A beautifully made and sweetly handling adventure bike, but the hub gearing means this build isn't for everyone
Dec 12 2017
Sweet handling, well featured and beautifully made steel frame
Loads of custom options, from colour to geometry
It's made in the UK
Rohloff hub hates shifting under loads, making technical riding trickier
Not cheap, especially if you dig into the options list
You're serious about long distance adventuring and value durability and low maintenance in your gearing
Shand's Bahookie Dropbar Rohloff is a beautifully made and hugely versatile adventure bike that'd handle a self-supported, round-the-world trip with ease. However, the gearbox hub and shift system fitted to this particular bike compromise it as a more rounded off-road adventure machine, so unless you plan on touring huge mileages and no maintenance, we'd swerve the Rohloff version.
Shand is one of the very few brands that actually build their bikes in the UK, with all their steel frames being welded together in Livingston, Scotland. The Bahookie is designed to be the most versatile bike in their range, capable of off-road touring and adventuring, whether fully laden or not. There are two versions of the bike, one designed for flat bars and this one, which has geometry specifically tweaked to work with drop bars.
The TIG welded Columbus steel frame is designed to be incredibly versatile, with Boost hub spacing on the frame and fork giving it the ability to run it with 29" wheels with up to a 2.5" tyre or 27.5" wheels with extra fat 3" Plus tyres. The clever modular 'PolyDrop' dropouts and eccentric bottom bracket shell allow you to run it as a singlespeed, with derailleur gears or, as here, with a belt driven Rohloff hub gearbox.
As custom as you like
There are carbon and steel fork options, with the latter coming covered in versatile cage mounts that'll allow you to stick anything from your sleeping bag to a stove on them, plus internal routing for a dynamo hub to power your lights or gadgets. The frame geometry is corrected so that you can also run a suspension fork should you prefer a bit more comfort.
For an extra £200 over list price, it's possible to get custom geometry to fine tune the bike to your preferences. Add a little extra cash and you can also pick from an extended range of colour finishes or a completely custom colour but our complete test bike was bone stock from start to finish, coming with SRAM Rival hydraulic brakes, a 14 speed Rohloff hub gear, steel forks and 29" wheels running 2.2" wide Continental Race King tyres.
It's possible to spec a Bahookie in a dizzying number of ways straight from the factory, with various gearing, braking and tyre/wheel combos, but the one thing all complete bikes share in common is the Rohloff hub gear. If you're unfamiliar with the unit, it offers 14 evenly spaced gears covering a 526% gear range and it's possible to use it with a chain or, as here, a Gates Carbon belt drive. The latter has the advantage that it doesn't need lubrication and will never rust, unlike a chain. Gates also claim that it doesn't stretch and will give you more than double the lifespan of a chain.
The only difficulty is that a Rohloff unit doesn't come with a drop bar shifter option from the factory, with there being only a flat bar twist shifter on offer. That's because the hub gear need two cables to both push and pull it through the range of gears, so conventional shifters that rely on the derailleur's spring tension to work against simply can't function.
That means that Shand has had to look to the aftermarket to get this configuration to work. One of the same-cost options they give is the Co-Motion twist shifter that mounts near to your stem, which Shand pairs with TRP's Hylex brakes and levers. The main disadvantage of this system is that you need to move your hand off the drops to change gear.
That makes the second option preferable for most people, pairing a set of modified hydraulic SRAM Rival DoubleTap levers with a little widget made by Gebla that sits near the hub. The function is rather different than with a derailleur system, as pushing one lever shifts up the gears while the other shifts down them. That means you can keep your hands covering the brakes whether on the hoods or drops and still shift, which is always useful when riding off-road terrain.
Hub love, hub hate
The way a Rohloff hub gear functions is quite hugely divisive. Some people love them for their durability, as their sealed internals and the complete lack of anything exposed to the elements save for the chain or belt means it's very hard to damage or wear them, whether in normal use or a crash. They can do literally thousands of miles without needing to be touched and even then an oil change is often the sum total of the maintenance needed.
