Cove’s Hummer was the classic titanium trail hardtail for years until a batch of new-school frames shook its pedestal last year. In response, a development collaboration between Cove, UK distributors Silverfish and Ti legends Lynskey has worked hard to put the Hummer right back at the cutting edge.
Ride & handling: Great for all-day skin-of-the-teeth rides
The Hummer has long had one of the most aggressively progressive downhill-style handling characters of any hardtail and the current incarnation is no exception. The slack head angle puts the front wheel well out in front and learning to swing it back in or countersteer it into corners at speed takes time. Once you’ve adjusted to it though, it encourages you to put the hammer down as hard as possible whether you know what’s coming next or not.
Typically for Cove, the riding position is compact rather than stretched, so it’s easy to move your weight between the front and back wheel. The slack seat angle keeps you off the front wheel for easy manuals through ditches or worry-free tail-first landings. Add to that the low overall weight and a properly sprung, whiplash-like feel from the thin-walled titanium tubing, and it rips through singletrack like a BMX on crack.
The sprung character of the Hummer means it’s a more skittish and random ride through rockeries or staccato root sections than some of the new breed of titanium hardtails like the Ragley Ti. But we soon learned to keep the power on, trust the forks and exploit the high bottom bracket to let us carry on cranking regardless, although not always in the direction we intended.
Even when the tall ride height and the frame and wheel flex threaten to catapult you out of maximum sideload cornering situations, there’s never any shortage of feedback. We always managed to drag it back from imminent disaster and the highly charismatic, insolent and communicative ride experience rapidly becomes addictive.
But all bike designs have compromises and the Hummer’s compact sizing means you’ll have to drop your elbows to keep the front wheel biting on steep climbs. You’ll want a size up if you find a crouched position uncomfortable, and peak power delivery isn’t as dynamic as on more stretched out bikes.
Frame: Classic titanium looks and sprung feel, but watch out for compact sizing
With more than two decades of Ti experience Lynskey have put together some of the best frames in the world, and the Hummer project hasn’t cut any corners in its bid to recapture the ultimate hardtail crown.
The broad bi-oval down tube, rounded top tube and subtly ring-reinforced head tube provide classic looks. The rear stays are gently ‘S’-curved for crank and heel clearance, while cowled dropouts provide maximum weld contact.
The stub wishbone and driveside chainstay bridge plate are immaculately welded and get Cove logo engraving too, even though the design is borrowed from Evil.
The thickset bridged disc mount is further reinforced with a torque tube, so you can run big rotors without worry. Unusually for a Ti hardtail, you also get a replaceable gear hanger to reduce the trauma of crash or transit damage.
Old-school slotted cable runs and hose routing troughs under the top tube and twin stay guides keep the controls clean and easy to lube. Tyre clearance is good if not exceptional, and a forward-facing clamp slot keeps crap out of the extended seat tube.
Equipment: Perfect kit for pushing descending limits, despite 23lb all-in weight
Silverfish certainly haven’t skimped on the build-up. A full Race Face, Mavic and Formula pimp list keeps the weight under 10.5kg (23lb) and that’s despite chunky tyres.
The result is it feels like there’s a rocket up the Hummer’s rear when it comes to climbs and the Fox forks and R1 brakes are a perfect combo for pushing descending limits.
Wheel flex and the lack of weight sticking the bike to the ground can undermine confidence at times, and we faced some sketchy moments when we had it cranked right over in the big ring. While the Next carbon cranks are super stiff, it took us less than 30 hours of riding to knacker yet another RaceFace bottom bracket.