Hope Tech 3 E4 Brakes Reviewed

Words Seb Kemp and Jon Harris
Photos Jon Harris
Date Aug 26, 2015

Now in retrospect it may have been a bad idea have the two Brits on the NSMB team, Seb and Jon, reviewing the Hope Tech 3 E4 brakes. Misty-eyed reminiscing of the homeland could have swayed their experience with the brakes but they are both professionals and able to put these allegiances aside, right? So with that in mind please take our apologies for the references to old British sit-com characters and the need for beverages brewed from crushed up dried leaves.

Seb’s words

The time I came over a little Frank Spencer. Ohmygodohmygodogmygodohmygod…Oh. My. Goodness. This was my reaction when I tore open the box that contained these brakes. I’d like to think I’m pretty even-keeled when it comes to bike stuff. Usually a “cool” or ‘“that’s pretty neat” or “it’s really well done” will suffice. I don’t often lose my calm, metered, neutral bike tester manner on first looks alone, certainly not like I did when I saw these Hope brakes. Brakes that were destined to be fitted to my own bike…oh goodness, I went weak at the knees and needed a reviving cuppa tea.

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Do these make you as weak at the knees as they did for Seb? They certainly have a different aesthetic to many other brakes on the market.

Maybe I had this reaction because I’m British and Hope is one of those companies that is up there with other British institutions like dark green vintage race cars, dark green and brown prop-driven fighter planes, and dark green Land Rovers. Oh, and a good pub full of brass ornaments and smoky carpets. Either way, when I opened that box and laid my eyes on the exquisitely machined calipers and the stunningly beautiful levers – OK, I’ll concede that the styling of the Hope brakes are a little like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. Personally, I think the mixture of rounded edges and square profiling, especially on the levers, is mesmerizing. It looks like a lever should look. Not just a brake lever but any lever, be it a lever on a steam train engine or a bascule bridge or the controls on a mighty war ship; it looks functional, as if it wasn’t just made to look pretty but hewn precisely because that’s exactly how it was meant to look based on how it is to perform the task that it has been set – I felt like I was having an episode. But I did what was only right, I set back my chin, lifted my chest and locked my upper lip into place.

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Machined from a single piece of aluminium (with the i) the E4 calipers have 4 pistons that provide plenty of arresting power.

Let’s start with the levers (since I have an utter man crush on them). This is Hope’s most versatile lever. With reach and bite point adjustment provided via two (on each lever) quite chunky dials the feel of the brake at the lever can be personalized without the need for tools. And these dials do actually work. Shimano’s ‘free stroke’ adjustment seems to do very little, or at least so subtly that the difference hard for an idiot like me to notice, whereas the Hope adjustments do make significant changes. I set them up where I thought they should be set and then as the rides added up and the pads wore and everything burned off that brand new glint I was able to tune them in to perform as they should and feel as I like them to.

The ergonomics on the Tech 3 lever are fantastic. It’s somewhere between the short lever feel of Shimano brake levers and Avid’s lovely, long, hook ended lever. The Hope levers are rounded in a way that they fit into the crease of the first knuckle very comfortably and the speed holes in the lever blade do help increase finger traction. If that is even a thing.

seb_shows

Seb testing the modulation of the Hope brakes on one of his favourite slabs.

Paired to the four-piston V4 calipers it also makes Hope’s most powerful brake. And were they powerful enough? Yes. Nearly. I’ve been on a rock slab mission of late and having the sheer power to control the descent is entirely possible with the Hope brakes. Start slow and the brakes will hold the speed (or lack of) you want until the inevitable pull of gravity overcomes your body mass on the rock. Modulation is also very good. Shimano brakes, even recent ones do tend to feel like light switches (on or off) or like two blocks of wood are being thrown into the wheel at times. Avid brakes, I find, have superior modulation but now I’ve tried the Hope’s I think they could be a very, very close contender. Where the Hope brakes lose out is on sudden braking from speed, such as when I try imitating Bernard Kerr’s #Stoppiesunday antics. They don’t seem to have that ultimate braking power that halts momentum, something a well tuned Avid and any Shimano do very well.

Now, I’ve visited the Hope factory and I’ve seen the immaculately clean work stations that create these products so I have faith that they will last. If they don’t I also have faith that Hope will never run out of spares to fix any model of brake because if they haven’t got something in stock then they can just program a machine to CNC a new piece. Perhaps Hope products won’t have such immediate customer service as Shimano and Avid products do in North America (drop these two brakes into any half-decent shop and it’s highly likely they’ll have the parts and expertise to fix them), which if you need your bike fixed yesterday then you might want to go with a more generic brake. If you love a bit of brilliant, home-grown (depends on where you call home), world-beating engineering then the Hope Tech 3 E4 brakes are just the ticket.

