Voodoo is a small bike manufacturer whose continued presence in the UK is, ironically, down to the involvement of car retail giant Halfords. Although the brandâ€™s bikes are available as bare frames only in the US, here in the UK Halfordsâ€™ buying power means that complete bikes with tempting-looking specs are available off the shelf. The Zobopâ€™s 10-speed transmission, twin air springs and 150mm of travel look good value for the asking price, but can the bike offer any advantages over the 120mm competition?
Ride & handling: Unï¬‚inching downhill performance coupled with excellent high-speed handling
The extra travel hasnâ€™t done the Voodooâ€™s waistline any harm â€“ it weighs in the same ballpark as some of its shorter travel competition. But with its compact ride position and big volume tyres, itâ€™s not going to be setting any speed records on the climbs. Thereâ€™s plenty of grip and the RockShox rear shock does a good job of keeping the rear wheel planted, but slightly ponderous steering, heavy wheels and the stubby stem donâ€™t encourage lactic burn.
Coming down the other side is a very different story. As the pace picks up the fork comes into its own, shrugging off the kind of rubble-strewn lines thatâ€™d normally be a reason to reach for the brakes and offering precise, wobble-free steering courtesy of the Maxle Lite axle. The rear end follows through willingly, giving the Voodoo a turn of downhill speed thatâ€™s bound to slap a grin on every riderâ€™s face.
Frame & equipment: Good value for the asking price
The Zobopâ€™s only visible concessions to current frame design trends are a large, tapered head tube and subtly â€˜Sâ€™ curved down tube. The beefy front end does away with the need for any additional reinforcing gussets in spite of a geometry built to take a fork up to 150mm, while the straight seat tube makes it possible to drop the seat post right the way down for really steep stuff.
At the rear, a simple swingarm rotates around a virtual pivot courtesy of a short linkage aft of the bottom bracket and drives the shock via a pair of bolted-together linkage plates. All the moving bits turn on sealed cartridge bearings for smooth running and longer life. The RockShox Revelation fork plugged into the front is supposed to be the 150mm version, although our pre-production test sample turned up with just 130mm on tap.
A RockShox Monarch shock complements the frontâ€™s performance well, while a full Shimano 10-speed transmission is good to see, though it might have helped if Halfords hadnâ€™t sent the bike with a chain ï¬ve links too short.
- The Allen key seat clamp ï¬tted to our test bike is a minor irritation on a model thatâ€™s at its best being thrown down steep, lumpy bits of geology as fast as possible. The good news is that, if you ride steep stuff a lot, you can ï¬t a height-adjustable seat post and run a remote to the bars via the dedicated cable guides ï¬tted to the top tube.
- To 10-speed or not to 10-speed, that is the question? The Zobopâ€™s 10-speed transmission is the kind of spec-list feature that may win over potential buyers, but the difference over nine-speed is minimal. The juryâ€™s still out but weâ€™d prefer the 36-tooth large sprocket option over the Voodooâ€™s 11-34-tooth close ratio cassette.
- When we tested the Zobopâ€™s cheaper counterpart, the Canzo we pointed out that its relatively steep geometry wasnâ€™t best suited to a 140mm travel machine. Interestingly, the Zobop doesnâ€™t fall into the same trap. Even with our test bikeâ€™s Revelation fork set to 130mm, a 66-degree head angle is on the money for the travel on offer.
A bike that emphasises gravity-fuelled fun at the expense of cross-country pace, the Zobop is nevertheless well worth a look if youâ€™re not bothered about getting to the top of every climb as fast as possible.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.