour of clutter free bars.


By newer standards, the 70.5 degree head angle might be considered on the steep side, but I’ve found it to be well balanced for a bike in this class. On the Vipa Two I have found I’m often precariously over the front end, but given time and comfort on the Vipa platform in the past, this is definitely more a result of the longer, narrower cockpit than something I’d pin on frame geometry.


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Although only 2mm wider than the previous generation, the Mk3 Stan’s Crests give a noticeable bulky look to the Vee Rail Tracker 2.2 tyres. The Vee rubber has been an unexpected surprise on the bike. They’re fast rolling, lightweight tires with a tread profile far racier than what I’d usually run. I had expected to be asking for more grip than available, but on balance, the Rail Trackers have impressed in a diversity of conditions. Particularly so in loose dirt over a hard packed surface. The center knobs have taken a bit of a beating over the year and some outer knobs on the front tyre have torn (oddly only on the left side). They’ve done well through the year though, and this could just be a case of reaching end of useful life in terms of mileage.


The move to one-by was on trend and, for my tastes, almost a prerequisite on a bike at this specification level. On any one-by set up, gear range will be a point of consideration for most, but with the wider 11-46 cassette the top and bottom offerings have proven comfortable. I did occasionally find the intermediate gearing steps lacking that “just right” balance for tired legs, but for me, it’s a worthwhile compromise for the simplicity of one-by. Interestingly for 2018 the Vipa Race models all revert to two-by, presumably based on dealer and consumer feedback, so perhaps my tastes are less representative of the broader market.


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First seen on the 2016 Momsen Vipa range, the addition of a second bottle cage within the frame is a welcome convenience for anyone who has had to strap a bottle cage to a seatpost or lug that second bottle around in a droopy pocket. The triangular adaptor which allows a second cage to be fitted to the seat tube below the rocker is a simple, smart and sturdy solution to what seems to be a particularly South African problem.


In the end

The boldly styled Momsen Vipa Two sports an impressive specification, delivering excellent value as a cross country or stage racing specialist. It is a bike built on a well-proven platform and while I picked out some minor personal gripes with the cockpit, saddle and seatpost, functionally speaking there is nothing that absolutely must be upgraded from the get go, if at all.


For those considering a Vipa, if you find a good deal on a 2017 model and like the colourway, the savings could be put towards some weight shaving upgrades or simply back in your pocket.




2017 Momsen VIPA TWO specifications:

  • SizesSmall, Medium, Large
  • FrameFull Carbon Front Triangle, Full Carbon 1x Rear Triangle, 80mm Rear Wheel Travel, Dual Waterbottle Mount Design ( for Medium and Large Size ), Integrated Toptube Box ( I.T.B )
  • ForkRockShox SID RL, 100mm Travel, ONELOC Remote Lockout, 15mm Thru-Axle Lowers
  • Rear ShockFox Float DPS, Performance Series, Firm Lockout
  • ChainwheelShimano XT M8000 32T for 11 Speed
  • Bottom BracketShimano BB-MT800 Pressfit
  • R. DerailleurShimano XT M8000 Shadow Plus for 11 Speed
  • ShifterShimano XT M8000 for 11 Speed
  • Brake LeversShimano XT M8000 Hydraulic
  • BrakesShimano XT M8000 Short Lever / SM-RT81 Centerlock Rotors / 160mm Front and Rear
  • CassetteShimano XT M8000 11-46T for 11 Speed
  • RimsStan’s ZTR Crest Mk3 Tubeless Ready, 32H
  • TiresVee Tire Co. Rail Tracker Custom Logo, 72tpi Folding Bead, 29 x 2.20 Front and Rear
  • HandlebarMomsen Oversize Flat Wide Alloy, 700mm, 6 Degree Sweep, 31.8mm Oversize
  • StemMomsen 3D Forged Oval, 31.8mm Oversize ( S – 90mm, M – 100mm, L – 100mm)
  • SeatpostMomsen Alloy, 31.6mm
  • SeatMomsen 2017 Custom, Composite Base, Chromoly Rail
  • HeadsetCustom Integrated Taper for VIPA
  • ColorsMomsen Yellow/ Matte Carbon
  • ChainShimano HG701 for 11 Speed
  • HubsetShimano XT M8000 Front 15mm Thru-Axle, FH-M8000 Rear 142 x 12mm Thru-Axle
  • SpokesStainless Butted with Alloy Nipples
  • GripsKraton Composite Lock-On
  • Advertised Weight11.85kg (Size: Large, Note: excludes pedals)
  • Retail PriceR62,500.00