Words and photos by Armughan Javaid (@trekkerr56)
My name is Armughan Javaid and I live in Clifton, Virginia, and work in the cloud software technology sector. I have been riding road bikes for the past decade and a bunch of friends in the Washington D.C. metro area have formed an informal club on Strava called DRR, Desi Road Riders, a nod to the South Asian heritage of the majority of its members (anyone can join, however, as we fully support Diversity and Inclusion in cycling).
In line with the bike industry trends, most of us caught the “gravel bug” a couple of years ago and I started looking for a gravel bike that could also serve as an adventure/bikepacking/commuting bike. I hadn’t heard much of Bombtrack, but got intrigued when I first saw a friend’s (hat tip to Kassim!) new steel Hook EXT. I then read the excellent review by Cass here on BIKEPACKING.com and was hooked, pun intended.
Last year was a tumultuous one for the bike industry because of the pandemic. Luckily, I was able to secure a good deal on a 2020 Bombtrack Hook EXT frame in my size from their Maryland dealer and was able to get a custom build done to my specifications. Nothing against the stock SRAM Rival build, but I knew I wanted Shimano’s GRX800 level groupset in a 1x configuration. A full ENVE cockpit and G23 wheels completed the build. For the sort of gravel and bikepacking I do, 650b wheels are overkill but it’s good to have that option. Future upgrades may include a dynamo hub and lighting, which are supported internally in the carbon fork. Currently, the bike with bottle cages and pedals comes in around a little under 23 lbs, which is excellent given the steel frame.
During the time when the bike was being built, I was personally affected by the pandemic when my father, who had taught me to ride as a kid, lost his battle with COVID-19. I ride now often in his memory and decided to adopt a “camo” theme for the bike to honor his army service. Bikepacking bags from Oveja Negra and Rockgeist in Army Ranger Green and Camo perfectly complement the Hook’s paint scheme. To top it off, I used ENVE’s custom decal builder to have a matching accent for the wheel logos.
- Frame/Fork Bombtrack Hook EXT 2020 (Large)
- Rims ENVE G23
- Hubs Industry Nine Torch
- Tires Panaracer Gravel King SK 43mm
- Handlebars ENVE G Series (46cm)
- Headset FSA
- Crankset Shimano GRX FC-RX810-1 (175mm, 40T)
- Pedals OneUp Composite Black
- Cassette Shimano Deore XT CS-M8000 (11-42T)
- Derailleur Shimano GRX RD-RX812 Rear Derailleur 11-Speed Long Cage
- Brakes Shimano GRX RX810 Disc Hydraulic
- Shifter(s) Shimano GRX ST-RX810 11-speed
- Saddle Brooks B17 Honey
- Seatpost ENVE Carbon
- Stem ENVE Road Carbon
- Front bags Rapha Waterproof Bar Pack
- Frame bags Rockgeist Ranger Green Half Frame Bag
- Rear bags Oveja Negra Gearjammer
- Accessory bags Oveja Negra Bolt-on Top Tube Snack Pack and Bootlegger Fork Bags
- Other accessories Spurcycle Bell, Silca Sicuro Titanium Bottle Cages
Northern Virginia is a gravel cyclist’s paradise, and we’re blessed with a network of well-maintained gravel roads with beautiful vistas, farmhouses, and backcountry scenery. It’s easily possible to do a decent 30-40 mile ride that’s 70-80% gravel. Moreover, the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Trail, with picturesque views along the Potomac River, is amazing and I recently did a COVID-safe bikepacking trip there with my son and his Boy Scouts troop. My wife and daughter have also started to enjoy gravel and all-road riding. The Bombtrack Hook EXT has been a solid, versatile steed in all conditions. In fact, I often find myself reaching for it before my carbon road bike even if I only have time for a quick paved ride around the house. As the saying goes, “Steel is real!”
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