Thomson Hooch Titanium Hardtail In for review

Last April, Thomson announced the release of a new hardtail mountain bike called The Hooch. The component brand, known primarily for high-end bike parts, offers Hooch build kits that include a Thomson-branded stem, handlebar, seatpost and seat clamp. Buyers will need to source the rest of the parts, including a drivetrain, fork and wheels for a complete bike. I recently got a Hooch built for testing, and here’s a look at the ride.

First a bit of background on the Thomson brand. The company got its start in 1981, although bike parts arrived more than a decade later in 1996. The head badge pictured above showing an airplane flying above the clouds gives a clue to the origins of the brand. According to Bike Thomson’s parent company website, “Since 1981, LH Thomson has been a leader in creating aerospace parts and assemblies through precision CNC manufacturing. With a focus on superior quality and innovative manufacturing and engineering, Thomson has earned a reputation for manufacturing complex parts to the highest standards and specifications set by some of the world’s leading companies.

The framework

The Hooch is constructed 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 handcrafted in Taiwan, where the trademark titanium posts and handlebars are also manufactured.

The frame has internal cable entries on either side of the downtube, and each entry can accept one or two cables or hoses. The dropper remote cable briefly exits the downtube to jump over the seat tube, while the rear brake hose and derailleur cable exit under the downtube. 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-inches wide. My test bike seems 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 to be some wiggle room with the travel up front.

Depending on the wheels, drivetrain, fork and other parts selected, the complete build weights of the Hooch will vary greatly. For reference, this particular build weighs 29.3 pounds with pedals and a water bottle cage.

Geometry

The bike I’m testing is a size large. A 66.5° head tube angle tilts the bike toward the hardcore hardtail camp, though the 455mm (size wide) reach is pretty short by most standards. The 27.5-inch wheels and 430mm chainstays promise a playful trail character while the 73.5° seat tube angle should make the climbs quite tolerable.

S M L
REACH 404mm 423mm 455mm
UPPER TUBE LENGTH 590 609mm 640mm
PILE 626mm 626mm 626mm
WHEELBASE 1130mm 1149mm 1186mm
BASE LENGTH 430mm 430mm 430mm
FRONT CENTER 710mm 730mm 761mm
BB DROP 53mm 53mm 53mm
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
FORK RAKE 51mm 51mm 51mm
ATC FORK 546mm 546mm 546mm

building

I will do my best to avoid talking about components on this test bike that are NOT part of the build available for purchase from Thomson. Basically, all the parts that come with the build kit can all be categorized as cockpit end caps and a dropper.

Starting with the bars, this build features Thomson TR 35C carbon handlebars. Buyers can choose between aluminum, carbon, or titanium bars and, of course, costs vary depending on the selection. The bars I test 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; Stem lengths of 32mm and 40mm are also available.

Although Thomson manufactures fixed posts for mountain biking, all versions of Hooch mountain bikes naturally come with a Thomson Covert dropper post. My full-size 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, as well as Thomson headset spacers in silver or black.

One non-Thomson piece of the puzzle worth mentioning on this test bike is the custom wheelset built with Nox carbon rims and Factor hubs. The rims are 26mm wide and the rear hub offers 5° engagement. Again, this isn’t something Thomson includes with the build kit; buyers will need to supply their own wheels.

What I hope to learn

On paper, the Hooch is a bit of a headache. The reach is short, the wheels aren’t 29ers, and the bottom bracket is tall. So what gives? This is the question that I hope the tests will answer. My hunch is that the Hooch is designed for a specific type of riding, and one that isn’t 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 works. 🚵‍♀️💨

Frame kits that include a stem, bar and dropper post start at $3,295 and are available through the Thomson website.

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