You'll need either Hope's Pro 2 or Pro 4 hub and a new freehub to run their 11-speed cassette.
The 1x drivetrain market has exploded in recent years with an increasing number of brands offering everything from aftermarket add-ons to complete transmissions. While SRAM defined the 1x marketplace with their XX1 group back in 2012, Hope Technology have been playing with cassette designs since 2010. Granted, they started with 9-speed, then smaller 7-speed clusters for downhill and so on, but for a brand so entrenched in the hub, brake and lights market, offering their own cassette was no mean feat and something they weren't prepared to rush into.
And here we are, in the golden age of the 1x drivetrain, and Hope has entered the market with their very own extended range cassette.
Hope 11-Speed Cassette Details:
• Ranges available: 10-40t and 10-44t
• Large four sprockets machined from single aluminum billet
• Smaller seven sprockets machined from single billet of steel
• 11-speed spacing
• Requires Hope hub and proprietary freehub
• Maximum 20% ratio changes
• Weight: 274 grams (10-44)
• Cassette MSRP: £175 GBP / $270 USD / €240 EU
• Freehub MSRP: £67 GBP / $100 USD / €92 EU
The Hope cassette in the 10-44 spread weighs 274 grams and costs $270 USD. For comparison's sake, e*thirteen's new 11-speed, 9-44 TRS+ cassette weighs 333 grams and costs $309 USD, while SRAM's XX1 cassette comes in at 268 grams and costs a whopping $416 USD. Don't forget to also factor in freehub prices if you need one, with the proprietary Hope freehub that's required costing $100 USD and only being compatible with either their older Pro 2 model or the newer Pro 4 hub.
|There are other extended range cassettes on the market now, but there are no other aftermarket companies who have made a hub, freehub, and cassette combination and done so from the ground up. All the other manufacturers adapt their cassettes to fit other brands freehubs. - Alan Weatherill, Hope Technology.|
To run Hope's new cassette, you will need one of their hubs, either the older Pro 2 model or the newer Pro 4. On top of that, you will also need their shorter freehub body ($100 USD) which has been designed specifically for this new cassette. The freehub has been shortened slightly since the 10-tooth sprocket has to hang over the end of the freehub. Considering the popularity of their hubs, most notably their Pro 2 model which has been out for a number of years now, making the switch, should you wish to run Hope's new cassette, shouldn't be too hard to justify, especially if your old freehub and cassette have seen better days.
Don't own a Pro 2 or Pro 4 hub? Well, then the switch to the Hope cassette is going to cost you more, but the same can be said of the move for any upgrade to an 11-speed drivetrain. With the black anodised alloy cluster on, the large cylindrical spacer follows.
Installing the new freehub body, or any Hope freehub for that matter, onto a Hope Pro 2 hub is like child's play. Firstly, remove the dropout spacer, which should come off without any tools. With that off and put to one side, grab the old freehub and with a swift tug, pull it off. Slip the new one over the axle and with a nice rotary motion - in the direction of the pawls to ensure they slip in nicely - push the new freehub into the hub body and it's done. The new Pro 4 hub has some improvements over the Pro 2, most notably a new weather seal which needs to be carefully removed. Once out of the way, the process is the same as the Pro 2; just make sure that the new seal is carefully back in its recess against the hub body.
If you're not confident with tools and such, get a mechanic to do it for you and remember to clean and re-lube where necessary. With everything in place and clicking like a cricket on steroids, it's time to fit the cassette. Hope's new cassette bears all the hallmarks of precision engineering, and the two sprocket clusters clip together tightly.
With the new freehub installed, the next step is to add the longer dropout spacer which simply pushes on. Now, with the freehub body and alloy cassette cluster before you, line them up as you would a regular cassette and slide it on to the freehub body. Then, slide on the large cylindrical spacer. Once they're on, line up the markings between the alloy cluster and the smaller steel cluster and push them together on the freehub. They should 'clip' into place, but check to ensure that the two parts are correctly engaged all the way around.
