Hope Technology Pro 4 Front Hub

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First Ride: Hope Technology Pro 4 Hub

Words like “legendary” and “classic” get thrown around a lot, but in the case of Hope’s Pro 2 hubs, they are entirely appropriate adjectives. With a combination of solid features, good looks, all-conditions reliability, reasonable pricing, ease of maintenance, and of course that distinctive Hope sound, the Pro 2 is one of the most popular aftermarket mountain bike hubs in the world. Today, the Pro 2 retires, and the Pro 4 is here to take its place. And since we managed to lay our hands on a pair a couple of months ago, we’re here to give you our impressions of the new hubs already.

Hope Pro 4 Highlights

  • Machined from forged 2014 T6 aluminum billet
  • Sealed Stainless Steel cartridge bearings
  • Standard 6 bolt disc fitting
  • Larger spoke flange to enable stiffer wheel builds
  • 24, 28, 32 and 36

Words like “legendary” and “classic” get thrown around a lot, but in the case of Hope’s Pro 2 hubs, they are entirely appropriate adjectives. With a combination of solid features, good looks, all-conditions reliability, reasonable pricing, ease of maintenance, and of course that distinctive Hope sound, the Pro 2 is one of the most popular aftermarket mountain bike hubs in the world. Today, the Pro 2 retires, and the Pro 4 is here to take its place. And since we managed to lay our hands on a pair a couple of months ago, we’re here to give you our impressions of the new hubs already.

Hope Pro 4 Highlights

  • Machined from forged 2014 T6 aluminum billet
  • Sealed Stainless Steel cartridge bearings
  • Standard 6 bolt disc fitting
  • Larger spoke flange to enable stiffer wheel builds
  • 24, 28, 32 and 36 hole drillings
  • Rear hub: 4-pawl ratchet with 44 tooth engagement (8.2 degrees)
  • Rear hub available in 135mm & 142mm widths, as well as 148mm Boost, DH-specific (narrow cassette), and 150/157 options
  • Rear hub conversions available for QR, 10mm bolt in, 10mm, 12mm and 142x12mm thru axles
  • Supplied with freehubs to suit 10/11spd Shimano or SRAM XD cassette, aluminum or steel freehub body options
  • Front hub available in standard 100mm width, conversions available for QR, 9mm, 12mm, 15mm, 20mm and Boost
  • 110mm Boost-specific front hub available
  • Trials and Fatbike specific hubs are also part of the Pro 4 family
  • Colors: Black, Silver, Red, Blue, Purple and Orange
  • Weight (rear 142mm): QR - 311g, 142mm - 300g, XD
  • Weight (front 100mm): QR - 187g, 9mm - 184g, 15mm - 181g, 20mm - 173g
  • MSRP: £67/€94/$110 (front) // £160/€225/$270 (135/142 rear)

Evolution, Not Revolution

The 2015 Vital Audience Survey pointed to a commanding 30% share of the “intent to purchase” custom wheel hub category for Hope, comfortably ahead of its nearest two competitors combined:

So how do you go about replacing a classic? The answer is, you do it incrementally. With enough changes to warrant a new number, the Pro 4 was designed to take everything that was good about the Pro 2 and update it to the newest standards. Before you get confused, we should point out that the Pro 3 which launched a couple of years ago was never a mountain bike hub. The latest mountain bike hub from the boys and girls in Barnoldswick was the Pro 2 EVO, which offered improved engagement and a stronger axle compared to the original Pro 2. The Pro 2 EVO family included 135, 142, and 150 rear axle spacing, and was joined last year by a Boost 148 version as well. The regular 100-mm front hub covered everything from 9-mm QR to 20-mm through-axle with just a simple swap of end-caps, and a 110-mm Boost version was released for the front as well. However, in light of the recent evolution in wheel sizes specifically, Hope felt that they needed to make a couple of other changes to really keep up. Enter the Pro 4.

Although it sports a new name (number), the Pro 4 is really an evolution of the Pro 2 EVO. It gets bigger flanges to help build stronger, stiffer wheels (even with non-Boost hubs), and the engagement improves another notch, up from 40 to 44 teeth (for 8.2 degrees of engagement). Apart from going to bigger bearings on the freehub side, the construction of the Pro 4 is otherwise very similar to that of the Pro 2 it replaces. A solid axle, a freehub body with 4 pawls that engage the drivering, and good seals to keep the elements out. Switching between different axle standards involves simply swapping out end-caps, basically a tool-less procedure.

