One of the cheapset full-suspension e-bikes on the market comes from the Halfords stable. With a Shimano STEPS motor and decent suspension, can the Voodoo Zobop build on the success established by the humble Bizango?
The Voodoo Zobop E-Shimano is a £3k e-bike you can buy from an actual shop. Is Voodoo’s new Zobop too good to be true? Here’s our first ride review.
Voodoo Zobop E-Shimano need to know
- The 2020 Voodoo Zobop E-Shimano moves from a third generation Bosch motor to the newer and lighter Shimano STEPS E7000 system
- Travel is 140mm rear paired with a 150mm suspension fork, both from RockShox
- 27.5in wheels front and rear, shod in 2.8in Plus sized Maxxis tyres
- Three sizes, available exclusively through Halfords
Let’s cut straight to the chase. If there is one over-arching reason why anyone would be interested in the Zobop, it’s the price. And that’s not a slur, it’s just that this is one of the cheapset full-suspension e-bikes you can buy from a real bricks and mortar shop (the other one is the Decathlon Stilus for £2,699). And when we say shop, we mean Halfords, the exclusive UK distributor of Voodoo bikes. Anything remotely similar in price to this bouncy pedal-assist bike will normally arrive at your house in a box, and even then, it will still probably cost a couple of hundred quid more.
So the real question is: if you have £3k to spend on an e-mtb, is the Zobop a good buy? The short answer is, yes, but only if you absolutely have no more than £2,999 to spend, as the test-winning Vitus E-Sommet only costs £200 more. Or if Halfords is offering a discounted price on this bike (at time of writing it’s down to £2,799). Don’t get me wrong, the Zobop is very much a fun bike. More about that later. But I’m getting to the point here, and the main point is that the Zobop needs money spending on upgrading it immediately.
It needs a complete new set of disc brakes, as the Shimano Altus BR-MT200 units are woeful. This bumps the price up by the aforementioned couple of hundred quid saving. Slap some good brakes on then – like I did after the first couple of white-knuckle test rides – and the bike’s true potential is instantly unleashed. And what a great bike it is once you can let it run. OK, so it does also need a wider handlebar than the 740mm Kalloy unit fitted, but I can let that slide. With a rather dated aesthetic and not-mismatching 27.5 Plus wheels, the Zobop will win no prizes for being cutting edge. Its geometry is not even that great on paper (67° head angle, 456mm reach for L/20in), but the combination of the excellent suspension action, good standover clearance and the reassuring Shimano STEPS E7000 motor make it a real winner.
Front to back – apart from the brakes – I had no issue with any part of the Voodoo Zobop. The wheels are wide and bombproof. The 150mm travel RockShox Recon RL fork is a tad overdamped – I don’t think I ever got full travel – but it’s solid and predictable. The 45mm stem is a great length. The SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain didn’t miss a beat. The battery didn’t rattle whilst riding and was a breeze to remove for recharging indoors. The Voodoo saddle offers up top drawer levels of comfort.
Most impressive was how well the RockShox Monarch RT rear shock worked in partnership with the suspension linkage. It wasn’t fussy. It worked really, really well with 25% sag through to 40 per cent sag, and has a very useable range of rebound to accommodate different rider weights. As such, a quick session with a shock pump is enough to set the bike up for high-BB XC duties or low-slung gravity play days with equal aplomb. In the end, I settled on around 33% sag, as that’s what suited my riding best, only occasionally using the lockout lever on the shock for smooth, extended climbs.
Actually, I did have a small issue with the TranzX dropper. Or rather, the kinked seat tube of the frame, which limits the length of dropper you can use. Basically it’s 125mm only, even on the 20in frame.
Oh, and did I mention that I’m not actually a fan of 2.8in Maxxis Rekon plus tyres? I’ve yet to find anywhere where they work well in the UK. Too slippy. Too vague. Stick some tough 2.4in rubber on there and enjoy the improved (and lowered) ride feel.
Fundamentally, the Voodoo Zobop is a good bike. It’s not pioneering in any way, and a couple of parts do let it down badly, but the truth is in the trail riding, and the Zobop was a blast to ride. To really stand out in an increasingly competitive market, it needs to be a bit cheaper still AND have brakes worthy of a screamingly good descender. So, if you can pick one up in the Halfords sales, or get hold of one via its Cycle To Work Scheme, I’m fairly certain you won't regret it.