Hope Tech Enduro Wheelset
Hope have been making hubs for nearly 25 years. Over that time they have evolved to a point of near perfection; from 90s classics like the Ti-Glide and Big-un, through to the BULB, before settling on the Pro II, which has been refined and worked on for around a decade to give us their current Pro II Evo hubs. Throughout that time their hubs were laced to every type of rim imaginable, but their pairing to the Stan's Flow and Arch rims came to be the archetypal combination, especially in the UK where they still do more than half of their business. For a company like Hope who have been diversifying massively over the last few years, expanding their range well beyond the brakes and hubs the company was built upon, it seems inevitable that at some point someone would look at those rims and say, "I reckon these would be better if..." That conversation was about three years ago now, and after two years of development and refinement they launched the Tech Enduro and XC Wheelsets. Unlike much of their lineup, the rims are not made in their factory in the UK, but in the Far East. In their recent From the Top Interview with Pinkbike
, Hope founder, Ian Weatherill explained that, "We've changed the rims quite dramatically. We’re already selling someone else’s rims that were made over in the Far East anyway - like Stan's rims - so we might as well have our own. Actually, our rims are improved on those and actually better."
On The Trail
We tested the burlier Tech Enduro wheelset - which are designed to stand up to the rigors of what Hope describe as "enduro" racing and riding. In other words, they are intended to be tough, reliable wheels, but lighter than a set of full-blown DH wheels (Hope don't offer the rear wheel with the 150mm spacing for a DH bike). They are available in 26, 27.5 and 29" diameters, with an internal width of 23mm that stays consistent between the three sizes. The rims are made of 6061 T6 aluminium and are welded and eyeleted. Inside the rim is a triple cavity construction that Hope says helps make them incredibly tough - in the simplest terms, there are two walls within the rim itself, dividing the interior into three sections and helping to support the outer structure. 32 well-proven Sapim Race spokes connect the rim to the hubs. And those hubs... Many of you won't need an introduction to the Hope Pro II Evo; if you do the headlines are: Reliable, nicely machined and a decent weight. The front and rear can be configured to virtually any axle combination you can think of within the realms of standard hub spacing, the freehub uses their distinctive machine gun-sounding 4 pawl system and you can choose either standard lacing or straight pull for the spokes. The 27.5" version we tested weighed in at 923g for the front and 1061g at the rear with straight-pull spokes. Going down to 26" saves you around 20g per wheel and up to 29" adds around 40g per wheel.
• Purpose: Trail/all-mountain/enduro
• Material: Aluminium rim and spokes
• Diameters available: 26", 27.5" and 29"
• Axle options: 9/15/20mm (front); 135x10mm/135x12mm/135x10mm bolt-in/142x12mm (rear)
• Width: 23mm internal
• Spokes: 32 Sapim Race spokes, front and rear
• Tubless: UST compatible
• Weight wheels only: 923g (front) 1061g (rear), 27.5" rim/straight pull spokes
• MSRP: $606.48
• Availability: Now
• Contact: Hope Technology
These wheels saw some serious abuse during our time on them. Mounted to a 160mm bike, over the three months they were tested they spent a week in the French Alps on the lifts, alond with the six day Trans-Savoie stage race and a three week stint in Whistler, where they took in everything from the bike park to all day missions.
There is little to report on setup for these - we mounted them tubeless and had no problems getting the tires seated. However, the rim strips that come with them proved to be less than durable and needed replacing fairly quickly as it shifted out of place and started leaking air. What was impressive was how well the wheels held air, and even at low pressures we couldn't get them to burp. It is also worth mentioning how easily you can switch axle configurations on these - you can pop them apart and change them in a matter of minutes. Also, on the "How easy are they to live with stakes?" the fact that they are a regular set of wheels, with regular spokes, means you should be able to go into any bike shop to replace spokes if you damage them.
We're not going to say too much about the hubs themselves here, because the Hope Pro II has been around for a long time now and has been refined to a high art. The sealing is top-notch stuff as they are designed to thrive in the deep mud of the British winter. Maybe they don't have quite the elegance of Chris King or the high end DT Swiss offerings, but they are beautifully machined with a definite solid, well-made feel to the engagement - and you're going to be left with quite a lot more money in your bank account. They don't require much maintenance and when they do it's eminently simple for anyone to do at home with a basic set of tools. One thing worth thinking about with Hope hubs is how quiet you like your bike. We tend to be big fans of the distinctive machine rattle that comes from Hope freehubs, but appreciate that not everyone is so inclined.
For the uphill portion of the ride it is hard to talk about these rims without mentioning the weight. At nearly 2kg they certainly aren't featherweights - most enduro racers run wheels that weigh around the 1700g mark (for 27.5"), some 2-300g lighter than the Tech Enduros. That certainly makes a difference to how light your bike will feel and how easy it is to put the power down. So when you look at the word "enduro" that these are marketed for, you need to have a think about what that means for you and where you ride. That extra weight has been put to use though, and on the downhill-oriented durability scales they score very highly indeed. Throughout our time with them we couldn't dent or bend them, no matter how hard we tried. On a race like the Trans-Savoie you are racing tired on fast, rocky terrain, so subtlety and finesse go right out of the window and your bike takes one hell of a beating. Even a whole week of that kind of extreme abuse didn't phase the rims, and after quick check round with the spoke key after and they were ready for the next adventure. Issues
While they were undoubtedly impressive on the durability front, they did need a little attention to keep them true. Fairly on in our time with them they did lose a noticeable amount of spoke tension. After that it was like any set of wheels, you just need to the occasional turn of the spoke key to keep things sweet. Pinkbike's Take:
|"Strong, light, cheap - pick two." That old adage rings as true as ever with these wheels. When you put these alongside many of the factory wheelsets that offer similar levels of durability, the Hope Tech Enduro wheelset is around 200g heavier, but you come away with an extra $400 left in your wallet - so the question is one of priorities. If you're a rider looking for a reasonably-priced set of wheels that will stand up to a world of abuse and don't spend time counting the grams, then these are a great option for sure. What's more, the heart of these wheels, the hubs, are more or less a masterpiece and it's hard to rationalize buying a more expensive hub, especially in the UK where they have always been several hundred pounds cheaper than their high-end competition. Easily serviceable and reliable as a clock, we know many riders who take Hope hubs through multiple bikes and rims, so if you decide you want a higher-end rim down the line you have a solid, adaptable base to build from. - Matt Wragg|