While I can appreciate that's of huge interest to a very specific subset of cyclist, whether they be mega-distance munchers or the totally maintenance phobic, I found the downsides outweighed the potential advantages for less extreme distance off-road riding and touring. The hub gear itself feels graunchy and draggy - and regardless of how much mechanical loss of power is due to the hub - I found it got rather tedious, especially in lower gears where the sensation is magnified. On extended climbs I found myself obsessing over how much power I might have been losing to it, which wasn't a very Zen state of affairs. Rohloff aficionados swear down that the hub smoothens up after a few thousand kilometres, but I think I'd find that an awful long time to put up with it beforehand - serious tourers maybe less so.
If you're keen on riding more technical terrain, then you really need to pay a huge amount of attention to planning your shifts as the hub really does not like shifting under load, so any panicky attempts to drop gears if you've been caught out by a sudden rise are treated with sullen reluctance at best and outright refusal at worst. That's compounded by a tendency to sometimes jump to a much higher gear than the one you were after, stalling your momentum entirely. Treat it nicely and back off slightly during each shift and it's perfectly fine, but that's sometimes a luxury unavailable to you, especially if you were riding a full loaded bike.
To add insult to injury, the Gebla conversion means that the lever throw required to get the unit to shift is much greater than usual. On longer rides that contoured up and down constantly and required frequent shifting, I found my wrists starting to ache as I had to twist them so far round the hoods to engage the next gear. I'm sure that people with bigger paws and tougher wrists wouldn't struggle, but for the type of mixed off-road riding I like, I'd have gladly sacrificed any number of derailleurs and chains to the gods of the trail not to have to put up with it.
A heart of gold
Of course, my grumbling preference for one system over another rather misses the point of the Bahookie. When solely focused on how the frame rode, it was a pleasure. The front end is pretty tall but there's decent space in both reach and top tube, so it'd quite happily tackle pretty challenging little descents whether on the hoods or the slightly flared drops of the Shand branded bar. The extra length of the steel fork meant there was a little bit of extra give to it, while the fact that Shand has specced a 30.9mm seat tube but the bike actually runs a 27.2mm post with a shim as standard means your bottom doesn't get as beaten as you might expect. Even better for people interested in making the ultimate freaky off-road drop bar hybrid, you can fit an internally routed dropper post.
I'd imagine that with the possibilities opened up by the various wheel size options, you could get a Bahookie to do whatever you fancied, whether with mile-munching, fast rolling 29" rubber or more playful semi-fat Plus tyres for bouncing up, down and over rocks and roots. There's enough versatility there to do pretty much whatever you wanted, whether having a crack at a trail centre black or loading it up to the gills and heading off into the horizon, while the stock geometry is a good enough blend of agility and stability that it's more than capable of doing those in comfort.
In this particular build, the bike weighs an impressive 12.8kg, so it's no great hardship to get up the hills, hub grumbles notwithstanding. The Hope wheelset is a tough and longlasting bit of kit from experience, and while the Continental Race King tyres aren't overly grippy on wet surfaces or mud, they do roll very well on hardpacked terrain.
I've found SRAM's Rival brakes to be plenty powerful in other applications, so it was a bit of surprise that they started to feel really gutless on this bike after a few dirty and gritty miles. That might well have been down to the non-standard Hope rotors fitted to the bike - necessary at the rear to fit onto the hub's special mount - or contaminated pads, but it was odd, to say the least.
Elsewhere on the bike, all the kit performs really well. The Shand branded finishing kit and RaceFace crankset isn't maybe as nice as you'd hope to see on a bike costing over £3.5K without any suspension, but you're always going to pay a premium for a frame built in the UK from top quality materials and that Rohloff hub is a major part of the cost too, considering it retails at £1050.
All in all, the Shand Bahookie Dropbar is a lovely thing, both to appreciate for how it's made and how it rides. In this particular guise, it'd make an excellent long distance tourer, but certainly, for me, I find the Rohloff and Gebla shift system too much of a compromise when it comes to riding more varied and technical off-road terrain. The lack of shifting under power was an absolute killer when trying to make progress. I don't doubt that comment will have Rohloff die hards screaming at their screens in anger, but that's the beauty of the Bahookie - you can buy it as a frame and build it however you like thanks to the inherent versatility of the design.
