UK firm Hope Technology have made some changes to their top end Tech series brakes, with the production of the revised Tech Evo system, now called the Tech 3 E4 and aimed firmly at the Enduro market. Hope kindly sent us two pairs for testing, so Trev and Jim put them through their paces for 2 months over some of the toughest terrain in Europe. Would long standing Hope user Jim see an improvement with the new design, and how would did they rate against other high end brands.
I have been running the original Tech Evo with the race lever and was more than happy with their performance, but feeling obliged I upgraded to the Tech 3 E4! The difference in performance is very subtle, with the 5% more power produced by the new master cylinder, so not really noticeable, especially as I changed at the start of the crappy weather.
The levers retain the fantastic easily changeable ‘on-the-fly’ bite and reach adjustors, so the feel is still spot on. Hope have really concentrated on the compatibility with these new master cylinders, with them now being a slender fit on the bars you are able to fit them alongside the Shimano I-spec shifter, plus a nifty direct mount adaptor is available to run with SRAM.
The calipers are (as usual) machined out of a solid block, so retain that Hope trick look, sporting 4 x 16mm identical pistons. Adaptors are available to fit either 160, 183 or 203mm rotors, weight of the caliper and master cylinder is 400 grams. Available with either black or braided hose. I have now been running these for around 2 months, with (just like the previous Hope breaks) absolutely no problems. They also retain the Hope ‘easy to bleed’ feature, being the easiest breaks to bleed, favoured by all bike mechanics, they’re so easy, even I can do it!
I must admit that unlike Jim I have not used Hopes since the old Hope C2’s. I have been working through different generations of Hopes Japanese competitor and have never felt under braked. I have a long history of tweaking with my current race brakes and thought I had them perfect, I did not really expect Hope to make any improvements over my current high performance units. Upon receiving the brakes a few things were immediately apparent, first off they were just beautiful, the new levers strike a nice balance between industrial and shaped and the quality is obvious. The lever feels a little more moto inspired than the competition, with nice machined perforations for grip and a knurled end for security. A nice feature is that everything works and is well thought out, the levers and calipers are easy to fit and the stainless hoses are a nice touch.
The levers can be adjusted for reach like most, but the bite point control is also very functional, allowing you to decide EXACTLY where you want the pads to connect in the lever throw. I have spent the last 2 months on these brakes, racing in the Finale EWS, 3 local enduros and daily riding in shuttled Alpine and Scottish terrain, and they have shrugged of impacts of poor line choices with ease. Another plus is their consistency, after many days of shuttled long 30 minute + pinned Alpine descents everything feels as it should with no fade!
So, how do they feel, well surprisingly the difference was greater than I expected. After bedding them in, initially I was a little underwhelmed, until I realised the beauty of these brakes. I had been used to a brake that came on hard, positive and provided bags of power at the brush of a finger. The Hopes felt a little smoother in comparison, but the more I rode the better they became. The difference lies with the modulation, the Hope units offer sublime control at the point of pad contact, offering a much longer zone of power delivery.
If needed they have enough power to rip the skin from the earth, but they need a more postive pull than some other units. However if you want to remain in control and maximise your braking efficiency, the E4’s are exemplary. On really steep or muddy terrain, or in full gas racing the smooth control provided traction and deceleration where I would have been expecting to be sliding and skidding. I am now a big fan of the Tech 3/ E4 combo and they will be staying on the bike, I think their robust feel and smooth control makes my riding better! If you like On/Off braking there are more suitable options, if you like smooth intuitive control, then the Hopes are well worth a look.
Words and pics: Jim Buchanan and Trev Worsey