Hope’s HB.130 is its second bike, following the release of the HB.160 in 2018. As the name suggests, it’s a 130mm travel trail bike and rolls on 29in hoops.
Hope is one of the UK’s best known bicycle component manufacturers and makes virtually all its parts in its Lancashire factory, and this bike is no different.
Hope has invested in carbon manufacturing capabilities, using its knowledge of alloy CNCing to make its own moulds, while also training up its engineers to be able to design, test and build carbon bikes.
The front end is a carbon monocoque, while the rear is CNC’d aluminium that is bonded together. There are a number of quirks, though, with 130mm rear-hub spacing instead of 148mm. This, Hope says, gives equal spoke dishing for a better rear wheel build, but obviously limits ‘upgrade’ potential.
While stock builds come with Fox suspension, Hope offers a no-cost upgrade to Öhlins forks and shocks. These are less common on test bikes, so I decided to take up the offer to see how the Swedish suspension fares.
I also chose the Hope crank upgrade, a £285 option (other currencies have variable upgrade pricing).
Hope HB.130 long-term review conclusions
Now that 2020 has been kicked into the long-grass and we’re barrelling through 2021 already, it’s time to say goodbye to my Hope HB.130.
I found the HB.130 to be a bit like a classic car. It’s beautiful, it really is. It’s the kind of bike that I found I’d glance back at when I’d popped it in the garage just to check it was okay.
The curved front triangle and svelte back-end just work, and while I’m glad I opted for silver, the complement of Hope parts look the business too.
Looking at the web page before I picked up the bike, I wasn’t so enamoured, but the team in Barnoldswick really did a great job of getting the bike looking fantastic in the flesh, and it drew a huge amount of car-park attention, too.
However, much like my experience of owning an older vehicle, it wasn’t without its foibles.
While the next-generation bikes come with a Boost back-end, the proprietary 130mm rear spacing Hope used here (with its own special 130mm wide Pro4 hub) meant the inability to easily swap wheels was frustrating.
Likewise, the brakes could be a bit hit-and-miss as to whether I would have the power I was after. While lever feel was good, I’m not convinced they consistently delivered the power I was after across a range of conditions, especially in muckier UK conditions, and at times I got more arm-pump than I would otherwise have expected.
In a long list of components, though, these were perhaps my biggest sticking points.
I actually made very few changes to the bike over the year – testament to that parts package (and axle spacing!). The biggest improvement actually came from a re-tune of the Öhlins suspension, thanks to J-Tech Suspension. (As you can see in update three, I actually swapped in a pair of RockShox Pike forks for a trip to the Alps).
J-Tech reduced the compression and rebound damping in both fork and shock, freeing up movement, and boosting comfort and traction.
I like my suspension lightly tuned, and the stock damping settings were just a touch over-damped for my tastes. With a re-tune I found the fork way more comfortable over high-frequency repeated rocky impacts, and rather than having both compression and rebound dials all the way open, I was able to have a bit of adjustment faster and slower, enabling better tuning depending on the trail.
At the back, the shock simply felt more reactive and less treacle-like, adding yet more to the HB.130’s fun-loving character.
J-Tech’s tune really transformed the bike and I’d recommend them to anyone who’s not found their Swedish suspension to their liking.
I chose a 130mm trail bike with modern geometry because it tends to suit the riding I do most of the time. I wanted a bike that was happy riding longer missions in the hills, crawling to the top of an alpine pass and hopefully not holding me back on the way back down.
In essence, the Hope did this. It pedals well, grips doggedly on climbs and, while some of the recent bikes I’ve ridden had ridiculously raked head angles and were been better down a hill, it was rare that I found the 130mm of travel at the back holding me up.
So would I buy the HB.130?
Much like my old classic car, I’ve had some amazing times with the HB.130 – from slipping and sliding in the woods to massive alpine epics. I recently sold my old classic, and while I miss it greatly, it’ll be a while before I get another, and perhaps that’s a fair analogy for the HB.130.
