While considering the components and color scheme for my new enduro bike, I was attracted, like a butterfly hovering over a flame, to Hope Techs’ wide rainbow assortment of mouth-watering, eye-candy-like anodized hydraulic brakes and shifters. Less known in the USA but very popular across Europe, I decided to purchase a set of Hope Tech 3 E4 brakes, which came with a few parts anodized orange, but with others finished in black, to which I swapped-out the remaining black colored pieces for orange. Finding the right color for your bike can be a daunting process as additional colors for individual pieces, like calibers and covers aren’t listed on Hope’s website. However, numerous 3rd party sellers offer these pieces, which are original Hope parts.
Hope has been manufacturing bicycle components since 1989 in the UK, by Ian Weatherill and Simon Sharp, both of whom had been employed as engineers for Rolls Royce’s aerospace division. Dissatisfied with the state of mountain bicycle cantilever brakes, they decided to manufacture their own line of disc brakes, which now, 28 years later, are still entirely manufactured in-house at their UK-based factory. For the first two years of business, Ian and Simon only made brakes for themselves and their friends. In 1991, they offered those disc brakes, along with hub sets, to the general public, and in 1992 they went global. In the years 1994 thru 95, they offered the first hydraulic disc brakes for mountain bikes. Today, Hope Technology resides in an 89,000 sq. ft., called Hope Mill, in Barnoldswich, UK, where they manufacture a wide-range of bicycle components, accessories, and lights.
Hope 3 E4 specifications:
• Bite point and reach adjustment without using tools. (Knobs allow for easy adjustment while riding)
• Post mount 9.74 caliper with adapters to fit all mounts
• E4 caliper uses 4 x 16mm phenolic pistons for increased power (5% more versus prior models). Heat transference to the DOT 4 fluid is reduced versus metallic pistons, which aids breaking efficacy while breaking hard, over protracted time periods.
• 2014 T6 aluminum, CNC machined from solid stock (Not cast)
• Shimano 1-Spec, Shimano 1-Spec 2, and SRAM shifter levers are available
• Anodized colors: black, purple, red, orange, blue, silver
(Note: all choices come with standard black levers, which can be switched-out for matching colors
• Fits 160, 180, 183, 200, 203mm front and rear rotors
• Manufacturer’s claimed weight: 266 grams for standard hose, 300 grams for braided hose that’s more robust, has a higher bursting pressure, and is less prone to being crushed.
I adjusted the grab on my rear hydraulic disc brake by making its bite more aggressive than the front brake, which I adjusted to bite less aggressively because I rarely apply my front brake while descending and sliding around tight corners using my rear brake. The reach of the Hope E4 calipers was readily adjusted “on-the-fly” via generously-sized knobs situated on top of the brake levers, something lacking on my Shimano XTR M9000 Race Disc Brakes, which require an adjustment tool to affect reach length. In addition, the other two knobs on each lever allows for brake pad contact adjustment. Incredibly, thoughtful engineering that makes micro-adjusting the brakes a cinch while riding.
Another engineering touch, is the ease in bleeding these brakes. No syringes or special tools are necessary. Simply open the bleed port that’s positioned on the caliper to bleed the system from the top-downwards. It’s that straightforward.
The Hope E4 brakes are my first foray away from Shimano, and I did so with trepidation as I’ve ridden with Shimano XTR since its inception in the early 1990’s. My concerns proved unfounded and I am delighted to report my extreme satisfaction with Hope Tech’s 3E4 brakes. The brakes grabbed perfectly and performed consistently on long descents and I noticed my grab on the calipers didn’t increase with long-term braking; they modulated breaking beautifully and didn’t exhibit the abrupt grab of Shimano’s XTR M9000 Race brakes.
Some riders may chafe at the Hope Tech 3E4’s higher price tag and increased weight; my XTR M9000 Race weighed in at 216 grams versus 298 grams for the Hope, actual measured weight, not manufacturer’s claimed weight, and the cost difference was minimal. But for me, the caliper reach and brake pad contact adjustability, the superb modulation of the brakes, the beefy construction from solid stock, CNC machined aluminum, and the beautiful anodized colors sealed the deal. I’ll be equipping my future mountain bikes with Hope Tech’s hydraulic disc brakes.