Voodoo Hoodoo (2018) review

Voodoo regains the half-grand high ground

BikeRadar score5/5

Halfords’ Voodoo bikes have always been leading players in the £400–£750 price bracket, and other brands will be cursing because the frame features, handling and overall kit level of the Hoodoo put it back into pole position.

Voodoo Hoodoo frame

With slight curves and kinks on every hydroformed main tube, this isn’t just a basic frame. The 450mm reach and 1,185mm wheelbase of the large size confirm a reassuringly stable base geometry, and the ring-reinforced 44mm head tube can take a tapered fork (though it doesn’t here).

There’s routing for a stealth dropper, which is a good job, because the kinked seat tube stops the stock fixed post sliding all the way down, unless you cut off the bottom (I fitted a dropper to get around this for our photoshoot).

Voodoo has adopted the latest 141mm-wide Boost QR standard to give extra tyre space. The back end also gets four-point rack mounts, so you can load up for commuting or exploring. You even get a lifetime frame warranty.

Voodoo Hoodoo kit

The FSA/Shimano 1x10 transmission is the highlight of an outstanding kit package for the cash
The FSA/Shimano 1x10 transmission is the highlight of an outstanding kit package for the cash

The Suntour XCR-32 fork is reasonably stiff, with an adjustable air spring and rebound damping, and the 45mm stem on top gives fast traction-catching reactions.

Like on the Vitus Nucleus 29 VR also on test, I’d prefer a wider bar to make the most of the Hoodoo’s handling, but I can see that the 740mm one fitted is more traffic-friendly on a bike that’s also well-equipped for urban utility work.

While the Maxxis Ardent tyres look fast rather than grippy, the rubber compound makes them a lot more trustworthy off-road than you’d think.

The Shimano M395 brakes are the most expensive compared to similarly priced bikes on test, such as the Pinnacle Kapur 2, Calibre Two Cubed and Vitus Nucleus 29 VR, but it’s the 1x10 transmission that’s the undoubted spec highlight, with its narrow-wide chainring, FSA cranks, clutch-equipped Shimano Deore rear mech and wide-range cassette.

Voodoo Hoodoo ride

The ride quality of the Hoodoo is elevated well above its price category, keeping it playful and encouragingly efficient rather than punishing
The ride quality of the Hoodoo is elevated well above its price category, keeping it playful and encouragingly efficient rather than punishing

Despite losing excess chainrings and a front mech, the bigger cassette and clutch mech contribute to the Hoodoo being heavier than the bikes mentioned above.

The intuitive shifting with no overlapping gears and the slap/rattle-free chain security are well worth the slight weight penalty though, when you’re charging about off-road. That transmission quietness amplifies the calming effect of an already impressively smooth frame feel.

With their tall carcass and easy-rolling performance, the Ardent tyres also do a lot to elevate the overall ride quality of the Hoodoo well above its price category, keeping it playful and encouragingly efficient rather than punishing on longer days, rougher trails or both.

The Suntour fork and 45mm stem gives fast traction-catching reactions
The Suntour fork and 45mm stem gives fast traction-catching reactions

While cheaper forks are inevitably less smooth and subtly controlled than more expensive units, the Suntour XCR on the Voodoo is better than most at this price. If you charge hard enough, it actually gets full travel from its 120mm air spring, and both the compression adjuster/lockout lever on top of the right leg and the red rebound damping knob at the bottom end offer basic but obvious tuning effect.

The Shimano brakes are richer in feel than the other stoppers that were also on test in this price category, and you get a 180mm front rotor for more power.

The Hoodoo’s well-balanced trail riding geometry is stable enough that it self-corrects out of trouble in sketchy tech situations without feeling like a barge to riders used to steeper bikes.

It's the Hoodoo's 1x10 transmission that’s the undoubted spec highlight
It's the Hoodoo's 1x10 transmission that’s the undoubted spec highlight

Its low bottom bracket boosts stability through fast turns, but you’ll need to be careful not to clobber your pedals in ruts or up ledges. The occasional crank tap or wandering front wheel on really steep climbs is more than repaid by the bravery-boosting confidence of the geometry.

Voodoo Hoodoo details

Top tubing: The Hoodoo frame isn’t just a good shape, it rides really well and is ready for a stealth dropper too (although it comes with a rigid post, not the dropper pictured)

Super spec: The FSA/Shimano 1x10 transmission is the highlight of an outstanding kit package for the cash

Safety first: Voodoo even add subtle reflective details to the frame and rims to boost nighttime visibility, in case your ride menu includes traffic as well as trails

Voodoo's Hoodoo
Voodoo's Hoodoo

Voodoo Hoodoo specifications

  • Frame: 7005 aluminium alloy
  • Weight: 14.74kg
  • Sizes: 16, 18, 20*, 22in (*tested)
  • Fork: Suntour XCR-32 AIR LO, 120mm (4.7in) travel
  • Headset: 1.125in
  • Hubs: Alloy
  • Axles: 100mm QR (f) / 141mm Boost QR (r)
  • Rims: Alloy
  • Spokes: 32x steel
  • Wheel weight: 2.32kg (f), 3.02kg (r), inc. tyres
  • Tyres: Maxxis Ardent wire bead 27.5x2.25in
  • Crankset: FSA Alpha Drive, 34t
  • Bottom bracket: Square-axle cartridge
  • Mechs: Shimano Deore
  • Shifters: Shimano Deore (1x10)
  • Cassette: Shimano Deore, 11-42t
  • Chain: KMC X10
  • Brakes: Shimano M395, 180/160mm
  • Bar: Voodoo 740mm
  • Stem: Voodoo, 45mm
  • Grips: Voodoo lock-on
  • Seatpost: Voodoo
  • Saddle: Voodoo

Voodoo Hoodoo specifications

  • Head angle: 67 degrees
  • Seat angle: 74 degrees
  • Reach: 450mm / 17.72in
  • Bottom bracket height: 300mm / 11.81in
  • Chainstay: 425mm / 16.73in
  • Seat tube: 495mm / 19.49in
  • Top tube: 640mm / 25.2in
  • Wheelbase: 1,185mm / 46.65in
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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