Hope are finally ready to unleash the Beast from Barnoldswick to the public. Hope owners, Ian Weatherill and the late, Simon Sharp, had always dreamed of building their own bike. There are hundreds of different sketches and renderings at Hope HQ and prototype bikes, but it wasn't until now that they could finally construct a bike they wanted to ride, and more importantly to them, build almost entirely in-house.
The HB211 prototype was shown to the public, but the brand was always coy about whether or not it would make it into production, or if it was purely a showpiece. Now the bike is available to order, in limited quantities, and you can have it in any color you like, as long as it's raw carbon and black. In fact, the only option for customers is the color of anodized parts, the usual six Hope shades will be available, and finally Team Green will be available to buy on this complete bike only. Color aside, the bike is only available as one package (with some options on rotor size, stem length, chainring size), built with as many Hope parts as possible, and only from selected Hope dealers or direct from the factory. Available from September onwards, Hope will produce 500 bikes per year, so get in line. How much is the big question: £7,500 will get you a piece of hand laid history.
Details Hope HB160 Details
• Intended use: trail, enduro, mountain biking
• Carbon front triangle, alloy rear
• Travel: 160mm
• 27.5" wheels
• 130mm rear hub spacing
• Fox Suspension
• Weight: 14 kg (claimed)
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Made in the UK
• Price: £7,500 / $9,663 USD approx.
Where to start on the details? It seems that every nook and cranny of the HB160 has been pondered over many a brew (that's tea in Yorkshire). Not simply selecting parts from a catalog and putting them in the right place, but thinking critically and making parts that better suit the needs of this bike. The front triangle is carbon, laid in Barnoldswick in return for British wages, safety standards and income directed into their local community. Cable routing is internal with 3D ports printed in-house. The water transfer graphics are added before the final matte finish lacquer is applied.
Carbon production is currently always associated with Asia. But Hope pointed out some good reasons UK manufacture is a smart move. Firstly, one of the major costs of a carbon bike is the mold. If your entire business revolves around machining bike parts, then this isn't an issue, though they did have to buy a machine bigger than anything they had previously to machine the huge £700 hunks of raw material into shape.
Secondly, the UK has a huge wealth of carbon expertise related to Formula One car construction, so finding an expert to help with the finer details of this black art
Hope's solution to creaky press-fit BB's uses a tube that threads together inside the frames bottom bracket shell for a solid fit. There is a custom chain guide that fits onto tabs above the bottom bracket shell, single chainring compatible only, of course.
Moving towards the rear wheel things get more interesting with the funky offset rear triangle; following somebody along a trail on the HB160 almost looks as if their bike has taken a side on impact from a car. The idea here is to reduce the width of the rear hub to 130mm for better clearance through Yorkshire gritstone, though the hub flanges sit a similar width apart to a boost hub. Space is saved between the frame and disc, and disc and spoke flanges, the spoke angle is also symmetrical which is touted as the ultimate solution for reliable wheel building. The hub axle is 17mm instead of 12mm, which is the size of Hope hub inner bearing races, the races sit directly on the axle, instead of on spacers on the axle.
The radial brake and mount are also Hope's own. Both are designed to sit perpendicular to the hub. This means that to change disc size riders can simply to add or remove spacers to raise or lower the caliper, instead of trying to find that obscure 'IS160 Front Old to PM203' mount from 2003 that you need on your modern bike to upgrade the rotor by 20mm. There are also Lego-like bosses on the mount that sit inside the bolt hole on the caliper to help keep things in line.
Some people may complain that Hope are creating more standards, but this bike is a package deal only. If you care about the fact that you can't insert 'Component X' here or there, then you have missed the point of this bike.
The sections of the swingarm of the HB160 are now bonded together. This gives a cleaner finish and is also said to be a more accurate way to keep the bike aligned during manufacture.Geometry
Hope said they wanted to stay on the conservative side of geometry rather than chasing the longer, lower, slacker, trend. That said, the numbers are still fairly progressive compared to a few 160mm travel machines that are lagging behind the times. Build
There's one build kit to choose from, and of course, it's dominated by Hope. The suspension is from Fox via a 36 and Float X2, the dropper post is a Reverb from RockShox. The gear shifter, chain, and derailleur are XX1 11-speed from SRAM. The saddle is from Fabric and will be a custom Hope edition for the production bikes. Maxxis supply tires. Everything else is all from under one roof: grips, bar end plugs, handlebars, stem, top cap, headset and spacers, hubs, rims, cranks, seat clamp, chain guide, cranks, chainring, bottom bracket, hubs, cassette, and brakes – can any other brand boast this spread of product?
The rims are the only component made in Taiwan, to Hope's specification, as finding rim manufacturers in the UK is, well, basically impossible.Suspension Design
Hope are open and admit that all suspension is a compromise, rather than marketing they have found a perfect solution. They went with a four bar, horst style link that provides fairly neutral characteristics all around. The only thing that isn't neutral is a lot of progression that should work well with coil shocks or large volume air shocks with minimal spacers inside.
We headed to the Serre Chevalier region of France where the HB's main engineer resides. Guillaume uses the epic alpine trails here as his local test bed, and what better place to get to grips with the bike.
The HB160 gets on with most tasks well, the geometry isn't fully new-school, and of course, me being me, would say I would like a degree or two added to the seat tube and a couple knocked of the headtube, as well as a few more millimeters in the reach and chainstay. But that's not the point. The geometry plays well with all types of riding and is comfortable enough for long days, climbing and descending nearly anything put in front of it.
Neutrality is key is key here as Hope themselves suggested was their goal. But after stating they wanted to stay on the conservative side of things, the HB160 is still more aggressive and capable than many bikes aimed at the same genre of riding.
The standout feature for me was the rear suspension; the back of the bike has amazing tracking characteristics across rough cambered ground and corners. The progressive suspension allows the pilot to take commanding and aggressive approach. Driving the HB into corners and through compressions is superb, and picking up speed is natural as the chassis spurs onwards.
We are looking forward to getting some more time on an HB160 on our regular test tracks, a bike that needs to be lined up against some potential rivals.Pinkbike's Take:
About the Reviewer Stats:
• Age: 31 • Height: 6'1” • Ape Index: +4" • Weight: 75kg • Industry affiliations / sponsors: None • Instagram: astonatorPaul Aston is a racer and dirt-jumper at heart. Previously adding to the list of non-qualifiers at World Cup DH events, he attacked enduro before it was fashionable, then realized he was old and achy. From the UK, but often found residing in mainland Europe.