For a few years cross riders have been repurposing Bombtrack’s affordable do-it-all Hook mixed surface road/gravel/cross bike for cyclocross racing. But while that bike line has since evolved down an aggressive gravel & adventure rabbit hole with bigger tires and now even suspension, the new Tension comes back to cyclocross basics. Light weight, no frills, CX geometry & affordable race-ready specs – in both aluminum or carbon frame options.
2019 Bombtrack Tension 3 carbon cyclocross race bike
Bombtrack debuted a carbon version of their Hook back in 2016 when they weren’t really sure what to call the bikes – gravel wasn’t really a thing yet, so it was mostly labeled as the catch-all ‘cross’. Now with the Hook firmly in gravel-land, the Tension returns to claim the cyclocross moniker.
Tension 3 carbon – Tech Details
Topping out the new CX family is the Tension 3, a race ready bike with a hi-mod T700/T800 carbon mix. The bike is mostly an evolution of the previous carbon Hook, but gets updated with the lighter, more advanced lay-up and contemporary standards. The new bike features a 1.5″ tapered full carbon fork, PF30 bottom bracket, flat mount discs and 12mm thru-axles at both ends. Now that this is a dedicated CX race bike, it does forgo extra braze-ons for racks or fenders, but still keeps a couple of bottle cage mounts for training versatility.
At 3500€ the carbon bike is available in a single complete bike build with a SRAM Rival 1 Hydro drivetrain with 140mm rotors. It gets a Ritchey cockpit, Hunt 19mm internal Adventure Sport tubeless alloy wheels wrapped in tanwall Challenge Baby Limus tires, and claims a complete weight of 8.5kg/18.7lb.
Tension 3 carbon – Geometry
The new carbon Tension 3 is available in a six size range and this single black/tanger yellow/green paint scheme. Geometry-wise the bike is mostly unchanged from its Hook predecessor, with a quick handling front end, short chainstays, and relatively short BB drop.
This is the bike that entertainingly eccentric Dutch racer (and current EU single speed CX champ) Gosse van der Meer will be racing around the UCI pro Circuit this season. In fact, Gosse headed down under to catch up with the Adelaide-based Bombtrack Treadly Racing team (who shot these race photos of the new bike), where he’s already gotten a win & a couple of UCI podiums at the tail of the cross season Down Under.
2019 Bombtrack Tension 2 race-ready alloy cyclocross bike
If the carbon bike is too much of an investment to start your newfound cyclocross racing career, Bombtrack has a more affordable aluminum-framed option that is said to only cost you an extra 300g, up to 8.8kg/19.4lb.
Tension 2 alloy – Tech Details
The 2700€ Tension 2 swaps in a double butted 6061-T6 alloy frame with all of the same features. You get flat mount discs, 12mm thru-axles, a pressfit BB, and a 1.5″ tapered headtube. You even get a full carbon fork, but this one adds fender mounts for more versatility. The frame also gets rack/fender mounts which will let you put it to work a bit more once cyclocross race season dies down.
Component wise the alloy Tension 2 is exactly the same as the carbon Tension 3, with a SRAM Rival 1 group with a 40T ring and race-ready 11-36 cassette. Then its finished off with the same Ritchey components, Hunt alloy wheels, and 60tpi Baby Limus tires.
Tension 1 & 2 alloy – Geometry
The aluminum bike has a smaller four size range, and gets longer, slightly more relaxed geometry. Still race capable, the alloy bike gets 0.5° slacker headtube, a degree slacker seatpost, and an extra 10mm of BB drop. With the same trail and chainstay length, it should still handle quickly but with a slightly more upright position on the bike.
Tension 2 alloy – Actual Weight
We had a chance to toss an on-spec Tension 2 on our scale after hitting the trail with it a bit. And with the dirt, it weighed in at 8.94kg for a size medium with a bottle cage, so +/- 100g from Bombtrack’s weight claim.
2019 Bombtrack Tension 1 affordable alloy cyclocross race bike
Last in the lineup is the 1800€ Tension 1. Built to be the most affordable of the family, it shares the same double-butted alloy frame with the Tension 2, but with an alloy-steerer carbon fork and a more budget build.
The Tension 1 fork still gets fender mounts and the frame is still able to be setup with 1x or 2x drivetrains.
The Tension 1 complete build still features a SRAM Apex 1 hydraulic groupset, but here pairs the 40T ring with a more trail-ready 11-42 cassette. Pretty much all of the finishing kit becomes house brand alloy components, but it still gets tubeless-ready WTB i19 rims wrapped in 30tpi non-tubeless Baby Limus tires.
Bombtrack gives it a claimed 9.6kg weight for a medium, but we clocked the slightly dirty test bike in at 10.0kg even. And yes, it comes with that light gray bar tape, which matches the downtube logo (and isn’t just dirty white tape.)
All of the new 2019 model Tension cyclocross bikes are being shipped out to Bombtrack dealers now, and aren’t yet on their website. Availability is expected from mid to late Sept 2018, so hopefully your cross race season starts a bit later than the pros. If you are going to need a new bike for racing (or quick backcountry exploring), reach out to your local dealer now to get one of the first bikes when they touch down.