The Voodoo range of bikes might often be overlooked by the bicycle aficionado, as are their retailer, Halfords, but if the Agwe is anything to go by, that shouldn't be the case.
This makes it an ideal bike for shorter urban commutes, or comfortable weekend rides on paths with mixed surfaces.
Voodoo Agwe frame
The frame is a simple alloy affair, but one that on the face of it is well built. There's a kinked top tube, which gives increased standover clearance when you're stood waiting at traffic lights, easy to maintain external cable routing, plenty of clearance for wider tyres and mudguards, and mounting points for a rear luggage rack.
The fork has a steel steerer tube, but alloy legs to save a bit of weight. They're straight bladed forks with eyelets for mudguards.
The frame's paintjob is also of note. It's pretty bright in the daylight, but at night it's reflective details help the bike stand out.
Voodoo Agwe kit
For £500 you might be surprised by the kit that Voodoo has been able to bolt on to the bike.
The drivetrain is centred around Shimano's Deore groupset, which is no bad thing, as the shifting is crisp and clean, and the components famously reliable.
The cassette has an 11-42t range, which is is pretty wide and should be enough range for all but the hilliest of cities.
Having just one chainring at the front simplifies the maintenance needed, because front derailleurs can be a pain to maintain and set up — just look after the chain and one cable, and it should last for a fair while.
The cranks have a 42t ring on them. This is reasonably high, meaning it's easy to cruise at a decent pace when in the bike's higher gears. If you live somewhere hillier it is a simple job to put a smaller chainring on, such as 38 or 40t. If your local Halfords has a BikeHut workshop I reckon they'd be equipped to help you out.
The cranks have a square taper bottom bracket. This isn't the latest tech, but they always had a decent reputation for reliability, especially when compared to the later ISIS bottom bracket standard. On a bike like this we don't see the use of square taper to be an issue.
When riding in a city the brakes are especially important. Tektro's hydraulic disc brakes provide ample power and, with the braking surface at the centre of the wheel, are less affected by road grime and puddles.
The Vee Rubber Speedster tyres are a good match for the bike. They aren't really fast rolling, but with a heavily siped tread, they clear water effectively and feel confident in wet, slippery conditions.
The 40c width is a nice balance between rolling speed and comfort. Pump them up to higher pressures and they roll fast, run them a bit softer and they're relatively comfortable. The reflective trim on the sidewalls of the tyre boosts your visibility.
The seatpost has an integrated light, but, if I'm honest, I never got on with its operation, struggling to turn it on and off. In the end, the battery ran out and I continued to use regular lights.
Voodoo Agwe ride impression
With a comfortable position on the bike, it's easy to have a decent view of what's going on around you, arguably unlike a more road-bike shaped bike.
The taller front end and wider handlebars put your body into a more upright position. This makes it ideal in busy streets, but perhaps not for a longer commute where you might want a more efficient position on the bike.
I was glad the tyres were relatively wide because the frame and fork aren't the most forgiving. With the tyres pumped up to a faster rolling 60psi the ride is relatively harsh.
Dropping the tyres down to around 40psi seemed to give the best balance between comfort and rolling speed, so I recommend playing around with pressure to get the right balance for you.
For a bike designed to twist and turn through traffic and ride over potholes and drains, the handling is swift and nippy. The stem is quite short, which quickens the bike's reactions through the reasonably wide handlebars.
There is an odd quirk of handling though, where at tighter turning angles the bike's steering is prone to flopping to the side — this is most noticeable if you regularly swap between bikes. It's a quirk that you can ride around and never caused me issues, but it's something some riders may find a touch off putting, especially if it happens at higher speeds on slippery surfaces.
The drivetrain is a highlight. Shimano's Deore gears work consistently. They're designed for the rigours of mountain biking, so on a more gentle commute they're never going to suffer unduly so long as you keep the chain lubed.
The single ring set up shouldn't be too off putting either. It's simpler to maintain and the cassette's wide gear range means most riders will have all the gears they need.
In terms of feel, the only thing I don't like is the relatively long throw of the Deore thumb shift. Again, though, it's something that's easy to get used to.
The brakes worked perfectly throughout testing. Modulation is good, as is the power and performance in wet conditions. They really show the benefits of disc brakes, even on more pocket-friendly bikes.
As per the pictures, I would recommend fitting mudguards if the bike is going to be used year round — the tread on the tyre does throw up a lot of road spray!
Voodoo Agwe overall
I was really impressed with the Agwe and continued to ride it well beyond the time needed to test the bike.
It's comfortable to ride on shorter commutes, has a specification that has no obvious flaws, especially for the price, and isn't so expensive that I was constantly worried about locking it up in town (though I would always double lock it).