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Rhys has been spinning these rinky dink Hope Evo 155mm length cranks for quite a while now. Are they rad or just a short(!) lived fad?
- Brand: Hope Technology
- Product: Evo 155mm Crankset
- From: Hope Technology
- Price: £270 no spider, £300 w/ axle and spider
- Tested: by Rhys Wainwright for 6 months
Hope’s Evo crankset has been around a while now. The classic Hope appearance of machined aluminium anodized in any colour of the rainbow clearly has vast appeal to mountain bikers. The quality and service offered by Hope are second to none making them a solid investment.
The original design was a little too ‘proprietry’ for some folk and required special tools and a mighty 75nm tightening torque. The Evo version fixed that by changing the spindle interface to a tapered spline and reduced the torque required down to 50nm.
In changing the crank-spindle interface Hope also increased the stiffness of the crankset. A change to the machining profile of the cranks arms themselves also yielded an increase in stiffness here too.
Hope offers pretty much every kind of chainring imaginable, in pretty much every colour too. 28-36 teeth are available in boost, non-boost, oval or round chainrings. They all attach directly to the cranks using a proprietary tool – which is included in the box.
As usual for a Hope product review, I declare the Evo Crankset an engineering masterpiece. They really are stunning. Not a single piece has been skimped upon. All aluminium machined perfection. Just so long as you like machined aluminium, otherwise please look elsewhere.
Hope have always offered a generous range of length for their cranks, from 165mm up to 175mm in 5mm increments. However, after some experimentation and testing they have decided to introduce this 155mm length – declaring it the optimum, if you like (or need) short cranks.
What exactly are the benefits of short cranks?
I’m a big fan of shorter cranks. I’ve been steadily fitting shorter cranks to my road and mountain bikes for years now. They were all on 165mm until these turned up.
“Why?” you ask. Because I’m a modest height at 172cm and short cranks reduce my range of hip angle rotation and ultimately allow my legs to work within their most effective range of motion for more of the pedal stroke.
What I mean by this is that my leg is not over extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke, this is a big no-no from a bike fitting perspective and can give serious knee issues if your saddle is effectively too high. It also means my hamstring becomes unable to control the bottom of the stroke leading the knee to flop open.
Conversely, I don’t want my hip and knee angles too closed at the top of the stroke because my glutes and quads will be pretty much useless until my knee and hip have opened up enough to activate those big power generating muscles effectively.
Short cranks mean I can maintain control through the bottom of the pedal stroke whilst still feeling strong and in control with my opposing leg through the top of the pedal stroke.
All of this means I have a more powerful, more controlled, more efficient pedalling motion. A higher cadence feels natural, which is generally considered to be less fatiguing on the leg muscles.
Enough of the bike fit mumbo jumbo, what about any control advantages?
There’s an obvious advantage here; ground clearance. When pedalling you have an extra 15mm ground clearance over a 170mm crank. Having ridden these on my Hope HB.916 enduro bike for the past 6 months I can fully get on board that my confidence to pedal through rough sections has increased substantially and my pedal strike frequency has reduced.
The higher cadence pedalling motion combined with the extra ground clearance means that climbing technical sections with pedal snagging rocks and roots have become much more achievable.
The old phrase ‘spin to win’ has never been more appropriate.
On the other hand, tall riders may find that the cranks are too short and pedalling could start to feel like riding a child’s bike. Be warned and think carefully about how short cranks might affect your riding.
What’s the catch?
The trade off is torque. The shorter crank arm means less leverage and therefore less torque generated at the cranks.
However, this is only evident when you’re in first gear as gears are an effective auto correct for wheel torque. That is until you’re in first gear, then you’re suffering.
Lucky for us this is easily offset with a smaller chainring! Hope recommend reducing your chainring size by two teeth when going from 170mm to 155mm cranks.
Having ridden these Hope Evo 155mm cranks with a 32t round chainring and a 30t oval chainring, I agree. The 30t is much more manageable. The oval chainring also seems to work really well with the short cranks, smoothing power output to make climbing a breeze.
You can certainly feel the loss of leverage when climbing and it’s certainly something to be aware of before you pull the trigger. It’s a downside but a minor one that is easily offset in my opinion.
More on the riding bit…
There are other benefits that I’ve perceived when descending on these Hope Evo 155mm cranks. My feet are 30mm closer together (vs a 170mm crank-set) in the forward/aft direction which feels more natural and seems to give me less quad/calf burn on long descents.
General stability on the bike feels improved because of this too. I feel like my forwards/aft weight shifts are easier and spread more evenly across both legs.
There are as many ways to skin a cat as there are to get a mountain bike around a corner. I rather enjoy the outside foot down, commit to leaning the bike method on flatter and sometimes bermed turns.
The shorter cranks mean that my outside food has more ground clearance but is also crucially closer to the BB giving a less dramatic unsettling feeling when transitioning the bike from a left turn to a right turn and swapping the outside foot.
In summary, there are lots of advantages to be had from shorter cranks like these Hope Evo 155mm offerings. They need to be carefully considered in your riding style. More importantly you need to consider your bike fit. I would say shorter riders would benefit from these short cranks in most of the areas I’ve described. Taller riders may actually lose some stability and effectiveness in their pedalling motion.
Very few, if any, other brands are offering a crank length option this short. If you think it could be of benefit to you then I’d say they’re definitely worth a try. I love them.
|Product:||Evo 155mm Crankset|
|Price:||£270 no spider, £300 w/ axle and spider|
|Tested:||by Rhys Wainwright for 6 months|
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