Hope HB.916 first ride review: The perfect bike?
Hubba hubba Hope. The Hope HB.916 is one of the nicest looking bikes we have seen in quite some time. But does the 160/170mm enduro bike live up to its aesthetic promise?
- Mark: Hope
- Product: HB.916
- Price: Complete bikes from £6995.00, frames inc. shock, headset and BB from £3,595, full drivetrain minus from £3,595
- Of: I hope technology
- Review by: Benji for a week
three things i loved
- Perfect geometry
- Rolls light
- This weaving
Three things I would change
- Not a fan of DMR Deathgrips
- Cheaper is always nice
The HB.916 is definitely not a new HB.160 (their previous enduro bike). Everything is different there. Well apart from what it’s made of (carbon) and where it’s made (Barnoldswick, Lancashire). In fact, the rear travel is the same (160mm), so maybe I’m exaggerating the novelty of the HB.916 for journalistic effect. Surely not.
The Hope HB.916 is like a whole new project. Top pivot with turnbuckle and all. Well, high-end kingpin. The tensioner is not that far above the chainring, certainly compared to other ostensibly similar designs from Deviate, Commencal, GT, Norco et al.
I don’t often like to spend time writing about building a bike. I usually prefer to just jump straight into the way it rolls. But clearly, with the CNC-fest Hope HB.916 UK-made weave, the way the bike is a big part of the whole thing.
Essentially, it’s surprisingly well put together. Nothing on this bike is slightly gimmicked or mired or sticky plastered. He looks amazing. Crispy but smooth. Sounds like the very definition of precision engineering. It’s built so well it makes you look at the price, look back at the bike and say “yeah, fair enough really”.
I like to think I’m not that bothered by the aesthetics of the bike. And I don’t think I am when it counts. It’s not that the HB.916 is a “pretty” or “cool” bike (although it most certainly is both), it’s that it exudes something well thought out, well designed and well put together. . No compromise was made.
The front triangle is one-piece carbon fiber and, like all carbon parts on the bike, proudly displays its woven top layer. Often, carbon with a visible weave looks horribly cheesy and a little 90s. In a way, the weave finish on the HB.916 looks great.
The whole bike is not carbon. CNC aluminum is used for the rocker linkage and also on the seatstays where the pivot hardware sits, allowing Hope “to keep the pivot bearings mounted in the aluminum and spaced as widely as possible to increase the bearing life. The good thing is. Again, kudos to the Crayon Crew of Hope who managed to merge the use of carbon and aluminum without the finished product looking disjointed or with the common feeling of “I wish it was too carbon” to aesthetics.
Other items: internal cable routing, custom rubber frame protection, “Butty Box” downtube storage, water bottle bosses. The head tube also accepts an angle-adjust headset if you want to adjust the head angle by one degree. Oh and there is a nicely made flipchip in the seat if you want to run the bike as a Mule/MX. Hope also quietly ditched its proprietary 130mm rear end. The HB.916 is a regular Boost 148.
The High Pivot Turnbuckle
First off, I’m pretty sure the overriding feature of how this bike rides is the Öhlins parts. It’s always the shocks that have the most effect on how a bike rides, regardless of how many pivots it has and where they are placed, etc.
That’s not to say that the design of a bike’s rear end is irrelevant. It has an effect. This may not be the most important part of the package. Or a part that cannot be overcome or improved/worsened by what you do with the shocks.
As you may already know (and are tired of hearing), a high steerer with freewheel design is intended to provide rearward axle trajectory with minimal effect on/from steering forces. chain. Rear axle paths are theoretically desirable because they absorb impacts better than more vertical/forward axle paths. Essentially, the rear wheel rides on a plain similar to the fork; backwards and upwards. Like a backslash, if the bike is viewed from the riding side…
The tensioner is there to stop (or reduce) the effect of the chain pulling the cranks back under suspension compression.
The HB.916 is not the tallest of the high-pivot models. Its axle path isn’t *that* rearward and it stops being fully rearward in the second half of the stroke. The lever curve is also not as progressive as that of other modern enduro bikes. He has “only” about 26% progress. Which makes it perfect for air or coil shocks (the latter can actually work very well with designs that have much less progression).
