Divide & Conquer?
Released last year as a 2019 model the Bombtrack Hook ADV divided opinion like few other bikes. Bombtrack labelled it Hyper-Gravel and proudly stated that John Tomac inspired them. So is this a mountain bike held-back by drop-bars, or a gravel bike lumbered with unnecessary tech?
What’s Hyper-Gravel anyway?
At its heart the Bombtrack Hook ADV has a steel frame bristling with all the cage, rack and fender mounts you’d expect from the ADV suffix. These features combined with flared drop bars and 1×11 gears are the new norm. Where the Hook differs from the crowd is its the air-sprung fork, stealth dropper and clearances for 2.0″/2.25″ MTB tyres. These upgrades give the Hook ADV the ability to hustled faster down rougher and twistier trails. Of course, this isn’t without downsides. Airsprung forks have an inherent weight and complexity disadvantage compared to rigid forks, and few saddle packs will play nicely with the dropper post.
How does it ride?
There’s no getting away from it. With all else being equal, adding MTB tyres, a heavier fork and a dropper is going to make for a less sprightly and agile ride compared to a conventional gravel bike. Interestingly the difference isn’t as great as you might think. Sure, you feel it on draggy climbs with a slightly dulled pace and bit of fork-bobbing but it’s never spirit-sapping. Level gravel roads see it fly along nicely, the forks and venture-max bars make holding a line easier on degraded surfaces. Leaving the gravel behind, the ADV shows its worth in the woods where off-camber singletrack and sneaky roots could otherwise conspire to knock you off course. By trail bike standards the KS post has a meagre 100m drop, all of which I used on the steepest trails. For the most part though I used perhaps half the travel. Dropping the saddle just enough to enable weight-shifts and hopping over fallen branches.
So is it a 90’s MTB?
I have a 90s MTB in the garage with frame, tyre and fork specs that on paper resemble the Bombtrack. The advances in geometry, suspension, braking and gear-shifting technology however, make the Hook ADV a much more compelling ride. As MTB’s become ever more focussed Bombtrack offers you a bike capable of being fun around your local trails, and still being able to shine on the ride there and back too!
What’s changed for 2020?
As a small close-knit team Bombtrack can remain agile with their designs. Responding to feedback, the Hook ADV has a series of subtle improvements for the 2020 model year.
- The rear dropout had been upgraded to that as fitted on the Beyond +. This brings the benefit of being stronger and also reducing the spares burden for the owner and retailer
- Bombtrack have developed their own 30mm axle cranks for the T47 BB standard. Using Sram direct mount style rings, this again makes sourcing and replacement easier for the rider.
- The Hook ADV will come with the standard bar-mounted lever for the dropper as in 2019, however the 2020 model will also have a 2x front shifter so tinkerers can adapt the shifter to operate the lever!
- Perhaps realising that an out-there bike needed a more out-there colour, the sensible silver paint makes way for the stunning glossy orange teal fade.
New Hook ADV models should be landing with dealers this October. Find out more at Bombtrack Bikes.
Last modified: 18th November 2019