Hope HB.130 highs
In a year of decimated travel plans, it stands to reason that my highlight of the year with the HB.130 was my trip to BikeVillage in the Alps.
A week of riding some of my all-time favourite trails (I have spent many, many weeks there over the years!) with good friends, in good weather was the perfect antidote to all the stresses and strains of 2020.
With a swift swap of the fork and some appropriate alpine tyres, the HB.130 worked well on fast and flowy trails, as well as steep and tech routes. While I’d have liked to spend more time in far-flung places, I’m incredibly lucky to have had that week away.
Hope HB.130 lows
In retrospect, I should have got the suspension tune sorted out much earlier. I swapped the original Hope bar out for a NukeProof HZN Carbon bar, which aided comfort a touch, but ultimately it was the tune that sorted the overall feel of the bike out.
My feelings towards the brakes varied throughout the year, from perfectly happy to a little frustrated, and I definitely had some frustrations with the rear wheel.
Hope’s shift to 148mm rear spacing going forward is a good move. Partly because it’ll make swapping (or replacing a broken) wheel easier, but also because the split inner sleeve of the narrower hub made maintenance (removing the cassette) and locating the axle trickier than they needed to be.
Hope HB.130 long-term review verdict
Hope has built a beautiful bike. It’s stunning to look at and the attention to detail in its construction is second to none.
The HB.130 rides well too, if it suits your particular needs and taste. The suspension linkage provides comfortable, efficient and progressive travel – bolstered by the re-tune (Fox suspension is an option). The shape is good, too, and personally I like the slightly flexy feel when riding slow, off-camber tech.
If you’re a fan of Hope’s brakes, the component choices are pretty much all bob-on, but the bar was a touch stiff for my tastes.
It isn’t a cheap bike by any stretch, but if you look at other ’boutique’ brands, such as Santa Cruz, Evil or Yeti, the pricing doesn’t stand out – especially given the bike is built in tiny (by comparison) batches in the UK.
So I don’t think it’s ‘bad’ value and, unlike its competitors, you even get the option (Covid allowing!) to have a factory tour when you pick up your bike, which is something I would thoroughly recommend.
Older updates continue below.
Hope HB.130 long-term review update three
I’m one of the lucky ones. In the short, non-quarantined travel window this summer, I made it out to the French Alps with my HB.130, and got home without having to become a hermit for 14 days (I did, of course, take additional precautions while out there and once back to keep me and everyone else as safe as possible!).
It was, understandably, a fairly last-minute decision, but despite early rumours of quarantines I chucked the Hope (as well as a road bike, natch) into the back of my van, jumped on a ferry and cruised down to the Alps while soaking up all the good stuff France has to offer (mostly croissants and red wine!).
I was staying with my friend Sam from BikeVillage holidays for a week of uplifts backed up with plenty of pedalling to access some of the best technical, natural trails Les Arcs and the surrounding valleys have to offer.
I was not disappointed. While I love the trails around Bristol and the south-west of England, very little beats trails that drop hundreds or thousands of metres in one go, from high-alpine meadows, through dense loamy forests, into either flat-out valley floor blasts or mega-chunky rock gardens.
It’s a valley, we calculated, that I’ve spent over a year of my life riding in, yet Sam still managed to guide me down five completely new rides that I’d never seen before. Bliss.
So how did the Hope cope? Admirably, actually. The bike proves that it’s quality not quantity of suspension that counts when riding technical trails. With support and composure, I rarely found the 130mm of travel at the back lacking.
I’ve talked about the rear-end flex before, but on slower, tighter trails with off-camber roots and rocks that little extra moldability gives traction in spades, letting me get down the mountain trails as fast as I dared.
I did swap out the Öhlins RXF36 fork for a Pike Ultimate I had in the garage, though. The Pike has better small-bump sensitivity and a more open compression tune, which I’ve found friendlier on the hands – ideal for those prolonged alpine descents.
However, I’m in the process of getting the Öhlins fork re-tuned to get the performance I want out of it, so the swap is just temporary.
