hope tech v4 graham deniz merdano
REVIEW

Hope Tech 4 V4 Brakes

I’m very picky about my brakes. My day job as a cook can roach my hands, so death-gripping brake levers would torch my otherwise joyous riding time. I want DH-worthy power combined with a very light lever feel. The arms race of powerful brakes has been steadily ratcheting up over the past few years, with a few large players falling far behind.

Cam and I have endlessly gushed over the near-flawless Hope Tech 4 E4 brakes. The opportunity to clamp my grimy fingers around the Hope Tech 4 V4 finally arrived. The V4 sits as top dog of power, modulation, and technical features amongst the many brakes offered from Hope's hallowed Barnoldswick, UK machine shop. Let me...slow down for a few minutes to tell you what they're all about.

hope tech v4 graham deniz merdano 33
hope tech v4 graham deniz merdano 13

The striking Hope Tech 4 lever is shared by the V4, E4, X2 and Trials Zone brakes.

hope tech v4 graham deniz merdano

The Tech 4 V4 caliper.

Hope Tech 4 V4 Lever

The Tech 4 V4 lever appears industrial yet extraordinarily elegant, reminiscent of Swiss watch internals. There’s nary a cheap looking fitting or fastener, even the hose olive couples to a brass washer under the contoured hose shroud - damn! The lever blade is long, to increase the mechanical braking advantage. Speed holes (okay, dimples) are machined into the front of the lever blade for finger grip. Roller bearings at the pivot give a silky-smooth lever feel, and a soft return spring lends to an ultra-light lever feel. Two low-profile yet robust knurled dials live close to the pivot of the lever blade, labeled BPC (bite point control) and reach, to customize your optimal lever position. These controls work independently, so dialing in the bite point first then adjusting reach is advised as the actuation point changes.

I like running my levers as close to the bar as I dare, with minimal throw. This ensures my index finger is nearly wrapped around the bar, instead of being outstretched causing hand fatigue. Finding my preferred lever position took mere seconds, though you can wind the lever far out with maximum throw too, if you’re into that kind of thing.

The Tech 4 lever shifter/dropper integration isn’t quite as dialed as SRAM Matchmaker or Shimano I-spec EV, but Hope does offer mounts to keep your bar surface tidy. I’m comfy with the dropper position, though my SRAM shifter is a touch too far inbound due to my lever location preference - not a big deal though since my thumb doesn't feel wrenched.

hope tech v4 graham deniz merdano 1

I can't recall rotor thickness exceeding 2.3mm. The Vented V4 measures a whopping 3.3mm.

Hope Tech 4 V4 4

A 203mm V4 rotor weighs in at 252 grams. 220mm/2.3mm thick rotors from other manufacturers are in the ballpark of 250g.

Tech 4 V4 Caliper and V4 Vented Rotor

The V4 caliper is huge, milled from a singular piece of alloy. The surface has milled grooves to improve surface area, acting as cooling fins. Two large pistons are followed by two slightly smaller pistons, made of stainless steel with a phenolic resin insert to further reduce heat buildup. The caliper can accommodate rotors all the way up to 3.3mm thick.

You may be thinking, who the hell makes a 3.3mm thick rotor? Hope does, and it’s specifically designed to interface with with the V4 caliper. Most rotors are 1.8mm - 2.3mm thick. I prefer the thick bois as they are less prone to warping, shrug off impacts from shitty line choices, and manage heat better.

The V4 vented rotor is an impressive piece of tech. Available only in a 6-bolt mounting pattern, an alloy spider is riveted to a giant 3.3mm thick braking surface, a visibly vented sandwich of stainless/alloy/stainless with an open outer edge offering a peek at the internal fins. The name of the game here is maximum heat dissipation. The rivets allow a single degree of float, and so far have stayed silent without any noticeable fore-aft play. Hope touts their floating rotor as "their highest performing disc, for the harshest operating conditions." At 252g a piece, they are not light, though I’m not fussed about trying to optimize my brakes for power, modulation, and minimal lever throw.

