Back in August, we visited Germany to attend Bombtrack Groundwork 2018. Each year, the Cologne-based company invites a select group of people to come, hang out and ride their new range in their local woods.
We’ve been impressed with Bombtrack‘s past offerings – you can read the Longterm review of the Hook ADV’s close relative, the Hook EXT here. It is a company that isn’t afraid to try something different and tends not to worry too much about particular niches, simply concentrating on making fun bikes to ride.
We’ve talked about how a corner of gravel biking is trending more and more towards mountain biking with curly bars, and the Hook ADV is the logical extrapolation of this. It’s the kind of bike that elicits a double take from anyone who sees it… questioning then follows. What is it? What is it designed for? And often a slightly confused, “why”? We can answer the first couple of questions right away, hopefully we’ll be able to come back to the last come our final write up.
Right, let’s get some of the basics out of the way. Yes, that is a suspension fork. It’s an MRP Baxter fork, with the travel reduced down to 40mm. Our test bike is a pre-production model, hence the lack of graphics on the fork and a few scuffs here and there (it was ridden by Bombtrack-sponsored rider, Joachim Roselund on the Silk Road Race earlier this year). And yes, that is a dropper post. The KS E30i has 100mm of drop and is actuated by a lever on the handlebars.
Back to the bike, and the frame is pretty much identical to the Hook EXT. Made from Columbus Chromor steel, we hope it will deliver the blend of comfort and robustness that typified the rigid bike. Big volume 650b tyres will help with comfort. The ADV uses mountain bike spec WTB Ranger tyres – 2.2in front and 2in rear.
The frame has some well thought out touches, like multiple bosses for carrying anything and everything, a T47 bottom bracket and direct mount brakes, and we like the look of the skinny steel tubes.
If there was ever a gravel bike that warranted a 1x groupset, we reckon this is it. The ADV comes with a full SRAM Rival groupo – 1×11 drivetrain and hydraulic brakes. The only exception to this is the FSA Gossamer crankset. Bombtrack has specified a 42-11 cassette at the rear for winching duties, and a 180mm front brake rotor – definitely a nod to the intentions for this bike.
Ritchey provides the stem and bars – a relatively short 90mm stem, and the flared Venture Max bars. Finally, a Brooks Cambium C15 saddle is a classy finishing touch.
All in, the bike builds up to a hefty claimed 13.3kg (medium). We’ll check the weight of our large, but that’s well into mountain bike weights. The ADV will cost £3400 when it goes on sale in the UK soon. While it isn’t out of step with similarly specced gravel bikes (there’s obviously a limited market of suspended bikes to compare against – Lauf, the Specialized Diverge and Cannondale Slate are the only ones we can immediately think of), it is a lot when compared to an equivalent hardtail MTB.
What’s it for?
“The most radical bike in our new line is the Hook ADV. Designed from the ground up to be a hyper-gravel bike. It’s inspired by the John Tomac-era of our youth when pros would still race cross-country on drop bars. A gravel bikepacker capable of traveling absolutely anywhere. Happy competing in gravel races or taking on trails formerly reserved for mountain bikes, the Hook ADV proves joy in riding is the only justification when it comes to building a bike.”
That’s Bombtrack’s explanation, and it sounds like a good start to us. Another of Bombtrack’s sponsored riders, Jona, took the Hook ADV to the Navad 1000 this summer – we love this video of his experience, and it shows what the bike is capable of.
There are a few small nagging questions that we’ll seek to answer. First off, one of the things we love about gravel bikes is their speed on the road and non-technical terrain. Will the weight and MTB tyres mean that we loose some of that benefit? Also – is 40mm of suspension worth the extra cost versus a rigid Hook EXT? Finally, at what point does a mountain bike become a more sensible option? One things for sure, we have no doubt that the Hook ADV is going to be an absolute hoot, and we can’t wait to get out on it and have some fun in the winter slop. We’ll report back with a review soon.
- Frame // Bombtrack ADV, Columbus Cromor Double Butted
- Fork // MRP Baxter 40mm
- Wheels // WTB ST i25 (front) i23 (rear) light double wall rims, Bombtrack hubs
- Tyres // WTB Ranger 2.2in (front), 2in (rear)
- Chainset // FSA Gossamer Pro, (38t chainring)
- Bottom Bracket // T47
- Rear Mech // SRAM Rival 1 11-speed
- Shifters // SRAM Rival 1
- Cassette // SRAM PG-1130, 11-42t
- Brakes // SRAM Rival1, hydraulic disc
- Stem // Ritchey WCS Trail
- Bars // Ritchey VentureMax
- Bar tape // Ritchey
- Seatpost // KS E30i
- Saddle // Brooks Cambium C15
- Size Tested // L
- Sizes available // S, M, L, XL
- Price // £3,400