I had a bit of a sweaty palms moment when the long-awaited Hope crankset arrived at my house. Like many riders, I’d been following the tradeshow updates, trawling social media for teasers and awaiting the final release. I was really interested to see if they lived up to all the hype they’d generated.
Hope touts its new chainset as fit for cross-country, all-mountain and enduro use. With a low weight at 641g, including a 34-tooth spiderless, no-drop chainring, it’s a UK manufactured and designed bit of kit that fits right into the top end of the bling spectrum. With an oversized 30mm spindle and CNC-sculpted crank arms, Hope has designed a crank that purportedly delivers increased stiffness across any form of riding you do – so I was eager to get it on as many different bikes, in as many different scenarios as I could.
The chainset started its tour of the bike country on board my Salsa Spearfish, an unashamed cross-country race machine. It’s a few grams heavier than the X0 crankset it replaced, but nothing that couldn’t easily be shifted from its rider with a bit of focus in the ‘less beer’ column. Anyone harping on about the weight penalty of these cranks over XTR, XX1, etc, needs to need to take a long hard look at themselves first.
The first couple of rides on the Hope crankset were annoying because, as ever, I’d not read the supplied instructions with the cranks when I installed them. Although the installation process is something you can just do, it pays dividends to actually do it right, as it’s a bit fiddly and involves a few tweaks to get it just right. Saying that, once I actually read the instructions and followed them to the letter, any creaks and clunks vanished. The ability to tighten up the junction between the spline and the non-drive side crank is a stroke of genius. No more stripped pinch bolts for the cack handed. Pop in the proprietary tool that comes in the box, tighten away, and you’re done: cranks that will stay attached, with no movement or flex. I’ve not much to say on the Hope 30mm external bottom bracket except it had the same quality build I’ve experienced from Hope’s previous HT2 models, and it was nice to be able to fit a modern crank to an old bike with a threaded bottom bracket, with no faff.
I ran the cranks for about a month on the Spearfish with a mixture of different chainrings and had no issues. Swapping between a 2×10 to a 1×10 setup called for a move to the Endurobro™ bike. Again, read the instructions when you want to take the cranks off, otherwise it takes a bit longer than it probably should as you spend a lot of time scratching your head. So maybe, as a negative, these are not cranks for someone who shifts kit between bikes a lot… which is not actually that many people, let’s be honest.
It was at this point that I started playing with the two chainrings, both of which were simple to fit. The spiderless retainer chainring is a wonder of CNC milling and stiff to boot – although it has a proprietary spline that fits only the Hope cranks. A bit of a bugbear in my brain, but in a world of ever increasing ‘standards’, something we have to put up with. Both chainrings performed well with minimal chain drops – those that did occur were caused mostly when the user was evacuating his bike at high speed, and I can’t fault either of the chainrings for that. The longevity of the tooth profile has been great so far; I’ve put nearly four months of grim winter riding on the standard retainer ring between my trail bike and singlespeed, and it’s still looking like it has loads of life left.
The last home for the Hope chainset has been on my singlespeed backpacking rig, where I recently dragged it around 220km of the Cairngorms Loop in the snow. I do like to ride uphill, usually with one gear which is generally too big for the hill I’m on. Flex, what flex? The cranks are beasts under high torque; it’s an expensive singlespeed upgrade, but one that’s really good for eking out those extra few metres on a climb before your knees explode.
Downsides are few and far between. When these cranks were released, many forumites whined about the finish which – in their expert opinion – would wear away after a few rides. I can confirm that despite suffering a combination of Calderdale’s finest grit and grime and my heel-in riding style for four months, the face of the crank arms is in great shape. The ends of the cranks have had some major impacts with rocks/roots/cats and are showing no abnormal signs of damage. I can’t say the same for my old XTR cranks.
I’m sold on these cranks. They may have taken a long time to get here. They may not be the lightest cranks for their price. They may not be as svelte and streamlined as some carbon options out there. But they are stiff, well made, and in my opinion dependable in the long term, with Hope’s historically outstanding customer service backing them up.
|Cranks £245, bottom bracket £80, direct-mount chainring £55, four-bolt chainring £45
|by Greg May for four months