Sometimes in the life of a test bike, things start out slowly, and the new wheels get eased into their new role. But some bikes get “tested” to their limits right off the bat. This latest specimen, a Mongoose Canaan Comp, has already been put through some difficult tribulations but has come out just fine.

Its first journey was as a pack mule for a three-day bikepacking excursion in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. The poor thing carried two Freeload racks and an Extrawheel trailer loaded with gear and food. (You can read about the trip in the next issue of Dirt Rag, coming out July 1.) We traveled the entire spectrum of surfaces, from fresh, smooth pavement to fairly rough singletrack, and I used the entire spectrum of 27 gears, sometimes within a mile, going over the undulations of the land. It was a great time, and the Mongoose came through with only a loosening of one pivot bolt, which is understandable. It also earned me the nickname “Goose”  (or is it called a trail name?) for the trip. Uh, OK.

Despite being somewhat reluctant to go back down to 26″ in wheel size for XC use, I made friends with the bike. With all the un-sprung weight it was tough to get a read on the nature of the suspension, but I was darn glad to have any travel in the rockier bits.

Then there was some of the usual home turf riding, no big deal at all. Today the bike has tasted the sweet, flowing singletrack at the Allegrippis trail system, where we’re visiting for the first annual (or is it the third?) Dirt Rag Dirt Fest. We got in a good ride today before most of the Fest-ers began to arrive. It’s now 11:30 at night, and the Fest-ers are still arriving – looks like we’ll host over 800 people in all. We’re having a blast! Aside from the bands, beer, and friends, the trails are totally grin-inducing, especially on a 26er – the whoops and de-dos don’t get too smoothed out. How ’bout that.

Some people have asked me if this is the same Mongoose that’s now found in department stores – the answer is definitely “no.” Although you can find some BCOs that might share a brand name, the Canaan Comp (and the rest of the Canaan line) belong strictly in the realm of true mountain bicycles, found at your friendly local bicycle dealer.

The tale of the tape:
MSRP: $1700
FRAME: New Mongoose FreeDrive W/ 100mm travel, 6061 PG heat treated alloy, integrated headset and replaceable hanger
FORK: RockShox Tora SL Air 100mm travel, rebound adjust, alloy steerer, and lockout
REAR SHOCK: RockShox Ario 2.1, air spring, rebound adjust, 165×38 mm w/ 19×8 mm hardware
CRANKSET / CHAINWHEEL: FSA Alpha Drive ISIS 44 alloy 32/22t steel
PEDALS: Crank Bros. Smarty sealed bearing
SHIFTERS: SRAM X.5 27 speed
CHAIN: KMC Z9200 w/ Missing Link connector
RIMS: Mavic XM117 disc 32 hole
FRONT HUB: Shimano Deore disc
REAR HUB: Shimano Deore disc cassette
SPOKES: 14g Stainless
TIRES: 26×2.0 Continental Speedking folding bead
FRONT BRAKE: Avid Juicy 3 w/ 160mm rotors
REAR BRAKE: Avid Juicy 3 w/ 160mm rotors
BRAKE LEVERS: Avid Juicy 3
HANDLEBAR: FSA XC-300A-OS AL6061 riser, 31.8x20x680 mm
STEM: FSA OS-190LX 31.8×90 mm
GRIPS: Mongoose Lock on
SADDLE: SDG Bel Air RL steel rail
SEAT POST: 2014 alloy post with double bolt clamp, 31.6×350 mm