The Voodoo Hoodoo’s RRP is a penny under £600, but it’s been available at £100 less for quite a while so that’s how we tested it. It would be a good buy at £600, and at £500 for a bike ﬁtted with one of SR Suntour’s best mid-range air forks, it won the What Mountain Bike test team over to win their Total Bargain award for 2012.
Here’s what the judges had to say…
"A sorted frame, great handling, outstanding suspension for the money, top quality tyres and reliable stop/go gear – all these things make the Voodoo Hoodoo a superb way to start serious mountain biking.
The Joe Murray-designed frame is great. Tough enough to cope with a few crashes but still light, responsive and enthusiastic through the pedals, it’s the heart of a strong bike. Yet the parts bolted to it really make the Hoodoo an outstanding choice, and that starts with the all- important fork.
While most bikes at this price offer a 100mm fork that only really gives 80mm at best and soon seizes up entirely, the Hoodoo gets a 120mm Suntour Raidon. Not only is it smooth and controlled with an air spring that’s easily adjustable for rider weight, but it stays that way even in filthy UK weather.
The 680mm bars are a reasonable width for confident control and the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are far more consistent and reliable than the cable- operated discs you can still find elsewhere at this price. Shimano’s Alivio gears are tough yet impressively smooth, while basic the steel chainrings will last you a long time.
The Maxxis tyres are much more surefooted and dependable than the ‘you’re not really going to ride this off-road are you?’ hard compound lookalikes that often blight £500 bikes. Their fat bellies isolate ground shock that would otherwise make the relatively rigid frame rattle your teeth on rougher trails. The saddle is comfortable too, and you even get bolt-on grips that won’t slide off in the rain.
The whole bike comes in at just over 30lb. Not exactly featherweight, but sturdy enough to stop you (and it) going to pieces at the thought of a trail centre red run. It’s certainly eager enough to head off into the hills for the day, and new riders on a Hoodoo will be too."
Read on for our full review of the Voodoo Hoodoo:
Ride & handling: Comfy, controlled and capable of tackling tricky terrain
The Hoodoo offers a comfortable ride thanks to its big proﬁle Maxxis Ardent rubber, plush fork and comfy saddle. The 2.25in tyres are great – grippy but fast rolling, which adds conﬁdence as well as speed – and the superb fork gives you conﬁdence to attack the sort of rough terrain that challenges most bikes at this price.
Suspension performance can make or break an entry-level bike, and the Hoodoo's SR Suntour Raidon X1 is probably the best fork we’ve seen on a £500 bike. It’s air-sprung (rather than coil-sprung), with beefy stanchions that stop its 120mm of compression from ﬂuttering under hard braking, and it offers the sort of control we’d usually associate with a bike costing nearly twice as much.
The air-sprung Suntour Raidon fork gives 120mm of smooth, controlled suspension
The controlled compression and rebound, allows you to shift your weight forward when the going gets rough. That helps to take the rough edge off the rear wheel too, so you end up riding a fair bit harder and faster. Not many years ago a fork as good as this would have left the makers no money for a frame.
So, does the Hoodoo have a downside? Well, no, not really. Its 13.7kg (30.25lb) weight is a bit of a haul up the hills, but a bar-mounted fork lockout makes that easier. The overall handling feel is simply superb for a bike at this price, and we’d still be saying that if it was £600. At a time when some £500 bikes seem lower specced than a couple of years ago, the Voodoo Hoodoo is a breath of fresh air, and mainly because of the fork.
Frame & equipment: Great fork for a £500 bike, boosted by an excellent frame and tyres.
Voodoo bikes are designed by Joe Murray, one-time top racer and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member, so it's no surprise that the Hoodoo’s frame is excellent. It's a stiff (we’d say cautiously overbuilt), no-frills model with reinforced tube walls in all the right places. Like most bikes at this price, luggage rack bosses indicate a certain utilitarian adaptability, but the major parts are capable of much more.
Shimano’s Alivio drivetrain is as slick-shifting as far more costly gears, and the nine-speed cassette (rather than the eight-speed version found on some bikes at this price) makes future upgrades easier. That said, the only bit of the drivetrain we'd think about upgrading soon is the crankset. A splined-axle model with lighter aluminium chainrings would be nice.
The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are superb stoppers with decent modulation. Even the ﬁnishing kit is way better than average, with bolt-on grips, a well-shaped 26.5in-wide riser bar and a comfy Voodoo-branded saddle. The wheel and tyre setup is a good hard-riding trail combination, too.
The frame is tough enough to cope with learner errors
Maxxis Ardent 2.25-inchers are among our favourite tyres. They grip superbly in most conditions, they roll fast, they rarely block and their high profile and big air volume adds a lot of comfort. An otherwise great bike can be dulled or even ruined by poor tyre choice so it's great to find Ardents specced at this price. They transform ride feel, controllability and confidence.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.