The Voodoo Hoodoo’s RRP is a penny under £600, but it’s been available at £100 less for quite a while so that’s how we’re testing it. It would be a good buy at £600, so £500 for a bike fitted with one of SR Suntour’s best mid-range air forks is a bargain. The fact the frame and its associated kit are good too is a double bonus. We rarely give a bike a maximum score but the Hoodoo deserves it.

Ride handling: Comfy, controlled and capable of tackling tricky terrain

The Hoodoo offers a comfortable ride thanks to its big profile Maxxis Ardent rubber, plush fork and comfy saddle. The 2.25in tyres are great – grippy but fast rolling, which adds confidence as well as speed – and the superb fork gives you confidence to attack the sort of rough terrain that challenges most bikes at this price.

Suspension performance can make or break an entry-level bike, and the Hoodoo’s SR Suntour Raidon X1 is probably the best fork we’ve seen on a £500 bike. It’s air-sprung (rather than coil-sprung), with beefy stanchions that stop its 120mm of compression from fluttering under hard braking, and it offers the sort of control we’d usually associate with a bike costing nearly twice as much. 

The controlled compression and rebound, allows you to shift your weight forward when the going gets rough. That helps to take the rough edge off the rear wheel too, so you end up riding a fair bit harder and faster. Not many years ago a fork as good as this would have left the makers no money for a frame.

So, does the Hoodoo have a downside? Well, no, not really. Its 13.7kg (30.25lb) weight is a bit of a haul up the hills, but a bar-mounted fork lockout makes that easier. The overall handling feel is simply superb for a bike at this price, and we’d still be saying that if it was £600. At a time when some £500 bikes seem lower specced than a couple of years ago, the Voodoo Hoodoo is a breath of fresh air, and mainly because of the fork.

Frame equipment: Great fork for a £500 bike, boosted by an excellent frame and tyres.

Voodoo bikes are designed by Joe Murray, one-time top racer and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member, so it’s no surprise that the Hoodoo’s frame is excellent. It’s a stiff (we’d say cautiously overbuilt), no-frills model with reinforced tube walls in all the right places. Like most bikes at this price, luggage rack bosses indicate a certain utilitarian adaptability, but the major parts are capable of much more. 

Shimano’s Alivio drivetrain is as slick-shifting as far more costly gears, and the nine-speed cassette (rather than the eight-speed version found on some bikes at this price) makes future upgrades easier. That said, the only bit of the drivetrain we’d think about upgrading soon is the crankset. A splined-axle model with lighter aluminium chainrings would be nice.

The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are superb stoppers with decent modulation. Even the finishing kit is way better than average, with bolt-on grips, a well-shaped 26.5in-wide riser bar and a comfy Voodoo-branded saddle. The wheel and tyre setup is a good hard-riding trail combination, too. 

Maxxis Ardent 2.25-inchers are among our favourite tyres. They grip superbly in most conditions, they roll fast, they rarely block and their high profile and big air volume adds a lot of comfort. An otherwise great bike can be dulled or even ruined by poor tyre choice so it’s great to find Ardents specced at this price. They transform ride feel, controllability and confidence.

article was originally published in What
Mountain Bike
magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.