Hope HB.916

Hope HB.916 first ride review: The Perfect Bike?

by 106

Hubba hubba Hope. The Hope HB.916 is one of the nicest looking bikes we’ve seen for quite some time. But does the 160/170mm enduro bike live up to its aesthetic promise?

  • Brand: Hope
  • Product: HB.916
  • Price: Complete bikes from £6995.00, framesets inc. shock, headset & BB from £3,595, Complete minus drivetrain from £3,595
  • From: Hope Tech
  • Review by: Benji for a week
Hope HB.916

Three things I loved

  • Perfect geometry
  • Rides light
  • That weave

Three things I’d change

  • Not a fan of DMR Deathgrips
  • Cheaper is always nice
  • Um.
Non-driveside pic FTW

The HB.916 is very much not a new HB.160 (their previous enduro bike). Everything about it is different. Well apart from what it’s made from (carbon) and where it’s made (Barnoldswick, Lancashire). Actually, the rear travel is the same (160mm) so maybe I’m exaggerating the HB.916’s newness for journalistic effect. Surely not.

The Hope HB.916 is like a complete new project. High pivot with idler and all. Well, high-ish pivot. The idler is not that far above the chainring, certainly compared to other ostensibly similar designs from Deviate, Commencal, GT, Norco et al.

HB = Head Badge?

The looks

I don’t often like to spend time writing about the manufacturing of a bicycle. I usually just prefer to jump straight into how it rides. But clearly, with the made-in-UK weave-tastic CNC-fest Hope HB.916, how the bike is made a big part of the whole thing.

Essentially, it is stunningly well put together. Nothing on this bike is lightly fudged or bodged or sticking plastered. It looks amazing. Crisp yet smooth. It feels like the very definition of precision engineering. It’s so well constructed that it makes you look at the price tag, look back over the bike, and go “yeah, fair enough really”.

Not very high pivot idler

I like to think I’m not that bothered about bike aesthetics. And I don’t think I am when it matters. It’s not that the HB.916 is a ‘pretty’ or ‘cool looking’ bike (although it is very definitely both), it’s that it exudes something well thought about, well designed and well put together. No compromises have been made.

The front triangle is one piece carbon fibre and like all the carbon parts on the bike, proudly displays its weave top layer. Often, carbon with a visible weave looks hideously naff and a bit nineties. Somehow the weave finish on the HB.916 looks great.

Brilliant new brakes

The whole bike is not carbon. CNC’d aluminium is used for the rocker linkage and also on the stays where the pivot hardware resides which allows Hope “to keep pivot bearings fitted into aluminium and spaced as wide as possible to increase bearing life”. Which is nice. Again, kudos to the Crayon Crew at Hope who somehow managed to merge the use of carbon and aluminium without the finished product looking disjointed or with the common ‘wish this was carbon too’ feeling to the aesthetic.

Other stuff: internal cable routing, bespoke rubber frame protection, ‘Butty Box’ downtube storage, water bottle bosses. The headtube also accepts an angle-adjust headset if you want to tweak the head angle a degree. Oh and there’s a neatly done flipchip in the seat stay if you want to run the bike as mullet/MX. Hope have also quietly ditched their proprietary 130mm back end. The HB.916 is regular Boost 148.

New Hope stem

The high pivot idler

First of all, I’m fairly certain the overriding feature of the way this bike rides is the Öhlins parts. It’s always the dampers that have the biggest effect on how a bike rides, regardless of how many pivots it has and where they’re placed etc.

This is not to say the design of a bike’s back end is irrelevant. It does have an effect. It just may not be the most important part of the package. Or a part that can’t be overcome or improved/worsened by what you do with the dampers.

