Back in 2017, Hope released their first complete bike to the World and two years later, they’ve brought the Hope HB130 to the public.
Hope have a reputation of doing things their way and that was certainly the case with the HB160 Rosie tested three years ago in the French Alps. Fast forward three years and the HB130 is the bike Hope now reckon they should be riding for pretty much everything.
Pete headed to Royal Deeside to find out what the new 130mm travel, 29″ wheeled Hope HB130 was all about. Read all about Pete’s Hope HB130 review below.
Photos by Roo Fowler.
- Carbon frame, hand-layered in the UK
- 29″ wheels
- 130mm rear wheel travel
- Horst Link suspension
- 130 x 17mm rear axle
- Flip chip adjustable geometry
- SRAM XO1 Eagle 12-speed drive
- Fox Factory suspension and dropper
- £6,299.99 RRP
As Scotland put on its best impression of a Mediterranean country, I drove north to Royal Deeside and Ballater to spin out the new complete bike from Hope.
Three years on from the launch of their first bike to make it off the drawing board and into the public domain, Hope have now, dare I say it, a range of bikes with the addition of the HB130.
Two days of scorching temperatures, a mixture of trails and some hefty climbs awaited me as I settled into the hunting lodge that was to be our home for the trip.
Another string to the bow
Even as the HB160 was rolling off the shelves from the factory in Barnoldswick, Hope felt that had maybe gone a little bit too conservative with their geometry and deployed chief designer Guillaume Leon to create the next Hope complete bike. A bike that could tackle everything the staff would ride most often.
Again, it’s worth stressing that this bike almost embodies the Hope philosophy. Hope was borne of riders looking for the kit that they were looking for that wasn’t currently available. There is a very real feeling that Hope know what they want, and aren’t going to be rushed or pushed down conventional routes either.
The HB160 was the first of the complete bikes to emerge from the factory, and after tweaking geometries three times from the original design of the HB130, we have another arrow in the quiver.
So how have Hope gone about updating the geometry recipe before sprinkling it into the in-house machine moulds for hand-layering?
I rode a size Medium at the launch, both large and XLarge will be available with a Small in the offing should demand get to it. At 5′ 4″, the medium was a roomy delight once HB sales and tech legend Rob ‘Doddy’ Dodsworth had swapped the Fox Transfer post out from its standard 150mm drop to a 125mm.
On day one, I rode the Medium in the ‘High’ setting on the flip chip which gives a 455mm reach on a 420mm seat tube. Plenty of room out front with enough leg still available to pop the post up out of the frame.
Head angle with a 140mm travel Fox Factory 36 is 66.5 degrees with the seat angle out at 76.7 degrees.
On day two, we swapped to the ‘Low’ setting. The flip chip is as simple as it sounds. Essentially an offset bush without being an offset bush, adds 5% progressivity to the suspension (17% to 22%), shortens the reach to 449.5mm, head angle to 66 degrees and seat angle to 76.2 degrees.
As a vast amount of the HB130 is made in-house, as well as final assembly being in Barnoldswick, the options for customisation and upgrades are numerous.
For the Hope anodised parts, there are a maximum of seven colours available, including Hope’s Team Green for certain parts.
Öhlins suspension is available at no extra charge.
Hope will sell you a set of their cranks at less than the cost of the fitted SRAM models.
For an extra £1350 when bought with the bike, you can add a set of Santa Cruz Reserve 30 rims on Pro4 hubs.
You can also match your fork, rim and anodised components for an extra £30.
A frame kit will also be available for £3,950. The lack of radial brake mount means you can now run any post mount caliper.
Wheels on dirt
The proof of all the ingredients is in the pudding, and while the reach might be slightly longer than I’d normally go for, I held my thoughts before forming my Hope HB130 review until I’d slung the bike down a Cairngorm or two.