So apart from the distinctive sound, what sets a Hope hub apart? Hope themselves say that it is all down to execution. They use very high quality bearings from dependable suppliers, and a very thorough inspection process for the hub shells, freehub bodies, and axles. This aims to make sure that all the components fit together perfectly, without putting any undue load on the bearings in the final assembly. Based on our own experience with Pro 2 hubs over the years, this attention to detail certainly seems to translate to excellent longevity and years of trouble-free riding with minimum maintenance. Time then to mount up a pair and see how the new Pro 4 would behave on the trails – but first, let’s answer the question that is on everybody’s mind, what DOES the new freehub sound like?

On The Trail

Hope sent us a complete Hope wheelset already built up to test. The Pro 4 hubs showed up in the new and rad orange color (one of six available to choose from), laced with 32 double-butted, J-bend spokes to Hope’s own “Enduro” rim, a 23-mm internal width aluminum rim weighing in at 510 grams for the 27.5” version.

The complete wheelset tipped our scales at 1978 grams (without rimstrip), a few grams less than Hope’s claimed weight. The hubs themselves weigh from 180 grams for the front and from 300 grams for the rear, these are the same numbers as those of the Pro 2 they now replace (and Hope have kept the prices the same as well, incidentally).

We converted our wheelset to tubeless immediately, which was easy enough with some 25-mm Stan’s tape and sealant. Our trusty Maxxis Highroller IIs went up with just a floor pump, and the wheels have held pressure really well ever since. Mounting up the brake rotors and cassette was similarly devoid of drama, and so we were ready to go.

First things first: the traditional Hope buzz is still there, just a little bit more “refined”, probably due to the 44t drive ring. The second aspect that stood out was how fast the wheels roll out. The freehub seals generate very little drag, and the stiff, single-piece axle coupled with quality bearings means that these hubs roll very quickly even under load. At 1978 grams, this wheelset isn’t as snappy under acceleration as a 1600-gram pair of hoops can be, but boy does it carry speed well.

The wheelset is very stiff and precise, and responds well to rider input. Despite the heavy build, it never feels harsh. At 8.2 degrees, the Pro 4 rear hub offers the kind of engagement that feels crisp under power. Sure, there are 4.5 and even 3-degree hubs out there, but in our experience, the noticeable improvement in the riding experience occurs when the engagement drops below 10. Hammering off the start line or ratcheting the cranks to get over obstacles with the Pro 4 rewards the rider with almost instant power transfer, without any noticeable drive train sponginess. With this latest improvement, we feel Hope is close to the perfect balance of rapid engagement and reliability of the freehub.

At “only” 23-mm, the Hope Enduro hoops are not keeping up with the latest wide rim trend. However, we should keep in mind that 23-mm was considered more than wide enough until not very long ago, and it is far from a handicap here. We played around a bit with tire pressures during this initial testing period, and the tubeless will easily hold for normal riding at pressures down to 20 psi, although at that point you are of course at the mercy of rockstrikes. On that topic, we have already subjected this wheelset to a fair amount of bad line choice and botched landings, and it has held up every well so far.

We’ve made sure to expose the hubs to a wide range of riding conditions already, with excellent results so far. From muddy woods to dry and rocky desert trails, the Pro 4’s have just gotten on with the job at hand. The wheels are still true, and the hubs are spinning freely. We’ll update this article in a few months’ time for a more solid report on longevity.

Pulling the hubs apart after this first month of riding revealed that the seals have indeed done their job with no visible contamination so far. Based on our experience with the Pro 2, we’d expect the Pro 4 to keep going strong for quite some time before requiring service or bearing replacement. As stated above, we’ll report back after a longer test period to check in on our how our expectations are doing at that time.

So Far, So Good!

The Pro 4 replaces the Pro 2, which as of today is no longer being produced by Hope. It brings improved engagement and wider flanges to the table, with the same high level of attention to detail in the overall construction that made the Pro 2 a staple of many a wheel builder’s arsenal. The king is dead – long live the king!

The Pro 4 is available as of today. For more information, head on over to www.hopetech.com.

Words by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Hope Technology Pro 4 Front Hub
Riding Type Cross Country, Trail, Freeride / Bike Park, Downhill, Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Other
Shell Construction Forged 2014 T6 aluminum billet
Front Axle 9mm QR x 100mm, 15mm x 100mm, 15mm x 110mm (Boost), 20mm x 110mm
Bearing Type Sealed stainless steel cartridge bearings
Hole Count 24, 28, 32, 36
Disc Mount Type Standard 6 bolt
Colors Black, Silver, Red, Blue, Purple and Orange
Weight 0 lb 6.4 oz (181 g)
Miscellaneous Weight (front 100mm): QR - 187g, 9mm - 184g, 15mm - 181g, 20mm - 173g.
Front hub available in standard 100mm width, conversions available for QR, 9mm, 12mm, 15mm, 20mm and Boost.
110mm Boost-specific front hub available.
Trials and Fatbike specific hubs are also part of the Pro 4 family.
Price $110
More Info

​www.hopetech.com

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