Öhlins front damper

As you are possibly already aware of (and bored with hearing), a high pivot with idler design is meant to offer a rearward axle path without minimal effect on/from chain forces. Rearward axle paths are theoretically desirable as they take impacts in a betterer way that more vertical/forward axle paths. In essence, the rear wheel moves in similar plain to the fork; backwards and upwards. Like a backwards slash, if bike is viewed from the driveside … \

The idler is there to stop (or reduce) the effect of the chain pulling the cranks backwards under suspension compression.

It’s the little things…

The HB.916 is not the highest of high pivot designs. Its axle path is not *that* rearward and it stops being rearward completely in the latter half of the stroke. Nor is the leverage curve as progressive as other modern enduro bikes. It ‘only’ has around 26% progression. Which makes it fine for air or coil shocks (the latter can actually work just fine with designs that have much less progression).

One thing that’s easy to miss is that the bike is not a Horst Link (like the HB.160). It’s an axle-concentric layout. Think Dae Weagle’s Split Pivot or Trek’s ABP. What effect does this have? I’m going to say “not a lot” but if you forced me to come out with an opinion upon pain of death I’d say axle-concentric designs seems to bob a bit less. I can’t say I’ve ever felt any difference to braking or ‘anti-rise’ stuff. Sorry. Maybe it’s just me.

Axle-concentric

The more important stuff

Important stuff. By which I mean geometry, dampers and brakes.

Let’s deal with the last first. The brakes are Hope’s new Tech 4 levers paired with the V4 calliper, running on new-material pads. And they are completely brilliant. Very probably the best brakes ever made in fact. No really. It’s pretty annoying that we’ve just published our disc brake group test recently.

The dampers (journo speak for fork and rear shock) are both from Öhlins and I ended up running them completely open. It did take me a little while to get them to come to life, as it were. Basically, they felt really harsh (almost stiction-y but not) until I reached a very healthy amount of sag, circa 20% fork, 33% shock. I’m sure faster/better riders than me may like them run less sagged but I think it’s worth saying that a lot of mortals should experiment with running significantly softer pressures than they usually do on other brands’ dampers.

Alloy rocker and hardware

How did it ride?

Can you feel the idler? More specifically, can you feel the idler doing bad or good stuff? Well, I could tell when I’d forgotten to oil the chain. I don’t think the pulley drag is any worse than that from the rear mech, it’s more that the idler tinkling noise is easier to hear because of where it is in relation to yourself. Hey, treat it as a lubrication reminder! Once the chain was lubed, the idler never made its presence unduly felt.

The overriding quality of the ride of the Hope HB.916 was one of balance, comfort and responsiveness.

It was a real hovercraft at slower speeds and climbs. Just a really nice place to be. The steep seat angle and decent reach work really well when seated and making progress. The bike really took a lot of body tensing out the whole activity of going uphill.

Öhlins rear damper

Whilst the bike, and indeed the wheelset, is not appreciably lighter than similar travel bikes that I’m used to riding of late, the HB.916 rode incredibly light. I realise this is a real pseud-y journo thing to come out with. Nevertheless, it is true. The bike just feels like it wastes fewer of your precious watts. And even when you’re freewheeling, the bike feels impressively sprightly and chuckable. It is very much not a plough.

How much of this sprightliness is due to the rear suspension design or the use of carbon fibre is up for debate. My 2p: it’s the Öhlins and the geometry.

I would definitely testify to the fact that the Hope HB.916 is a noticeably calm and quiet bike. That sort of stuff is unarguably a result of the rear suspension and the frame construction. Getting back on another bike after being on the HB.916 feels and sounds like you’re breaking bits of it as you descend down stuff.

The HB.916 does not feel like a delicate piece of engineering that needs servicing and rebuilding by a dedicated tinkerer every few weeks. It feels like a reassuring marvel of modern mountain biking that can totally rip any terrain you care to take it to.

‘Butty Box’

Overall first impressions

It makes climbs feel easier. It skips along singletrack. It can ride down anything you point it at.

We had to give our HB.916 test bike back for Hope to take to Tweedlove. I want it back now please. I NEED to find a chink in its weave-tastic armour. Otherwise, it may well be The Perfect Bike.

