The Bizango Pro is the top tier of the aluminium Voodoo hardtail mountain bike range, building upon the name of the award-winning Bizango. The bikes have been treated to a geometry update, giving them slacker head angles and steeper seat tubes, with the intention of making them more comfortable and controlled. The Pro model has the most generous spec, namely a RockShox FS-35 Gold 130mm fork, 12-speed Shimano drivetrain and Maxxis tyres. This high-quality spec, its up-to-date geometry and the scope for upgrades means it stands proudly on the top step of the podium in our Budget Mountain Bike of the Year category for 2023. If it’s carbon on a budget you’re looking for, Voodoo updated the Carbon Bizango Pro last year and for the £1,650 price tag – weighing in at 12.4kg – it also represents good value for money.
Voodoo Bizango Pro frame and specifications
The Bizango Pro is a leader in the budget mountain bike catgeory. Rolling on 29in wheels, the triple-butted aluminium frame contributes to the light weight of 13.3kg (on my scales). The Bizango Pro model is built around a 130mm-travel fork with Boost thru-axles front (15x110mm) and rear (12x148mm). The tapered head tube ensures it’s ready for a high-quality suspension fork upgrade. Not that we think you’ll need it, considering it comes with the air-sprung RockShox FS-35 Gold with adjustable rebound and the option of adding bottomless tokens to further tune it to your riding style. That’s something we usually only see on more expensive mountain bikes. A spare cable port enables the fitting of an internally routed dropper post. With a post diameter of 31.6mm, you have a wide variety to choose from.
Shimano’s MT410 brakes performed well, but lacked a little bite. The rear brake and gear cables are routed externally underneath the down tube, where there are bottle bosses on the top and underside of the down tube. The Pro is fitted with Shimano Deore MT401 disc brakes, with 180/160mm rotors. The wheelset consists of Shimano Boost, thru-axle hubs on alloy rims, wrapped in a Maxxis High Roller II 3C MaxxTerra up-front and Maxxis Rekon on the rear.
Maxxis tyres add to the Bizango’s performance, with impressive grip on all terrain types. Both tubeless-ready tyres use the lightweight EXO casing. The 12-speed 11-51t cassette on my test bike is paired with a 32T chainring. The size small has 170mm Shimano cranks, while sizes medium and above get 175mm cranks. The Bizango Pro is finished with in-house branded components, including a 780mm bar, 50mm stem, lock-on grips, seatpost and saddle.
Voodoo Bizango Pro geometry
A solid spec backs up the frame’s geometry.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74.5||74.5||74.5||74.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||66.5||66.5||66.5||66.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||410||460||480||480|
|Top tube (mm)||600||620||640||660|
|Head tube (mm)||105||110||110||120|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||65||65||65||65|
|Crank length (mm)||170||175||175||175|
Voodoo Bizango Pro ride impressions
A high stack height (646mm) on our size-small test bike is the only complaint we could make about the Bizango. I tested the Bizango Pro in varied weather conditions on the trails of Scotland’s Glentress trail centre and forest. It quickly became clear the capabilities of the Bizango Pro were going to extend further than the Glentress’ flowy blues and reds. Therefore, I threw increasingly technical natural trails into the mix. The Bizango Pro boasts the most progressive geometry of our Budget Mountain Bike of the Year contenders, with a relatively slack 66.5-degree head angle and 74.5-degree seat angle.
The tyres offer plenty of grip, while the fork is able to absorb bumps well. The size-small bike I tested had a wheelbase of 1,151mm and a reach of 420mm, which is relatively long for size small, especially given the 600mm effective top tube is similar in length to the medium Vitus Sentier 29. Straight out of the blocks, this bike gave me a feeling of instant confidence. It corners really well through bermed and unsupported turns. I was able to relax into the ride and get the bike leant over thanks to the progressive geometry, decent power in the brakes and grip from the Maxxis tyres.
Its 74.5-degree seat tube angle felt great on the climbs. The stability and control comes from being placed in the centre of the bike, thanks to the frame’s balanced proportions of the front and rear triangle. The only aspect I would change is the stack height (647mm), which felt tall for me as a short rider. I felt it was more difficult to get my weight over the front wheel, particularly when compared to the Marin Bobcat Trail 5 at 599.3mm or Specialized Rockhopper Elite at 607mm. The Voodoo includes a large 15mm conical spacer, which increases bar height further, but this can easily be removed.
A 12-speed drivetrain is a luxury at this price point. The 1×12 Shimano 11-51t drivetrain with 30T chainring combination provides a superb range of gears for trail riding, especially for those riders new to mountain biking. The low rolling resistance of the Maxxis tyres and comfortable climbing position, thanks to the relatively steep seat angle, meant the Voodoo was forgiving of tired legs on the climbs. The steering felt easy to control on the climbs too, even when the gradient increased. I rarely needed to lock the fork out, however it was useful for commuting on the cycle path.
The versatility of the Bizango Pro helps it shine on technical and tame terrain. I was very impressed by how smooth the Voodoo was when descending on rough, worn red and black trail centre trails. The 35mm-stanchioned RockShox fork set up with 20 per cent sag worked well, soaking up small trail chatter and drops in its stride.
The RockShox 35 Gold RL offers fantastic performance out on the trail. The frame, wheels and tyres also worked their magic to take the jarring out of the landing of drops and holes in the ground. Having ridden all of the hardtails in this category back to back over the same trails, the difference in compliance of the Voodoo frame was outstanding, followed very closely by the Vitus, Marin and Cube. The detail that knocks that half-star off what would otherwise have been a 5-star rating is the poor seat tube tolerance. Oversized by 0.5mm, the 31.6mm-diameter seatpost annoyingly kept sliding down as I sat on it. I bent the seat clamp lever in an attempt to tighten it as much as I could. Carbon paste, however, just about solved the problem.
The Voodoo’s frame felt well damped in bumps. Separating the top two, the Bizango Pro and Vitus Sentier 29, to crown a Budget MTB Bike of the Year winner was no easy task. It came down to the finer details that influenced the ride feel, performance, build quality and upgrade potential. While the Voodoo has the better fork, with more tuning options to optimise performance, it’s also finished with a better choice of tyres for cycle paths, trail centres and more challenging riding.
Voodoo Bizango Pro bottom line
Whether hammering rocks or cruising at slower speeds, the Bizango feels great. It may not be the most pleasing to the eye, but the Bizango provides undeniable performance and value for money compared to the competition. The superior-quality fork, brakes and most appropriate tyres for purpose help nudge it into top spot to win our Bike of The Year Budget MTB category.