At $240 apiece, my eyes nearly water typing the dollar value of the V4 vented rotor. Plain Jane rotors of the 200-220mm size cost around $100, and premium rotors such as the Shimano Saint and Galfer Shark range from $125-$200. Time may indicate the V4 rotors are worth the scratch, especially if they outlive other rotors two-fold.

hope easy bleed kit

Hope's top quality bleed kit. The Hope Tech 4 V4, along with all Hope Tech 4 brakes use DOT 5.1 brake fluid. Photo - Cam McRae

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Red for all conditions.

hope tech v4 graham deniz merdano 18

Purple for e-bike.

Bleed Process & Setup

The V4 arrives pre-bled with full-length brake lines at both ends, in the event that you run a MX-style lever configuration. I trimmed the front line down significantly, and routed the rear line through the frame.

Cam McRae has thoroughly outlined the Hope Tech 4 bleed process here, akin to a Shimano bleed, so I’ll spare the step-by-step details. More machined Hope goodness, the $45 Hope Easy Brake Bleed Kit, literally bolts into the lever reservoir, in the form of a cup and plunger. A drain tube fits onto the caliper bleed port, emptying into your choice of waste bin. Achieving a quality bleed off the bat is relatively simple and quick.

Centering the caliper pistons is crucial for the best lever feel. Using a flat-bladed screwdriver, I was able to finely advance and retract the pistons so they clamped the rotor evenly.

The V4 bed-in process with factory installed green racing pads is quick, but not as fast as my experience with the E4. This is due to a few reasons, but mostly because I didn’t dedicate the time to source a uniform slope to complete the task. Riding in the late winter affords less steep terrain than what’s open in the summer. The vented rotors come into play here too, coming up to temperature takes more time - as intended!

Hope also includes two other organic pad compounds in the V4 box: red rated for all conditions, and purple for e-bikes. I'll likely try them out when the green set wears past an acceptable level. I'd also be keen to try the Hope yellow metallic pads, and see if they offer more initial bite.

hope tech v4 graham deniz merdano 21

V4 = vast modulation and near endless power.

Ride Feel

It's said that comparison is a thief of joy, but considering the E4 and V4 are siblings, I'll bite. The V4 provides a similar degree of power to the E4, sharing the same lever and insanely light lever feel. The V4 feels more spongy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m finally experiencing a gigantic range of modulation, with enough power to feel safe. I have to focus on reaching the point where lock-up occurs, but my hands don’t feel fatigue with maximum braking effort. Front brake modulation is intuitive, but panic-braking with the rear brake doesn't instantly initiate a skid - again, a new sensation. Everyone would be lying if they said they don't occasionally like skidding (only on an appropriate surface though, Jerry!) so maybe I'm saving the trails more? Probably more like my rear tire.

It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that modulation and power are now equal, which contradicts my experience with every set of brakes to date, where I’d defer to staying close to wheel lock-up zone - so I wouldn’t die!

Judging by the current spring weather hampering access to sustained steeps where I now live, I don't feel the need for more brake power - yet. When I get a chance to swing back to The Shore for gratuitous shuttling, or bike park days, I’m interested in bolting a 220mm rotor up front to feel the maximum power of the V4.


Endless modulation with Herculean strength.
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The larger forward piston of the V4 (bottom) provides more power and modulation than the E4 (top).

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V4 on the bottom, E4 above. The extra heft of the one piece V4 caliper is noticeable on the outboard side, machined slots/ridges act as a heat sink.

V4 vs. E4

NRG (Hope’s Canadian Distributor) sent 203mm rotors. It’s generally accepted that stepping up a rotor size increases brake power by 10%. My wonky mental math says a 203mm front rotor plus the increased power of the V4 should theoretically provide the same power as my E4/220mm rotor. Power delivery feels on par with one another in the current configuration. The V4 has far more modulation.

A snippet below from Hope Design Engineer Sam Gibbs (via Cam McRae’s E4 review) explains the difference in feel and power between the V4 and E4.

Cam: Can you tell me about the differences riders would feel between the V4 and the E4 (how much difference in power etc.) and how the products' design influences these differences?

