Press & Reviews / Bahookie Rohloff
Written by Steve Williams
Customisable and versatile steel hardtail with a hint of luxury.
Built in Scotland and still small-scale, Shand switched to building production bikes in 2011 after eight years building one-off custom frames. The Columbus steel-boned Bahookie is its do-it-all trail bike.
This gearbox-toting version is one of three – it’s also available as a carbon-forked singlespeed or conventionally-geared hardtail – but with interchangeable dropouts, an eccentric bottom bracket and even a split rear triangle, the scope for drivetrain and fork customisation is unlimited. The 44mm headtube means it takes any fork steerer you care to poke at it, and it even has internal routing for Stealth-style dropper posts.
The last point is good news, because despite its utilitarian aspects the Bahookie is a fun bike with a playful feel. Ours had a 27.2mm post shimmed to fit the 31.6mm seat tube, and its inherent extra flex -combined with chunky 2.25in back tyre, a pliant rear triangle and Shand’s own Charge Spoon-like saddle – made the Bahookie a surprisingly comfy place to be. That shim and bolted seat collar made dropping and raising the saddle awkward, however. It’s a misfit with this spec, whose well-damped 100mm RockShox Reba fork and aggressively treaded Schwalbe tyres encourage descending silliness.
The 2.25in rear Nobby Nic is a bit toothier than necessary, though it’s Schwalbe’s harder Pacestar rubber so rolling speed and wear rates are at least maximised. You’d struggle to get anything bigger than this in anyway, as clearance is already noticeably tight at the back.
Note that since this review was written, the stays on the Bahookie have been tweaked to provide greater clearance and will now accept a 2.35 tyre comfortably.
The Hans Dampf on the front is specced in the softer Trailstar compound for great all-round grip, and to be fair it’s not just this and suspension egging you on, the frame does too. And that’s despite the Rohloff Speedhub giving the bike a very rearwards weight balance that detracts from techy-trail popping and hopping.
Despite a steep 70-degree head angle the Bahookie is pretty stable even at speed, while the longish front (624mm toptube) and fairly tight 442mm chainstays put you in a good place when the tyres start to slide. It drifts through corners predictably, showing little desire to tuck that big 29in front wheel under itself.
At the other end of the scale, rear rack mounts and three sets of bottle mounts make it long-trip friendly, and the Rohloff hub gearing keeps all those delicate moving parts beyond the reach of mud, water or collisions. The twin-cabled gripshift takes more effort and movement than triggers, but the 14 ratios offer a good range and shifts are mostly silent and very rapid.
The spec, as you might hope given the price, is lovely. Shimano XT brakes, Chris King headset, Middleburn cranks, Thomson bars… It’s high-quality componentry that will last, and its high-end Niobium steel chassis will make you smile. Until, perhaps, you look at that £980 frame-only price. The Bahookie has the style, character and ability to make you smile whenever you get on it – if you can afford it.
A beautifully made, fun and very versatile bike, but a premium price.
So it turns out that even choosing a simple bike isn’t really simple. And if you equate ‘simple’ with ‘usable,’ there’s such a thing as too simple. Cannondale’s Trail singlespeed is the exact point where low weight and minimal clutter cease to pay off, at least in terms of performance. Like going to the moon, you should choose to do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard.
At the other end of the scale, we really struggled to choose between the Genesis and the Shand for the win. The Genesis is fun, useful, surprisingly modern, rugged and cheap. You really can’t go wrong with it, and it’s unlikely to go wrong on you. Eventually though the Shand just pipped it thanks to its huge versatility with drivetrains and forks, its abundant and highly customisable style and the fact it’s a fun thing to ride almost anywhere.
Very good, one of the best you can buy.