One thing that’s easy to miss is that the bike isn’t a Horst Link (like the HB.160). It is a concentric layout to the axles. Think Dae Weagle’s Split Pivot or Trek’s ABP. What effect does this have? I’m going to say “not much” but if you forced me to give an opinion on pain of death, I’d say the concentric axle designs seem to move a little less. I can’t say I ever felt a difference with the braking or the “anti-lift” stuff. Sorry. Maybe it’s just me.
The most important things
Important stuff. By that I mean geometry, shocks and brakes.
Let’s deal with the last one first. The brakes are Hope’s new Tech 4 levers paired with the V4 caliper, running on new material pads. And they are completely awesome. Quite possibly the best brakes ever made in fact. Not really. It’s pretty annoying that we just recently published our disc brake groupset test.
The shocks (journo talk about fork and rear shock) are both from Öhlins and I ended up opening them all the way. It took me a little while to bring them to life, so to speak. Basically, they felt really harsh (almost stiction-y but not) until I hit a very healthy amount of sag, about 20% fork, 33% shock. I’m sure faster/better riders than me will like that they run less saggy, but I think it’s worth saying that a lot of mortals should experience much softer pressures than they usually do on shock absorbers from other brands.
How did he ride?
Can you smell the idler? More specifically, can you feel that the idler does harm or good? Well, I could tell when I forgot to lube the chain. I don’t think the pulley drag is any worse than the rear mech, it’s more that the idle rattle noise is easier to hear due to its position relative to yourself. Hey, treat it like a lubrication reminder! Once the chain was lubricated, the tensioner never made its presence felt unduly.
The overriding quality of riding the Hope HB.916 was balance, comfort and responsiveness.
It was a real hovercraft at slower speeds and climbs. Just a really nice place. The steep seat angle and decent reach work great when seated and progressing. The bike really required a lot of body to tense up all the uphill activity.
While the bike, and indeed the wheelset, isn’t noticeably lighter than similar travel bikes I’ve been used to riding lately, the HB.916 is incredibly light. I realize this is a real pseudo-journalist thing to get out. Nevertheless, it is true. The bike feels like it’s wasting less of your precious watts. And even when you’re freewheeling, the bike feels incredibly lively and playable. It’s really not a plow.
How much of that liveliness is due to the rear suspension design or the use of carbon fiber is up for debate. My 2p: it’s Öhlins and geometry.
I would certainly testify that the Hope HB.916 is a remarkably calm and quiet bike. This stuff is unmistakably a result of the rear suspension and frame construction. Getting back on another bike after being on the HB.916 feels like you’re breaking pieces of it off when you get off stuff.
The HB.916 doesn’t look like a delicate piece of engineering that requires servicing and rebuilding by a dedicated handyman every few weeks. It looks like a reassuring marvel of modern mountain biking that can totally rip any terrain you want to take it on.
General first impressions
This makes the climbs easier. He jumps along the singletrack. It can take down anything you point at.
We had to return our HB.916 test bike for Hope to take to Tweedlove. I want it back now please. I NEED to find a flaw in his tastic armor. If not, it might just be The Perfect Bike.
- Frame // Hope Tech Carbon, 160mm
- Shock // Ohlins TT Air MC
- Fork // Ohlins RFX38 Air, 170mm
- Wheels // Hope Fortus 30SC rims and Hope Pro 4 hubs
- Front tire // Maxxis Assegai 29×2.5in WT EXO+ TR
- Rear tire // Maxxis Minion DHR II 29×2.4in WT EXO+ TR
- Pedalboard // Hope
- Controller // SRAM GX Eagle
- Rear mechanics // SRAM GX Eagle
- tape // SRAM GX Eagle
- Brakes // Hope Tech 4 V4, 180/180mm rotors
- Stem // Hope Gravity 35mm
- Bars // Hope Carbon, 800mm, 35mm
- Handles // DMR Mortal Grip
- Saddle stem // OneUp V2 210mm dropper post
- BB // Hope
- Size tested // H3
- Sizes available // H1, H2, H3, H4
- Lester // 15.9kg
Geometry of our size H3 test bike
- Head angle // 64°
- Effective seat angle // 77.9°
- Seat tube length // 440mm
- Head tube length // 120mm
- Base // 440mm
- Wheelbase // 1286mm
- Efficient top tube // 629mm
- BB Height // 342mm
- Reach // 487mm
While you are here…
|Of:||I hope technology|
|Tested:||by Benji for 1 week|
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