You cannot question that straight pull hubs look amazing, giving your bike that elusive ‘factory ‘ look! But style is nothing without substance, and for a hard hitting enduro wheel-set performance and reliability are key! Initially I was a bit suspect about the ‘performance’ benefits offered by a straight pull wheel, claiming that spokes without an elbow joint are stronger, I have not seen many spokes that have snapped at the bend! When I received the latest Hope Hoops PRO 2 Evo in Straight Pull design for testing, after I got over how beautiful they were, I did a bit of background research and it appeared that some riders were wary of straight pull hubs worrying about factors such as difficulty finding spare spokes and truing ease.
There is something very beautiful about a Hope Hub, and the straight pulls are no exception.
Now the former issue is certainly a slight complication with the straight pulls, if you bust some spokes on holiday you are unlikely to find a local bike shop with a shelf full of straight spokes, however the wheels do ship with a couple of spares each! I picked up a handful of extra spokes from Hope just in case and have them taped to my pump. With respect to truing I have had no issues with the rims so far, but in the spirit of testing, I loosened a few spokes until a nice buckle formed, then trued it up again, I had no issue with spinning spokes, it was just business as usual! Hope shipped them built really well and the tensions were nice and even, I like to run a higher tension than most in my wheels and it was easy to tighten the straight spokes. Since that initial adjustment they have ran straight and true ever since!
500 hard riding hours in and the hubs are still spinning fast and smooth.
What I did do however, whilst railing a forest corner, is catch a fair size stick that got caught in the back wheel grinding everything to a noisy and immediate halt. Upon surveying the damage, I was surprised to see that only one spoke had been snapped, I was expecting much more. Now comes the wonder of the straight pull wheel, the broken spoke was rear drive side so it would be a cassette off job, requiring more tools than even the best prepared rider carries. However with the straight pull, I dropped the spare spoke straight in, tweeked up the nipple with a multitool and I was on my way! I had never really thought about this as a benefit, but replacing spokes is super easy, if you are a regular spoke snapper, these would be ideal.
Although getting tatty, the Flow EX rims have been faultless, and have offered problem free tubeless setup!
Performance of the Pro 2 EVO hub has been trouble free as expected, so far I have ran them daily for 3 months, and that daily is ‘guiding’ so they get hammered 6-8 hours a day over some of the rockiest, wet and dusty trails in Europe. The bearings are still spinning well, despite over enthusiastic cleaning and there is no play evident. The free-hub is now a little quieter than the original in the search for less drag, but the trademark Hope clack is still there, though now a little more reserved. The Flow EX rims have held up well to continued abuse and despite looking a little tatty, they still spin round and true and have a slightly wider track than the original flows so profile a bigger tyre well. Going tubeless has been very easy, I have ran two sets of Hans Dampfs and a set of Dual Ply High Rollers, and everything has seated and inflated first time with just a track pump! I have had no issues with burping or punctures, and have been running them down to around 25psi on the rocky stuff!
Now available in the new sexy 650b standard. These are next to be fitted on the test bike!
All in all, I have been really impressed with the wheels, over 500 tough riding hours in and they have not put a foot wrong!. They have taken big hits, landed sideways too many times and tackled the worst rock Lake Garda can muster and are still spinning well, and get a lot of admiring looks. They weigh in at 860g and 986g front and rear and retail at a very competitive £365, and can be fitted to almost any axel standard with push fit adapters. If you are looking for something reliable and good value for your next enduro wheel-set, and still want something with a lot of bling, you should check out these wheels. I highly recommend them and they will be staying on our bikes for the rest of the season!
For more information check out Hopes website.
Next for me is to test out the larger new 650b version running Stans Arch EX rims in the EWS events, we have something exciting planned! watch this space.Words and photos: Trev Worsey