The Voodoo Nakisi is a well-equipped gravel bike for its modest £650 price tag. It features Shimano’s excellent nine-speed Sora gears, 37c WTB Riddler Comp tyres that work well on tarmac and trails, a comfortable WTB Volt saddle and a subtly flared handlebar.
Clearance for even wider tyres, mounts for mudguards and a rear rack add to its all-round work-and-play credentials. Overall, it’s a cracking bike if you’re not looking to splash too much cash on a single bike for multi-surface use.
It’s also only £125 dearer than it was in 2017, which doesn’t seem bad in the context of industry-wide price rises.
If you’re looking to spend a little less, the £500 Voodoo Limba, shares the same aluminium frame.
Voodoo Nakisi details and specifications
The Nakisi frame has a swooped down tube, and a top tube with a profile like a rounded ‘isosceles trapezoid’, narrowing from top to bottom.
Both of which probably have more aesthetic than functional value, though the gusset where the top tube joins the head tube should add strength in this crucial area.
The aluminium frame is triple-butted for strength and lightness, and is paired with an aluminium fork. The Voodoo Limba swaps this for steel to save a little cash.
All the cabling is externally routed neatly underneath the down tube, which makes it friendly to the home mechanic. Both the frame and fork have quick-release dropouts rather than the thru-axles found on higher-end gravel bikes.
Frame fittings are pleasingly comprehensive, lacking only bento box fittings on the top tube and under-down tube bottle bosses for the full complement.
However, the fork crown and seatstay bridge are drilled for mudguards, and there’s bags of tyre clearance too. It’s also great to see rear rack mounts on a bike that you could easily use for commuting, bikepacking and touring.
In spite of the modest price, Voodoo has still managed to spec componentry based around Shimano’s nine-speed Sora groupset. Most of the Nakisi’s competitors around this price (or dearer) make do with Shimano’s eight-speed Claris.
It means not only a very good range of gears, but smaller jumps across the cassette too. The wide range comes from the combination of a sub-compact 48/32 chainset from ProWheel – a forgivable cost-cutting choice at this price – and a full-fat 11-34 Shimano cassette, giving you a lower than one-to-one ratio bottom gear.
There are good gravel-riding credentials from the handlebar too. It measures 42cm (centre-to-centre) across the lever hoods before flaring out to 48cm (c-c) at the bottom of the drops.
For good measure, the tops, where I do most of my riding on the road – I’m rarely in that much of a hurry – are subtly ovalised front to back. This creates an excellent and extremely comfortable handhold. The drops’ extra width improves handling control off-road, where you really need it.
The 37mm WTB tyres offer a good balance of speed on tarmac and control when things get grittier, while braking comes courtesy of Tektro’s Mira single-piston mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors.
Voodoo Nakisi geometry
At 560mm, the Voodoo has a 6mm longer top tube, but they share the same 578mm stack figure, similar head angles – 71 degrees for the Voodoo, 71.25 for the Diverge, similar seat angles of around 74 degrees and wheelbases within a smidge of each other – 1,037mm for the Voodoo and 1,035mm for the Diverge.
The biggest difference is in the reach, the Voodoo’s 394mm being more stretched than the Diverge’s 383mm.
The slack head angle and metre-plus wheelbase keep it stable, which is what you want on grit and gravel, without it losing the liveliness you want on tarmac.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74||74||73.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||70.5||70.5||71|
|Rear centre (mm)||430||430||430|
|Seat tube (mm)||495||515||535|
|Top tube (mm)||530||545||565|
|Head tube (mm)||125||145||160|
|Fork offset (mm)||50||50||50|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||71||71||71|
|Handlebar width (mm)||400||420||420|
|Stem length (mm)||80||80||90|
|Seatpost length (mm)||300||350||350|
|Crank length (mm)||170||170||175|
Voodoo Nakisi ride impressions
I rode the Nakisi during some spectacularly poor conditions and never found myself struggling.
While I wouldn’t want to tackle a supremely muddy canal towpath with tyres designed for dryer conditions, I never found myself slip-sliding around as I thought I would. I only really lost control when I hit a puddle that was much, much deeper than expected at a speed I shouldn’t have been riding at, nearly coming a cropper as a result.