Specification

  • Frame // Hope Tech Carbon, 160mm
  • Shock // Ohlins TT Air TM
  • Fork // Ohlins RFX38 Air, 170mm
  • Wheels // Hope Fortus 30SC rims & Hope Pro 4 hubs
  • Front Tyre // Maxxis Assegai 29×2.5in WT EXO+ TR
  • Rear Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHR II 29×2.4in WT EXO+ TR
  • Chainset // Hope
  • Shifter // SRAM GX Eagle
  • Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle
  • Cassette // SRAM GX Eagle
  • Brakes // Hope Tech 4 V4, 180/180mm rotors
  • Stem // Hope Gravity 35mm
  • Bars // Hope Carbon, 800mm, 35mm
  • Grips // DMR Deathgrip
  • Seatpost // OneUp Dropper Post V2 210mm
  • BB // Hope
  • Size Tested // H3
  • Sizes Available // H1, H2, H3, H4
  • Weight // 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
  • Chainstay // 440mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,286mm
  • Effective top tube // 629mm
  • BB height // 342mm
  • Reach // 487mm
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Review Info

Brand: Hope
Product: HB.916
From: Hope Tech
Price: from £6,995
Tested: by Benji for 1 week
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  • This topic has 106 replies, 40 voices, and was last updated 5 days ago by Jay.
Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 106 total)
  • Hope HB.916 first ride review: The Perfect Bike?
  • Tom Howard
    Full Member

    Seven grand! You can get a Santa Cruz with middling spec suspension and brakes for that!

    Oh, wait…

    weeksy
    Full Member

    NAh, that carbon does indeed look incredibly naff.

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    I’ll read all this later but it’s on my shortlist.

    dangeourbrain
    Full Member

    Tom Howard
    Full Member
    Seven grand! You can get a Santa Cruz with middling spec suspension and brakes for that!

    Oh, wait…

    When Tom Howard mentions the price you know there’s a problem.

    a11y
    Full Member

    Does that £7k build as pictured, i.e. with the Ohlins etc?

    Very bling finish, possibly too jazzy for me, but desireable all the same. IMO not as neat looking as the Deviate Claymore.

    Tom Howard
    Full Member

    When Tom Howard mentions the price you know there’s a problem.

    For clarity, the problem isn’t Hope’s pricing…

    Does that £7k build as pictured, i.e. with the Ohlins etc?

    Yeah. No. Spec is higher, according to Hopes website, you get X01 gears. #internetrummaging

    Adam
    Full Member

    Stunning! I want one. Can’t afford one, but I want one.

    When the lottery started years ago, I always used to say the first thing I’d do is go to Blackpool if I won, to buy a TVR. Now I think I’d go to Barnoldswick!

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    The Hope <span class=”skimlinks-unlinked”>HB.916</span> is one of the nicest looking bikes we’ve seen for quite some time

    Cirtainly from the hope stable imo – but it’s still not a particularly attractive bike, again imo…… As with all hope design it’s a bit utilitarian for my tastes 😜

    vinnyeh
    Full Member

    The dampers (journo speak for fork and rear shock) are both from Öhlins and I ended up running them completely open. It did take me a little while to get them to come to life, as it were. Basically, they felt really harsh (almost stiction-y but not) until I reached a very healthy amount of sag, circa 20% fork, 33% shock. I’m sure faster/better riders than me may like them run less sagged but I think it’s worth saying that a lot of mortals should experiment with running significantly softer pressures than they usually do on other brands’ dampers.

    Can you expand a bit on this. You had to run all the damping circuits wide open ie minimum damping high, low, rebound, compression, and run lower than expected pressures in order to get the suspension to perform smoothly . And suspension performance was still controlled?

    razorrazoo
    Full Member

    Seven grand! You can get a Santa Cruz with middling spec suspension and brakes for that!

