First Rides: Hammerhead’s Hard-Charging Thumper Trail Bike

Note:  In response to customer feedback, Hammerhead have rechristened the Thumper the 120X.  Get the scoop here!

Hammerhead Bikes’ isn’t a ride for the shy.  At least in our neck of the woods, the full-suspension trail 29er, with its nice details, sexy build, and sparkly black cherry paint attracts a lot of questions.

What is it?

A 140mm front/120mm rear trail bike.

Who makes it?

The newly reborn Hammerhead Bikes out of Tulsa, OK.

Is it awesome? 

You’ll have to jump the break to find out!

Known from its birth in 2009 until last fall as 918XC (after Tulsa’s area code), the physical and online shop that gave birth to the Thumper have long been 29er boosters.  When 918XC merged with Austin’s Hammerhead Bikes, their intent was to remain true to the brand that once sold private labeled, long (for the time) travel 100mm Titus Racer Xs- a progenitor of the modern trail bike.  The Thumper is the result.

Made in Taiwan of 6061 aluminum, the Thumper uses a similar Horst Link-enabled four-bar linkage to its predecessor, something made possible by the expiration of the patent Specialized purchased from its namesake Horst Leitner ages ago.  The design is brought up to date with a tapered, AngleSet compatible head tube, 142x12mm Maxle thru axle rear, native post mount rear brake mounts, ISCG tabs, dropper hose routing, and a high direct mount front derailleur.  Cartridge bearings throughout and an up-to-date Kashima-coated Fox CTD float rear shock keep things supple.  All this for $1,500 for the frame ($1,815 with a 31.6mm RockShox Reverb dropper post), $5,299 as tested.

Our size large frame has a rangy 620mm (24.4in) top tube and shares its 17.5in chainstays and 68 degree head angle with the other three sizes (S-XL).  A bare medium frame is said to come in at under 7lb and our complete trail-ready build hit the trail at almost exactly 30lb once 1.5lb of pedals, sealant, and bottle cage were added.  After the well-executed frame, it’s the build that signals the Hammerhead team’s trail riding experience.  From an XO drivetrain and XO trail brakes to the 140mm RockShox Revelation 29er fork and Reverb dropper to the sensible 24-36 double crankset and wide Truvativ bars and a swank Reynolds carbon fiber wheelset, our test bike’s build leave nothing to be desired.

On the trail, the Thumper is one planted, determined ride.  Largely unflapplable, the rear suspension is supple without ever feeling boggy.  Small-bump performance is excellent but doesn’t come at expense of efficiency, even with the CTD shock in its most open “Descend” setting.  For general trail riding, setting the “Trail” mode to its lightest compression seems to work best- allowing the suspension to maintain traction on loose and technical climbs without interfering excessively when things get rough.  On long or nasty descents, a quick flick to the “Descend” position lets the bike handle all manner of rough stuff- up until the 120mm travel is consumed.

Hammerhead should be proud of the Thumper’s suspension tune.  There are plenty of bikes on the market from bigger brands that don’t balance small-bump capability,  big-bump composure, and pedaling efficiency nearly as well. Frame stiffness is impressive and the weight is very reasonable for the bike’s intended use- especially given its price.

With its 30lb trail weight, the Thumper will never be described as sprightly- though it does pedal lighter than the scale would suggest.  It takes a good amount of speed (and commitment) to really work the bike, though.  Up until that point, the Thumper seems happiest when left to handle rough terrain head-on and without much rider interference.  A very short stem (something in the 60-70mm range) does make line changes easier at climbing’s expense- but the Thumper never quite feels playful.  The Hammerhead’s planted, steamroller feel will appeal to existing 29er fans- but probably won’t sell many 26in holdouts or 650b converts.  For anyone looking for a rough and ready 29er trail bike, the Thumper has some of the best big-wheel rear suspension I’ve ridden at a price that would be hard to beat.

marc

www.hammerheadbikes.com

Comments

A Texan - 12/20/12 - 9:05am

The graphics make it look like a Wal-Mart bike

RC - 12/20/12 - 9:47am

Love the name! Way to go HammerHead!!