A blast along the old Royal railway line we’d soon be winching our way through the Scots Pine forests under a baking hot sun to the first of many excellent descents. The climb to said was classic Cairngorms gold. Heather and bilberry bushes brushing at the ankles as the mixture of pine needles and granite showed the way to the top.
Out of the saddle and crunching the gears down the cassette didn’t trouble the back end any even with a bit too much wind in the tyres. On the power, you can feel the back end sink slightly before putting whatever you’ve got into forward motion.
Soon at the top, tyre pressures adjusted and we were off. Our first trail was an exercise in keeping your eyes up. Freshly cut, this slither of Cairngorms gold wasn’t super obvious to the untrained eye.
What was obvious was the easy speed that the HB130 added to proceedings. Even a drop to flat didn’t seem to fluster the 130mm Horst Link and off we charged.
With a chance to add a couple of clicks of rebound to fork and shock, we’d stop for lunch before battling a savage head wind to the top of the classic Ballater descent that is Heartbreak Ridge. The only aching was of tired legs and arms that would suffer from trying to keep the front wheel down against a dangerous crosswind.
I made the mistake of trying to stay with Rachael Walker’s back wheel and while failing to do so, realised that the HB130 will get you out of as much trouble as you can get yourself into. Despite trying to follow someone who knew where they were going, and could show me a clean pair of heels anyway, trying to ride faster than I was comfortable with was rewarded with a bike and body that was not just intact, but still going very quick indeed.
The HB130 did nothing other than hold the terrible line I’d chosen, while simultaneously dealing with the multiple compressions and square edges that Heartbreak Ridge has in spades.
From thereon down, I took my time and tried to find some better lines and was again treated to composure. The kind of feeling you get after driving B-roads in a banger for years, before stepping into something worth your annual salary and sporting four wheel drive.
With the breeze in your face, you know fine well that you’re trucking, but the level of rowdiness decreases. The HB130 feels far more than the numbers would suggest and seems keen for you to continue to explore its abilities to chew up trail and spit it out. I am sure you could find rowdiness on the HB130, but you’d need to be marching on far faster than I could go.
Day two dawned and we’d be riding some technical woodland singletrack of the finest quality and some near vertical rocky nonsense to round off the day. I’d switch to the ‘Low’ setting for the second outing, but keeping everything else the same.
After another hefty fire road climb we’d be treated to a couple of sweaty laps of one of the best trails I’ve ever ridden before some steepness in the afternoon. High on the hill, the shorter reach made the bike more reactive to inputs, which helped me weave the bike through the tighter turns and hold one of many high lines available as the trail snaked its way down the hill.
As the trail opened out and the speed increased, I found myself wanting the longer reach of the ‘High’ setting back and maybe that slightly less progressive rear too.
Personal preference plays a massive part here, but the second day made me realise just how good the HB130 was in the ‘High’ setting. The low-slung seat tube combined with a generous reach and slightly more supple back end more than made up for the half a degree of head angle you’d be trading for it.
What you have is a very capable ‘High’ setting that allows you to explore your own limits, with the option of switching to the ‘Low’ setting for different terrain or a preference for the feel that it gives.
The afternoon’s steeps only confirmed my preference for ‘High’ with both the up and the down being steep, rocky and very technical. The bike still performed admirably in the ‘Low’ setting, naturally. I managed to clean the worst of the techy climb despite most saying I wouldn’t, while the downhill was a lesson in just how hot a brake can get.
All that was left was to eat my own bodyweight in ice cream (check out Shorty’s in Ballater if you’re in the area) and talk of all the times I clipped a pedal and almost went over the bars on that last trail. Steep doesn’t even come close.
What do we think?
The HB130 is a very fast bike that will keep its composure well after you’ve run out of talent. Cheap it might not be, but then a hand-made carbon bike produced in the UK wasn’t ever likely to be. The frame is stuff where it needs to be, and supple where it can be. Definitely a warrior for those all day missions.
For the Hope fans, you’re unlikely to get closer to a full Hope build than the HB130.