Hope Tech Evo V4 brake details:
• Intended for Downhill and Big Mountain riding
• Quad piston design using staggered 14mm & 16mm pistons
• 183mm & 203mm rotor compatibility
• Solid, floating & vented rotor options
• CNC machined 2014 T6 Aluminium construction
• Titanium bolts (Stealth Edition)
• Braided stainless steel hoses
• Colours: silver (standard) or black (Stealth Edition)
• Weight: 482g each (actual
) including 203mm rotor & titanium mounting hardware
• MSRP: apprx £250 inc floating rotor (vented +£50)
Hope have been on the brake scene for a long time, predating many of the current big players with their early adoption of the technology to the point that you could almost say they were the first company to make disc brakes a viable option.
A few years may have elapsed since their last World Cup victory, and you no longer see a queue of riders from other teams lining up to get in on the action with their brakes, but they still see use at the highest levels of the sport. With several years under its belt, and in a market full of competitors refusing to stand still Hope recently took the decision to replace the long serving V2 caliper. Its replacement, the V4, we first previewed in our 2012 Eurobike coverage and what follows is our experience with them from a winter of testing.The DetailsTech Evo lever
Rather than creating a wholly new brake from the ground up Hope elected to utilise the recently revised, and already proven, Evo version of their Tech lever. This is available on the majority of their brakes and has proven a worthy successor to the tough original. To move the game on, the Evo features revised pivot geometry for an approximate 15% power increase over its forebear, and additional roller bearings to provide a smoother actuation. In use the levers certainly feel the benefit; there’s a lighter action, while retaining the same smooth and solid precision of recent Hope brakes. Adjustment is easy and plentiful thanks to two detented dials, one to adjust reach, and a second to adjust the bite point. Although initial impressions were of fragility when we first reviewed the V2 back in 2009 these adjusters have proven remarkably tough, despite numerous crashes, and four years of solid riding on them so with the design unchanged we expect these to be no different. The blade itself is spring loaded and totally separate from the master cylinder so the piston can’t be popped out or damaged in a crash.
In keeping with the rest of the Hope range the V4 caliper is machined from a single piece of aluminium to produce a one piece caliper that avoids the need for bolts to hold it all together. It’s more complicated than a two piece design but the result is a simpler caliper that for a given weight is stiffer, or for a given stiffness, lighter. It’s a technique employed on many high end motorsport brakes and is seen on some of the high end brakes from Shimano and Formula too. As with the outgoing V2 brake, the ‘V’ in V4 is a nod to the complex vented rotor Hope offer. It’s thicker than normal, and so an option only on these two compatible calipers. Moving from the old twin piston caliper to quad piston brings shallower pad depth but increased pad surface area, and also ensures that all Hope rotors are now interchangeable between all of their brakes. Four pistons also improves modulation by reducing the leading edge area of the pad, something Hope have further capitalised on by utilising differing piston sizes. This means that one set of the phenolic pistons moves faster than the other, pushing one end of the pad onto the rotor earlier than the other and bringing full power in with greater control. In the case of the V4, the smaller piston is 14mm and borrowed from the all mountain M4 brake, while the larger is a bespoke 16mm item. The shallower pad depth also reduces leverage on the caliper when in use, reducing flex that can detract from the feel and control available at the lever. Visually, one of the most striking features of the caliper is the heavy fluting on its outer surfaces. The increased surface area this creates enables greater heat transfer from the caliper to the surrounding air. Every little keeping temperatures in check under extreme use. There’s also a one way bleed valve to make for an easier flush of the system without introducing air, while the rotatable hose banjo is now inboard of the disc which both reduces the risk of damage when shuttling, and allows cleaner cable routing on the current crop of bikes.
The rotors seen here are standard floating items but as mentioned briefly earlier on, the calipers are designed to also accommodate Hopes vented rotors which were originally introduced alongside the first V2 in 2007. These use three sheets of steel to produce; two to form the braking surfaces and another spider-like disc sandwiched between the outer two that’s cut to create the vents. It’s similar to the design Shimano originally employed in early days of the original XT disc prototypes to create a disc better capable of dissipating heat away from the caliper. However, they’re significantly heavier, which goes a long way to negate the lightening going on elsewhere in the system, and for all but the most brake dragging of riders they’re pretty much superfluous. Given all this we elected to go for the standard rotors which will be chosen by the majority of riders; 203mm floating, but non-vented. Looking carefully at these you will see that they contain several ground down sections with hard edges that help to keep the pads clean of grit and dirt build up when riding in filthy conditions. To say whether they definitely work or not would need an identical pair without the cleaning sections but we certainly didn’t have any problems in winter conditions. Uprated braided hoses are standard, as is the full complement of titanium hardware on this black anodised Stealth edition.