Mindless - 12/20/12 - 11:09am

They did not get the 650b memo?

kevin - 12/20/12 - 11:38am

$1,500 is a great price for what you describe especially when compared to what the competition offers pricewise. Your write-up, while not glowing, sounds like an impressive bike.

GS1 - 12/20/12 - 12:04pm

“They did not get the 650b memo?”

Yes, but apparently they are not sheep.

IvanMTB - 12/20/12 - 12:51pm

Hi,

Cool looking bike.

Any idea about rear tire clearance? Can you fit there something like 2.3-2.4″ and still have some mud room?

Cheers!
I.

Hammerhead - 12/20/12 - 12:57pm

Thank you IvanMTB!

Plenty of clearance….hit me up at scott@hammerheadbikes.com and I can send images showing rear tire clearance

Scott

gilb - 12/20/12 - 2:26pm

am i missing something or does this bike looks identical to a kona satori minus the horst link ?
http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=satori

KJR - 12/20/12 - 3:28pm

Sweet Kona Satori, erm… wait…

JimmyZ - 12/20/12 - 10:50pm

If it’s $1500, I’m paying attention. The review makes me want to see how tight it turns in contrast with a 29er stumpjumper.

Mindless - 12/21/12 - 2:53am

@GS1: Most 29r riders are sheep. They had been told that bigger is better and they jumped on it, even when it does not fit them well, nor perform any appreciably better for their riding.

650b is a much better compromise for bikes with suspension.

Dag - 12/21/12 - 7:57am

I don’t usually care… but with this frame, I definately have to remove those downtube decals. Ouch. Who OK’ed that?

Marc - 12/21/12 - 9:54am

Kevin,

The Thumper is a hugely impressive bike. The suspension is fantastic and the solidity pretty amazing. Riders who want to ‘point & shoot’ will love it, but to take it to the next level and really work the bike takes more effort than some other bikes.

marc

Marc - 12/21/12 - 9:58am

Gilb & KJR,

Hammerhead’s intent is certainly similar to Kona’s with the Satori. But it’s the Horst Link that makes the Thumper a true four bar design, tailors the axle path, and keeps it active during braking. Though it’s possible to make four bars that ride poorly and single pivots that ride very well, they’re very different starting points.

marc

Phil - 12/22/12 - 11:50am

Except for the dropout/ Horst-Link section the tube set looks identical to Konas Satori… same hydroforming, tube shapes, shock mount and linkage. Even seat and chain stays look the same on the frame side. While it´s true that a single pivot bike is inherent different to a four bar system, this is still… not so nice to look at. Bikes tend to look the same (shock position, stand over height, geo) no matter if it´s four bar, single pivot, VPP, but I still like the idea that in detail the design is still exclusive to a brand (e.g. Cannondale, Rocky Mountain, Specialized….)

timmy - 12/22/12 - 8:56pm

is it any different than this of the shelf frame?
http://www.caribou-bike.com/index.php?option=com_zoo&task=item&item_id=13&category_id=4&Itemid=271

EricNM - 12/25/12 - 6:51pm

@Mindless:
…you forgot to tell the kids to get off your lawn…

Charles Coker - 02/04/13 - 12:31pm

As the original guy behind Hammerhead I was quite stoked with Scott started talking with me about these bikes..

I have a lot of time on a lot of high end FS 29ers..
I had the first Intense Spyder 29er in the country, rode an Evolve for 5 years and am riding a Sultan for the last 7 months.

The Hammerhead is a very well balanced bike, it climbs great, corners great, bombs downhill, etc..
It is much more nimble than one would think..

The frame is stiff and tracks great.

It’s a damned good riding bike and I have NO financial interest in the new Hammerhead.

HAMMERHEAD!!!!

Mindless - 02/07/13 - 4:06am

@EricNM: Get the f off my lawn.

Denny - 08/14/13 - 11:34am

B-but K-kona

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