Voodoo Aizan review£500.00

Can new geo and gearing conjure up extra trail magic?

BikeRadar score4/5

Voodoo has revised its 29er frame and some of its key componentry to create a bang-up-to-date trail machine.

The all-new frame, with curved and shaped tubes, has a standard-gauge head tube, so there’s no way to upgrade to a tapered fork. A slight bend in the seat tube keeps the rear end relatively short while still leaving space for chunkier tyres. It does restrict how far you can drop the saddle, but you can always cut the long seatpost down and there are cable clips for an external or semi-internal dropper post when you can afford to upgrade.

The rear stays are flattened and swerved to keep them clear of the cranks and help soak up impacts. There are easy-to-service ‘naked’ cable runs under the down tube, plus two bottle mounts.

The urban camouflage detailing includes subtle reflective patches, which is a neat touch on a bike that’s likely to be used in town. But it’s on the trail where you’ll appreciate the much longer 460mm reach of the new (large) frame and its 68-degree head angle.

To keep costs down, the Aizan only comes in three sizes.

Voodoo Aizan kit

Kenda’s Slant Six tyres are fast and grippier than they look, but slippery when it gets damp
Kenda’s Slant Six tyres are fast and grippier than they look, but slippery when it gets damp

The extra length of the top tube lets Voodoo fit a very short 45mm stem without the ride position feeling cramped. Sadly, the 720mm width of the flat bar isn’t so generous, but you do get lock-on grips.

The 32mm-legged Suntour XCR fork is plenty stiff in terms of fore/aft movement and twist. It has useful compression and rebound damping adjustment too.

A 180mm front disc improves the otherwise low-powered Clarks brakes and the bike has a 2x9 rather than 3x9 gearing set-up, which is a big win in terms of simplicity and reduced weight.

The 29erwheels are usefully light, thanks in part to the low-tread Kenda Slant Six tyres.

Voodoo Aizan ride impressions

The frame’s long reach and wheelbase improve stability and keep trouble at arm’s length and less likely to trip you up
The frame’s long reach and wheelbase improve stability and keep trouble at arm’s length and less likely to trip you up

Low overall weight, fast-rolling tyres and a stiff frame mean the Aizan is impressively quick off the mark for a 29er.

The larger wheels and relatively high-volume (55mm wide) tyres help it hold that speed well across slightly rough terrain. Those same attributes make it an easy and efficient climber and distance coverer, whether for exploring the wilds or getting to work and back.

Once impacts start getting bigger, the Aizan jolts and jumps around a bit, but its XCR fork is controlled and can take steps and stutter bumps at reasonable pace without panicking.

While the tyres are super-slippery in the wet, their dual-compound construction means they have stickier tread on the shoulders, which gives acceptable cornering grip on drier surfaces.

The frame’s long reach and wheelbase improve stability and keep trouble at arm’s length and less likely to trip you up, while the slack head angle adds an element of self-correction to the steering.

Short stems work great when paired with wide bars, but here, the 45mm stem allows the 720mm bar to turn too quickly and easily. Add a front tyre with no directional element in its tread pattern, and this makes the front end very twitchy and likely to understeer. It also makes it harder to lean the bike over enough to engage the stickier tyre shoulders, undermining most of the good work done with the geometry.

Switching to a slightly longer stem, a grippier/more directional tyre and a wider bar (or, ideally, all three together) would help bring the Aizan back under control. With the front end sorted, its full potential as a light and efficient — if occasionally harsh-feeling — trail speedster would then be released.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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