OK, a day late.....we've both been busy riding bikes, working on new and exciting ride offerings for you, our loyal customers, and, you know, life sort of gets in the way sometimes......
This month, slightly at odds with previous blogs, its all about the bike. In particular, the most hotly expected new bike in years, Hope's new HB160. See what you think of my bike review.
Also, in a newsletter coming your way pretty soon, we will talk about the ongoing benefits of Mountain Bike skills training, remind you of the dates coming up, plus with a nod to the summer we mention our 3 big bike holiday trips; Ronde De Peaks (road), Tour de Peak District (gravel) and Welsh Coast to Coast (MTB).
Finally, with half term not far away, Paul announces the dates of cycling holiday activities and chucks in some weekend kids rides too. How great is that?
So, onto the review....
The Hope HB 160.
A short review.
If you are into mountain biking you can’t fail to have heard of the HB 160. If you been hibernating then the HB 160 is the fulfilment of Hope’s long held ambition to make its own bike. A few reviews and videos have been already been released by such worthies as MBR and pinkbike. I’ll leave it to you to check those out but after spending a few hours testing the bike I thought I’d add my two penneth worth to the pot.
Firstly I’m not a journalist or a professional bike reviewer, and I have no vested interest in reviewing any bike. If I buy stuff from Hopetech I have to pay the normal price just like you do. What I am is a mountain biker with 30 years’ riding experience. I’m not the best rider by any means but I know what I’m doing. So basically I’m totally Mr Average.
I’ve always been a fan of Hope brakes and wheels etc, and I’ve used a lot of SRAM kit over the years too. Its all good stuff and has been reviewed to death over the years so I’m not going to talk gear performance or suspension rates or Fox vs Rockshoxs etc.
Anyway enough of this. Let’s get to the bike.
Aesthetics are a personal thing but I think this is one good looking bike. It has a carbon front triangle and an aluminium rear. No bad thing and something that has been done very successfully by brands such as Giant for many years, so don’t turn up your nose just because it’s not all carbon. But I love that carbon weave finish.
On the subject of the rear Triangle this is offset and specifically designed by Hope and, for me, produced one of the few negative things about the bike; I kept clipping my right heel on the chainstay, although this may be down to how I have my foot on the pedal more than anything else and once I made the effort I stopped doing it. On my second ride on the bike it was not something I noticed (so, down to me then). There is much more clearance on the left side so it wasn’t an issue. I was riding flats and definitely have my foot in a different position when I’m in “clips”, because I move about more on flats. Had I been in clips I don’t think it would have been an issue at all.
The rear triangle of the bike is pretty short (in comparison with other bikes) but that is a good thing. This bike is a very good climber. To me climbing is just as important as descending. Yes, I like riding my bike uphill (I know, I’m weird) and I hate having to get off and walk. It’s a different mind-set to those who live in the Lakes, Wales or Scotland. Their hills are much bigger. When I’m there I expect hike a bike and it’s all part of the experience. But here in the Peak District I don’t like to walk, because, mainly I don’t have to. And on this bike I don’t have to.
What I did notice though is that when you heft the bike (like all mountain bikers do when examining a new bike) it feels a bit heavy for a carbon bike. However 30 lb seems to be about the ball park for this kind of rig and it rides much lighter. So while it doesn’t “ride heavy” it may begin to tell on you if you’re on a looong ride (so just get fitter!). Then again this is not necessarily a bad thing. Why? Because once you start going downhill this baby is totally planted. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a point and shoot steamroller. It goes where you want when you want and how you want. No messing. It really comes in to its own on tight twisty stuff but is pretty much at home on the Peaks long open rocky descents like “spud alley”. For a bike with 160 travel it’s a really agile machine. It’s easy to pick it off the ground and really benefits from using “skills” rather than pointing it downhill and then just hanging on. If that’s your style then buy something longer, lower and slacker because you won’t necessarily enjoy this bike.
On the longer lower slacker theme most journo’s who’ve reviewed the bike (that I’ve read) have all made comment on that. “I think it should be longer to make it more stable”, “I’d like it a degree or two slacker” etc but I think this possibly misses the point. As far as I can see this is meant to be a bike that will be comfortable on a long day out and be able to tackle pretty much anything you want to have a go at. In my opinion this is a real rider’s ride and utterly brilliant as a result. In 30 years I’ve ridden lots of different bikes, including many that are high end boutique bling, the HB is probably the best bike I’ve ever ridden.
It’s bloody expensive though. Mind you when I mentioned the price to a friend he said “HOW MUCH” so asked him what he had spent on his most expensive holiday “oh £7000. It was a 10 days on a clipper sailing ship” “was it any good?” “No it was crap. Total waste of money”.
Nuff said. Start saving. I have. It looks like good value in comparison to a holiday for 10 days on an old boat. Get yourself a demo and see for yourself!
Since writing this the price has dropped by £2000…I love Hope.