    Oh, wait…

    Pinkbike comments section is over there —>

    stingmered
    Full Member

    All that beauty and still an ugly bottle cage… Should have been a fidlock (though appreciate the difficulty if it’s a hacks’ review-bike being passed around…)

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    All that beauty and still an ugly bottle cage…

    bottle cage with no bottle in it always looks naff.

    stick a STW branded bottle in it for the photos. Free advertising if/when the photos end up circulating the internet.

    Ben Haworth
    Full Member

    @vinnyeh In a word: yes. It’s something to tinker with if/when we get the bike back in. I’d like to have got to the point where things were ‘too open’ and then dial back from there (mainly for reassurance). Stay tuned basically.

    Edmund Billing
    Full Member

    Would be what I’d buy if I had the money. Lovely.

    teethgrinder
    Full Member

    Totally biased here, but it is a rather good bike.

    Running the -1deg top headset cup in mine, and I am shocked at how well it turns in the twisty stuff – thought 29ers were meant to be unwieldy barges, but this thing rips. Tried it as a mullet and it climbs easier as well.

    As for the price and all that, plenty of people do dentist cosplay and buy Yeti’s – they are just daft money, and the 916 comes with the choice of an Ohlins coil or air shock, which aren’t exactly cheap. £3600 for a frame set, £6k for a bike minus groupset or £7k for an Ohlins/XO1 build is a lot, but not the most expensive these days.

    And carbon weave? At least it’s not paint over filler.

    LycrabaggyAl
    Full Member

    nice bike but the weight if correct is a bit off-putting, 15.9kg! My Ripmo is 2kg lighter.

    dirkpitt74
    Full Member

    Looks stunning, I’d be hard pushed between the raw carbon and the chameleon paint……

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    Every review of the Ohlins mentions how heavily damped they are to the point where it effects traction. I’d probably run a Zeb if they’re as good as my Lyrik Ultimate which I’m very happy with.

    desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    15.9kg?! What happened to full sus bikes getting lighter. 30lb always seemed like a good limit to me, but 35lb? jeez I couldn’t cope with that in my old n feeble state.

    teethgrinder
    Full Member

    Chameleon is lovely and you can still see the carbon weave through the paint. But it is an extra £500.

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    Geometry trumps weight every time in my experience. A bike that fits and is a comfortable place to sit is much nicer to get around on than a very light bike with old school geometry.

    Tom Howard
    Full Member

    What happened to full sus bikes getting lighter.

    Stopped being a thing about 10 years ago.

    £500 for the chameleon paint, when compared to getting it done aftermarket, is a bargain.

    trimix
    Free Member

    Good or bad geometry, you still need to pedal it uphill.

    The price of top spec bikes is pretty daft. I’ve just bought a motorcycle for less than that !

    Tom Howard
    Full Member

    I’ve just bought a motorcycle for less than that !

    Is it ‘top spec’? As in would be competitive racing on the world stage?

    Akers
    Full Member

    It looks tidy, but I prefer the look of the Deviate Claymore…more.
    It’s a shame there’s no mullet option on the Deviates.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    15.9kg?! What happened to full sus bikes getting lighter. 30lb always seemed like a good limit to me, but 35lb? jeez I couldn’t cope with that in my old n feeble state.

    I think the 30lb “limit” went out the window when bikes became 150mm travel FS 29ers with dropper posts and proper tyres, not 80mm travel hardtails. It was always a bit arbitrary as a “I’m not spending £2k on a bike that weighs more than an entry level one” sort of way.

    And really, it’s not (likely to be) a 2kg heavier frame, so comparisons like “it’s 2kg heavier than……” is just saying …… has lighter tires, air suspension, etc.

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    Good or bad geometry, you still need to pedal it uphill.

    I have loads of times. I’d take a Geometron over an old carbon Stumpjumper for climbing any day regardless of the weight difference.