Jon’s words

After Seb’s misty eyed reminiscing of flat caps, whippets and cups of strong tea I am going to attempt to put my allegiance to Queen and Country aside. I won’t mention the harsh moorland, rocky outcrops and shale slopes that tests the will and has shaped some of the mountain bike products that the Brits hold dear to their heart. No, I won’t do that. I will get my digestive biscuit and contemplatively dip it into a cup of earl grey and bring you less rose tinted thoughts of these here Hope brakes.

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These two dials do actually work to change how the brake lever feels when you grab a handful.

There really is little need to stray from the mainstream when it comes to disc brakes. My favoured brand of brakes are Shimano. They have a range of reliable and strong brakes that suit every budget and application. Some of the deals online to furnish your bike with a XT setup front and rear will cost you less than one Hope setup which have a US MSRP of $250, but can be found for $200 on-line.

For some though, the aggressive nature of the Shimano brake as pad hits disc can see them looking for something else. SRAM Guides are so far holding up well and have a brake lever that can be setup to have a softer initial bite and more progressive power application. So between those two why would you pick a Hope brake instead?

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The discs have an aluminium spider which can be obtained in so many colour options that it should keep the most colour coordinated of you happy.

Well it is something different to the norm and that will definitely be consideration for some. For others it will be aesthetics or that they have always wanted to own a set of Hope brakes since they first lusted over them in the pages of a magazine 15 years ago. So with the Hopes are you losing function in order to get form, whatever that form may be to you?

Well with 4 Pistons per caliper they certainly shouldn’t be short of power. Once again the metal working tools have been working hard to take a block of aluminium and turn out the one piece body, aiding power by avoiding any flex that might afflict a caliper bolted together. The pistons are phelonic rather than metallic which allow less heat to transfer to the DOT 4 fluid, avoiding the brakes pumping up under hard and long braking.

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The two pads load from the top which makes changes simple. Apologies for the home made post mounts. Needs must.

The intricately machined brake levers – while reminiscent of a robot’s armpit – fall nicely to the finger and are really easily adjustable for how you prefer your brakes to feel. There is the obvious adjustment to move the lever reach, but there is also adjustment for that independently adjusts the bite point and effective pivot distance. Do you want lots of mushy power with a bite point right at the bar? These levers can do that. Do you prefer to have a sharp feeling brake with barely any travel before they bite? These levers can be set up to do that too.

I am admittedly fussy about my lever setup. I run my levers quite flat to the bar and I also require the bite point to be when the lever is parallel to the bar – something that I have found helps with arm fatigue. With all the adjustments on the Tech 3 lever I was able to get really anal about my setup and get it totally bang on to my liking. Lever shape is not quite as nicely hooked as my favoured Shimano lever but the curve of the lever does fall nicely under my digit and feel good when having a sphincter puckering moment.

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The Hope brakes certainly add an element of bling to a bike.

The discs are two piece with an aluminium (it is British so I’m spelling it with the extra i) spider and a stainless steel braking surface. The profile of the discs has been used by Hope for some time and is very distinct with its saw tooth type profile to help clean the pads of filfth, something that abounds when riding around Yorkshire. The spiders can be ordered in a plethora of colour options to suit even the craziest bike colour schemes.

In use my experience and conclusions were very similar to Seb’s. Initial bite is not as sharp as a Shimano brake and takes some digital calibration to dial in the response on the first ride. Once you have dialed yourself in, the Hopes provide a lot of faithful well-modulated power.

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The levers feature speed holes to reduce aerodynamic drag. Actually if it ever rains here again and we see some mud the speed holes will actually help your finger grip the blade.

What stood out for me was how consistent the brake feel was from the top to bottom of a descent. With other brakes that I’ve ridden recently you can definitely finish a long descent with the brake lever feeling a touch wooden and having to apply more pressure to arrest you. The Hopes seem to avoid that which left my fingers fresher for post riding activities such as grasping a pint glass full of ale and a Cornish pasty.

My fingers have been enjoying the change from the norm, but I know that the comments section of this article will be filled with people questioning the need to stray from the two big S options. It’s especially hard when some of the prices offered online for a set of brakes can be significantly lower than 200 bucks front and rear. It is a good point, but there are those of us who really like to have those steps away from the norm and thankfully the Hope Tech 3 E4 brakes also bring great power and reliability with their hand-crafted looks.