Everything else worked just fine – I didn’t boil the Hope Tech 3 E4 brakes, despite plenty of prolonged braking periods, and their bite point, for the most part, remained where I’d set it.
The pair of Double Down Maxxis Minions tyres fitted stayed inflated throughout, despite some dubious line choices, too. Their added weight is well worth it, I reckon, even with plenty of pedalling uphill.
Older updates continue below.
Hope HB.130 long-term review update two
What a change a season and a half makes! As mentioned below, my last ‘real’ ride pre-lockdown on the Hope, back in early March, had been a frustrating one. I literally couldn’t get to grips with the bike thanks to a clogged rear tyre and slippy roots making even the Shorty up front struggle.
Fast-forward a few months (and a cheeky tyre swap) and suddenly I’m rolling fast and free, and absolutely loving the HB.130 on steep, dusty, jumpy tracks – many of which seem to have appeared since lockdown.
I did a bit of back-to-back riding on the Hope recently, not for testing purposes, but because I’d been videoing the new Yeti SB115 (news story here, first ride review here) for an afternoon and then jumped on the Hope for some post-work laps with my colleague Max who fancied a shot on the Yeti.
The difference between the bikes was stark. Okay, they’re built for different purposes, but it showed how back-to-back testing is vital for getting a true indication of how a bike works.
The most noticeable difference between the bikes was reach and head angle.
We often talk about long and short, or steep and slack bikes, where it might only be a couple of centimetres or a degree that differentiates between these traits. And while there are a plethora of figures that make up how a bike handles, it was immediately noticeable that the Hope’s one degree slacker head angle and 19mm extra reach made such a difference to the handling.
Before my brain managed to recalibrate between the bikes, I was missing apexes and exits left, right and centre, with the front wheel wanting to ride wide out of every berm.
With my body repositioned further forward I was able to drive the bike again through the corners with confidence, but it certainly shows that a centimetre here or there really can make a difference.
While no major components have needed changing, the bike needs a little TLC.
The bottom bracket bearings have been a little stiff, following such a wet winter, and the X01 derailleur’s jockey wheels totally seized up – a little disappointing. If your bike feels a little sluggish, I can heartily recommend checking them, it’s an easy job to pull apart and re-grease – almost felt like I was riding an ebike after that!
Older updates continue below.
Hope HB.130 long-term review update number one
With the coronavirus lockdown over the past few months, I’ve not been riding the HB.130 much, if at all.
There are no ‘interesting’ trails on my doorstep and having to ride solo has meant less pushing of my technical boundaries, so instead I’ve been spending the majority of my time getting acquainted with my road and gravel bikes.
This will, however, play into the hands of the HB.130 going forward. With time to work on my fitness, my goal is to come back to the Hope very soon, with a much improved ability to get to the top of hills as fast as possible, allowing me to hammer more descents in a day!
Like a lot of people looking longingly at their ‘fun’ bike, I’ve made a few small, subtle changes to it, and done plenty of fettling to keep it in tip-top condition.
I knew from early testing that the bars were rather harsh and found that the combination of the fairly ‘racey’ fork damping and the bars was leading to more hand pain than I’d expected.
So I’ve replaced them with a set of Nukeproof Horizon V2 carbon bars. They gain 20mm in width (which I’m happy about) and should be a little softer in feel than the Hope carbon bars.
In my original long-term report (below) I photographed the bike with a pair of Vittoria Agarro tyres, which I was testing. However, they didn’t live up to expectations in the slop and were quickly replaced with a Maxxis Shorty (front) and Minion DHRII (rear) combo.
Now, with conditions at an all-time high out there, I’m considering putting an Agarro back on the rear to give that little extra zip up the hills.
Needless to say, I’m hoping next time I update this review I’ll have spent some more time on the HB.130!
The original article continues below.
Hope HB.130 specification and details
I’ve gone for a large HB.130 to match my 182cm height.
The frame has its carbon and alloy mix, with the 130mm hub held in place by a 17mm axle. The front of the bike is propped up by the 140mm Öhlins RXF36 m.2 fork – the latest version – while the rear is supported by an Öhlins TTX Air Shock.
