Voodoo’s dark arts continue, with the latest version of the multiple-award winning Voodoo Bizango representing crazy value for money.
New updated Voodoo Bizango gets lighter triple-butted frameset, new tapered head tube, dropper post routing and revamped geometry. Spec-wise it sports Maxxis Ardent tyres shod on to tubeless-ready rims and new wide-range Shimano Deore 11-speed cassette, chainset and clutch rear derailleur.
It’s fair to say the Voodoo Bizango is one of the winningest hardtails we have ever tested. This bike has won our Best Hardtail Mountain Bike of the Year award on multiple occasions, even when the deck was stacked against it. And the times it hasn’t won, it’s because we haven’t been able to get hold of one due to it being sold out.
For 2022 Voodoo has stepped it up once again in the never-ending battle to product the best mountain bike for beginners.. The new Bizango is lighter, has better geometry and more tyre clearance and it even gets a few of the tweaks I suggested the last time I tested it.
Start with a great foundation and you can build a legacy, so at the heart of the new Bizango is a triple-butted aluminium frameset. Only the three main tubes get this treatment but this update and some changes elsewhere means the overall weight of the bike has come down.
To increase torsional stiffness, the top tube has a slightly larger cross section with subtle profiling and it’s now welded to a tapered head tube. As a result, the frame is stiffer at the front but it’s also more comfortable at the back because Voodoo has dropped the seatstay bridge and also redesigned the chainstay assembly to be more compliant. The added benefit of this rejig is that it adds an extra 13mm of mud clearance and the option to fit fatter tyres if you wish.
And the improvements don’t end there – Voodoo has also updated the 1x drivetrain. It’s still 11-speed, but you now get a wide-range 11-51t Shimano Deore cassette, which offers a bigger spread of usable gears for first timers and old farts like me. The Deore rear mech has a clutch mechanism to reduce chain slap and help keep the chain on, but I’d like to see a chain device on the front just as an extra bit of security.
Voodoo has taken on board my previous comments about the narrow bar and has finally fitted a 780mm wide handlebar and a shorter 45mm stem. It’s stuck with the same plush WTB Volt saddle and Shimano MT200 disc brakes, but I’d really consider going up a rotor size on the brakes, as there were a couple of times during testing where I had to really haul on the anchors to slow the bike down with the stock 160/140mm combo, so bigger rotors would add a bit more control.
To balance speed and grip, Voodoo has fitted 29×2.25in Maxxis Ardent tyres to the Bizango. For easier and drier trails the Ardent really zips along, but something with more aggressive side lugs would be a good idea if you intend riding gnarly trails or want to adventure out in the wet. In fact Voodoo has done just that by fitted gnarlier tyres to the £925 Bizango Pro, a new deluxe version of this bike, but there’s nothing stopping you fitting a Maxxis High Roller II or similar to the front of this bike; you may even be able to get a Halfords dealer to do that for you.
All of the cables are still routed neatly underneath the down tube and there are now cable mounts and a port at the bottom of the seat tube for fitting a dropper post. The bike still runs the Boost 141 QR system at the rear axle – it’s slightly wider spaced than a normal 135mm QR dropout, so you get extra wheel stiffness but still runs a quick release axle for convenience.
Up front, the bike is equipped with the same 120mm travel SR Suntour Raidon suspension fork as previous years. It’s air-sprung, so it is lightweight and easy to adjust for different rider weights – which is rare at this price, as most bikes have simpler coil sprung forks. It also has hydraulic damping so if you want to stiffen the fork on the climbs or when bowling along on tarmac it has a simple low-speed compression adjuster. And to help keep you splatter- free, there’s also a new mini-mudguard bolted to the back of the brace. The fork has a proper Boost bolt-thru axle too to increase stiffness, although there is a ‘knack’ to operating the Suntour Q-Loc axle, so don’t throw away the instructions.
Voodoo Bizango first ride review
If you look at the silhouette you can see the Bizango also has a new shape profile – it has a longer reach (15mm on the size large), gets a 2° slacker head angle and a longer wheelbase. With the wider handlebar, it feels more rangy and surefooted on challenging trails, so I could ride it harder. That extra give in the frame really helps soften the blows when you’re hitting stuff at full tilt and it makes a big difference on a long ride too as you get less fatigue.
And while Voodoo has made some big changes to the handling of the Bizango it’s also offering a couple of ancillary benefits to new owners. The first is crash replacement cover, but this isn’t one of those deals where you get a replacement frame at 50%. The company will replace the whole frame free of charge, and you only have to pay for the labour cost of swapping parts over onto the new frame. That is literally unheard of in this industry.
Bizango was a secret voodoo society, it’s obviously where the name came from and if you buy one of the new bikes you too can be in a sort of secret club via Voodoo VIP Membership.
How do you do that? You look on the top tube because hidden in amongst the decals is a serial number unique to that specific bike, and it can be used to log into a Voodoo VIP members area on the Halfords website. There you can gain access to exclusive offers, discounts and even Voodoo accessories that cannot be bought elsewhere.
So even though the price of the Bizango has crept up by £100 to £750, it is still in its original mbr Hardtail of the Year category, although it remains to be seen whether the competition will be. I reckon with the changes to the frame, geometry, handling and the components, as well as all those extra incentives, they more than make up for the increase in cost. The Voodoo Bizango looks better, rides better and, if you’re looking for your first proper hardtail, it’s a must buy. No other bike at this price comes close, it really is that good.