Mongoose v Schwinn : Which is the Best for Beginners?

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These days it doesn’t cost the earth to take to the hills on a mountain bike. Two famous brands that offer fantastic entry-level bikes are Mongoose and Schwinn. However, choosing the best bike between Mongoose v Schwinn is something that mountain bikers have argued about for decades.

In this article, I set out to answer that question. I will compare the two companies, discuss the pros and cons of each and do a direct comparison of the best mountain bikes the companies have to offer.

First, let’s learn about the background and heritage of the two companies.

Mongoose

Mongoose is a company whose heritage lies not in mountain biking, but in BMX bikes. Back in 1975, they produced their first groundbreaking BMX bike, by 1976 their bikes had taken the BMX market by storm. Based in Southern California, the company built a reputation for producing superb quality and innovative bikes.

The company first started producing mountain bikes in 1985, and they quickly proved themselves to be just as innovative and quality-conscious in this discipline. The company’s two initial models were the hugely successful ATB and ATB PRO bikes.

By the early nineties, Mongoose had added its first full-suspension bike, the Mongoose Amplifier. The Amplifier was destined to become one of the most successful and influential mountain bikes of all time.

The company has continued to build on this rich heritage, developing a range of hardtail and full-suspension bikes that have been ridden by many of the world’s top riders.

Schwinn

Schwinn’s history goes back a long way. Founded in 1895 by a German immigrant called Ignaz Schwinn, the company has been producing bikes ever since. Throughout its history, the company has had many claims to fame including supplying the bike that Major Taylor used to become the first world champion African American cyclist.

They also manufactured the first bike to over 60-mph, and later a French Cyclist called Alfred Letourner set a speed record of 109-mph while recording the fastest ever mile, all achieved riding a Schwinn bike.

The company continued to innovate throughout its history and in mountain bike terms this culminated in the Homegrown Series of mountain bikes that first hit the market in 1995. These lightweight bikes were packed with innovative features including a revolutionary new suspension system, and an isolated drivetrain.

Schwinn still produces high-quality bikes across a range of disciplines, including a wide range of mountain bikes.

Choosing Between a Mongoose and Schwinn Mountain Bike

Both companies have rich histories and proven track records of producing top-quality mountain bikes. When it comes to choosing between the two the margins that dictate the choice are extremely fine. In many instances, the choice comes down to personal preference.

Both companies offer excellent quality bikes at very reasonable price points. To help choose the right mountain bike I have selected similarly priced models from both companies to review in a head-to-head comparison.

Mongoose v Schwinn – Bikes under $500 head-to-head comparison

For the first comparison, we will look at offerings from both companies that fall within the $400 – $500 price range. I will discuss the specification and features of both bikes, list some pros and cons for each and choose an outright winner.

Mongoose Impasse Mountain Bike

A sub-$500 mountain bike with full suspension

  • Front and rear suspension
  • Front and rear disc brakes
  • Alloy Wheels
  • 29” wheels
  • 21-speed gears

Mongoose Impasse Mens Mountain Bike, 29-Inch Wheels, Aluminum Frame, Twist Shifters, 21-Speed Rear Deraileur, Front and Rear Disc Brakes, Silver
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The Mongoose Impasse is one of the very few “serious bikes” on the market that features all-round suspension, yet still comes in at under $500. It also features 29” wheels, whilst some riders still shy away from the larger diameter wheels, others love the improved traction that the larger wheel offers.

Another impressive features are the front and rear disc brakes, these give you confidence that the bike will stop when you want and give you crisp control on those tricky sections. The gears are 21 speed with a rear derailleur and SRAM shift changer, offering ease of use even on the roughest of terrains.

The frame is manufactured from aluminum for lightness and the whole bike weighs in at an impressive 44lbs.

Mongoose Impasse Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Dual Suspension
  • Lightweight
  • Front and rear disc brakes
  • Quick-release front wheel
  • Durable

Cons

  • 29” wheels limit the clearance between the front wheel and pedal
  • Can be tricky to assemble

Schwinn Bonafide Mountain Bike

A great looking hardtail mountain bike

  • 24-speed Shimano gears
  • 29” wheels
  • All-round disc brakes
  • Alloy cranks
  • Aluminum frame

Schwinn Bonafide Mens Mountain Bike, Front Suspension, 24-Speed, 29-Inch Wheels, 17-Inch Aluminum Frame, Matte Black/Red
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Whilst the Schwinn Bonafide mountain bike doesn’t feature front and rear suspension, it is crammed full of quality components. The Shimano gears are 24-speed and use EZ-fire trigger shifters for quick and easy control of your gearing. They also feature front and rear derailleurs and alloy cranks.

