Super bike: Woody Hole’s Hope HB211

It took 11 years to make this bike, but only a few months for its owner to put it on the podium

When you already produce nearly all the parts to make a bike, wouldn’t it be good to complete the package? That was the logic that prompted Hope directors Simon Sharp and Ian Weatherill to begin developing their first frameset. Eleven years down the line and a far cry from the original concept, the HB211 is the result: a half carbon, half aluminium, 160mm-travel enduro machine.

The use of carbon fibre for the front triangle marks a departure from the CNC work Hope is known for, but its machining experience proved invaluable, allowing it to make even the carbon moulds on-site in Lancashire. As for the name, it was inspired by Rolls-Royce’s RB211 airliner engine, made just down the road. The ‘RB’ stood for Rolls Barnoldswick, so ‘HB’ is short for Hope Barnoldswick.

Standards? No thanks

There’s nothing extraordinary about the basic shape of the frame, the geometry is on par with the majority of the industry and the suspension platform is a tried and tested four-bar linkage arrangement. It’s in the finer details where things stray from the conventional. When you make your own parts, you’re not restricted by industry standards, and this has allowed Hope to design the bike in the way it sees best.

Offsetting the swingarm to the driveside and using a unique 130mm hub spacing keeps the back end narrow and allows them to fit a dishless rear wheel, which is stronger and stiffer than a standard build.

An oversize 17mm axle increases stiffness further. The proprietary bottom bracket shell takes a standard PF30 crank axle but uses threaded bearing cups for improved durability. Sitting above this is a neat chain guide mount, which does away with the need for ISCG tabs.

Team machine

Woody Hole took the Masters series title at the Enduro Worlds in 2015
Woody Hole took the Masters series title at the Enduro Worlds in 2015

This particular bike belongs to a man with one of the best names in mountain biking. Woody Hole has worked at Hope for nearly 20 years and, as Progress Manager, is responsible for making sure everything goes out the door on time.

Woody switches between triple-compound High Roller II and Minion DHF tyres depending on the track

In his spare time he’s a seriously fast racer, and despite knocking on the door of 50, he’s still giving the young pups a run for their money in the Enduro World Series. Woody has a huge depth of riding experience spanning MTBs and trials and enduro motorbikes, so when Hope was developing the HB211, his feedback on the prototypes was invaluable.

By his own admission, Woody is a bit of a stickler when it comes to set-up and is very particular about his suspension settings and tyre pressures. Because he prefers to pump for speed rather than pedal, his Öhlins RXF 36 fork and TTX 2 coil shock are set up relatively soft yet fast, for a lively-feeling ride. Maxxis rubber is mounted on chunky 35mm-wide Hope Tech 35W rims. Woody switches between triple-compound High Roller II and Minion DHF tyres depending on the track, but will swap these out for something spikier if conditions turn nasty.

The yellow Öhlins and Maxxis parts are pretty much the only bits of the bike that don’t follow the green and black colour scheme. As you’d expect, the rest of the spec list is filled with Hope trickery. A 20mm-rise bar, cut down to 770mm, is bolted through a 35mm stem for snappy handling. The SRAM XX1 mech and shifter are matched to a 10-48t Hope cassette and a 32t direct-mount chainring.

Flying start

Woody finished his first season aboard the HB211 on a high, with top threes in his category at the Whistler and Finale Ligure EWS races. As for 2017, he says it’ll be a case of “work, ride, work, ride, and so on”, with maybe a few EWS races thrown into the mix. Woody reckons the HB211 is the perfect do-it-all bike for his style of riding and feels it’s equally at home hacking around a trail centre or smashing out a big ride in the Yorkshire Dales.

If this sounds like your style of riding too, then you might be in luck. It wasn’t originally intended that Hope would make the HB211 available to the public, but there are rumours of a production bike going on sale this year — watch this space…

Why’s it Super?

  • This carbon beauty has been made in Britain by Lancashire aluminium alchemists Hope
  • There are currently only 11 in existence
  • An array of top-spec parts finish it off, including plenty of Hope’s signature ‘Team Green’ anodised kit

1. Ever present: Sadly, in July last year, one of Hope’s founders, Simon Sharp, died. From the beginning of the company, Simon’s input into Hope’s products had been huge, so it’s apt that his name takes pride of place on the HB211’s top tube.

1. Remembering Simon Sharp
1. Remembering Simon Sharp

2. Spin class: Hope cranks fitted with a 32t ring (Woody likes to spin out his legs on the transitions between race stages) power the steed. A slick guide with a proprietary mounting keeps the chain where it should be when Woody’s on the gas.

2. A 32t ring on Hope cranks
2. A 32t ring on Hope cranks

3. No Standards: The back end spacing is an unusually narrow 130mm. While this gives loads of rock clearance, some stiffness would usually be sacrificed. But by using a dishless rear wheel (facilitated by an offset swingarm) and oversize axle, Hope reckons it's overcome any negative effects.

3. Hope uses a dishless rear wheel
3. Hope uses a dishless rear wheel

4. Meeting of materials: Laying up carbon fibre for the mainframe is a new process for Hope, but the swingarm demonstrates the beautiful CNC work it's famous for. The radial brake mount and dropouts are a work of art.

4. The carbon lay up
4. The carbon lay up

5. Hope hoops: Wide rims give the Maxxis tyres a squarer profile for bucketloads of grip and are laced to green Pro 4 hubs with Hope’s trademark freehub whirr.

5. Wide rims
5. Wide rims

Specifications

Woody Hole

Woody Hole
Woody Hole

Woody is an ex World Cup downhill racer and moto trials rider who’s focused on the Enduro World Series in recent years, taking the Masters series title in 2015.

His racing successes have all been achieved alongside a full-time job working for Hope, as the direct link between the sales and marketing departments. He really is the definition of a northern grafter!

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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