Hope Bikes have been a long time in the making, but now they’ve released their second HB, the HB.130. Built with shorter travel and bigger wheels than the original HB.160, Hope says that they learned a lot from building their first bike. To prove it, they invited us out to Ballater, Scotland to ride the Hb.130 first hand. What we found was a bike that is very easy to get along with – especially if your riding covers the full spectrum.
In order to get the full experience, Hope rented out an amazing hunting lodge right at the foot of the moors. That made for an epic view, but it also meant that there was plenty of climbing to be had in either direction. One day we descended down to the river Dee where we met up with a dirt path that eventually led us into the forest where we had to climb out of the valley on either side to get to the trails. The other day we left straight from the lodge and climbed out the back, up into the moors, before dropping into a fun trail the led back into the valley. Long story short, in order to get to any decent trails in the area, it required a fairly long climb.
That put the climbing abilities of the HB.130 front and center, and for the most part it handled it quite well. With the rear shock open there is a bit of movement in the suspension on harder efforts, but it was only on the long fire road climbs through the moors or on the pavement that I ended up using the ProPedal lever on the Fox DPX2 shock. The HB.130 is on the heavier side of things for a high end 130/140mm travel 29er at 13.1kg/28.88lbs (claimed), but it pedals efficiently enough to hide its heft.
More importantly, the bike immediately feels very neutral and easy to maneuver. If the geometry on the HB.160 was a sticking point, Hope seems to have worked it out for the HB.130. It isn’t ridiculously long or slack to where it’s a chore to ride it on more XC style trails, but when things get really steep it can still hold its own. The Brits (and Scots, it seems) love their super steep trails and that shows in the spec of the bike. The Fox 36 seems like a perfect fit, even though it’s only a 140mm travel fork. The added control is welcomed when every rock wants to punch you off your line.
My favorite trail of the week came in the form of Heartbreak Ridge which is an exposed descent off a granite slab after a long climb to get there. Not only was the howling wind forcing you to constantly readjust your line, but the hidden holes, rocks, and scrub brush made for a ride where precision was key. The HB.130 walks a fine line between offering razor sharp handling and still having a comfortable ride quality. Whether that’s due to the custom 130 x 17mm rear end and the machined and bonded swing arm is up for debate, but the result is a bike that handles and rides incredibly well.
From my short time on the bike, the only real drawback seems to be the rear tire clearance. It’s great if you never plan on running bigger than a 29 x 2.3″, but it seems like the ability to run at least a 2.4″ would be an improvement for other markets. But as it’s speced with a 29 x 2.5″ up front and a 29 x 2.3″ out back, it should be more than adequate for most riders.
I also didn’t get along with the shifter mount since it bolts directly to the brake and doesn’t allow you to rotate the brake lever and the shifter independently (it does offer lateral adjustment of the shifter). If you find yourself in that same scenario, you’ll have to go back to using the stock clamp for the shifter which is certainly not a deal breaker.
Overall, the bike seemed like more of a cohesive unit likely due to Hope making so many of the parts. That makes me wonder what would be possible if Hope’s designer and engineers were able to create a complete bike without any constraints whatsoever and all of their own parts, but I suppose that will have to wait for the future. In the mean time, the HB.130 stands out as a complete package with undeniable quality, impressive attention to detail, and a ride to back it up.
For the full story on the HB.130 with all of the tech details, check out the first post here.