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Hope Technology Tech 4 E4 Hydraulic Disc Brake Set

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Absolute Showstopper: Hope Tech 4 E4 MTB Brake Review

The bar has just been raised.

Rating: Vital Review
Absolute Showstopper: Hope Tech 4 E4 MTB Brake Review

We’re big fans of all things Hope here at Vital, after years of positive experiences with many of their products. The CNC wizards from Barnoldswick, England have a habit of taking their time with product development, and they’ve been in no rush to update their excellent Tech 3 brakes which have been garnering great reviews since their introduction in 2013. Still, they knew they wanted to make some improvements and 2022 saw them introduce the inconspicuously named Tech 4. Hope sought to provide a lighter lever feel and increase the braking power, and without getting ahead of ourselves, we can certainly attest to the fact that they have succeeded. In fact, the Tech 4 is probably the new gold standard as far as we are concerned. Read on to find out why!

Strengths Weaknesses
  • Very powerful
  • Fantastic modulation
  • Much lighter lever touch than the previous generation
  • Quality and workmanship
  • Durability and serviceability
  • New “Racing” compound pads bite hard out of the box
  • Slightly “blockier” appearance of new lever assembly
  • Slightly messier bleed procedure than some competitors

Hope Tech 4 E4 Highlights

  • Increased power versus Tech 3
  • Lever shape updated to provide a more ergonomic shape orientated to provide the best mechanical advantage during braking
  • Hinged clamp reducing weight and improving ergonomics
  • Shifter integration improved for more adjustability
  • Tool free bite point and reach adjustments
  • Hybrid piston design
  • Rigid CNC'd one piece caliper
  • Complete brake available in black or silver with color accent options of: black, silver, purple, red, blue, or orange
  • MSRP: $245 USD (standard hose), $260 USD (braided hose), price per side excluding rotors and hardware

Initial Impressions

There was no mistaking the heritage when we pulled the new Tech 4 brakes out of the box. The industrial CNC look is still there, and even though the lever has a completely new shape, you’d recognize it as a Hope brake from a mile away. As for the calipers, they have in fact remained largely unchanged and look almost identical to the Tech 3 (on the outside).

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It seems a bit shallow to start with the looks, but this is in fact probably the only real “weakness” we’ve been able to identify so far (with due recognition that any observations regarding appearance are and will forever be subjective). The Tech 4 lever is a bit bulkier and less well-proportioned than the Tech 3, and the lever blade shape appears almost as an afterthought from some angles. Rest assured that these traits have no bearing on performance whatsoever (quite the opposite, most probably!) and can be taken with a pinch of salt.

New Tech 4 lever (top) compared to Tech 3.

Diving into the stuff that matters, Hope claims to have increased the power of the Tech 4 by 30% compared to the Tech 3. The most common complaint levied against the Tech 3 was probably a perceived lack of power compared to some other brakes on the market, so this point definitely caught our attention when we skimmed through the brochure. By using roller bearings for the lever blade pivot points and reducing internal friction, Hope was also able to use lighter master cylinder return springs which translates to a lighter lever action. On the caliper side they’ve moved to stainless steel pistons with phenolic inserts, which they claim will call for less maintenance while still being able to manage the extreme heat generated on long and steep descents.

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Mechanically, the Tech 4 lever retains the same, tool-free bite point and reach adjustments as the Tech 3. This is good news as this system provides a great range of adjustments and is very consistent and easy to use. All the adjustments are external to the master cylinder piston area which is good for reliability and system longevity. Shifter integration has also been improved on the Tech 4, with better angles and a sleeker look on offer.

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On The Trail

Installing the Tech 4 is fairly straightforward. The new hinged clamp does away with one bolt compared to the previous version which makes attaching it to the handlebar slightly less fiddly. We cut the hoses to length and installed fresh “olives” to reconnect the hoses to the lever port. We then bled the brakes from the top down, filling the open reservoir and pumping fluid through the system to purge air. This gets a little messy when reinstalling the reservoir cover, but you just need to wipe everything down once you’re done and you’re good to go.

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To clean up the cockpit, we used the appropriate adapters for a Shimano shifter and a SRAM-compatible dropper remote. The new adapters are an improvement compared to the previous generation, and we were easily able to find our preferred lever positions. We chose to run Hope’s excellent floating rotors, which are a little bit heavier than other options but which have proven themselves to be very strong performers in our experience. They resist warping and do not suffer from excessive heat buildup even under extreme conditions.

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When you give the new brake the first squeeze of the lever, you’ll be surprised. It feels quite different to the Tech 3, with a MUCH lighter lever action and more “flex” in the lever after the bite point. With that we mean that the Tech 4 almost feels spongy compared to a Tech 3 – but that’s only in the workshop. The minute you hit the trail, you come to realize that the 30% increase in power touted by Hope is well and truly present and accounted for – these things will slow you down in a hurry with just minimal pressure on the lever. It doesn’t matter how steep the trail gets, you’ll never run out of power and that is without having to use much force at the lever blade.

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We’ve been running two pairs of the Tech 4 during 4 months in parallel for this test, one pair mounted up to the main trail bike of the author of this review, and the other one on the big enduro bike of the author’s son. Both testers have extensive experience with Hope Tech 3s as well as many other brands of brakes, and both testers reported the same thing: the Tech 4 is both familiar to, and a massive departure from the Tech 3.

