Bombtrack Beyond+ 2 Review: Up and over the Alps
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With just six years of business under its belt, Germany-based Bombtrack Bikes has grown quickly. It now offers a wide and exciting range of adventure-ready bikes, many of them designed with bikepackers in mind. Cass Gilbert takes a Bombtrack Beyond+ 2 up and over the European Alps, and reports back on the ride…
Perhaps the German brand Bombtrack has slipped under your radar? It is, after all, barely six years old. But don’t let the lack of pedigree turn you off: in the space of a few short years, Bombtrack have created an unexpectedly broad lineup of exciting and very well-considered bikes. What’s more, a good number of them are tuned for kind of adventures we know and love, be it the drop bar Beyond, the Beyond+ (Plus) series, the gravel-orientated Hooks (one of which will have suspension for 2019), or even the svelte, sharp-looking Audax, aimed at modern endurance road riding.
Certain North Americans will need to prepare themselves for disappointment, however, as neither the Beyond+ 2 (2,599 €), nor its bigger wheeled sibling, the Beyond+ Adv (2,699 €) are currently available in the US market (though you can get them in Canada). I tried the Beyond+ 2, effectively a lighter, higher specced version of the Beyond+ 1, which is available in the States for 1,999 USD. Its upgrades include a carbon fork in lieu of a steel one and a wide range SRAM Eagle GX drivetrain, complete with rock crawling 10-50 tooth cassette. Still, given how the geometry numbers are similar to that of the Beyond+ 1, this review should give you a pretty good idea of how the all-steel version of the bike is going to ride, too.
- Frame/fork: Double butted chromoly/carbon
- Angles (XL): 70° Headangle, 72.5° Seattube
- Stack/Reach: 634mm/460mm
- BB Drop/Chainstay: 65mm/440mm
- Bottom Bracket: 73mm English
- Hub specs: 12x148mm / 15×110 Thru-axle
- Seatpost: 30.9mm
- Max tire size: 27.5 x 3in or 29 x 2.25in
- Price: 2,599 Euros
As the name suggests, the Beyond Plus series is a line of bikes designed around the plus size tire format; be it 26, 27.5, or 29, they’re all around 2.8 to 3in in tire width. Now that I rarely ride a bike with suspension, it’s become my tire volume of choice, be it for rowdy dirt road explorations or more technical, trail-orientated bikepacking trips alike. Why? It’s an extremely capable wheel size with a tire pressure that can be fine-tuned for a more confident and comfortable ride. Within reason, Plus bikes claim the ability to tackle challenging terrain without the need for an expensive suspension fork, and can also be swapped out with lighter 29er wheels if you want to pep up the ride. In the case of the Beyond+ 2, this means you can also fit 29×2.3in tires an alternative to the 27.5x3in ones it comes with. Want to go bigger? The Beyond+ Adv is its 29+ specific sibling: bigger tires means easier rolling over roughstuff, but also more weight and a bigger bike to pack for overseas travel.
It’s always good to see a lineup with bikepacking aspirations woven in its DNA, which is certainly the case for the bikes that fall under the Beyond umbrella. For a start, there’s provision for five water bottle mounts to keep your thirst quenched – the fork legs feature triple bosses for the likes of an Anything Cage if cargo is more important than H20. Just be aware that the fork features a full carbon steerer tube, so it’s really important to make sure the stem plug is fitted correctly and the stem itself is clamped down to the correct torque, which could be an issue if you don’t access to a dedicated torque wrench when you’re travelling – I had some issues trying to get that right, as my initial backyard setup. The general finish of the frame is really good and amongst its detailing, it features a number of extra eyelets inside the triangle for a custom, velcro-free framebag, and the Beyond+ 2’s all carbon fork has internal routing for a dynamo hub, which is very neat. Eschewing ‘old fashioned’ quick release dropouts, the frame and fork sport thru axle Boost spacing, which lends itself well to plus-sized tires and opens up the option of fitting a modern suspension fork. If the latter is your style, you’ll be pleased to note a tidy port for internal dropper post routing.
As for the frame itself, it’s made from double butted Chromoly, a personal favourite, given its general robustness, no-nonsense resilience, and slender tubes that help maximise framebag space. It’s a definitely a more refined frame than some, with neat welds and detailing throughout. In fact, the Beyond+ 2 cuts a very clean looking line, with understated decals, though note that my test bike features a slightly different finish – matte copper rather than gloss for this year – as there weren’t any 2019 frames of my size available at the time of testing.
