Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Johan Hjord and Tal Rozow
Rims have been getting wider and wider over the past few years, with manufacturers citing features like lower tire pressures, wider contact patches, and higher air volume as the main reasons behind the trend. Additionally, the plus-size tire “movement” has once again opened people’s minds to experimenting with fatter tires, and as a result, there’s a fresh batch of weird and wonderful new tire widths to choose from. Hope took their time before jumping in with an extra-wide rim offering of their own, but with the 35W they have now thrown their hat in the ring as well. We’ve been Read More »
Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Johan Hjord and Tal Rozow
Rims have been getting wider and wider over the past few years, with manufacturers citing features like lower tire pressures, wider contact patches, and higher air volume as the main reasons behind the trend. Additionally, the plus-size tire “movement” has once again opened people’s minds to experimenting with fatter tires, and as a result, there’s a fresh batch of weird and wonderful new tire widths to choose from. Hope took their time before jumping in with an extra-wide rim offering of their own, but with the 35W they have now thrown their hat in the ring as well. We’ve been pounding on a set for a couple of months to figure out what’s what – read on to find out how we got along.
Hope Tech 35W Wheelset Highlights
- Welded and eyeleted 6061 T6 aluminum rim
- 35mm internal, 40mm external width and 19mm deep
- Black Sapim Race stainless steel double butted spokes
- Silver brass nipples
- Tubeless compatible (tape and valves not included)
- Standard and straight pull hub wheel builds available
- Front wheels supplied with QR and 15mm conversions for 100mm front (20mm caps also available)
- Boost front wheel option comes built with 110x15mm Boost specific hub
- Rear wheels supplied with 135mm QR and 142x12 conversions
- Boost rear wheel option comes built with 148x12 Boost specific hub
- Shimano, SRAM XD and Hope freehub body options available for rear wheel
- 32 hole Pro 4 hubs
- 4 pawl ratchet mechanism
- Stainless Steel, sealed cartridge bearings
- Rim ERD: 27.5", 562
- Weights for rim only 27.5”: 580g
- Colors (hubs): Black, Silver, Blue, Red, Purple or Orange
- Complete straight pull 27.5" wheel weights: F 1003g R 1106g (verified)
- MSRP: £380 | €490 (standard hubs), £420 | €545 (straight pull hubs)
Prior to getting hold of these new, wide-rimmed wheels we had been rolling on a regular set of Hope wheels, featuring their 23-mm internal width “Enduro” rim. We originally reviewed that wheelset last year, and we’ve kept it on our bike since with impressive results – the hubs are still spinning freely, and the rims have stood up to a significant amount of abuse. We’ve had to true those wheels a couple of times following particularly graceless moments on the trail, but they’re still holding a perfect tubeless seal and the amount of rim wobble is strictly minimal. In light of this experience, it would be fair to say we had high hopes for the 35W version as well, if you will pardon the pun.
To test the new rims, we took delivery of a pair of “Hope Hoops” – a complete wheelset built on the most recent iteration of the company’s classic hub, the Pro 4 (refer to the aforementioned review for full details on this hub). We opted for the straight pull version which adds a little flair to the wheels, even though this could potentially make it a bit harder to find spares in a pinch.
The 35W rim construction is classic, with a hooked bead and eyelets in the spoke holes. What is more unusual of course is the 35-mm internal width – a full 10mm wider than what was considered a wide rim just a short year ago or so. The overall build quality is excellent, with the wheels spinning true out of the box. The spoke tension is fairly high, which together with the hefty weight gives an impression of a wheelset that means business. At 580 grams per rim, the 35W weighs in about 70 grams heavier per side compared to the “regular” 23-mm version, for a total wheelset weight of 2109 grams (verified). That’s a far cry from the 1600-1800 grams that most all-mountain or enduro wheelsets seem to aim for these days, but then not all such wheels are truly up for it when the going gets tough either.
The Pro 4 hubs are easy to convert between different axle standards (via a mostly tool less endcap swap), and there are 3 different kinds of freehub drivers available – Shimano, SRAM XD, and Hope’s own freehub driver (which they developed for their own, wide-range cassette). Note that if you need Boost, the wheels will be built on a Boost-specific hub-shell which takes advantage of the extra space to optimize the flange spacing. For us, it was time to hit the trails…
On The Trail
Converting the 35W rims to tubeless is a fairly straightforward affair, although you may well find that your regular rim tape is not wide enough. Two overlapping layers solve the problem, or you can order up a bespoke rim tape width of course. Inflating the tires was absolutely the easiest tubeless floorpump experience we have ever had, bar none (tested on several tires). The wide rim is also quite shallow, and the long, gradual slope of the internal walls seems to help hold the tire bead in place from the very first burst of air. Once sealed, they stayed tight and held pressure well. Moving over the cassette and rotors was devoid of any drama, and coming off a previous pair of Pro 4 hubs we didn’t even have to adjust shifting or align the brake pads for the new wheels.
