We review the Moda Mossa Ironman triathlon bike
The Mossa is a totally new alloy aero bike from Moda, adding an even more affordable option to their existing Sharp and Interval tri bike pairing. Light wheels and sorted rider position help it overcome obvious component compromises to deliver a usefully quick and upgrade-friendly solo starter bike for a sensible price.
FRAME AND FORK
The chassis is the heart of any bike and in tri bike terms that also means the heart of any aerodynamic advantage in terms of tube profiling and rider body position. A relatively short head tube certainly gets things off to a good start, letting you drop the cockpit low for a flat-backed aero tuck. Smoothed welds at the front and top junctions give a very carbon fibre-esque look and while it’s certainly heavy, it’s not excessively so given the price.
The forks are aero profiled from tip to straight-gauge carbon fibre steerer and they’re impressively light too. Down tube, seatstays and seat tube all get teardrop style aero profiling and there’s a wheel following cut out in the latter too. The lack of horizontal dropouts to let you slide the wheel right into the curve reduces the wheel shrouding effect, but the vertical slots are a lot easier to get your wheel out of in a hurry. Similarly, while the externally routed cables aren’t as aerodynamic as hidden cabling, they’re a lot easier for a novice home mechanic to work with. The same also applies to the conventionally positioned brakes, which is lucky as the cam-driven Barellis are tricky to centre predictably. Twin bottle mounts are a bonus for longer races but it’s the position the frame lets you set up that really shines on extended rides. While the seat angle isn’t super steep at 76°, the sliding seat clamp on top of the aero post lets you slap the saddle right forward for a run friendly ‘open pelvis’ position.
The Barelli tri cockpit is another vital part of what makes the Mossa a fully fledged tri bike. The oval bare-faced pads are certainly basic, in a sticky-when-sweaty, potentially arm-pinching way and there’s not much adjustment potential on the profiled base bars. The extension shape is good though and there are very few proper aero cockpit bikes at this price. The base bar horns come taped too which offsets the fact that the flat ends are potentially unnerving on steep descents when you’re braking hard. Once they’re set up drag free the brakes are just about acceptable, but their capability is reflected in the price and are spongy in feel compared to the Shimano and SRAM anchors on the other bikes on test here.
The skinny bottom bracket axle of the SRAM chainset is also noticeably soft underfoot when you’re really giving it the beans. The Mossa can be supplied with either a compact 50/34 tooth chainset or a full size 53/39 tooth set up depending on your likely terrain and/or leg strength. The lightweight American Classic wheels help on hills, although again you can feel flex when you corner or crank them hard. The Kenda tyres are also sturdy and durable rather than subtle and speedy in feel, making them the first thing we’d upgrade.
While we’ve used the Microshift tip shifters before, this is the first time we’ve used the front and rear mechs. The white colour and fancy drilled jockey wheels certainly look smart, but there is noticeably more grind and guidance needed when changing gear compared to better known brands. Overall weight of the bike is very good for the price.
Perhaps inevitably for a bike at this price there are plenty of details to find fault with, but the Mossa is still a very positive place to spend your bike time. For a start, once we’d nudged the saddle forward we found ourselves dropping into a tuck out of corners noticeably quicker than on the Planet X and the Ribble. That tells us it’s a naturally confident and relaxing bike to ride aerodynamically, which is the key thing we’d look for in a long distance, non-drafting race bike at any price. While the creak in the spokes as they settled in was spooky at first, the softer feeling wheels and a smooth fork also help comfort over longer distances and rougher surfaces. Even with the basic tyres it didn’t feel as abusive over less-than-perfect asphalt as alloy test bikes often do.
Although the tracking is slightly vague and we didn’t want to push the tyres too hard in wet corners it certainly never gave us any twitchy or tramline steering issues if we treated it with adequate respect. The softness in the crank and wheels and the generally slightly inert bike feel overall is only an issue if you’re trying to really push hard. Yes, it’s not as snappy as others when you’re gunning it, but the low weight means it’s easily efficient if coaxed rather kicked. In terms of comfortable cruising on longer rides on flat, smooth roads the Mossa definitely exceeded our expectations when considering the price.
+ Aero position and low weight create an efficient ride
+ Good handling and comfortable to ride – very novice friendly
– Softness in wheels, crank and brakes dull performance
– Microshift gears aren’t as good as big name gear transmission kits