Well there weren’t too many obscure references… but a Cornish pasty is different from pasties, right?
Would you pony up the extra $ for a set of Hopes?

Comments

nomad
0
Nomad  - Sept. 2, 2015, 10:50 a.m.

Rubbing on 2013 and 2014 Talas 36 160 & 180?

First, I'm a HUGE Hope brake fan. I run them on my trail, freeride and fat bikes.

One recurring problem i have with Hope 203 Rotors is the rubbing of the 203 rotor spider against the posts on FOX Talas Forks with my Chris King ISO hubs. It seems that the allowable tolerances of ISO hubs, brake mounts, caliper bodies, adapters and rotors can allow some minor (about .145mm, yes a hair width) to occur. So you can set up everything to near perfect, and then get out on the trail, and there is enough flex in the fork+wheel+hub to allow the rotor to rubon the Fox post mounts. This shows on the rotor spider; the anodizing is rubbed off. (yes it is real and consistent, I check on every 36+King+hope set up i see out there) Essentially, the location of the rotor spider on the ISO hub is too far out from the hub center. In some cases, this offset is pronounced enough that it biases the Hope caliper to one side and prevents proper centering of the pads. (about 0.75mm)

If you use one-piece rotors, there is no contacts. Some 2-piece rotors work too. Some people file the inside surfaces of the fork brake mounts. I tried a 1mm spacer on my 20mm axles to keep the forks open more. (it worked but I decided it was potentially stressing the seals) My current solution was to take my suite of 203 rotors to my machinist and have 1mm removed from the inside of the rotor spider. This moves the rotor inside and towards the center neutral location of the ISO standard. I have used the hubs all season with no compromise or weakening that I can detect.

It only seems to be a problem with Hope 203 rotors in Chris King ISO front hubs and 36mm Fox stanchions. IT's worth

Have fun out there.

Reply

michael-england
0
Michael England  - Aug. 29, 2015, 6:35 a.m.

TL;DR I Highly recommend you buy Hope branded adaptors to go with their brakes. It will cost more, but you won't have ANY problems.

I may as well weigh in with my opinion on these brakes, considering I just purchased a set of the exact units that were reviewed here; the Tech 3 E4's with matching rotors.

First off, let me say that I HIGHLY SUGGEST you purchase the matching brake adaptors made by hope as well, and no, they don't come in your typical 200mm front and 180mm rear setups. More on this later.

I purchased a brand new 2015 Specialized Enduro Elite 29er earlier this month (my dream bike). The stock brakes were the SRAM Guide R's. 200mm front, 180mm rear. I decided I wanted my dream brake setup (surprise, they were made by Hope) and bit the bullet on a set of Tech 3 E4's with matching rotors. The rotor sizes being 200mm up front and 180mm in the rear. I figured I would just use the stock adaptors that were already made for the same size rotors.

Boy, was I wrong. 8 hours later I was still cursing and swearing and bleeding the brakes front and rear and Googling everything I could find and more tinkering and adjusting and swearing. These fuckers would just. Not. Stop. Rubbing. The alignment of the calipers was off, they wouldn't stop rubbing and no amount of tinkering would stop it. I had a scheduled ride the next day with some buddies and I was frustrated beyond belief.

Shortly before calling it a night (at 6am…yes, I stayed up all night messing with this brakes) and after having exhausted every option I could think of to fix the problem, it dawned on me. Brake adaptors. It all made sense now…the calipers arn't aligning with the rotors…constant rubbing…using spacers…I needed proper adaptors. This is when I also realized the front caliper was actually digging into the adaptor when I tightened it down trying to align it. I didn't notice it before because it looked like it had enough clearance. I was wrong.

I ended up having to purchase a front and rear adaptor for 203mm in the front and 183mm in the rear and buying another set of matching rotors (203 and 183). A very costly mistake because I didn't do enough research before hand. Plus, I simply assumed I could use the same adaptors because 200mm is 200mm and 180 is 180 right? Wrong. Your mileage may very on using other adaptors…but these E4's are a lot deeper then most calipers so keep this in mind.

Also, they don't seem to make adaptors for 200mm and 180mm rotors. Keep that in mind as well because as expensive as these brakes are (and they were definitely pricey), you WILL have invest additional funds for adaptors and rotors.

Of course when I finally received my adaptors and rotors, everything went together PERFECTLY in under 30 minutes. No rubbing, no concerns, just perfect craftsmanship and precision engineering. Oh, and these brakes are fucking awesome!

