In 2019 Hope released their short travel 29’er the HB.130. I have been lucky enough to own one since June 2020 and can honestly say I love the bike! So, when Hope offered me the chance to try out their new Mullet conversation kit, I jumped at the chance!
The Conversion Kit
First things first ‐ fitting the conversation kit. I’m not the most mechanically minded person, I can change a tire, bleed a brake, but that’s about as far as it goes. Thankfully, Hope sent super clear instructions with the kit, making the whole process a lot less stressful! I started by setting up the Fortus 26w 27.5 rear wheel tubeless using the rim tape and valve included with the kit. This was probably the most time‐consuming part of the process – which didn’t actually take long at all with a little help from a workshop compressor. Fitting the new rocker link was plain and simple! Ensure that you have a 5, 6 and 8mm allen key, some grease and loctite and you are good to go! The whole conversation process took less than an hour including the rear wheel set up.
Due to the new rocker link, the geometry of the HB130 is pretty similar in mullet mode and 29’er mode. The new rocker, however, doesn’t allow you to use the flip chip to change between high and low modes, meaning you remain in the low and slack position with the mullet. The 27.5 rear wheel allows for more tire clearance, meaning if you wanted you could easily fit aggressive tires up to 2.4”, (which are needed for the Welsh weather) rather than conservative 2.3” on the 29’er.
My biggest concern swapping to the mullet was the climbing capability. The 29’er climbs so well. I was worried it would fall short. However, I was presently surprise. The large front wheel still allows you to easily travel over the rough stuff and the smaller back wheel provides a slightly easier gear ratio. Due to the small rear wheel, you do travel slightly slower for the same amount of effort, however this isn’t massively noticeable.
When riding downhill on the mullet I can not complain! It is quicker off the mark than the 29’er due to the smaller rear wheel being able to accelerate quicker, but able to maintain speed over rough terrain due to the larger front. The back wheel can get sucked up into smaller compressions more than the 29’er, however I found that my line choice quickly adapted to compensate for this. The smaller rear wheel really comes into its own on the steeper, techier trails, which are littered across South Wales. It is super manoeuvrable around tighter switch backs where the larger rear wheels can be a hinderance. The smaller rear wheel is easier to move around and makes the bike a lot more playful. Being a smaller rider, of 5’3 I feel as though I have more control over the mullet and less likely to get tyre buzz when tackling larger features.
I think there is a place for both set ups in my riding. For longer pedalling days in the mountains, I would stick to the 29’er set up for greater pedalling efficiency. For park days, and steeper, more technical riding I would choose the mullet as its super playful and all‐round great fun! Now my rear wheel is set up it is easy to swap between the two depending on what I have planned. It’s like owning two bikes in one!