Hope are known for their beautifully machined and colourfully anodised components. With the HB916, the Brits are entering our 2023 group test with a carbon high-pivot enduro bike that was developed to meet the demands of the modern shredder. And while it’s undeniably gorgeous, can it deliver on the trail?
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review
The Hope HB916 is produced by the fine British brand in the UK and is not just incredibly elegant but also extremely rare. It retails at € 8,400 and relies on a high-pivot suspension design, which positions the main pivot well above the top of the chainring, allowing the rear wheel to swing up and backwards during an impact. The HB916 tips the scales at 15.6 kg and combines 170/160 mm of travel (f/r). It is available both as a full 29er and also a mullet bike. Needless to say, Hope produce both the carbon frame and most of the components, including the brakes, wheels, handlebars and cranks, which the Brits are known for in the first place. And in typical Hope fashion, you can choose your decals to match the colour of the anodised parts.
The Hope HB916 2022 in detail
The classy black frame with raw carbon finish harmonises extremely well with the machined and colourfully anodised components, ensuring an elegant look with clear and straight lines. Small, but fine details like the connection between the alloy rocker and the carbon seat stays are lovingly built and make a very high-quality impression. The down tube features Hope’s proprietary “butty box” storage compartment, which, in typical Hope fashion, comes standard with a high-quality, machined alloy cover. The cover is sealed to prevent water from entering the compartment, but there’s no partition wall preventing the contents from falling into the depths of the frame. Instead, there’s a pouch that keeps everything together. At the bottom of the down tube, a large but rather thin skid plate protects the frame against impacts, while a generously sized chainstay protector built in-house by Hope ensures a quiet ride.
Hope are known as a premium “Made in the UK” boutique brand. The HB916 harmoniously combines an elegant raw carbon finish and machined alloy components.
The spec of the Hope HB916 2022
The Hope HB916 features a bling Öhlins RXF 38 m.2 fork with two air chambers in the main spring. This might be a little finicky to set up but delivers a tremendous performance on the trail and allows you to fine tune the progression of the fork. The fork is paired with an Öhlins TTX Air shock. As already mentioned, Hope rely on several in-house components, including the 800 mm carbon handlebars with symmetrical markings that make it easier to adjust the brake levers. Hope’s in house Tech 4 V4 brakes with tool-free bite point and reach adjustments and 200 mm rotors front and rear provide powerful deceleration and excellent modulation. However, compared to Shimano and SRAM brakes, they don’t bite as hard while the long levers force you to position the clamps relatively far away from the grips, which can be a problem when you have to reach the dropper remote or the shifter. The OneUp Dropper Post V2 dropper offers a whopping 210 mm travel and impresses with its super ergonomic remote. A cable-operated, 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain ensures smooth and precise shifting. For the wheels, Hope rely on their in-house Fortus 30 SC alloy wheelset and MAXXIS tires, combining a 29×2.5″ ASSEGAI at the front and a 29×2.4″ Minion DHR II at the rear, both in EXO+ casing and hard MaxxTerra rubber compound. For a bike in this class, we would have preferred a more robust casing like MAXXIS’ DoubleDown and softer rubber compound for more traction, especially at the front.
Fork Öhlins RXF 38 m.2 170 mm
Rear Shock Öhlins TTX Air 160 mm
Seatpost OneUp Dropper Post V2 210 mm
Brakes Hope Tech 4 V4 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle 1x12
Stem Hope Gravity 40 mm
Handlebar Hope Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Hope Fortus 30 SC 29"
Tires MAXXIS ASSEGAI, EXO+, 3C MaxxTerra/MAXXIS Minion DHR II, EXO+, 3C MaxxTerra 2.5/2.4
Size H1 H2 H3 H4
Weight 15.6 kg
The geometry of the Hope HB916 2022
The Hope HB916 is available in four sizes, H1 to H4, which should cater for riders between 162 cm and 203 cm. Like many other manufacturers, Hope order their frame sizes based on the reach and not the stack height, which is meant to allow you to choose the size based on your preferences and riding style rather than your anatomy. Our H3 test bike in the slack setting combines 487 mm reach and a 440 mm seat tube, which, together with the dropper post that can be fully inserted into the frame, ensures excellent freedom of movement. A flip chip allows you to adjust the head angle between 63,2° and 64°, which automatically increases the reach by 3 mm.
|Seat tube||395 mm||410 mm||440 mm||470 mm|
|Top tube||584 mm||607 mm||631 mm||655 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||110 mm||120 mm||130 mm|
|Chainstay||440 mm||440 mm||440 mm||440 mm|
|BB Drop||30 mm||30 mm||30 mm||30 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,230 mm||1,254 mm||1,279 mm||1,303 mm|
|Reach||450 mm||470 mm||490 mm||510 mm|
|Stack||628 mm||637 mm||646 mm||655 mm|
The Hope HB916 2022 on the trail
Riding uphill, the suspension of the Hope HB916 is relatively stiff, making the climb switch superfluous on your way to the trailhead. The steep seat tube angle makes for a rather compact pedalling position and places you right above the bottom bracket. That being said, the position is rather comfortable and integrates you nicely into the bike, making the Hope the best climber among the three high-pivot bikes in this test. Unlike the Deviate Claymore and Norco Range, which tend to bob significantly when pedalling, the HB916 is an efficient climber and gets to the top of the mountain first alongside the Intense Tracer and Santa Cruz Megatower.
The Hope HB916 impresses with excellent all-round qualities, offering a great compromise between composure and nimbleness on the trail.
Downhill, the Hope strikes a good balance between composure and agility, dealing equally well with both narrow trail sections and spontaneous line changes, allowing you to flick the rear end from one corner into the next. The firm suspension is partly responsible for this, providing tons of support and pop. But the HB916 doesn’t get overwhelmed too easily in rough trail sections either, holding the line with stoic composure while at the same time providing plenty of feedback from the ground. Here, however, the Deviate and Norco inspire more confidence and provide more traction in bumpy sections. Of the three high-pivot bikes in this group test, the HB916 feels the least like a high-pivot bike. The rear centre grows less under compression than the other two bikes, making it less composed and planted on the descents than the other two bikes. In a blind test, it would be hard to distinguish the Hope from a bike with a conventional rear suspension design. In open corners, you’ll have to actively weight the front to keep it tracking. That said, tires with a softer rubber compound and more robust casing, which allow you to run lower air pressures, would definitely help.
Tuning tip: More robust tires front and rear with softer rubber compound at the front
With the HB916, Hope entered our group test with an elegant and refined “Made in the UK” carbon missile that is specced with several of their in-house components. Overall, it’s a solid trail companion that allows for countless individualization options – although we recommend upgrading the tires. The HB916 is a bike for those who want something exclusive. On the trail, it impresses with well-balanced handling, good suspension performance and good all-round qualities, both up and downhill.
- Unique bike
- Unique and refined look
- Good allrounder
- Good balance between composure and agility
- Tires don’t do justice to the potential of the bike
You can find out more about at hopetech.com
The test field
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review
All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 8 (Click for review) | Deviate Claymore (Click for review) | Hope HB916 | Intense Tracer 279 S (Click for review) | MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 (Click for review) | Mondraker Carbon Foxy RR (Click for review) | Norco Range C1 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Nomad X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 (Click for review) | Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Elite Alloy (Click for review) | Yeti 160E T1 (Click for review) | Yeti SB160 T3 (Click for review)
This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role.↩
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes.↩
How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension.↩
This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail.↩
No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50↩
Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70↩
Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90↩
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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Mike Hunger