Whilst there is no rear suspension, the front suspension fork is powerful enough to soak up the worst bumps on most terrains, and the lightweight aluminum frame is robust and durable enough to tackle the roughest of tracks.

The braking is supplied through front and rear mechanical disc brakes for added confidence on those tricky downhill runs.

Schwinn Bonafide Mountain Bike Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High-quality components
  • Lightweight
  • All-round disc brakes
  • Front and rear derailleurs
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • No rear suspension
  • 29” wheels limits pedal clearance

Mongoose v Schwinn under $500 winner

Picking a winner in this category is difficult. On one hand, the Mongoose with its all-round suspension seems to be the hands-down winner. However, there is no doubt that that the Schwinn Bonafide uses higher quality components and it weighs in at 39lbs, 5lbs lighter than the Mongoose Impasse.

Taking everything into account I am going to cop out of this one and call it a draw. For riders wanting to taste the benefits of front and rear suspension, then the Mongoose Impasse is a superb choice. For those that are happy with a hardtail bike that uses quality components then the Schwinn Bonafide is the one to plump for.

Mongoose v Schwinn – Bikes under $1000 head-to-head comparison

It was difficult to separate the manufacturers in their sub $500 range of bikes. In this section, I look at two competing models from the $500 – $1000 range to see if there is a clear winner.

Mongoose Switchback Mountain Bike

A sturdy entry-level bike that is available in several sizes

  • T1 Tectonic aluminum frame
  • Front and rear mechanical brakes
  • Front suspension
  • 21-speed gears
  • Shimano gears

Mongoose Switchback Expert Adult Mountain Bike, 18 Speeds, 27.5-inch Wheels, Womens Aluminum Small Frame, Black
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One question I get asked often is why are more expensive bikes often less well-featured than cheaper models? Often from the same manufacturers.

It really comes down to the quality of components that are used. The Mongoose Switchback is a prime example of this, despite being more expensive than the Impasse model, at first sight, it may appear to be an inferior bike. The most notable difference between the two models is the lack of a rear suspension.

However, looks can be deceiving, the overall quality of this bike shines through on the very first ride. The gearing is smooth thanks to the Shimano TZ21 gearing system and the ProWheel forged alloy triple cranks. The braking system is superb too, with front and rear mechanical disc brakes.

It is also highly customizable with a large range of frame sizes to choose from.

Mongoose Switchback Mountain Bike Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Quality components throughout
  • Highly durable aluminum frame
  • Internal cable routing
  • Highly customizable
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Supplied tires aren’t great on muddy surfaces
  • The seat isn’t super comfortable on longer rides

Schwinn Mesa 1 Mountain Bike

A superb all-rounder with hydraulic brakes

  • Suntour Suspension forks
  • Shimano gears and brakes
  • Aluminum frame
  • Rapidfire gear shifter
  • 5” wheels

Schwinn Mesa 1 Adult Mountain Bike, 24 speeds, 27.5-inch Wheels, Medium Aluminum Frame, Blue
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The Schwinn Mesa 1 is part of the award-winning Mesa range of mountain bikes. This is another front suspension-only bike that is chock full of quality components backed up by a lightweight and sturdy aluminum frame. The model was also recently upgraded from mechanical brakes to Shimano BR-MT200 hydraulic disc brakes that offer even more precision control on those downhill trails.

I have ridden many of the Mesa range over the years and this is the stand-out model, particularly since the brakes were upgraded. The other components haven’t been forgotten about either, with the excellent Suntour XCT V3 fork powering the suspension and a gearing system that uses Shimano front and rear derailleurs, Shimano rear cogs, and the excellent Shimano EF51 shifter. All these components combine to give highly responsive shifting throughout all 24 gears.

Shimano Mesa 1 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High-strength butted aluminum frame
  • High-quality components used throughout
  • Outstanding value for money
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Superb front suspension

Cons

  • Can be tricky to assemble
  • Some reports of damage on arrival

Mongoose v Schwinn under $1000 winner

Once again there isn’t much to choose from between the models. Both these are excellent bikes and the quality of the components is stepped up by both manufacturers when comparing the price range.

However, whilst the Mongoose Switchback is a terrific bike, in this comparison, the Schwinn Mesa 1 just nudges ahead thanks to the inclusion of its fantastic hydraulic braking system.  

Conclusion

Not so many years ago it would have been impossible to take to the hills on a reasonable budget. Both these manufacturers have played a large part in bringing this sport to the masses by producing high-quality bikes that won’t break the bank.

The choice between these is so tight that it is impossible to call. The important thing is that both companies have strived to produce superb bikes at reasonable price points, and on the whole, both have succeeded!

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