The bike, understandably, comes with a lot of Hope components.
Hope’s Pro4 hubs are in the centre of Fortus 26 rims that are shod in Maxxis Minion tyres: a DHF 2.5in WT up front and 2.3in DHR II at the back, both 3C MaxxTerra versions. The photos of the bike here were taken while reviewing a pair of Vittoria Agarro tyres, however.
A SRAM X01 drivetrain, save for the upgraded cranks, drives the bike, while Hope Tech3 E4 brakes bring it to a halt.
There’s a 150mm Fox Transfer dropper holding a SDG Radar saddle, while Hope carbon bars, an alloy stem and grips finish things off.
Hope HB.130 geometry (L)
The HB.130 has up to date, if not particularly progressive, geometry and this very much suits me. While I can appreciate the benefits of a super-long bike (such as a Geometron or Pole), I prefer a more ‘normal’ sized bike because these work better for me on a wider range of trails.
The reach (in the bike’s Low setting, where it’ll live) is a spacious 469.5mm, with a head angle down at 66 degrees. The 75.7-degree seat angle is steep enough on paper, and the stays are snappy at 435mm.
- Head angle: 66 degrees
- Seat angle: 75.7 degrees
- Chainstay: 435mm
- Seat tube: 450mm
- Top tube: 627mm
- Head tube: 105mm
- Bottom bracket drop: 39.5mm
- Wheelbase: 1,214mm
- Reach: 469.5mm
Why did I choose this bike?
I am, at heart, a trail rider. While everyone loves the thought of being some enduro superstar, I just love riding a bit of everything – from long days on mellow terrain to steep and frantic techy trails in the Alps. As such, this breed of mid-travel, but modern-shaped, trail bike suits me down to the ground.
I’m also a huge fan of 29in wheels. I’m tall enough to avoid the rear-wheel clearance issues on steep terrain and I love the way they roll over bumps and carve corners.
If I were to spend my own cash on a mountain bike, it would certainly be this kind – no question.
The HB.130 is also a very interesting bike. I’m not emotionally connected to the Hope brand in any way, nor UK built bikes for that matter, we live in a global community after all, but its story is one steeped in MTB history. I certainly came away from the factory tour (that’s available to HB.130 and HB.160 customers if you collect your bike) impressed.
Last year, I rode the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO, and while I could see where and for whom it worked, it didn’t quite suit me. So, this year, I’m very excited to be riding a bike that I know is, on paper at least, built exactly for someone like me.
Hope HB.130 initial setup
I’m kind of used to just jumping on a bike and riding off from the get-go with minimal playing around with suspension or cockpit setup. However, the HB.130 has needed a little more tinkering to get it to a point where I’m happy.
The Öhlins suspension has a lust-worthy appeal, but I’ve found that I’m having to run it as open as possible to get it feeling near right. The damping feels relatively heavy, even when compression dials are fully open and rebound is almost as fast as it’ll go. I’m in touch with Öhlins about this and will report back.
I also needed a few rides to get the brake levers set up just-so. While having both reach and bite-point adjustment available isn’t new, it took me a few rides to get it set up how I want it, with a lot of twiddling of each adjustment either way – especially as I like both brake levers to feel identical.
The bedding in period for the brakes also took a little longer than expected, so my initial impressions of the brakes weren’t entirely positive. However, with a bit more time on the bike, bite and power has improved – patience is a virtue.
Other than that, setup has been fairly easy. The Maxxis rubber supplied would be my own personal choice for the most part (I put a Maxxis Shorty up front as we battled through the wettest winter since Noah built his ark), and I attached a pair of Nukeproof Horizon CS pedals – my platform of choice.
Hope HB.130 ride impressions
First impressions count, and mine of the HB.130 were mixed, but generally positive.
The shape is spot on in my eyes. Some of my colleagues might prefer a longer reach, but I like the sizing. It’s short enough to not feel like a barge, long enough to give stability in most situations, and it’s a size and shape that I’ve found very easy to sit on and ride.
