Bombtrack unveiled their Hook cyclocross/gravel bike last August with some ambitious plans to enter it into the grueling 7-day mountain bike race called Transalp. Unconventional? Sure. Makings for something amazing if it worked out? Absolutely. Now, after months of filming and prepping and editing, they put together this little edit of the experience. Check the accompanying essay below…

FROM BOMBTRACK: In any design process you have to go through a phase of testing and evaluation. Getting the feedback from the rider and accessing the bikes performance to identify areas that need further development. We were well aware that the Hook would be used for a lot more than just a leisurely weekend ride through the woods, so we looked for an event that would push the bike to the limit.

The Transalp is a test of man and machine, spread over 7 days, with 600km and 19,000 vertical meters and 1,200 mountain bike riders it was the perfect proving ground. We had the bike but we needed a rider. Stefan ‘Fish’ Vis, had been giving input to Olaf Wit (Wit Industries) and us in the development of the Hook, and as a rider always hungry for a new adventure and never one to shy away from challenging the conventions he was ‘the’ man for this challenge.

A study of the entry requirements revealed there was nothing preventing us from entering a CX bike into the race, and although breaths were held through registration, the organizers were in complete support of this unconventional entry.

It was soon very obvious; on asphalt sections and due to Fish’s fitness he was able to overtake a huge bunch of riders. Fish explains; “Each uphill I overtook some 80-100 riders, but at least half that amount overtook me on the next downhill section haha. Not seldom, I even had to make way to stay fair – somehow it became a running gag during the race days.”

The weather conditions in the mountains are always unpredictable and with two solid days of rain it made the challenge almost impossible as Fish explains…

“The downhill sections were quiet horrible, and sometimes I really suffered. Imagine the combination of my seat super high like a road racer with the brakelevers on the drop of the bar, as I had no additional levers on top. My nose almost felt like it was touching the ground… Downhill trails took more than an hour to finish. My first set of brake pads were already gone by the beginning of the second day!”

Fish and the Hook finished in 147th in the overall team rankings, an incredible achievement. The battle damage was only a pair of tires and a set of break pads. Fish had confirmed beyond doubt that the Hook has capabilities beyond that a mortal man could reach.

Bombtrack.com

10 COMMENTS

  1. Great way to promote their bike. Honest report of the strengths and weaknesses only helps their credibility. Just what I would love to do with mine (not a Bombtrack). Unspoken, though, is that a carbon frame would be easier on the rider.

    One question: Fish came in 147 in “overall team rankings.” He didn’t ride alone?

  2. Hey yo, it’s just another bombtrack
    And suckas be thinkin’ that they can fade this
    But I’m gonna drop it at a higher level
    ‘Cause I’m inclined to stoop down

  3. Vittoria 700×34 XM Clinchers with butyl tubes. Yikes. He would have done better with a better tire strategy, like 700×40 tubeless with tubeless specific rims like the WTB Chriscross.

  4. @mudrock The TransAlp requires teams of two, you must stay together throughout the race. It is a way to make sure no one is alone in the case of injury or equipment failure.

  5. As much as I want to credit Bombtrack for doing this (credit where credit is due), but it also says a lot about how the Transalp has evolved to tailor big – less technically skilled – crowds of bikers. A lot of wider, more even trails. Sure; still offroad, long climbs and descents, and thus heavy on stamina. But I thing with the evolving of what the industry wants to call gravel grinding, the Transalp could be dubbed as a gravel grinder epic stage race in a few years.

  6. Hey guys, thanks for commenting on the video.

    i just wanted to comment back and answer some questions.

    The transalp is a team race, yes. you need to start with two and two have to ride the whole course.
    I did not know who i was starting with as i only found the guy i started with a week before the race. because my original teammember dropped out.

    unfortunately there was not much of a match between us, and i already said on forehand that if it didnt work out we would ride apart from eachother, which we did most of the time.

    so basically, the team results hat are listed are my teammates results as i was always finishing at least half an hour before him. having to say aswell that he always started on our officila spot and i started all the way in the back of the pack with the south africans who were the last to start every day.

    the result of 147th male team was the result of my teammtes solo efforts, we ended 300 overall, so he did VERY well, while my ranking did not matter, eventhough i mostly finished top 80, that means if i had a rider with me being abled to actually team up we would have ended up top 40 overall.

    the other things i like to tell you about: the vittoria tyres i had for this where normal cx tires. i had to keep them inflated to 4 bars to not get flats. thats the reason also why i could not go faster downhill. unfortunately vittoria, who where my tire sponsor in 2014, did not agree on supporting me with actual gravel tires, and i was not even sure they had them at the time. the frame takes up to 42 mm tires and yes its true, i would have loved to have wider tires and tubeless, but i ran out of time actually being abled to test tubeless. we did set up the bike tubeless after some days but it did not work very well. but on the next setup there will be tubeless…

    so i did it on 34mm vittoria tires with innertubes, just because this is what i requested to vittoria 6 months prior to this, while we still had in mind the hook would become a ‘normal’ cx bike. thats why.

    as for carbon: i am a fan of carbon components, but for this kind of stuff i am pretty sure you do not want to ride carbon. for superfast CX racing yes, but for endurance: steel. steel is so stiff if you do the designing right, but its also very giving and taking. it follows you and becomes a part of you, whereas carbon feels kinda dead, and IMO (most) carbon frames are stiff in the wrong ways.

    the balance of the weird geometry, the fairly heavy steel frame and the carbon components was a huge relief. as this geo needs to be pushed in to it direction, wheras other geos follow easier. but become unstabile on high speeds and steap descents.

    i did ride most of the trails. also the very evil enduro descents. where only a bunch of people actually past. in the subscription it says i passed some hundreds only to be taken back over by half of them, is not quite true. i actually overtook hundreds, only to be passed on some very hard fast downhills by maybe 10. on most downthill sections it was me left on the bike while the MTB riders where mostly walking. that is also because when one walks, the others cant pass and in most cases it was very much impossible to get back on the bike…

    i think, and the one that was mentioning the tire issue is right for sure; that with 42 mm tires with tubeless setup, its actually possible (when you ride with a well chosen teammate) to kill it out there on a gravelgrinder, eventho you will have to endure the hellish gravel descents and enduro sections.

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.