Hope stepped into the clipless pedal world last year with three new models, the Union RC, TC, and GC. Those initials indicate the intended usage, which corresponds to the platform size. The Race Clip is for the XC crowd, the Trail Clip reviewed here is the all-rounder, and the Gravity Clip is for riders looking for as much of a platform underfoot as possible.
The usable portion of the TC's platform measures 92 x 70mm, similar dimensions to those of Shimano's trail pedals. There are four removable pins on each side, and Hope supplies small washers to fine tune the height. I ended up leaving the pins out of the front holes, and then adjusted the rear pins so that they just barely contacted the bottom of my shoes for a little extra retention.
Union TC Details
• 4 replaceable pins on each side
• Includes two different cleat options
• Adjustable release tension
• Chromoly axle (titanium upgrade available)
• Internals: 3 cartridge bearings + bushing
• 6 color choices
• Weight: 445 grams
• Price:$190 USD
• More info: hopetech.com
The stainless steel clip-in mechanism is spring-loaded on both sides, rather than having a fixed toe bar. According to Hope, this was done to reduce the force needed to clip in, and to make it easier to enter the pedals from different angles. The retention is adjustable with an Allen key, and the pedals come with two different stainless steel cleats that offer either 4 or 5 degrees of float that correspond with either a 12- or 13-degree release angle. Keep in mind that those cleats are proprietary to these pedals – only Hope's own cleats will work. The shoes also come with shims to ensure that the cleats and pedals work with different shoe sole dimensions. ENTRY & EXIT
Getting in and out of the Unions is extremely smooth and intuitive – in fact, I'd say they're a touch easier to get into compared to Shimano's pedals. The entry motion is similar, but the spring-loaded toe bar makes it possible to get in with more of a straight down motion rather than entering toe first (that works too). There's a slightly 'springy' feel when getting in and out compared to Shimano's pedal that results in more of a 'snap' when entering, compared to the 'click' that accompanies stepping into a Shimano pedal.
When it comes to overall retention range, that's almost identical to Shimano's pedals. I put a Hope pedal on one crank and a Shimano on the other and maxed the tension out on both for comparison. The amount of resistance felt very similar, although the pins on the Hope pedals do make it possible to increase the effort needed to disengage even further.
Personally, I don't like using pins for that purpose – relying on metal digging into rubber isn't a very elegant solution for adjusting retention. Still, that option is available, and even without the pins the Union TC's offer a very usable range of adjustment. I ran the pedals in the middle of the range, which worked well for my riding style - I didn't have any unwanted releases or trouble getting out.CLEATS
I mentioned earlier that the Union TC pedals come with two sets of cleats, marked 4 or 5 to indicate how much float they provide. I tried both cleats and ended up preferring the 5 version, which requires slightly more release effort and has 5-degrees of float versus the 4 provided by the other set. The difference between the two isn't that drastic - it's there, but it's more subtle than substantial. Realistically, I think it'd make more sense if Hope scrapped the 4-degree cleats and just included two sets of the 5-degree, or only included one set and dropped the retail price accordingly. DURABILITY
The Union TC pedals are well sealed, and there wasn't any water ingress or corrosion to be seen when I pulled them apart - all of the dirt was concentrated around the dust seal, where it should be. The three small cartridge bearings and bushing are all still running smoothly after three months of regular usage, and there's no side-to-side play at all. That doesn't really constitute a true long-term test, but the conditions were pretty grim for a good portion of the time these pedals were used, and they fared very well.
Disassembling the pedals is as simple as using a 6mm hex to unthread the end cap and then using a socket to get to the 8mm nut that threads onto the end of the axle. Out of the box, the pedals do have a little more resistance to rotation compared to some other pedals. It's not anything that's noticeable while pedaling, and they have become easier to spin with more use.PRICE & WEIGHT
The Union TC's are priced at $190 USD and weigh 445 grams. For comparison, Shimano's XTR Trail pedals are the same price, and weigh 386 grams. A set of Crankbrothers Mallet E pedals weigh 427 grams and are $170 USD. And for one more option, Time's Speciale 8 pedals are 396 grams and $150. For even more pedal weights and prices, this round-up
is a handy reference.
Very smooth entry and exit+
Well sealed against the elements+
Effective adjustments with pins and spring tension
Pricey, especially if you're calculating cost per gram -
Proprietary cleats (but they do come with two sets)