What surprised me at first was the rear end’s flex. There’s a fair bit of side-to-side twang back there, which certainly has its pros and cons, and I plan to explore them more in the coming months (lockdown dependent).
Where it works really well is on off-camber trails and corners, where it’s possible to really push the shoulder of the tyre into the dirt to extract maximum grip. On the woody trails I love to ride, this has clear benefits.
When barrelling through really choppy, harsh terrain, though, a stiffer back end would give a more precise feel. I’ve had a few issues with the rear axle loosening during rides and I reckon an element of this is thanks to the rear end flexing around a bit. I’ve properly greased the axle now and I’m hoping that this will solve the problem.
I picked the Öhlins suspension option because we almost exclusively seem to have Fox and RockShox on our long-term bikes, so I figured it would be great to try something different.
The damping is heavy, leading to a slow, but composed, feeling suspension at the front and back. This is fine on steep, sloppy, muddy tracks where big g-outs are confidently dealt with and also helps keep the bike nice and stable under pedalling. So I’m yet to feel the need to reach for the compression switches.
However, over harsher rocky and rooty trails the suspension, while not binding or spiking, doesn’t smooth the ride as well as I’d like. This also accentuates the fairly harsh feeling handlebars.
As mentioned, the brakes took a while to get performing as I expected. The bed-in process took a little while and the lever setup required a bit of fiddling.
Happily, I’ve got the brakes offering decent (if not outstanding) power and good enough bite to keep me happy too. They’re not as sharp as Shimano, but feel perky compared to the softer feel of a SRAM Guide, for example.
Hope HB.130 upgrades
From stock there are few components I plan to change.
First to go will be the handlebar. It’s not the most compliant out there and, with the fork damping being fairly heavy, I want a bit more comfort at the front end on rocky trails.
It’s also 780mm wide and I prefer an 800mm bar. I’ve got a set of Nukeproof Horizon bars to try, so they’ll be fitted very soon.
I’ve contacted Öhlins about the suspension damping, so will change that if I can.
One area where long-term bikes are often ‘upgraded’ is the wheels, but with Hope’s 130mm rear hub spacing this isn’t easy to do.
The rims are 26mm wide internally, which isn’t huge, so on paper I would probably have swapped them at some point down the line, but I’ll keep them on the bike for now. It’ll keep me running 2.3in tyres at the back and no more than the 2.5in up front.
Down the line I may look at a rim swap, should I want something wider.
BikeRadar‘s 2020 long-term test bikes
At the start of the year, every member of the BikeRadar team selects a long-term test bike to ride over the course of the following 12 months. Some choose a bike from their favoured discipline and ride it hard for a year, others opt for a bike that takes them outside of their comfort zone.
Our long-term test gives us the opportunity to truly get to grips with these machines, so we can tell you how they perform through different seasons and on ever-changing terrain.
We also use them as test beds for the latest kit, chopping and changing parts to see what really makes the difference – and help you decide which upgrades are worth spending your money on.
To see all of the BikeRadar team’s 2020 bikes – and stay up-to-date with the latest developments – visit our long-term review hub.
|Price||EUR €7500.00GBP £6300.00USD $8400.00|
|Weight||14.5kg (Large) – Size large, without pedals|
|What we tested||Hope HB.130 with Hope crank upgrade|
|Available sizes||Medium, large, extra-large|
|Brakes||Hope Tech 3 E4|
|Cassette||SRAM X01 Eagle|
|Cranks||Hope Evo 30-tooth chainring|
|Fork||Ohlins RXF36 m.2|
|Frame||Carbon front, CNC alloy rear|
|Handlebar||Hope Carbon, 780mm|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM X01 Eagle|
|Rear shock||Ohlins TTX Air|
|Seatpost||Fox Transfer Factory 150mm dropper|
|Shifter||SRAM X01 Eagle|
|Stem||Hope AM, 50mm|
|Tyres||Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 WT 29X2.5” (f) and Maxxis Minion DHRII 2.3 29X2.3” (r)|
|Wheels||Hope Fortus 26 on Hope Pro 4 hubs|