Mali is a domestic manufacturer with nearly three decades of manufacturing experience, the creator many popular bikes in the entry level category. The Mali Skorpio is such a model, a real gem offering a number of extra features for beginner mountain bikers at truly affordable price.
Mali did not start making bicycles just yesterday, throughout the last three decades it offered many legendary models. Older generation of Hungarian cyclist can surely list a handful from the top of their head: for example, the Mali road bike range featured the extremely popular Ironman model, a trustworthy companion, much in the hearts of many cyclist even today. years ago, as a beginner mountain biker, I did my research before purchasing the first serious machine, adding some Mali models to the list of potential models. In the end I did not end up owning any of them, so I had to wait until 2018 to actually give a Mali bike a proper test. It is the latest iteration of the ever-popular Skorpio model. I was not disappointed at all: it truly outperformed my expectations!
Compared to other bikes in the entry level category, Mali Skorpio has a nice frame design, and it’s not merely the vivid red color scheme that attracts attention. The Skorpio also excels in the technology aspect. Expert riders will quickly notice the smooth welds on the frame, which are pleasing to the eye, making the bicycle look as if it was made from carbon composite. In the past, only top-of-the-line aluminum models had this technology, making them the coarsely “stitched” look. It made them special, and it’s exactly the reason I fell in love with my former bike. The light, triple butted tubes get hydroformed shaping, which not contributes to the elegant appearance, but has a positive effect on its strength-to-weight ratio.
The internal shift cable routing plays a role in providing a clean appearance, and fortunately the rear brake hose runs outside, so you do not need to disassemble the hydraulic system in case you want to change something. The designers at Mali also took into consideration those doing bike touring, since the frame has eyelets for the luggage rack, and even heavy duty types can be used for self-sustained, multi-day cycling expeditions. The rear disc brake mount is inside the rear frame triangle providing more protection in case the bike is tipped over. For now, the Scorpio is available only in 18″ size, which was fortunately perfect for my 179cm height.
The front suspension was chosen in harmony with the price category: the Suntour XCM fork helps to increase the bike’s comfort and front wheel traction. As an extra feature, it has a mechanical lockout, so its motion can be completely tamed, which is good if you want to stand on the pedals while riding uphill.
Apart from the crankset, the gear and the drive system is handled by the Shimano Acera group set. Mali made a wise choice as these components have come a long way, making them a surprisingly well-performing choice for entry-level bikes. For example the “Shadow- type” rear derailleur is almost on par with the mid-level Shimano rear mechs. The 3×9 speed system provides enough gear range for this bike, so even the slightly weaker than average will be able to climb the steeper slopes.
The brake is also a good choice from the manufacturer. Although the M315 model is not a top-of-the-class in the Shimano lineup, it still delivers good performance, well suited to the more gentle domestic terrain. If you want a bit more braking force, you can replace the front disc to a 180mm size.
The 29er double-wall rims are complemented by fast-rolling Kenda tires, which run very well on both asphalt and hard terrain, and they’re not embarrassed by variable conditions. Due to the large wheel size, the rider can easily roll over obstacles and take impacts from the road.
The accessories (handlebar, stem, saddle and seat tube) are all taken from Mali’s own brand, and we have no reason to complain about to any of them. They are standard industry offerings, the athletically pleasing saddle even features a pressure-relieving cutout.
The first ride of the test is partly about getting accustomed with the exterior of the bicycle. From that point of view, the Skorpio had nothing to be ashamed of in the Brac test camp featuring bikes that cost several times more than this entry-level model from Mali. I particularly liked the vivid red color scheme and the smooth welds of the hydroformed frame which clearly furthers the quality of the bicycle. Setting up and fine tuning the Scorpio was a quick process, allowing me to quickly set out after raising the saddle and flipping the stem to a lower the bar to achieve a more familiar riding position.
As we started each test ride from a steep slope at the hotel, so the brakes immediately got a heavy load. It took just a couple of seconds for the Shimano brakes to bed in, after which I experienced no problem obeying the stop sign at the bottom of the slope. (So I managed to avoid a plunge into the sea… :) The handling of the Skorpio was a pleasant experience, although the handlebar is a bit narrow by modern standard. Nevertheless, for fifteen years I used the same bar width, I evidently survived every bike adventure, so a narrow bar is not the end of the world! The shifting did a proper job, and I did not have to make any adjustments during the test. This entry-level group set has a small lag while taking the chain from one sprocket to another compared to the high-end offerings, on the other hand it costs way less which seems a fair compromise.
It was easy to ride the Skorpio both on trails and on asphalt, but weighing over 15kg, it surely does not behave like an elite racing model. It’s not intended for performance-oriented MTB riders, nevertheless it can be taken to MTB marathons, and most likely the result won’t be up to the bike as the rider. The saddle Mali proved is surprisingly comfortable, I could ride it all day long, so it’s a perfect choice for Skorpio. On the other hand the suspension fork could be improved on, the Suntour model struggled to perform on the rough rocky terrain in Brac. This bike could benefit from a more advanced fork.
Who would I recommend the Mali Scorpio? It’s ideal for those looking for a sophisticated looking MTB at an affordable prices, used primarily for bike touring on mixed terrain. It’s suitable for cyclist of larger statue, and it will withstand the heavy loads of multi-day bike touring. So if you are just getting familiar with the wonderful world of MTB riding, and you’re not intending to take part in competitions, or want to spend a lot of money on the first bicycle, the Scorpion should certainly be on your shopping list!
You can learn more about this bike by visiting dealer’s website.
Recommended retail price: 179,990 HUF
|Frame:||Hydroformed tubes, carbon-look smooth welds, triple-butted aluminum, hidden cable routing, 29″ wheel size|
|Fork:||Suntour XCM 29″, 100mm travel, mechanical lockout|
|Crankset:||Prowheel Suolo 901|
|Shift levers:||Shimano Acera|
|Cassette (cogs):||Shimano HG200, 11-32T|
|Front derailleur:||Shimano Acera|
|Rear derailleur:||Shimano Acera|
|Rims:||Double wall Aluminum, 32H|
|Wheel hubs:||Joytech Aluminum|
|Brake system:||Shimano M315 hydraulic disc, 160/160mm|
|Stem:||Mali Aluminum, 90mm|
|Headset:||Integrated, Neco 1 1/8″|
|Seat post:||Aluminum, 27.2x250mm|
|Weight (actual):||15.06 kg|