Vital tester Nils Hjord enjoying the modulation of the new Hope Tech 4 brakes.

The first point of difference is the light lever action. It is a lot easier to engage the lever on the Tech 4, it starts moving with minimal finger pressure and it’s very easy to feel the bite point. But rather than being grabby, the Tech 4 just builds power in a very deliberate yet somehow linear way. Think Shimano feel without any initial grabbiness, and you’re on your way to picturing how the Tech 4 behaves. As for the stopping power we previously alluded to, it’s nothing short of impressive and that bears repeating here. Just squeeze the lever a bit, and you’re dropping anchor with a purpose.

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It only took our two testers a couple of rides to become very familiar with the Tech 4, to the point where they were both able to handle them completely intuitively and with perfect control even in very loose conditions. This is really what makes the new brake so impressive and at this point, we’re going to say almost unrivalled. Sure, there are many good options on the market that deliver both power and modulation – but none with this specific mix of linearity and near-infinite stopping ability. The bite point and reach adjustments work great, ensuring that you’ll be able to place the lever exactly where you want it and have the pads start engaging as per your preferences. The bite point has also been 100% consistent during our testing so far, always engaging the pads at the exact chosen spot during repeated braking. The Tech 4s have resisted fading even on long, hot descents with significant vertical drop.

Main tester and review author Johan Hjord testing the Tech 4 in the desert.
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A word on brake pads: Hope has released a new “Racing” compound which comes fitted as standard in the Tech 4. This organic pad provides slightly more power compared to the classic organic Hope pad, and also requires next to no bedding in out of the box. We really like the original organics, and this new pad feels very similar with just a bit more power. Not having to bed them in is pretty cool too. The do wear a little bit faster than the classic organics, and we’re gonna say that unless you race you can probably keep buying the classic compound. It works great both in the wet and the dry, provides ample stopping power and will outlast the new racing compound.

Classic Hope organic pad on the left, new racing compound on the right.

Things That Could Be Improved

This section is very short and consists mainly of nitpicking. Yes, we think the new lever body maybe “looks a bit less nice” than the previous one, the proportions are just a bit less harmonious than the Tech 3. Do with that information what you like – you may not even agree with it, that’s OK too! As always with Hope brakes, we can also point out that the “open reservoir” bleed procedure is prone to being a bit sloppy (Hope does provide a bleed tool that can make it slightly less so). Neither of these two issues are very material in the big picture, and they certainly do not detract from the impressive performance the new Tech 4 puts in on the trail (and in the workshop).

Long Term Durability

We’ve had 2 pairs of the new Tech 4 running in parallel for 4 months, and both of them work exactly like new at this point. That is hardly surprising as Hope brakes have an excellent track record when it comes to durability (they are also easy to work on and fully rebuildable). One important improvement to note regarding the Tech 4 is the move to stainless steel pistons with phenolic inserts. Hope’s goal here was to combat the “lazy piston” syndrome that could sometimes affect the Tech 3. That issue was generally easy to keep on top of by regularly cleaning the caliper pistons, but if the new brake can increase the service interval in this respect like Hope claims, that’s great news. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on things as neither of our two testers are planning to take these brakes off their bikes anytime soon.

What’s The Bottom Line?

How do you improve on something that was arguably already very, very good to start with? By raising the bar! This may sound like hyperbole, but we’ll stand by these words. The Tech 4 takes everything that was good about the Tech 3 and brings it to a new dimension, with significantly more power available and less input required at the lever. The result is a brake that saves rider energy while providing all the control needed to navigate demanding terrain - an intoxicating mix that presents a serious challenge to the rest of the brake market now. In fact, the Tech 4 is so good that the primary tester and author of this review has just ordered another set for his personal big bike – bought and paid for at MSRP.

More information at: www.hopetech.com.


About The Reviewers

Johan Hjord - Age: 49 // Years Riding MTB: 17 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan 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.

Nils Hjord – Age: 18 // Years Riding MTB: 10 // Weight: 176-pounds (80-kg) // Height: 5’9” (1m80)

Always committed to having fun on his bike, Nils likes to keep his wheels in the air almost as much as on the ground. Although he enjoys going fast and is no stranger to burping his tires off the rim, he has dedicated most of his riding time to mastering manuals and making his tabletops flatter – but that doesn’t mean he can’t put the hurt on his wheels through a high-speed rockgarden too, when needed. Good thing his dad is a full-time Vital staffer with access to lots of bike parts that need testing!

Photos by Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Hope Technology Tech 4 E4 Hydraulic Disc Brake Set
Riding Type Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Lever Material Aluminum
Mount Style Direct Mount
Rotor Sizes 160-203
Rotor Mounting 6-bolt
Fluid Type DOT 5.1
Colors Black or Sliver body with Black, Blue, Red, Orange, Purple or Silver accents
Weight 0 lb 10.4 oz (296 g)
Miscellaneous MSRP: $245 USD per side, excluding rotors and mounting hardware.
Weight: 296 grams per side, uncut hose, excluding rotors and mounting hardware.
Price $245
More Info

www.hopetech.com

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