The Moda Mossa entry-level triathlon bike tested, rated and reviewed
Moda’s Mossa is one of the cheapest TT bikes on the market. But the overall ride package it delivers for the money is really enjoyable. It’s certainly efficient enough to make a great first choice for long-distance tri events.
Moda Mossa – Frame and Fork
The Mossa frame is far from extreme, but in many ways that makes it a lot easier to live with for novice triathletes.
For example, the gear cable routing is external rather than tucked inside the frame. That makes it a lot easier to service and keep smooth for, at worst, a fractional aerodynamic penalty.
The slight wheel-hugging radius cut-out of the back of the aero seat-tube also leaves much more room for seatpost adjustment than the radically ‘S-bent’ tubes on more ‘advanced’ frame designs. The vertical rear-wheel slots are a lot easier to get the wheel out of and back into than a horizontal design if you puncture when racing too.
While the tube shaping isn’t as totally aero as other frames on the seatstays and suchlike, rounder tubes ride more forgivingly without needing extensive internal profiling and the smoothed welds look great. More importantly, in aero terms, the low head-tube makes it easy to get as low a tuck position as you’re likely to want. The seatpost also has a sliding saddle clamp to let you fine tune the effective seat angle.
Moda Mossa – The Kit
While they look basic and blocky, there’s loads of easy adjustment potential from the Moda’s tri-bar set-up. That means – like the saddle – it’s easy to experiment with different positions until you find what suits you best, without having to buy different kit or get the saw out. Definitely a good thing if you’re just starting out.
The Barelli saddle isn’t very forgiving though, so we’d recommend upgrading to a soft-nosed seat, particularly if you’re making full use of the deep-tuck potential of the low head-tube. We’d also upgrade the Kenda tyres as they feel wooden and don’t offer much wet grip. But the American Classic wheels are an excellent lightweight score.
While it doesn’t have the same kudos as Shimano or SRAM kit, the white-painted microSHIFT gears work OK. The lack of easy shift profiling on the smaller cogs of the cassette does make changes a bit clunky on occasion though. The Barelli cranks and internal bearing bottom-bracket feel as spindly as they look too, although Moda have been smart enough to fit smaller chainrings so you can spin up the hills rather than stomp them. The Barelli brakes are soft and mushy rather than confidently controlled.
Moda Mossa – The Ride
Some softness in crank and brakes is generally unavoidable if you’re buying a cheaper bike, but it’s relatively easy to upgrade away over time. The crucial thing here is that the Mossa feels really well sorted and friendly from the start.
With the wide range of adjustability built into the cockpit and seating set-up it’s very easy to fine tune fit, but the basic proportions and geometry are good anyway. A relatively long wheelbase and slightly slacker head angle than some more aggressive frames translate to excellent stability and a bike we felt totally relaxed on even on gusty days.
You’re certainly not going to fret about having to go one- handed to fish food out of your pockets or bento box while riding. We only had to rest our hands gently on the extensions, rather than grip them tightly, when we were in a tuck too. This reduces stress and fatigue and that matters as much as aerodynamics if you’re sitting on the bike for hours before pulling your running shoes on. Even with a conventional rather than soft-nosed saddle, the back end doesn’t give you much of a beating either. At £1,200 you’ve got plenty spare for your ideal seat, compared to most entry-level tri bikes.
The same applies to the tyres and cranks too, which definitely suck some of the power punch out of the Mossa when you’re trying to muscle it up climbs. As we’ve said, at least you get sensible spin options rather than just big grunt gears. The fact that setting up a sustainable, comfortable tuck is so easy and the handling isn’t an issue, translates to an impressively efficient, low-effort feel on flat roads.
While the brakes are soft and eventual, rather than sharp and authoritative, it’s not much of an issue as the handling is well balanced. There is a bit of flex from the front wheel if you push hard, but you’re probably better off not provoking the tyres too much anyway as the compound is designed for longevity rather than grip and the wooden feel doesn’t help either. The overall friendliness and value of the bike makes this something to upgrade rather than a reason not to buy in the first place and the overwhelming test team feedback on the Mossa was really positive for the price.
+ Well-balanced position and handling with tons of fine-tuning potential
+ Comfortable, practical aero frame with quality wheels
– microSHIFT gears work OK, but not as well as Shimano or SRAM
– Tyres and cranks could do with upgrading sooner rather than later