Sam: The V4 brakes are significantly more powerful, (more than 10%) but compromise a little on weight. The E4 brakes are lighter and smaller packaged which may be a consideration on some frames and forks depending on what rotor size you want to run. You will also notice a slightly firmer lever feel on the E4 due to the smaller brake ratio, which may be desirable depending on personal preferences. The softer bite point on the V4 brake helps modulate the extra power.

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Control on greasy slabs is easy as pie. Is pie easy? I know it's definitely easy to jam in my mouth.

The Verdict

The Hope V4 harbours an incredible amount of power, which isn't surprising. My aha! moment came when I felt the huge amount of modulation. Those in search of a high-caliber brake should put the V4 on their short list.

I've thrown the idea at Cam to compare the Hope V4 against the new SRAM Maven. Swapping brakes would be laborious, so perhaps we'll swap bikes instead.

I'm also intent on trying a 220mm rotor when summer weather arrives. If this comes to fruition, I'll provide an update.

Hope Tech 4 V4 - 440 CAD / wheel

Hope V4 Vented rotor - 240 CAD / wheel

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Comments

ClydeRide
+7 Allen Lloyd Jotegir BarryW Graham Driedger lennskii Konrad ohio

“I prefer the thick bois as they are less prone to warping, shrug off impacts from shitty line choices, and dump heat better.”

Thicker rotors don’t actually dump heat better, they’ll just absorb more before you notice.

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Jotegir
+2 Graham Driedger lennskii

ClydeRide coming in with the big boy brake wisdom.

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a.funks
+6 Kenny Graham Driedger lennskii BarryW ZigaK ohio

Although a thicker rotor won’t dissipate heat faster, a vented one will because it’s got more surface area and the vents act like a centrifugal fan, pulling air through the disc from inside to out.

I have the previous Tech 3 versions of the E4 and V4 brakes and I’d concur with the differences in power and feel. Still going strong after over 11 and 5 years of use. I gather the Tech 4 levers increase the power a lot!

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Gdreej
+3 lennskii BarryW ClydeRide

Thanks for the correction - they manage heat better.

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Jotegir
+5 Pete Roggeman Kapolczer Graham Driedger Andy Eunson Tim Coleman

This article reminded me that I'm really glad Lanctot didn't, at least from the outsider perspective, gut NRG and make them Lanctot-west. . Still one of the best distributors to deal with, both pre- and post-purchase. 

I was actually really optimistic that Lanctot was picking up some actual experts on distribution, 100% of cross country ski distributors are worse than the bottom of the barrel Canadian bike distributors and getting gear for winter from Lanctot was no exception. Not that I'd ever put NRG into the bottom of the barrel category - if you read this, thanks for all the  jolly ranchers over the years guys.

-------------------------------

Even post interview snippet, I'm left to wonder why a 'normal' rider out here would choose the E4 over the V4 when the V4 is apparently better at both power and modulation. If weight is near the top of your concerns, I can't imagine you're choosing either of those options.

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Graham Driedger

If feel at the lever is different, that would be a consideration for people dropping this kind of money on replacement brakes.

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Jotegir
+2 Graham Driedger BarryW

I suppose that's reasonable, but from my perspective these most likely aren't brakes I get to cruise into a LBS and fiddle with on a floor bike. Unless you've got riding buddies with both, something like lever feel preference is perhaps a bit more theoretical or abstract  compared to a statement like "more power, more modulation, and more weight", which is a comparative that will hold true no matter whether I get to mess with lever feel before buying or ordering them sight unseen (feel unfelt?).

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pete@nsmb.com
+3 Jotegir Graham Driedger BarryW

100%. If it were me, I'd be hoping the owner/staff at my LBS had them on personal bikes and I could feel/test them that way. Obviously hiiiighly situational.

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BarryW
+1 Graham Driedger

If only.

In my part of the world we don't have a single decent shop around that cares at all about mtb. Let alone have an informed employee that would have a customized bike. 

But I'm loving the sound of these brakes. Not really in the budget right now as I upgraded the fork AND shock on the bike already this year. 

And my brakes work well enough. At least well enough compared to anything else I've tried.