All that's left is to install the lockring, which is also specific to the new freehub, and tighten it up using a run-of-the-mill cassette tool. The whole procedure will take someone familiar with installing cassettes about 5-10 minutes, and you won't need any new or special tools, either.Performance
To get the best results possible and to remove any unwanted variables that could upset testing, I decided to pair Hope's new cassette to a brand new SRAM GX 11-speed rear derailleur - one of the most common 'original equipment' 11-speed derailleurs out there - with both fresh inner and outer cables. A new SRAM PC X-1 chain was also fitted. With a SRAM X01 11-speed shifter at the helm, the initial set up was as trouble-free in the work stand as a full SRAM system, with everything blending seamlessly together to deliver smooth and precise shifting from the outset.
A slight tweak to the cable tension and b-tension screw and that was that. Time to hit the trails...
I convinced myself prior to riding this new cassette that out on the trail the shifting would be good, but perhaps a touch clunkier and slower than a full SRAM setup. And having another bike to refer to, with a full X01 system in place, I did some back-to-back testing. While the variables can start to spiral here, I actually came away rather impressed with the Hope cassette's performance. It works, well of course it does, that much didn't surprise me, but it's how smooth and efficient it was next to a comparable system made by a company who have been manufacturing drivetrain components for decades - one I've chosen to spec on my own bikes for a long time too.
My initial convictions were thankfully quashed, and rather quickly, but was it as slick as the full SRAM system? I'd say it was pretty damn close if not on a par, shift for shift and up and down the block in a variety of scenarios. With shifting performance decidedly up there, it was merely a case of putting the miles in over the months that followed to see if time spent on the trails could upset things.
Mud, dust, and since I'm in the UK, more mud, and things have remained both accurate and precise, with nothing untoward or concerning. The black anodizing on the alloy cluster has taken a beating and is starting to show signs of wear, perhaps sooner than that of an X01 cassette, but hardly an issue considering I deliberately avoided lubing the chain for a while to see what difference it would make. But the biggest difference is, of course, the numbers, and with the 44-tooth sprocket to help get you up those hills, the Hope cassette has one up on SRAM's 10-42t 11-speed ratio and Shimano's 11-42t 11-speed options. Certainly, SRAM's Eagle may have something to say about this, but let's stay focussed on 11-speeds for now... And it does make a difference, especially jumping between my long-term ride, with the Hope cassette and a 32-tooth chainring fitted and a similar set-up on another bike with a regular 10-42 cassette.
Having that extended range adds to a ride rather than detracting from it, and thankfully mountain biking lacks the machismo of the road scene with their huge chainrings and tiny cassettes. Mountain biking isn't about suffering; it's about having fun. Unlike other aftermarket cassettes, like e*thirteen's TRS
offering, for example, Hope didn't go as far as to offer a 9-tooth sprocket, instead opting for 10-teeth, much like SRAM. They did, however, experiment with a 9-tooth design, instead deciding to drop it from the production models as their engineers found that it caused issues with unwanted wear and loading. The level of engineering has to be acknowledged here, too; after all, Hope's founders were Rolls-Royce engineers, and that expertise and attention to detail doesn't wane, it just gets better. Pinkbike's Take
|With six years of prototyping and testing behind it, some of which witnessed weekly changes to the teeth profile, Hope's arrival on the cassette market is thankfully a good one with a product that does exactly what it says on the tin. Hope's decision to develop their own freehub body specifically for this cassette, rather than an off-the-shelf option (such as an XD Driver which they already offer) to boost compatibility, may frustrate some, but doing so allowed them to shed weight and ultimately deliver their own take on a cassette and driver, which will no doubt appeal to many more. And at only 3g heavier than a SRAM X01 cassette which also costs nearly $100 more and has a smaller range, the numbers soon add up. With comparable shifting performance and a sprocket range that supersedes many others, and considering the depth of Hope Pro 2 and Pro 4 hub ownership out there, this could be a serious option for many riders faced with having to replace a worn cassette. - Olly Forster|
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