Test report Shand Bahookie Dropbar Rohloff £3,695.00X
About the bike
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own :
"The Bahookie in it's drop-bar guise is definitely the most versatile bike in our range. Inspired by multi-day/multi-week self-supported rides like the Tour Divide and our own HT550 and Cairngorm Loop, the Bahookie is built to get you through the hardest of times and the wildest of terrain."
State the frame material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.:
Frame Tig welded Columbus Niobium heat-treated steel. S-Bend stays for tyre and heel clearance. Optimised geometry for drop bar off-road riding. Sloping top tube. Front facing binder slot. Derailleur, singlespeed, Rohloff Speedhub, 148x12 (Boost) and belt-drive compatible.
Frame weight (medium size) : 2060g
Fork Shand steel, 'Anything Cage' mounts, lowrider mounts, mudguard eyes, internal dynamo routing. Carbon fork option (no bosses).
Headtube/headset 44mm. Cane Creek 110 headset installed on complete bike.
Bottom bracket 73mm PF30 BB Shell.
Seattube 30.9/27.2mm (with supplied shim) seatpost
Rear dropouts Polydrop dropouts compatible (with additional inserts) with Rohloff, singlespeed, 148x12, direct mount and standard derailleur transmissions. Fully compatible with belt-drive.
Cable routing Down tube, full outer bolt on guides. Versatile guides for Rohloff, singlespeed or derailleur transmissions without the need for zip ties or unnecessary and unused bosses.
Fittings 3 sets of bottle mounts, rack mounts, mudguard eyes as standard.
Tyres Continental RaceKing 2.2 Front and Rear, Tubeless setup option, 650B+ option
Wheels Rohloff SpeedHub/Hope TechXC, Hope Pro4/TechXC
Headset Cane Creek 110
Bars Shand 6º Flare
Shifters SRAM/GEBLA Integrated Shifting (Co-Motion Twist Shifter option)
Brakes Sram Rival Hydraulic Discs (TRP Spyre cable brake option)
Front Mech n/a
Rear Mech n/a
Chain Gates Carbon Beltdrive (chain drive option)
Crank Race Face Aeffect
Bottom Bracket PF30 BB
Cassette Gates Carbondrive sprocket
Frame & Fork
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.:
It's a classically comfy steel frame, not too stiff, not too noodly.
Overall rating for frame
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame:
Nicely welded, durable paint - really beautifully put together
Tell us about the geometry of the frame:
For size Large frame:
Head angle 69º
Seat angle 73º
Top tube 600mm
Seat tube 495mm
Tell us about the materials used in the frame:
Tig welded Columbus Niobium heat-treated steel. S-Bend stays for tyre and heel clearance. Optimised geometry for drop bar off-road riding. Sloping top tube. Front facing binder slot. Derailleur, singlespeed, Rohloff Speedhub, 148x12 (Boost) and belt-drive compatible.
Frame weight (medium size, claimed) : 2060g
Fork: Shand steel, 'Anything Cage' mounts, lowrider mounts, mudguard eyes, internal dynamo routing.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?:
The Rohloff and belt drive don't make it feel like the most efficient ride
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive?:
It's pretty lively, but i imagine that helps keep it reasonably agile once it's fully laden.
Rate the bike for sprinting:
Any comments on sprinting?:
Don't bother, really.
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Tell us some more about the fork. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any features which didn't work well together?:
Loads of mounts, tapered steerer, Boost through axle
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Any comments on drivetrain durability?:
It'll last a long, long time with very little maintenance
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Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well to:
The Rohloff doesn't like shifting under power, sometimes mis-shifts and the Gebla conversion means the SRAM levers have a huge throw before they engage the next gear. It takes a lot of getting used to and I found the large throw created hand pain if you're constantly shifting. If you're just grinding away rather than riding anything technical, then it'd be acceptable but it really hampers the bike on techy off-road sections.
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Wheels & tyres
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Would you recommend the bike to a friend?:
If they were planning to ride around the world off-road then yes.
Jon is the editor here at off.road.cc. Whether it's big days out on the gravel bike or hurtling down technical singletracks, if it's got two wheels and can be ridden on dirt, then he's into it. He's previously been technical editor at BikeRadar.com, editor at What Mountain Bike Magazine and also web editor at Singletrackworld.co.uk. Yes, he's been around the houses.