So far!

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Gdreej
+2 Jotegir BarryW

The NRG folks have been nothing but lovely to deal with. 

Your question regarding E4 vs. V4 is valid. Brad's comments further below is saying I should consider a re-bleed, but I'm confident my bleed is airtight. I mention this because the lever feels is indeed slightly different between the two, and I've been more than happy with the E4, until I tried the V4!

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DanL
+1 Graham Driedger

damnit. I am good with my E4s. Now you say it could be gooderer ?

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Gdreej
+1 DanL

It all depends on what you're looking for. The feel has more modulation than the E4, but rotor size and pad compound will play into the equation for more initial bite. I'll provide an update when I switch them up.

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DanL
+1 Graham Driedger

I'm all in for modulation so that's a good thing to know about the V4s. I made the assumption that it would be same feel but more power, so it sounds like Hope have addressed the more power with more lever feel.

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pbass
+3 Cr4w Graham Driedger DanL

Stick some of these ebc pads in your v4s for a huge amount of power. I tried all the hope compounds before getting to these.

https://ebcbrakesdirect.com/red-downhill-hope-evo-v4

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Gdreej
+1 pbass

Thanks Pbass. When you say more power, are you talking about initial bite, or ramping up in general? I'll keep the EBC reds in mind.

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pbass
+1 Graham Driedger

Tbh I have a hard time distinguishing between initial bite and overall power....unless these pads just have a lot of both! 

Use them for bumbling around local trails and for bike park DH and always found them awesome. I am pretty heavy so put a lot of stress on brakes.

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Roxtar
+3 Graham Driedger lennskii BarryW

I've been on the T4V4s for about a year and a half now.

I've always been a huge fan of XTR brakes and used them in my last several bike builds. Nothing I'd tried had compared to the power, light touch, and ease of maintenance (bleeding and pad/lever adjusting). 1-1/2 years ago, I built up new Evil Offerings for me and my wife. XTRs weren't available so it became the perfect chance to try Hope's new biggest and baddest I'd been reading about.

They have been a revelation with one very real caveat.

First, the good. They are every bit as powerful, light feeling, and solid as XTR (In my experience they have a very solid feel with ZERO mush - Graham, you might want to re-bleed) but with the addition of phenomenal modulation. The Shimano on/off thing is gone. Not sure how it's possible to have that much power and solid feel, along with soft modulation but it's there.

Next the less good. Setup is finicky, to say the least. Adjusting Shimano brakes comprises of; loosen caliper bolts, squeeze lever, tighten bolts. These Hopes? Not so much. You truly have to sight them in perfectly or you'll get rotor contact. This isn't that difficult with the rear as it's right out in the open. The front is much harder to see the gaps while sighting them in. This issue is exacerbated by small hands. I have catcher's mitts so it doesn't effect me too much. My wife, however, is tiny and runs her levers extremely close to the bars. Basically full brake lockup at about 1/8" off the grip. No room for error.

After a few months of re-adjusting over and over, I finally put her back into XTRs (available by then). The XTRs are simply way easier to get the pads centered properly.

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lennskii
+1 BarryW

For my wife who also has small hands I've stuck by brakes with small length brake levers as many brakes free stroke also gets affected by the reach adjust (e.g. Shimano's, Maguras and even the stock Hayes Dominion A4s regular, though they also make a short finger option) are brakes that don't overly/rely more-so on mechanical leverage. These Hopes and especially TRP EVOs were a no-no (unless you go aftermarket with a Freedom Coast lever for the TRPs but they then just buy a different brake and save your $).

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C.C.
0

I used to run Hope Tech V3's on Shimano ice-tech rotors, which I liked a lot in regards to modulation and lever feel. As a rider with smaller hands, this set up worked nicely for me as I prefer to have the brakes engage as close to the grip as possible.   

I'm curious about the Tech 4 V4.  Can you elaborate on why Tech 4 V4's are not good with smaller hands?  

Does your wife not like having the brake engage close to the grip? 

With the adjustable bite point and reach, is there enough adjustability to suit different rider preferences?