In terms of geometry, the Beyond + is relatively conservative, at least by the standards that modern trail bikes are moving towards. With its relatively steep 70 degree headtube (the size medium is 69 degrees) handling is definitely on the sharper end of the scale, especially given its 51mm offset fork. I only had the chance to ride it unladen a handful of times, but it was nothing less than ultra lively through flat, tight singletrack. I asked Bombtrack designer Marcellus Putschli about the choice of different head angles for different frame sizes and he told me, “On most of our bikes, we use a steeper head angle for bigger sizes, to make up for the longer wheelbase, longer stems and higher rider weight. Due to the identical stem size on the Beyond Plus bikes, we kept the changes in head angle pretty small, but I still think that those changes help to get a better working bike.” Note that the frame is compatible with a 120mm suspension fork. Set up with 20% sag, a suspension fork would slacken the head angle by about a degree and a half (and steepen the seat tube a bit too), which will definitely help with straight line descents, and open it up to wilder trails. I like a low bottom bracket to help feel ‘in’ the bike though I’d note that with a drop of 65mm, which is more than I’m used to on a trail bike, I did notice my wide, flat pedals occasionally getting caught up in narrow, rocky gullies. Speccing a 3in tire at the back or running a 29er wheelset would likely nudge it up, as the outside diameter will be a little larger.
Sizing wise, I always sit between a large and an extra large. In the case of this bike, I decided the XL was the right choice, thanks in part to a relatively short seat tube for its size (505mm) and the stock 50mm stem. By way of example, an XL Surly Karate Monkey has a 520mm seat tube, the same top tube length, and comes specced with an 80mm stem. I swapped out the specced 8-degree flat bar for a carbon SQ Labs 30X16 with a 45mm rise, as I like an upright riding position and more relief for my wrists. If you’re a fan of Jones’s H-bar, you’ll find that on the Beyond+ Adv. Handlebar tweaks aside, I basically jumped straight on the Beyond+ 2 and happily rode it close to a thousand kilometres, without the need to make any changes.
Indeed, once I’d loaded my test bike up with a set of Ortlieb bags and my Porcelain Rocket 52Hz framebag – the XL bag proved a perfect fit – I found the livelier edges of the Beyond Plus’ handling tamed, without losing the essense of its quick and nimble character. The only setup change I made was to slide the saddle a little forward on the rails to steepen the seat angle and push my weight forwards, which I felt helped for technical climbs. As someone who runs a high saddle for my height, this can really aid in keeping the nose of the bike down when pitches are especially steep… which they can be in the Alps! I’d have liked to drop the front tire pressure a little too, but kept things firm because the bike wasn’t set up tubeless and as much as I like WTB’s Trail Boss, the light casing can be delicate. They ended up succumbing to one small cut, which was easily patched from the inside. Talking of tires, Bombtrack have chosen to run a slightly lighter, skinnier 2.8″ Trailblazer at the back, but there’s plenty of room for a 3″ tire on a 45mm rim, if you so wish.
Overall, the Bombtrack Beyond+ 2 handled everything the broad range of terrain I encountered really well, be it rough jeep tracks, long gravel climbs, fast and twisty singletrack, rocks, roots, and occasional steep and technical descents, complete with tight switchbacks. There’s no doubt that it’s a fun bike to ride, especially if you like a bike that ‘handles’.
The Beyond+ 2 has a more upscale parts list than the less expensive Beyond+ 1, reflected by their 600 € price gap. Whilst my own derailleured bike is set up with a Shimano drivetrain, as I find replacements parts easier to source overseas, I’m a big fan of Eagle’s 12-speed drivetrain when I’m close to shops that are likely to sell spares. A 32T chainring mated to a dinner plate-like 10-50 cassette provides all the gears I’d possibly want, even loaded in the Alps, with a perfectly reasonably cadence for flat terrain cruising. Shifting is really crisp too, with none of the faff of a front derailleur to deal with.
Stopping power also comes courtesy of SRAM, in the form of their Guide Ts; luckily for me, they’re ambidextrous, as I run my rear brake on the left. Although these 4-piston hydraulic brakes proved powerful enough for all the Alpine riding I tackled, I found the size and position of the reservoirs got in the way of my roll bag’s placement on the SQ Labs handlebar – the brakes are noticeably longer and bulkier than Shimano’s counterparts. The adjustment screw is also tricky to get to and I also noticed that the levers developed an unnecessary amount of ‘dead throw’ when the pads were running low, which wasn’t remedied until I changed pads – easy to do as they’re top loading. The production bike actually features higher end TLMs, and perhaps these are better. If hydros aren’t your preference – and as much as I love their performance for long mountain descents, I’d be reticent to take them away on an overseas backcountry bikepacking trip – you could always swap them out for some tried and tested Avid BB7s. But mark my words, your digits will get a workout on those endless alpine descents!
In other changes from the standard spec, my bike came fitted with a SRAM GXP crankset; the 2019 bike uses the DUB system, as there’s no longer support for GXP. Likely as a result of the river-like conditions we sometimes faced, my bottom bracket was close to shot by the end of a month of hard riding. It’s disappointing, but not entirely unexpected, as the longevity of standard outboard bearing bottom brackets tends to be a bit hit and miss in my experience. Otherwise, everything did its job just as it should, even the stock saddle, which successfully kept saddle sores at bay, despite the mildewy weather…
I’m always happy to see WTB’s Scrapers on a bike, apparently rebranded as ST for 2019. My wheelset wasn’t set up tubeless, but it wouldn’t be an issue to convert them, as they’re tubeless ready. Despite some hard hits, they survived the whole trip – both the Trans Alps and a rocky loop of the Dolomites – completely unblemished. Hubs are sealed bearing affairs, branded Bombtrack, and seem solidly built too.