Reply

brente
0
brente  - Aug. 27, 2015, 9:10 p.m.

Use hopes on three of my bikes love them.M4 Minis,Mono Minis and Mono 6 Ti they all work flawlessly, son has a pair of minis that I used for 4 years and they are still working perfectly… the few extra bucks are worth the perfection.

Reply

blackfly
0
Peter Leeds  - Aug. 27, 2015, 5:14 p.m.

I have been using Hope brakes since 1999, and they are by far the best brakes out there. I have had them all: C2s, M4s, DH4s and the current brakes I have, the Mono 6tis have been with me faithfully for 12 years without one failure. Other than brake fluid changes NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE TO THEM. That is incredible, in my view. Moreover, the quality of manufacture is beyond reproach. I cannot be happier. They are expensive, but quality always costs. Look at me…. brakes are 12 years old with plenty of spare parts… index the cost over time and it is nothing, really.

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GladePlayboy
0
Rob Gretchen  - Aug. 27, 2015, 12:21 p.m.

I was a Hope brake fanboy for many years…. best modulation in the business IMO… however, they always underwhelmed me for outright stopping power, something which my current Saints and Formula ROs have in spades. They are also boat-anchor heavy. However, for pure bling they are hard to beat.

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kirk-lingham
0
Kirk Lingham  - Aug. 27, 2015, 10:31 a.m.

The article discusses Hope Tech 3 V4's but the title speaks of Hope Tech 3 E4's. Which is it guys? Downhill vs. Enduro brakes.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Aug. 27, 2015, 2:38 p.m.

Thanks for pointing that out, Kirk. From what I could tell it looked like it said E4 everywhere except the last line. Anyway, it's been fixed.

And for the record, the brakes tested were the E4, not the V4.

Reply

babyzhendo
0
babyzhendo  - Aug. 27, 2015, 8:30 a.m.

I have and love these brakes. I came off of Shimano SLXs and while they were quite impressive in their power band once on the brakes, I really didn't like the initial lever bite, especially in treacherously wet or dry conditions. I will be the first to admit that I was fairly terrified the first time I rode the Hopes - they have so much less bite off the line that I was under braking into corners quite badly. Some fiddling with the reach and bite point knobs got them to a slightly more familiar feel, and so far things have been rosy. Loads of power, uber consistent (something the Shimanos were not), and dead reliable.

The biggest difference for me, and the one I really think sells these brakes, is the last one. I had 2 sets of Shimano brakes, and both were incredibly unreliable. Maybe it was the pads getting easily contaminated, or maybe it was something to do with bad fluid, but either way, I bled both pairs of brakes at least once a month and would still have either the front or rear lose almost all biting power in the middle of a ride. My riding buddy has had the same issues with his, and he has now gone through 3 sets of rotors and even more sets of pads trying to mitigate the unexpected loss of bite power. This has never happened to me with the Hopes, not once, and they have not been bled for 7 months and counting.

Reply

notashimanorep
0
Notashimanorep  - Aug. 27, 2015, 9:14 a.m.

I have had 2 sets of Shimanos and both have been phenomenal. I didnt bleed them for monthes of heavy downhill riding and only experienced slight pump-up at the beginning of each ride. Shimanos are the best in terms of reliability and price.

Reply

frazer
0
Frazer  - Aug. 28, 2015, 1:10 a.m.

Agree with Notashimanorep, the new brakes from Shimano are amazing! Both my hope M4's and Moto V2s were terrible power wise that i would need to use 2 fingers and still wouldnt stop any time soon. With the shimano XT's, its now all light single finger braking which is bliss.

Hope … Hope they work 😉

Reply

jonathan_kingstone
0
jonathan_kingstone  - Aug. 28, 2015, 2:33 a.m.

Agree with Frazer and notashimanorep … I had used Hope for several years before buying a pair of Shimano XTR Trails last summer.
I think the XTRs are the perfect brakes. Incredible power, great modulation (I've never seen any of the on-off feel that some complain about), great feel, dead easy to set up (never any brake rub) and typical Shimano looks and quality. And crazy easy to bleed - that is, when you need to because they seem to go a LONG time in between bleeds.

Reply

vito-digiondomenico
0
Vito DiGiondomenico  - May 7, 2016, 12:43 a.m.

I've seen a lot people having issues with the new XTRs pumping despite multiple bleeds. I think it's an issue with seals and cyclinders? Never had that issue with my XTs - they were rock solid performers. That said, I'm giving that Hope E4s a try. Fingers crossed!

Reply

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