Huffing and puffing he came, dragging a 5-foot-long box up the sidewalk. My FedEx delivery man is no weakling, but he struggled with the 60+ pound package holding the Mongoose Beast, a bottom-of-the-line fat bike Walmart started selling last month.
You may have seen our preview article, “Fat Bike trend Dead? Walmart sells ‘Beast’ bike for $199.” Well, we could not resist at this price tag, and thus for less than the cost of a race saddle we held noses and put cash toward the Beast.
The name is apt, though we’re also going to start calling this rig the “JunkBike.” The single-speed, coaster-brake-equipped Beast is based on a simple cruiser bicycle design, though it was designed to accommodate giant knobby tires.
First take? Mongoose made the Beast indeed as a department-store build with all the cheapest parts available. A large kick-stand and decals that are already peeling off — not to mention a solid quill stem, cheap saddle, and bubbly welds — left a lot to be desired.
And the weight… truly a beast, this bike crushes scales at nearly 50 pounds.
Really, though, we knew what to expect. At $200, nothing here is going to scream quality. And who cares? Let’s get this thing buttoned up and go ride!
A freak April 11th snowstorm blanketed Minneapolis with 3 inches of wet snow the night before our Beast arrived. Assembled and ready, I rolled out the front door and down a small flight of steps like they weren’t even there. So far so good.
Out on the street, a few labored pedal strokes got me to cruising speed in a jiffy. A smile formed and lasted for several blocks, wet snow building on my cheeks.
But as the miles ticked on and the trail begin to slant up just a bit, I noticed I was beginning to get winded. This thing sucks the power from its host’s legs like a 50+ pound leech, and this was on pavement!
I turned off the paved path and into a wooded lot that harbors a secret set of dirt jumps. This would be the first off-road test for our Mongoose. My speed slowed to a barely manageable crawl and soon I had to take a break. I’m no racehorse, but I’m not a slouch in the saddle either — this bike is quite difficult to power down a snow-covered trail.
The bike’s gearing (36-front/18-rear) is far too tall for offroad riding and honestly isn’t really ideal for on-road riding either. I’ll be swapping that rear cog for a large, easier-to-pedal option soon for sure.
I suspect the whole GearJunkie crew will soon be itching to swap different parts on this bike. The Beast is going to stick around for a while. As noted, we’ve already dubbed it the “JunkBike” and we have plans for this thing.
Heavy, cheap, weird, and, have to admit, a bit fun (for the price at least) are my first impressions of the Beast. We’ll get more into detail on a future review.
Should you run out and buy one? For the novelty factor, maybe. For a serious rider. . . definitely not. If you’re going to use the Beast in true fat-bike scenarios — in snow, beaches and sand, or for rolling over big things in your way on dirt — the Walmart bike is gonna disappoint.
But stay tuned while we try this bike in unrealistic scenarios, attempt to make it less of a piece of junk with some different parts, and generally see how much fun we can squeeze from the mass-produced Mongoose ride.
—T.C. Worley is a contributing editor.