Voodoo Braag

Voodoo Braag Review

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The Voodoo Braag is like an exercise in seeing just how low you can go when it comes to price point while still ticking a sufficient amount of ‘proper mountain bike’ boxes.

Cards on the table time. I am something of a Voodoo fan. Which is something of an odd thing to be… if you only know of Voodoo as essentially a Halfords quasi-own brand of bike.

To me, Voodoo means Joe Murray. And Joe Murray means 90s Kona. And they were some of the most important (and coolest) mountain bikes of all time. Sloping top tubes. Control Centre headsets. Project Two forks. Jumpers for goalposts stuff. I heart Joe Murray. I have his signature. Somewhere. I think. I hope. I don’t honestly know what, if any, role Joe Murray has in modern Voodoo. I suspect pretty much nil. But, like Ms Dion, my heart will go on. [Nil, sorry – Ed]

Head badge bonus points?

The Bike

The Braag then. (No, I don’t know how to pronounce it either… Brarg? Braaag?) The Braag almost seems like Voodoo doubling down on its remit of their other semi-famous entry level hardtail: the super popular Voodoo Bizango.

The frame of the Braag is the same as the new Bizango that got relaunched at the same time. Same shaping, same triple-butting, same geometry, same oddball 10x141mm rear end. But where the Bizango gets an air sprung fork, folding bead tyres, Shimano 11-speed drivetrain and Shimano disc brakes, the Braag… doesn’t.

The Braag gets a coil sprung fork (don’t get excited though), wire bead tyres, Microshift 9-speed drivetrain and Clarks disc brakes. A whole load of the rest of the Braag build is the same as the Bizango: wheels, stem, bars, grips, saddle, seatpost. And this is a good thing because all of those components are really sound and of an impressively modern and capable dimension. Short stem, decent width bars, nice grips, excellent WTB Volt saddle. I’ll go into how the various components performed shortly.

The frame is genuinely impressively designed and fabricated. Big down tube. Keyhole-profile top tube. Proper tapered head tube. Roomy chainstays. Nice bridge-less A-stay seat stays. And, easy to miss, internal dropper post routing port on the reverse of the seat tube just up from the BB.

Geometry wise, I reckon the Voodoo Braag is more than excused. OK, it’s not slack up front, nor steep at the back, but it has the length in the middle (reach), and the lowness at the BB, that both really help things. Oh, and major kudos for still putting one of the best head badges on the front.

The Ride

Those aforementioned spec downgrades then. The killer three are the fork, the drivetrain and the brakes. The fork is a really basic coil sprung affair. No rebound adjust. A preload dial. A lockout lever. Not that you need the lockout; the fork is very reluctant to compress. Partially due to having a heavy weight spring in it, but mainly due to excessive stiction. It steers fine and isn’t a noodle. But it does precious little in the way of actual suspending duties. I have ridden other versions of this fork that exhibited far less stiction. My advice would be to try them out in the shop before you leave the premises.

The Microshift drivetrain was great. No complaints. The range was decent. The clutch mech and narrow-wide chainring performed flawlessly. No dropped chains and just loads quieter than you’d expect of a cheap bike. The brakes weren’t great. They both required a bit of quick top-up and re-bleed to get rid of an alarming degree of wandering bite point syndrome. And the pads appear to be made of the densest material known to man. I really struggled to get the pads and rotors to bed in to each other. The rear brake in particular. In the end I bedded both sets of pads in using the front brake (i.e. swapped pads front-rear). I can well imagine less proficient riders having real problems with these brakes off the shop floor. Again, try the brakes out at time of purchase and try to get things sorted there and then if possible.

Right then, on to the good stuff. And it really is good stuff. The Voodoo Braag frame is just really, really good. Nice feel, good handling. It went on all my usual routes and loops and managed it all. Even with the front end harshness and the ‘exciting’ brakes, it was a fun experience that at no point was I wishing would end. It’s a proper mountain bike.

I think a big shout out is required here for the decision to spec a properly short stem on the Braag. It makes a whole world of difference. Would I just recommend going for the Bizango and getting rid of all the fork and brake issues? Maybe.

But although it’s tempting to think of the Bizango as ‘only’ £750, the £580 Braag is going to be eyed up by people who are telling themselves they have a £500 budget. The Braag is actually going to be over budget for most of the target audience who are otherwise semi-forced into buying 27.5in wheel bikes circa £500 – 29ers are more betterer for more people. It’s just how it is. My advice would be to save up the extra £80 and get Braaging, right.

Brakes took their time to bed in

Overall

If you can find a Voodoo Braag with a version of the SR Suntour XCM32 coil fork that actually goes up and down nicely, it’s a no brainer. Sure, the wooden-feeling brakes are a bit of an issue, but that’s a lot more curable. The sticky fork on our test bike was the real fly in the ointment. The rest of the Braag was really sound. It never felt like it was out of its depth. Or being smashed to pieces. It actually felt really well made, strong and inspiring.

It’s a capable and comfortable frame that you can live with for a good few years, upgrading parts as you go. The first parts to upgrade would be the brake pads (cheap) and the fork (not cheap) and the rest of stuff may not ever need upgrading at all from a functional point of view. At a time when five-figure mountain bikes are being thrust under our noses, it’s fantastic to see a decent mountain bike for five-hundred (and something) quid. And yes, all in all, I’m still a Voodoo fanboy.

Agreeable grips
  • Frame // Alloy
  • Fork // SR Suntour XCM32 coil, 120mm
  • Wheels // Voodoo Tubeless Ready
  • Front tyre // Maxxis Ardent 29×2.25
  • Rear tyre // Maxxis Ardent 29×2.25
  • Chainset // Prowheel FD04S, 32T, 175mm
  • Drivetrain // Microshift Advent, 9-speed, 11–46T
  • Brakes // Clarks Clout, 180/160mm
  • Stem // Voodoo Alloy, 40mm, 31.8mm
  • Bars // Voodoo Alloy, 780x20mm, 31.8mm
  • Grips // Voodoo Lock-on
  • Seatpost // Voodoo Alloy, 31.6mm
  • Saddle // WTB Volt
  • BB // Square Taper
  • Size tested // XL
  • Sizes available // S, M, L, XL
  • Head angle // 66.5°
  • Effective seat angle // 74.5°
  • Seat tube length // 500mm
  • Head tube length // 120mm
  • Effective top tube // 660mm
  • BB height // 65mm BB drop
  • Reach // 479mm
  • Chainstay // 435mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,210mm
  • Weight // 14.8kg

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Review Info

Brand: Voodoo
Product: Braag
From: Halfords
Price: £580.00
Tested: by Benji for Singletrack World Magazine Issue 149

Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

More posts from Ben

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  • Voodoo Braag Review
  • reeksy
    Full Member

    I weighed the 28mm version of this fork when i took it off a 27.5 Trek Marlin. It was a full 1200g heavier than the Manitou air fork that replaced it. 12oog. That’s 1.2kg. Nearly two water bottles attached to your fork.

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