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Roxtar
0

The problem was that the pad centering is so finicky. It requires the caliper to be visually centered to the rotor, with pretty much exactly equal gaps on each side. You can't do this by simply squeezing the brakes on the rotor, ala Shimano. It's especially hard to get it exactly dead-on in the front since it's difficult to sight them in with the fork blocking your view. 

With the lever adjusted farther out, like I have on mine, you have some room for error. She needs the lever so close that you have to have the pads set to the gnat's ass to avoid light (but noticeable) pad to rotor contact.

Shimano's pad centering is way more idiot-proof.

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Shinook
0

FWIW Hope has STL files so you can 3d print a centering tool, among others (bleed block, piston tool, and a few others). They have a centering tool for rotor thicknesses of 1.8mm and 2.3mm. I believe, in theory, you could clamp this in on the rotor and it would help with the centering process.

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MarkMeisner
+2 Niels van Kampenhout Graham Driedger

Did someone noticed Graham rode with helium in his rear tire?

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Gdreej
+1 Mark Meisner

Hah, nice perspective Mark!

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g-42
+1 Allen Lloyd Graham Driedger Nick Meulemans

I have a serious aversion to DOT fluid brakes - just don't want to deal with that level of nastiness when working on bikes. But man, that bleed kit looks like it would just be a joy to work with, especially compared to the chintzy plastic stuff I use for my Shimano brakes.

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Gdreej
0

Fair enough. I don't find DOT to be as evil, YMMV.

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dano91
+1 Graham Driedger

Also been running them for a year now. Here are my takes.

The bleed process take a bit of figuring out, especially if you don’t have the kit. It’s extremely important to centre the pistons properly.

Lever is extremely light and offers tons of modulation. I like how little effort it takes to slow down enough on steep moves. The lever can feel spongy in the parking lot but on trail it feels linear and firms up nicely as you move through the lever action. I’m running it 220 HS2 rotors front and rear. Lever shape is not ideal for smaller hands but for big paws like mine they are excellent. 

Green pads are extremely powerful but wear out too fast for my liking. The purples have been the ticket and have plenty of power on tap with a long life. 

On the trail I can’t think of any negatives. They are by far the best brakes I’ve used and I will be keeping them for a long time.

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Roxtar
+1 Graham Driedger

One hint regarding the Shimano I-spec EV adapters. If you want the shifter (or dropper lever) closer than the Hope adapters will get you, you can grind a tiny amount off the stock Shimano integration nut and it will fit in the Hope lever clamp, allowing you to bipass the Hope adapter.

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DanL
+1 Graham Driedger

One more thing to add - if you want to pair a T4 lever with a beautiful Hope dropper remote you will also have to purchase, separately, the hope to SRAM connector.

Otherwise I have nothing but love for my T4s

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mutton
+1 Graham Driedger

Thanks for the tasty write up. Price wise the brakes seem pretty reasonable and I notice in the comments it’s not a requirement to run the Hope rotors as I recently invested in HS2’s. 

Any word on ease or requirements for maintenance? I have entirely rebuilt my codes and appreciate that I am able to purchase every component needed for a complete rebuild. 

It would also be super interesting to hear from people switching from codes or Hayes Dominions as to the difference in feel / power.

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DanL
+1 Graham Driedger

They're an easy rebuild if you've done your codes with excellent customer and technical support, simple to source parts. I rebuilt my calipers from the ground up and their videos and diagrams were very straight forwards.

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Gdreej
+1 DanL

Dan is spot on. Hope offers replacement parts for basically everything with tech diagrams and videos for the procedure. 

Maintenance wise, Hope emphasizes that rotor alignment is crucial. This is true with every brake. If the pistons are even slightly warping the rotor instead of actuating evenly, or off centre, your levers will feel spongy to some degree, potentially with a pulsating feel. It's also advised you lube the pistons with every pad change and verify alignment. Re-bleed every year. 

I ran Dominions for the past 2 years. Also incredibly powerful brakes with a crazy light lever feel, with vast modulation. The pair I had wasn't perfect, I couldn't achieve the short lever throw Cam McRae had with his set, even after a caliper rebuild & piston replacement. I believe this was isolated to my pair only. In my experience, I'd say the Hayes are slightly more on/off, likely because of the sintered pads vs. Hope organic compound. I would gladly try Dominions again.

