It’s a week since we got back from the third edition of Bombtrack Groundwork. The “not a bike launch” event is held in the forests near Cologne in western Germany. Bombtrack invites a handful of press and its dealers to come and ride with them for a few days on the brutal steep hills and flowing singletrack that typify the area. There’s also plenty of time included for catching up over a beer or many and to enjoy the local bakery’s wears. We rode a different bike each morning and afternoon over two days, which gave us plenty of chance to check out some of the stand-outs from Bombtrack’s 2019 range. Here’s our three #dirtydropbargoodness favourites, plus a joker in the pack to keep you on your toes.
Bombtrack Hook ADV
One of our current Bombtrack favs, the Hook EXT, is still in the range for 2019 in both steel and carbon options. It remains pretty much as the 2018 spec (check here for our First Look), and is still a cracking good bike. Bombtrack reckons the frameset could be pressed into more extreme duties, however. We reckon this is one of the wildest and most fun-looking “gravel” bikes now on the market.
Before we get on to the full spec list, it’s probably worth highlighting what the Hook ADR is not. It isn’t a fast gravel racer – this thing is a more than a little weighty. Equally, it probably doesn’t lend itself to full on bike-touring so well. The dropper makes bikepacking luggage trickier to fit and Bombtrack has many more models better suited to that. Also, most obviously, the Hook ADV isn’t a mountain bike. It has minimal suspension and curly bars. What the hell is it then?
Well, it’s a whole lot of fun, and maybe that’s all that matters? Sadly there weren’t any pre-production models in my size, so I had to limit myself to a very quick play. No doubt helped by the smaller frame, the Hook ADV is crazy, fun bike. It relished flowing singletrack and having a dropper made steeper trails less a case of hanging off the back and more a case of staying off the brakes.
The ADV is basically a slightly tweaked EXT frame – keeping the Columbus Chromor steel tubing. The frameset is designed around 650b wheels, and the ADV runs some chunky rubber. The bikes at Groundwork weren’t quite final spec, but tyres will be around 2.1in, and there is clearance front and rear for a little more.
Up front is an MRP Baxter gravel suspension fork, delivering 40mm of travel. Compared to the likes of Lauf, the MRP gives it’s travel in a more conventional telescopic manner. On our short spin, it definitely took the sting out of bumps and we are intrigued enough to want to spend some more time on it. It felt fitting that the travel up front should be matched to a KS E30i dropper post. The dropper is actuated via a wee lever on the flats of the Ritchey VentureMax bars… we are still waiting to see a truly integrated gravel option that makes the most of the spare left shifter paddle on 1x set ups.
Speaking of which, the Hook ADV runs a full SRAM Rival set up, bar the FSA Gossamer cranks. There’s a slightly quirky, but very comfortable choice of a Brooks Cambium C15 saddle. The full bike will cost £3400.
Bombtrack Tension 2 and 3
There’s no doubt that ‘cross has taken a bit of a back seat in some companies’ ranges over the last year or two. It’s therefore good to see an out-and-out carbon ‘cross racer in Bombtrack’s range. We loved the stiffness of the Tension 3 and the low weight.
Sadly, Bombtrack’s UK importer, Lyon is unlikely to bring any in as stock. They will be importing the cheaper, but no less interesting Tension 2 though. This alloy-framed whippet has a lot going for it. Most obvious is the shaped top tube and Jamaican style paint job. Beyond aesthetics, there’s a cracking looking spec of SRAM Rival, Ritchey finishing kit and Hunt semi-deep section wheels and Challenge Baby Limus tyres.
The Tension was a bit a handful on the more technical trails we rode during the two days. We’ve clearly got soft over the last few years of running 40c tyres! On smoother trails and more ‘cross-like terrain, the Tension 2 was a hoot though. It will cost £2750.
Bombtrack Audax AL
The Audax was in Bombtrack’s range last year. “A 650b road bike for people who want to take their road bike off road”, was how it was sold – and it was perfect for that, with voluminous WTB Horizon tyres and a Shimano 105 double chainset. The Audax stays in the line up and is joined by the Audax AL. Bombtrack have spent a bit of time playing with the alloy frameset, so while it ends up ticking the same boxes as the steel version, it does so in a different way. There are dropped seat stays and a chunky mainframe, but still mounts for mudguards and the kind of practicalities you would expect an audax bike to have.
The 650b wheels are a magic carpet ride on tarmac and the Audax AL keeps a Shimano 105 double chainring set up – which, even for a 1x fanatic like me, makes good sense on a bike that’s largely intended for road use. It is priced at £1900, versus £2750 for the steel version.
Ok, so this is a bit of a wild card. It’s got flat bars and isn’t really designed for off-road use. But, I fell in love with it. I grabbed the Outlaw 1 for a late afternoon coffee and pastry run and the guys from Bombtrack did well to prise it out of my hands when I returned. The Outlaw 1 is a city run-around, again with 650b wheels and high-volume WTB Horizon tyres. The Columbus Chromor frame has a split in the seat stay to allow a belt drive to be run. It keeps things simple with just one gear and will come with a cargo rack up front.
The ride was nimble, fun, silent and somewhat addictive. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of niche offering, so Lyon again aren’t bringing it across, although I happen to know they have some of last year’s model still available. Get on it if you want to cruise the streets in style.