    Paul
    Full Member

    Yeah I thought the weight thing was yesterdays news, it makes very little difference unless you’re regularly doing hikeabike or lifting it over gates.

    And it’s not just the weight of the bike, it’s “system” weight – ie you and the bike and everything you’re carrying. If you’re 50kg then a 2kg weight saving on the bike is going to have a bigger impact than if you’re 100kg. But losing 2kg of bodyweight will have the same impact as losing 2kg of bike weight (ignoring any rotating weight loss). And it’s probably cheaper too!

    desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    Yeah, well I’m yesterday’s news too. Means I couldn’t lose 2kg if I starved myself for a month for one thing.
    No way would a bike that heavy ever suit me, so… huh. Whatevs 😛

    dirkpitt74
    Full Member

    About the same weight as my Carbon Nukeproof Mega 290.

    Paul
    Full Member

    It matters more on a 120mm downcountry bike, but on a 160/170mm enduro bike, nah. Heavy is good. Heavy is reliable. 😁

    At one point, it looked like World Cup DH bikes wer going to dip below 30lb; there was a fair few running around the 32-33lb mark.

    That said, the evolution of bikes has been impressive and the HB916 has to be up there with the most droolworthy of steeds.

    For comparison, my 27.5″ zerode taniwha weighs about the same and though it makes you sweat that bit more on the ups, you’re very much rewarded for your hard work when gravity is your friend

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    At one point, it looked like World Cup DH bikes wer going to dip below 30lb; there was a fair few running around the 32-33lb mark.

    enduro guys are often using DH tyres, Zeb/38 arent much off a DH fork. And the downhill bikes are missing droppers and a massive cassette.

    £ for £ I’d expect a DH bike to come in lighter than a true race ready big enduro bike.

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    At one point, it looked like World Cup DH bikes wer going to dip below 30lb; there was a fair few running around the 32-33lb mark.

    Lots of people quietly backed away from very lightweight DH bikes when they realised how twitchy and unstable they became. There’s also a lot people on the WC racing with lead weights in or around the BB area.

    dangeourbrain
    Full Member

    I think the 30lb “limit” went out the window when bikes became 150mm travel FS 29ers with dropper posts and proper tyres, not 80mm travel hardtails

    Pretty much this, though I’d change that to read

    I think the 30lb “limit” went out the window when 150mm travel FS 29ers with dropper posts and proper tyres stopped pedaling like somewhere in the linkage was zebedee on mdma

    Even as a confirmed weight weenie I think much of the “heavy bikes are bad” comes either from received wisdom or terrible experience of heavy bikes that’s 10+ years old.

    Not to say light bikes aren’t good, would I take an identical bike which was magically 1kg lighter, yep, in a heartbeat.
    Would I take 1kg out of a bike by fitting different tyres, probably not.

    Tom Howard
    Full Member

    There was a chap on the old MBUK/bike radar forum who reckoned to a have built a 29ishlb carbon 26” V10 when that first came out, loads of scale shots and no reason to doubt him.

    He wasn’t racing on the WC circuit, as you might imagine…

    Edit found him https://forum.bikeradar.com/discussion/12924035/my-santacruz-v10-5-carbon-custom-build-30lbs-page-2

    dangeourbrain
    Full Member

    Edit found him https://forum.bikeradar.com/discussion/12924035/my-santacruz-v10-5-carbon-custom-build-30lbs-page-2

    What sort of self respecting weight weenie leaves the sleeve in a BB?

    Tom Howard
    Full Member

    self respecting weight weenie

    Lolz

    desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    Does everyone race enduro these days then? Or is it just the “perfect bike” for the wannabe?

    Paul
    Full Member

    Does everyone race enduro these days then? Or is it just the “perfect bike” for the wannabe?

    No, but we’re at the stage now where most 150-160mm ‘enduro’ bikes are good enough that they can be ridden all day on trail centres or in the mountains as well as thrown down an enduro race.

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