Two of us have had a pretty special opportunity this season - Lana and myself have spent the last few months racing on bikes from the future! Bombtrack were kind enough to put us on their 2018 Hook AL cyclocross race bike for the Winter season just gone, and it's a real step up from the 2017 Hook AL. Bombtrack have taken what was a very capable entry level bike this year, and upgraded the brakes and fork, and made the gearing more versatile.
In 2017, the Hook AL was a new bike for Bombtrack - the first ever aluminium-framed bike from a brand that has built its reputation on great steel bikes for nearly every application, with a dabble here and there in carbon, and it was a measured gamble, bringing the bike in at an entry-level price point to test the waters a little. The 2018 Hook AL carries over that idea of a light, stiff race bike that can handle the thrashing of a cyclocross seasons dings and crashes, and turns it into a serious bike, capable of racing at the highest level.
Where the 2017 bike had mechanical disc brakes and came stock with arguably racier gearing (38t x 11-32t), the 2018 Hook AL has a full Apex 1 hydro group, with a 40t chainring up front and Sram's NX 11-42t cassette on the back - enough to ride up those steep pinches everyone else has to run, and great for backcountry adventures that sometimes require a bit more versatility than just a race bike. Where this year's bike had a carbon/alloy hybrid fork, next year's goes to a full carbon fork to save a few hundred grams and increase front end feel. Rounding out the bike are some Bombtrack in-house wheels and finishing kit (the handlebar especially is super nice, the flare on it is perfect for feeling planted on sketchy descents), Clement MXP tyres, and a BB386 bottom bracket - that makes use of the large bearings from a BB30 bottom bracket with the wide bearing stance of a traditional threaded one - paired with a GXP crank that's easily upgraded to a lighter crank for those at the pointy end of their CX races.
After a whole season now on these new Hook ALs, with only a few adjustments (like our excellent Praxis Works Zayante cranks, bottom brackets and chainrings!) it's certainly clear to us that the 2018 bike is an absolute weapon, and every change from the 2017 bike is a certain upgrade.
Expect the Bombtrack Hook AL and the rest of the 2018 range to be available from Treadly and other Australian dealers from late October and the rest of the world from November 2017.