We started testing with a pair of e*thirteen’s excellent TRSr/TRS+ tire combo. This tire was designed specifically for rims from 24-31mm internal width, so once paired with the 35W rims they predictably appeared just a tiny bit extra square in profile (although you should note that this is also how these tires were designed). Compared to a 2.4 Maxxis Highroller on a 23-mm internal width rim, you can clearly see how the sidewall is straighter on the wider rim on the left:
Rolling out, we were surprised to find that the bike still seemed to roll fairly well, despite the extra heft and the grippy tires. Hope hubs seem to always spin exceptionally well, which clearly helps with rolling speed, and the effect of the 35-mm rim here was perhaps less pronounced than we had originally expected. When it came time to lean the bike over, more good news: there’s a ton of grip on tap here, and perhaps more importantly, it’s all very predictable. If you’ve ridden tires with a pronounced gap between the center and the side knobs, you’re probably familiar with that slightly vague feeling that some of these tires produce when you lean into a turn. With the TRS/35W combo, that feeling is nowhere to be found. Leaning into turns feels as gradual as leaning a sportbike on asphalt, with no marked transition whatsoever. At the edge, this predictability remains. Very confidence inspiring and lots of fun!
One of the advantages of running a wider rim is that you can get away with less tire pressure. We got our best results between 22-24 psi, although it is entirely possible to go quite a bit lower still if you are a smooth or lightweight rider. In any case, this low pressure does wonders for stability over rough terrain, as the tire can easily deform to follow the contours of whatever obstacle lays ahead. The contact patch is also bigger as the tire compresses under load. Additionally, with such a wide rim the sidewalls are held straight, which results in a lot less tire squirm than you would expect on a classic rim at these pressures. We did not experience any burping issues until going silly low.
The extra grip translates to wetter days as well, with the TRS tires shrugging off all but the stickiest of conditions. Even with the tread full of mud, we found grip over rocks and roots. There does come a point where this particular tire tread packs up a bit, especially the super-sticky TRSr that we ran up front, but only in the worst possible circumstances. We went on plenty of wet rides where the tread cleared itself easily.
We also tested the 35W rims with the all-new Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 WT and DHR 2.4 WT, respectively. This is a wide-rim specific variation of these two classic tires, developed specifically to address the current wider-is-better trend. Maxxis being Maxxis, the 2.5 WT still looks a bit slimmer than the 2.4 e*thirteen tire it replaced, but Maxxis were not looking to make a wider tire here. Instead, the tread pattern and the orientation of the blocks were optimized to work with the squared off tire profile that the wider rims produce.
The WT tires produce a rounder profile than a regular tire, which leaves it looking very “normal” once mounted to a 35-mm rim. This tire is also slightly lower volume than the e*thirteen tire it replaced. Rolling out, our first impression was of speed! Even at low tire pressures, this 35W/WT tire combo rolls with impressive ease. To confirm our impressions, with this tire we would now keep pace with other bikes that had previously pulled away in a head-to-head rolling test. The tire has a different feeling to it compared to the e*thirteen, but seems to produce the same amount of awesome grip with the wider rims. If there is an outright difference in grip here, we were not able to quantify it. The e*thirteen feels a tiny bit more planted and stable perhaps (the e*thirteen compound is able to produce a very “muted” response to chatter), while the Maxxis combo picks up speed easier.
So who are these wide rims made for then? Aggressive riders looking for more grip and stability, and who don’t mind lugging around a little extra weight would be one obvious answer. A whilst it’s early days still, if you are intrigued by “semi-plus” offerings like the 2.6 tires that are just around the corner in terms of general availability, then a 35mm wide rim is a sure fire way to make sure you keep your options open as the wide tire trend continues to evolve. You could easily use these for a 2.8 plus tire as well. One thing is for sure: we’re in no hurry to swap these wheels out, even though they’ve added a few hundred grams to our current ride. They roll fast, help tires grip better, and they are a ton of fun.
Things That Could Be Improved
We’d love to see this wheelset weigh in at 1900 grams or so. But then again, we also love how bombproof these wheels are, so perhaps we’d be asking a bit much. As it stands, these wheels will surprise you with how fast they roll, even though the extra weight will make itself known on the scales.
Long Term Durability
We’ve given the 35W wheels a good hammering over the past 2.5 months, with only a couple of small dents to show for our efforts. We did manage to mess up one line properly, and had to tighten up a couple of spokes in the rear as a result, but the rim is pretty much still straight and true. As for the hubs, with 11 months of trail time behind us, the new Pro 4s are built to take a beating and it shows. When the time comes, servicing these hubs is straightforward and parts are readily available for any kind of rebuild – you should get years of service from your Pro 4s.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Hope Hoops roll fast, take a beating, and offer great value for money at a very competitive price point. The new 35W rims add a few grams to a wheelbuild, but make up for it with the benefits of the 35-mm internal width: more grip and stability as a result of lower tire pressures and a bigger, more compliant contact patch. If you are intrigued by the renaissance of wider tires and want to invest in a future-proof wheelset, the Hope Tech 35W should most definitely make your shortlist.
More information at: www.hopetech.com.
About The Reviewer
Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.