Back in April Thomson announced the release of a new hardtail mountain bike called The Hooch. The component brand, known primarily for high-end bike parts, is offering Hooch build kits featuring a Thomson-branded stem, handlebar, seat post, and seat collar. Buyers will need to source the rest of the pieces, including a drivetrain, fork, and wheels for a complete bike. I recently received a Hooch built up for testing, and here’s a preview of the ride.
First a bit of background about the Thomson brand. The company got its start in 1981, though bike parts would come more than a decade later, in 1996. The head badge pictured above showing an airplane flying above the clouds gives a hint to the brand’s origins. According to Bike Thomson’s parent company website, “Since 1981, L.H. Thomson has been a leader in creating aerospace parts and assemblies through CNC precision manufacturing. By focusing on superior quality and innovative manufacturing and engineering, Thomson has established a reputation for making complex parts to the highest standards and specifications set forth by some of the largest companies in the world.”
The Hooch is built using “3al 2.5v aircraft grade titanium” tubing. While the company’s main operations are centered in Macon, Georgia, about an hour south of Atlanta, the Hooch frame is handmade in Taiwan where the brand’s titanium posts and handlebars are manufactured as well.
The frame features internal cable inlets on either side of the down tube, and each inlet can accept either one or two cables or hoses. The dropper remote cable briefly exits the down tube to jump over to the seat tube, while the rear brake hose and derailleur cable exit on the underside of the down tube. Mounts for a single bottle cage are included inside the front triangle.
Thomson says the frame is designed to accept 27.5-inch tires up to 2.4″ wide. My test bike appears to offer plenty of clearance with 2.4s, and depending on the rider’s risk tolerance, a slightly wider tire will probably work fine too. A 140mm fork puts this bike in its sweet spot in terms of geometry and ride feel, though there is likely some wiggle room with the travel up front.
Depending on the wheels, drivetrain, fork, and other parts selected, complete build weights for the Hooch will vary widely. As a point of reference, this particular build weighs 29.3lbs with pedals and a bottle cage.
The bike I’m testing is a size large. A 66.5° head tube angle leans the bike toward the hardcore hardtail camp, though the 455mm reach (size large) is fairly short by most standards. The 27.5-inch wheels and 430mm chain stays promise a playful trail character while the 73.5° seat tube angle should make climbs quite tolerable.
|TOP TUBE LENGTH||590||609mm||640mm|
|SEAT TUBE ANGLE||73.5°||73.5°||73.5°|
|HEAD TUBE ANGLE||66.5°||66.5°||66.5°|
|SEAT TUBE LENGTH||410mm||440mm||470|
|HEAD TUBE LENGTH||100mm||100mm||100mm|
I’m going to try my best to avoid talking about the components on this test bike that are NOT part of the build that’s available for purchase from Thomson. Basically, all the parts supplied with the build kit can all be classified as cockpit bits and a dropper.
Starting at the bars, this build features Thomson TR 35C carbon handlebars. Buyers can choose from aluminum, carbon, or titanium bars and obviously there are different costs depending on the selection. The bars I’m testing are 800mm wide with a 10mm rise (the 35mm-diameter carbon bars are also available with a 20mm rise). A 35mm-diameter, 50mm-long Elite X4 stem grips the bars; 32mm and 40mm stem lengths are also available.
While Thomson does make fixed posts for mountain biking, naturally all of the Hooch mountain bike builds come with a Thomson Covert dropper post. My size large test bike has a post with 150mm of travel, and 100mm and 125mm versions can also be selected. There’s even a Thomson seat collar included, along with Thomson headset spacers in silver or black.
One non-Thomson piece of the puzzle that bears mentioning on this test bike is the custom wheel set built up with Nox carbon rims and Factor hubs. The rims are 26mm wide and the rear hub provides 5° of engagement. Again, this is not something Thomson includes with the build kit; buyers will need to supply their own wheels.
What I’m hoping to learn
On paper, the Hooch is a bit of a head scratcher. The reach is short, the wheels aren’t 29er, and the bottom bracket is high. So what gives? That’s the question I’m hoping testing will answer. My hunch is the Hooch is designed for a specific type of riding, and one that’s not necessarily unique to the Southeast but is certainly found here in abundance.
Stay tuned, because there’s only one way to find out how the Hooch performs. 🚵♀️💨
Frame kits including a stem, bar, and dropper post are priced starting at $3,295 and are available through the Thomson website.