On the sort of gravel surfaces the WTB Riddler Comp tyres are designed for, they grip very well.
The tyres measure a shade over their 37mm width and, on tarmac, they run smoothly, their small central blocks not taking away too much of your speed.
The Nakisi’s not what you’d call a nifty climber, and its overall weight and chunky wheelset will never see you flying up steep hills.
But one of the very, very best things that’s happened to cycling in the last few years is that bottom gears on road – and ‘all-road’, gravel and similar genre – bikes have got lower and lower.
The combination of the compact or, in this case, sub-compact 48/32 crankset and wide-range 11-34 cassette means a super-low, knee-friendly bottom gear with a 48/11 (near-120in) top gear that few potential buyers of this bike will spin out on.
So while the Nakisi is easily stiff enough for out-of-saddle climbs, I was able to stay seated and spin comfortably in the 26in bottom gear.
The slightly flattened bar tops and quality bar tape keep it comfortable for cruising on blacktop, while the sensibly flared drops came into their own off road.
On light grit and more challenging gravel surfaces, the Nakisi handled very impressively, and it even managed some dry woodland trails without skittering. The bar’s not so radically flared that the levers are angled awkwardly when you’re riding on the road, but the extra six centimetres is enough for better control riding tracks and trails.
About the weakest part of the kit line-up is the braking from Tektro’s Mira brakes. They’re okay and suffered only the briefest of squeaking and squealing while riding in near-monsoon conditions, but your hands will be working hard at the lever to enjoy their full power.
You’re never going to get hydraulic brakes on a drop-bar bike at this price point, but TRP’s dual-piston Spyre-C discs would have been an improvement, and I think would justify the extra cost.
How does the Voodoo Nakisi compare to its rivals?
At just £650, the Voodoo Nakisi represents great value against its nearest-priced competitors – of which there aren’t that many.
Fellow Halfords house brand Boardman’s ADV 8.6 costs £750 and is also based around Shimano Sora, with the same gear ratios as the Voodoo, similar Tektro disc brakes and 38mm tubeless-ready Schwalbe tyres. Boardman does, though, up the ante with a tapered full-carbon fork, which contributes to a much lighter weight.
While more of a road machine or all-roader than a gravel bike, Decathlon’s Triban RC 520 has enough clearance for 700 x 36 or 650 x 40 tyres, which along with its comfort-oriented geometry makes it gravel-compatible.
The kit is extremely impressive for its £849.99 price, based around Shimano 105 and TRP’s excellent hybrid HY/RD mechanical-hydraulic brakes. At 29in, the Triban’s 34×32 bottom gear is a fair bit higher than the 32×34 (26in) offered by both the Voodoo and Boardman bikes, which may limit its off-road and climbing a little.
Genesis’s £799.99 Cda 10 is a great-looking graveller with a bright orange aluminium frame, but it can only manage Shimano’s eight-speed Claris to accompany the Promax mechanical disc brakes.
Voodoo Nakisi bottom line
I was very impressed with the Nakisi. I found it tough, versatile, comfortable and a bike I really enjoyed riding – in some truly horrific conditions.
The tyres are good on road and off, the flared bar comfortable and Shimano’s Sora gearing excellent with a well-chosen range.
|Available sizes||S, M, L|
|Handlebar||Voodoo alloy 42cm (c-c), 48cm on the drops (c-c)|
|Tyres||700x37c WTB Riddler Comp, wire bead|
|Stem||Voodoo alloy 7-degree rise|
|Shifter||Shimano Sora 2x9-speed|
|Seatpost||Voodoo alloy 27.2mm|
|Saddle||WTB Volt with gel insert|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Sora|
|Headset||Semi-integrated 1 1/8in|
|Grips/Tape||Velo black bar tape|
|Bottom bracket||Sealed, square taper|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Sora|
|Frame||Triple-butted aluminium alloy|
|Fork||Alloy with disc mounts|
|Cranks||ProWheel RPL-421 48/32|
|Cassette||Shimano CS-HG400 9-speed, 11-34|
|Brakes||Tektro Mira mechanical discs, 160mm f & r rotor|
|Wheels||Voodoo alloy 32h rims on unbranded hubs, six-bolt hubs and front and rear quick-release axles|