Hope Technology founded its reputation on CNC-machined aluminium hubs and hydraulic disc brakes, first introduced to a young mountain bike industry some 25 years ago. The company, however, has never rested on its laurels and continues to refine and hone its products. The big news this year (other than its carbon fibre seatpost and carbon enduro bike) is the addition of the Pro 4 hubset, which introduces several refinements, including a faster-engaging freehub, 11-speed compatibility, bigger flanges (for a stiffer wheel) and a Boost option.
• Purpose: Enduro racing/all-mountain trail riding
• Material: Aluminium rim and spokes
• Diameters available: 26”, 27.5” and 29”
• Axle options: QR and 15 thru-axle (front); 135mm QR and 142x12 (rear)
• Width: 23mm internal, 28mm external
• Spokes: 32 Black Sapim Race/Sprint stainless steel double butted spokes
• Weight: 1,872g (948g rear, 924g front)
• Hub colours: Black, Silver, Blue, Red, Purple or Orange
• MSRP: £380, $517
• Contact: www.hopetech.com
There are several updates to the new Pro 4 hubs, but one of the key changes is a revamped freehub that now houses a 44-tooth ratchet mechanism, which is claimed to produce much quicker engagement; 10 percent quicker, in fact, than the Pro 2 Evo. Hope has also made the hub 11-speed compatible. so you can use it with Hope's 11-speed cassette
. Finally, the flanges have an increased diameter that reduces the spoke length to create a stiffer wheelset, a particular benefit with bigger wheels.
The hubs are versatile, providing full compatibility with the multitude of axle options currently available. Hope supplies the wheels with both 135mm QR and 142x12 end caps for the rear wheel and QR and 15mm end caps for the front wheel. Other conversion kits are available separately. The freehub is Shimano 11-speed compatible, but can be swapped for a SRAM XD driver body. You can also go backwards and run 8, 9 or 10-speed cassettes with the appropriate conversion kit.
Another key development is the addition of a Boost option. With 27.5 Plus looking like it’s here to stay (a slew of new bikes are being released for 2017), Hope is ready with an aftermarket upgrade wheelset. That's a good thing because, let’s be honest, plus-size choices are still a bit thin on the ground. Hope is, of course, using the standard Boost 110mm front and 148mm rear spacing, and it has developed specific hub shells to make the most of the extra width.
Despite the improvement to the new Pro 4 hub, there’s no weight penalty. Claimed weight for a 15mm front hub is 181g (188g Boost) and 300g for a 142mm rear hub (311g Boost) with a range of spoke drilling options from 24 to 36, depending on the application and level of burliness you want from your wheels. Every part of the hub is made in the UK at the company’s Barnoldswick factory, from the beautifully CNC-machined hub shell, freehub and axle to the assembly of the component parts. The attention to detail shines through on the hubs; they’re exquisitely designed and executed. There’s a range of six colours to choose from so you can match the hubs to your frame if you’re so inclined.
While Hope has founded its reputation on hubs during its 25-year history, in more recent years it has moved into offering complete wheelsets. Hope's not alone here. Most manufacturers have shifted towards offering off-the-shelf wheelsets, which has reduced the demand for classic handbuilt wheels. The wheelset that will most likely appeal to Pinkbike readers is the Enduro. The tubeless-ready rims are not made by Hope, and use a 6061 aluminium with a triple-cavity construction that boosts strength. 32 Sapim Race double-butted spokes connect the hubs to the rims. The 27.5in wheelset, tested here with a SRAM XD free hub, weigh 1,872g for the pair; 924g for the front and 948g for the rear. On the Trail
The Enduro is the burlier wheelset in Hope’s range and is ideal for anyone that likes to dish out some abuse to their equipment, and yet they manage to tip the scales at a reasonable weight. I’ve been testing these wheels solidly for the past few months, taking them down all sorts of rough trails, and they’re still running true with evenly tensioned spokes. The rims have resisted dents and dings even during some bigger impacts, including one incident with a burped tyre that saw the rim clatter through a rock garden with almost no air in the tyre. As for the hubs, well, they’ve not provided any cause for concern, the bearings are suitably sealed to deal with British conditions.
Setting the wheels up was easy. Hope don’t supply a tubeless kit. However, using some spare valves, Gorilla tape and a set of Maxxis Highroller tyres, however, I had the wheels ready to ride in a jiffy. The tyres seated easily with just a track pump. After that initial setup, they did what any good wheelset should do and went unnoticed during riding, with no errant noises, creaks or unwanted flex. Just the super buzzy freehub sound but you quickly get used to that. The rims may not be as fashionably wide as some of the current trendsetters, but as I found with the similarly-wide Mavic Crossmax XL wheels that I tested earlier this year, the Hope Tech Enduros worked just fine with a 2.3/2.4in tyre, providing a decent shape to the tyre and more than enough sidewall support.
The Enduros feel great on the bike, with a high level of stiffness that makes them responsive and direct. The wheels are a smidgen stiffer than Hope's previous wheelset centered around the Pro 2 Evo hubs. For comparison's sake, they aren't quite in the same ballpark as the Mavic Crossmax XL wheels when it comes to stiffness, but they’re pretty close. It’s evident the Enduros are built to a high standard and thoroughly checked before they’re allowed to leave: They haven't given my any cause for concern, remaining straight and true the entire time I’ve been riding them. Nor have they required any maintenance at all. The rims have taken the punishment from regular hard riding and still show no signs of the abuse...not a single dent whatsoever to report.
Whlel the rims proved up to the task, Hope's hubs are truly the jewel in this crown. The revamped freehub ensures there is no lag or slack in these wheels when you get on the power. The Enduros snap into action the moment you lean on the cranks. Admittedly, you’ll be hard-pressed to determine the difference over the old hubs, but a bit of back-to-back testing compared to an old set of wheels spinning on Pro 2 Evo hubs does show a slight improvement in the reaction time of the freehub, but we’re talking marginal gains here. When it came to withstanding the UK's sub-optimal weather conditions, Hope has always been well regarded. Hope's Pro 4 hubs uphold that tradition: I’ve dragged them through the worst mud and rain, jet washed the wheels repeatedly (yes I know this isn’t something you should do) and the hubs remain silky smooth.
I’m a big fan of these wheels.They combine smooth, smart-looking hubs with great durability. The Enduro is ultra reliable. I also appreciate their versatility: being able to easily swap out hub end caps is a huge plus in this day and age of constantly-changing axle standards. Yes, the rims could be wider. If you are chasing the widest rim possible, these aren't going to cut it for you. There are also lighter wheels to be had. Those potential criticisms aside, the Enduro is a high-quality wheelset that mates well with 2.35 and 2.4-inch tires. Pinkbike's Take:
|Hope's philosophy has always been to make products that last. The latest Pro 4 hubs at the center of the Enduro wheelset are a good example of that guiding philosophy at work. They're bombproof, silky smooth and compatible with a wide range of drivetrains and axle standards. What's more, they do everything you could ask of a wheelset and they do it without wreaking havoc on your wallet. - David Arthur|
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