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Polymath
+1 Graham Driedger

I've used almost every Hope brake since 1999.  I refuse to use any other brake.  I currently use the E4 and for those curious, you can run normal rotors in a V4 system.  Technically, you should use the V4 if you are doing real DH where the build up of heat is more significant than normal riding.  I went with E4s on this fact.  

Regardless,  Hope brakes are so well made, easy to bleed, setup and use.  Feel is remarkable with no pump up or fade (the original C2s had pump up you had to manually adjust for with dials on the master cylinder cap....not good on the fly).   Stainless hardware and fittings......only issue....getting small parts.  I used to get them from CRC but eBay is a good place to look, especially eBay.co.uk (the UK site).

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DanL
+1 Peter Leeds

in my experience, tartybikes in the UK are the best resource for all things hope.
Edit: some more info...tartybikes ship very fast to Canada as well, I've had small parts arrive within

If you're in looking for general Hope hose + fittings then Allied Action Sports in North Van stock those as they fit Hope brakes to their Surrons - so it's very probable that other Moto stores could have Hope basics in stock.

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Polymath
0

Thanks.  I'll look them up.

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captainsl0w
+1 DancingWithMyself

Did you use braided hose or standard one?

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Gdreej
0

Regular hoses. I didn't want to potentially bodge the hose trim of the braided set, occasionally I'm a ham fisted type.

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moraucf
+1 Graham Driedger

Nice writeup! My final setup on my enduro bike for 170lb rider is 180mm 2.3 front with green pads and 200mm 2.3 rear with the purple pads. It was surprising but it really felt like 200mm on the front was too much power and was having a hard time modulating at time even though like you mentioned the modulation on these brakes are fantastic. Power and modulation feels great now and it's nice knowing that I have a bit more heat capacity on the rear where it's more common to need it over the front. 

My dad has T4E4 and can confirm that the V4 feels more spongy in the parking lot but not noticeable on trail IMO.

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Gdreej
0

Thanks for the kind words. 

Nice work on swapping pads / rotor sizes so it works best for you. The larger rotor out back makes sense for more modulation.

I'm 92kg, so a larger rotor up front works better.

You're spot-on with the parking lot feel vs. what actually plays out on the trail with lever feel.

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ohio
0

Not clear to me whether you NEED to run the 3.3mm rotors. Will the pistons/seals pop out with 2.1 or 2.3mm rotors once the pads wear? $250/rotor is a deal breaker for me, but I'm otherwise interested in the brakes...

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Gdreej
+1 ohio

I don’t believe there’s a minimum rotor thickness for the V4. If there is, nothing in the tech manual supplied mentions it. Hope has rotors of varying thickness at 1.8, 2.3 and 3.3mm, which should all work fine with the V4.

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morgan-heater
+1 Graham Driedger

I ran a rotor down to about 1.8mm and a couple sets of pads, no issues.

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a.funks
0

I ran 1.8mm floating rotors originally with my V4 brakes. Once I’d worn them out I switched to the then-new 2.3mm rotors - and went up from 203/183 to 220/200. They’re on a 160mm ebike so they have to work pretty hard! (I’ve got E4 with 203/183 on my singlespeed hardtail - the lower weight, lower speeds and reduced grip makes the lower braking power a good match).

When the discs were near the 1.5mm thickness limit the brakes were still working fine but I got scared of them buckling and causing a bad crash!

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Mish
0

I have the Tech4E4 Tech3E4 and Tech3V4 across current bikes. Current favourite is the Tech4E4. For sure the V4 has buckets of power but there is slightly more dead band and that softer bite- I find the E4 calliper a little quicker to hit that “bite point” and prefer it when doing last minute snap braking down something Techy and fast. I would recommend the V4 for heavy bikes or Riders and when hitting sustained braking on fast descents when you want to scrub a lot of speed. For snappy on/off fast braking it’s the E4 - also new green pads are awesome!

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