- Frame Double butted chromoly with internal butting on downtube
- Fork Bombtrack full carbon tapered steerer
- Extras Downtube bottle cage, internal eyelets for framebag + triple mounts on fork
- Headset FSA Orbit ITA sealed a-headset, tapered 1.1/8″-1.1/2″
- Stem Promax BT 50mm
- Handlebar BT BIKES Trail 7050-T73 butted alloy
- Grips BT BIKES lock-on, 145mm grips
- Shifter/Brake Lever SRAM “GX Eagle” trigger, SRAM “Level TLM” hydraulic
- Rear Derailleur SRAM GX Eagle
- Brakeset SRAM Level TLM hydraulic disc with 180mm F / 160mm R rotors
- Crankset SRAM GX Eagle Boost
- Bottom Bracket SRAM GXP73
- Seatpost BT BIKES 619 alloy seatpost
- Saddle BT BIKES Origin rail saddle
- Cassette SRAM XG-1275 Eagle 12-speed cassette, 10-50T
- Chain SRAM GX Eagle chain
- Chainring SRAM GX-Eagle alloy, 32T
- Hubs BT BIKES Trail sealed hub, XD driver, 6-bolt disc, 32H
- Rims WTB “Scraper” double wall sleeved, TCS, i40, 32h
- Tires WTB Trailblazer 27.5×2.8 Light folding rear, Trail Boss Light 27.5×3 front
- Agile manners; fast and fun handling on singletrack
- Versatile frame that’s ready for reinvention when the mood takes you
- Excellent gear range for mountainous bikepacking
- Clean, good looks
- Relatively light for a steel hardtail
- Modern standards in a classic steel frame makes a great combo
- Pricey for a non-suspended hardtail
- Relatively low BB requires some care with flat pedals and rocky conditions
- SRAM brakes are bulky and get in the way of bags
- Not available in the US (but the Beyond+ 1 is)
- Getting hold of Bombtracks can be tricky, as it’s a small company
- No extra small sizes for folks of a smaller stature
- MSRP 2599 Euros
- Sizes available S to XL
- Colors available Matt metalic copper
- Weight 12.4kg/27.3lbs (claimed)
- Place of Manufacture Taiwan
- Manufacture’s Details Bombtrack
I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Beyond 2+, the proof of the pudding being my reluctance to hand it back after a fantastic few weeks riding in the Alps. It’s a very agile bike that feels as at home under a full set of bikepacking gear on a mixed terrain tour, as it does whipping around local cross country singletrack – just be aware of the bottom bracket height if flat pedals and babyheads are your staple riding diet. The overall weight is relatively low for a tough steel hardtail, thanks in part to its carbon fork. For long distance overseas riding, I’d personally be happier with steel blades, as on the Beyond+ 1. But anything that saves a few hundred valuable grams, especially when it comes to epic alpine hike-a-bikes (of which I faced many), is welcome. The Eagle drivetrain is spot on, too, and stout, tubeless-ready WTB hoops are always good to see.
A minor detail perhaps, but I wasn’t especially enamoured by SRAM’s entry-level Guide T brakes that came fitted on my bike. The official spec lists higher end TLMs, which may well fare better. The fact that I managed to wear through the bottom bracket so quickly is also disappointing, but that can happen to any bike, particularly given the wet conditions we experienced during the ride.
When it’s all said and done, the heart of the Beyond+ 2 is in the right place, if cross country bikepacking is your style. The frame is tough, dependable and versatile, without feeling unnecessarily heavy, as befalls some steel bikes. Even if you don’t intend to use one, the provision for a rear rack is a good box to tick on a bike like this, because who knows what it will be used for years down the line. At the other end of the spectrum, I expect the Beyond+ 2 would unleash a whole new level of fun when pointed downhill with a 120mm suspension fork plugged in.
Lastly, it’s always nice to see a manufacturer considering the needs of bikepackers; if I owned the bike myself, I’d likely put all the extra eyelets within the frame triangle to good use too, with a clean, custom framebag to compliment an already good looking finish. Oh, and the fact that the guys behind Bombtrack Bikes seem completely pumped about the idea of bikepacking, and where it can take you, looks to bode well for its future within the brand… which means more great options for us!
With thanks to Franzi Wernsing for the Trans Alp action shots!
I’ve been embarking regularly on two-wheeled explorations for the last 18 years. Most recently, I explored the Republic of Georgia on dirt roads, rode the Colorado Trail, traversed Bolivia’s Cordillera Real, and followed the Trans Alps. Given my love for mountain biking and backcountry touring, my ideal journey fuses the two, keeping to quiet dirt roads and singletrack where possible.
Weight: 165 lbs