Voodoo Bizango review
Due to so many commitments I found myself out of the mountain bike scene for 5 long years, then finally in 2014 I was ready to dive back in. I knew from my TREK 830 days that I didn’t need to spend big bucks in order to keep up with the race leaders, so I gave myself a budget of £600 and let the research begin. I test rode several well know bikes in my price range but they all disappointed, they had clunky suspension forks and weighed a ton. Then I started hearing talk of the new Voodoo Bizango 29er, so I started investigating further. The Bizango was getting positive review after positive review, mbr named it hardtail winner of the year. It looked like I had found my new bike, and after a test ride there was no doubt.
I decided I was going to christen my bike by cycling over to Holmbury Hill, which is approximately 11 miles from home starting with a 4 mile tarmac dash to Newlands Corner. The first thing I noticed as I hit the road were those 29 inch wheels, it felt like I was riding an agile monster truck and nothing could get in my way. I also noticed that the bike freewheeled faster than my previous mountain bikes, no doubt because of those giant 29ers. My only slight frustration was running out of gears on fast descents, however this is unlikely to be an issue off-road.
Following a 2 mile ascent I arrived at Newlands Corner cafe, my regular pit stop before hitting the trail. So after demolishing a bacon bap and taking a caffeine hit it was goodbye tarmac and hello dirt. The last time I rode this particular trail I was on a very different bike: V-brakes, coil forks, 26 inch wheels and heavy chromoly frame, all a distant memory now. I hit the first trail (a steep 1 mile singletrack descent) at speed, skimming over roots and deep ruts like they weren’t even there thanks to the giant wheels and fat Maxxis Ardent tyres. I did experience a fair amount of noisy chain slap on the rougher terrain though so I certainly recommend a buying better chainstay protector than the existing flimsy adhesive one, I use the Lizard Skins Neoprene type. Ten miles later and I couldn’t have been happier with how the bike was performing on the trail. At this point there really weren’t any issues to report short of the chain slap.
Eventually I arrived at Holmbury Hill and tried out a few of the MTB trails. One thing that was immediately clear was how confident I felt on this bike, especially going down some of the steep heavily rooted banks which always used to be my week spot. Gear shifting was fast and precise, which is very useful on terrain like this which alters in the blink of an eye, however one slight concern was the amount of times my feet touched the front tyre during tighter turns.
By now it was getting quite late in the day and didn’t have my lights to hand, so I decided to be sensible and head home by road before it became too dark.
The following week I decided to take things up a notch and headed for Swinley Forest.
I can’t recommend Swinley Forest enough. Miles and miles of purpose built trails catering for various skill levels: Green Trail – easy / Blue Trail – Moderate / Red Trail – Difficult. There’s also a dirt jump and freeride area.
As usual we started with the Blue Trail and before long we were digging in as we started the first ascent. The front end felt nice and light as I took on the many deep roots of the uphill section, my only concern was the number of times I was still catching my feet on the front tyre during tight turns (more on this later), but apart from that it was so far so good.
Now the downhill sections are what it’s really all about and the bike shined as expected. The 120mm Suntour Raidon forks soaked up the bumps which filled me with the confidence to push myself harder than ever before downhill. The Suntour Raidons might be classified as a budget fork but they certainly don’t feel it, and to this day mine haven’t required any servicing and there has never been any bushing knock.
The most challenging riding of the day for me was the Labyrinth section of the red trail, which is a very narrow twisty turny single track in the densest darkest part of the forest. The challenge for me was to get around the Labyrinth without putting my foot down once despite the fact that my handlebars are wider than much of the track and large roots are a plenty especially in the bends, unfortunately though I lost my balance half way round resulting in the least spectacular crash of my life, toppling sideways at 1 mph. Unfortunately I did experience the recurrence of my feet hitting the front tyre on those tight twisty turns which I initially thought might just be because I still wasn’t used to the 29ers, however 2 years on and its still happening and from what i’ve heard from other Bizango owners, it appears i’m not the only one to experience the problem.
Following a fantastic days riding it was time for my first bike inspection. I was a little disappointed to discover that my brake and gear cables had eaten all the way through the paintwork at the top of the suspension fork after only 2 days of use, however that was the only problem to report and an easy one to rectify after slapping on some frame protection stickers.
The bike is still in very good health 2 years on despite seeing plenty of action, although admittedly I tend not to take it out when the weather is truly horrendous or when the trail is too boggy. I also clean the bike religiously, so despite a few scratches here and there the bike still looks like new. Going forwards I will be replacing my rather warn handlebar grips with the popular Acor Skull design grips and I might treat myself to a dropper post at some point, but that’s about it unless something breaks.