As we had these fitted to several bikes over the course of a few months the V4 proved easy to set up and get comfortable with. This was helped by the high quality finishing of both the adaptors and calipers, discs which remain virtually impervious to heat warping, and copious adjustment to both reach and bite of the brake at the levers. It’s worth noting that of all the brakes out there on the market, the Hope Tech lever seems to be one of the very best for riders with small hands. It allows for the independent adjustment of reach and bite, and thanks to this the brake can be set with the lever very close to the bar for easy reach. It also retains full power and a positive feel even when run this close to the bar, something that other brakes have been known to struggle with. We were supplied with both sintered and organic pads to test although given the weather recently we ran the sintered for the majority of the time. This is the same compound as used in the rest of their range and the pads are incredibly hard wearing while providing great feel and control to enable easy modulation of the power. Bite is firm but beyond the initial contact of pad to disc there’s a wealth of control available; the V4 is certainly no on/off switch. Comparing the brake directly to the new Saint, as many others are also likely to do, there feels to be similar power and control but the way in which they go about providing this is certainly different.
Where the Saint could be described as slightly soft around the bite point, the Hope much more positive, although not as good as the outgoing V2. This is normal on brakes where the pistons are of differing sizes as the pad doesn’t make perfectly square contact with the rotor initially. Beyond that initial bite though and there’s little further movement available from the Hope lever, the modulation instead coming from altering the pressure on the lever from your fingers. Having been a long-time fan of Hope brakes it would be easy to say that the Hope is better, but that avoids the subtleties. All the top brakes work very well on the trail and that’s what we’re testing here; dyno figures are all very interesting but they don’t count for anything if the end result is a product that doesn’t instil confidence. The Hope feel is powerful, controllable, and gives very precise feedback to what the brake is doing, relative to braking effort. Subtle changes around the point of locking enables a rider to maximise their control of the bike, a must in greasy conditions, and the intuitive nature of this means its very easy to get used to them.Fitting
There isn’t much to fitting brakes now, the whole process taking less than half an hour, including aligning everything to sit square. Fair enough it can perhaps add a little time should you need to face your frame or fork mounts, but assuming that’s already been done it really is pretty straightforward. In the case of these V4’s we were given everything we needed to bolt them straight onto our chosen bike, with the exception of a little copper paste to apply to the titanium bolts to prevent them seizing. The only potential headache that can really befall a rider looking to install their newly purchased brakes is internal cable routing which seems to be a more and more popular way for manufacturers to keep clean lines on their bikes. However, this does mean needing to split the brake so you can feed the hose through the frame, and that also means the possible need to bleed your brakes once they’re bolted back together. Luckily, Hope have one of the most intuitive systems out there that does away with the need for a syringe, not that you can’t also use one. This means that no matter where you are, as long as you have some fluid, you can bleed your brakes. Reliability
Although six months is perhaps not enough time to test the ultimate reliability, we certainly haven’t encountered any issues to cause us grief. Our past experience of the other brakes in this range, using the same Tech Evo lever, also backs this up. They can take crashes, abuse, hideous conditions, and yet still work consistently and reliably throughout. The organic pads offer great performance but our favourites are definitely the sintered which work well in all conditions, provide marginally more modulation, and also last significantly longer. In those six months of use, nothing has seized up, grown sticky, or done anything but perform flawlessly. In fact, the only potential point which we have a slight concern of is based on our experience of the older V series brakes where the pads would occasionally wear unevenly. We eventually traced this to the calipers' extra width, intended to fit the vented rotors that Hope offer. It seemed that those riders running the vented rotors had no issues with uneven pad wear, but those using the standard rotors did, and it appeared to come from the extra distance that the pistons were having to move to take up the difference in rotor thickness. In essence, they were moving further from the supportive seal and then twisting under load, causing uneven pressure on the pad, and therefore uneven wear. On the V4 the issue doesn’t seem nearly so prevalant and this is possibly down to the differing piston sizes, as well as the longer pad transferring less torque to the pistons when in use. It’s something we’ll be continuing to monitor but in six months of use any uneveness is negligible, and as we’re still on the original pads - that’s pretty impressive.
Pinkbike's take: www.hopetech.com
| As a top end gravity brake the V4 is a compelling choice; it's tough, fully re-buildable from the ground up, and while not as light as some of its competition, has shed significant weight over its predecessor. Throughout our time with it we tested it in a variety of conditions, on several bikes, and always felt confident in its abilities thanks to the copious yet easily controlled power on offer. Without running the brake on a dyno it is of course hard to say as to whether it is the absolute most powerful brake out there, but in subjective terms, it's right up there. And that is of course the most important aspect of any component such as this. Feel is very subjective, and what one rider loves, another can hate for the exact same trait. The only aspect which we feel could be improved upon is the vented rotor. It's heavy, and for the vast majority of users, not worth the extra expense. It also seems to compromise the brake as the pads have a tendency wear unevenly if you don't keep them centralised on the rotor. It was a more significant problem on the older V2 with their shorter pads, but as the pistons still sit further out from the seals on the V4, even with the longer pads, there is still the opportunity for uneven wear. That aside, they're a great brake, and a definite favourite. - Alasdair MacLennan |