Local ‘cross racer and all-round shredder, Rich Norgate has been giving the Hope 20Five wheelset a run for its money through a whole season of racing and knocking around the local trails. How has it faired?
- Reviewed: 20Five Pro4 Wheelset
- From: Hope Technology
- Price: £150 front, £250 rear
Over to Rich
It’s more than 9 months that I’ve had these wheels bolted to a bike but in that time they’ve been taken over a wide variety of terrain. Hope Technology doesn’t really need a big introduction but this an interesting proposition from the no nonsense UK company. Reliable, strong, design and well built are a few words that come to mind when we think about Hope Technology. It is a company that has made its name in mountain biking, but its ‘cross, gravel and road options are expanding – including the RX4 brakes tested by Tom recently. I tested these wheels with high expectations, then. Anything less than robust, durable and dependable performance would be disappointing.
The 20Five Pro4 wheelset sits in an ever increasing range of handmade wheels offered by Hope. From carbon rims to lighter hubs, j-bend spokes to straight pull, choose your preferred approach and Hope will probably have a wheel to match.
This build probably represents the company’s most robust offering. Let’s start at the hub. The “Pro” series of hubs has been a mainstay in Hope’s line up for donkey’s years. Over that time, they’ve built a reputation of being a safe pair of hands. Reliable, reassuring and easy to maintain when they eventually do tire. They also feature that familiar Hope click-click-click noisy freehub that you’ll either love or hate. The Pro 4 is Hope’s latest incarnation and is the centre of the 20Five wheelset. All the wheels are built in the company’s Barnoldswick factory, so customisation is king. Want a red front hub and blue rear? No problems, you weirdo. If you want to go for a lighter weight hub, then the same wheelset is available with the RS4 hub.
The hubs are built on to Hope’s own rims – in this case a 25mm deep, 20mm internal width aluminium number. 20mm isn’t as wide as some gravel wheels now, but should provide ample support for ‘cross and gravel tyres. Maintaining the theme of reliability, the wheels are laced with 32 j-bend Sapim Sprint double butted spokes. It’s good to see brass nipples being used – reliability being favoured over saving a handful of grams per wheel.
Hope 20FIVE – Pro 4 Tech Specs
- Rim dimensions: 25mm deep, 24mm external width and 20mm internal width
- Rim ERD 594mm
- Rim width is ideal to suit larger volume road/cross tyres
- Strong dependable welded join keeps rim together on hard knocks
- Weight for rim only 425g
- Wheels are built using high quality Sapim Sprint double butted spokes and brass nipples
- Wheels come supplied with QR and 15mm end caps for the front wheel and the rear wheel comes with QR and 142×12 end caps as standard
- Choose from our 6 different hub colour options
- Wheels can be adapted quickly and easily to suit different frame and fork fitting using our conversion kits available separately.
- Front wheel 855g Rear wheel 970g (with Shimano freehub body)
Since I’ve had the 20Fives on my Orange RX9 they’ve had to be like a chameleon; the ground they’ve covered has changed from week to week, and they’ve had to match that. Competing in my first winter ‘cross season I was constantly swapping out tyres every weekend from 28mm winter road tyres to Isla Griem Pro CX tyres and occasionally dropping on some big old 40mms and testing them out on my local mountain bike routes. While the rims come tubeless ready, I decided to opt for tubes to make those regular tyre changes easier, cleaner and quicker. The only small issue I noticed now and then was seating the tyres – this was easily resolved with a little spray of water to help them along. [Tech Ed Tom here – I’ve run the same rims tubeless, and had no issues with getting tyres to seal].
The internal 20mm rim width worked well with the profile of the ‘cross tyres and while you probably don’t want to fit 25mm road tyres, the wheels worked well with a slightly more generous 28mm tyre. Wider road tyres are a new experience for me and I’m a convert. There is no noticeable drag and it’s actually a more pleasant experience with added volume for riding road in the winter. I think 30mm winter tyres will be a dream set up this year. At the other end of the spectrum, 40mm tyres ran just dandy as well. 20mm is possibly a little narrow compared to some other ‘cross/gravel wheelsets, but it’s not that long ago that we riding mountain bike width tyres on similar set ups. Wider gravel tyres are slightly more rounded than on a wider rim, but unless you are very tight on clearance, I reckon you’d be unlikely to notice the difference when it comes to ride.
The wheels have had a fair amount of terrain thrown at them. For me a true example of a quality product is simply when it just gets on with the job and works. I quickly stopped thinking about what the wheels were doing and simply enjoyed the ride. To me, the tracking around turns on the road felt tight, the pick up out of muddy corners in ‘cross was responsive and venturing in to more rocky terrain the wheels felt stiff and inspiring. They may not be the lightest (Hope’s claimed weights are actually bang on) – actually they are pretty hefty, but for the price, it would perhaps be unfair to expect featherweight performance on top of robust reliability.
Coming from a mountain bike background I was a little worried that the wheelset could feel a little overwhelmed if I pushed them off-road; but this was in fact one of the areas that impressed me the most. The wheels seemed right at home on rooty single track especially when paired with a 40mm tyre. Even when the trails started to become a little more serious, and I pushed beyond the realms of what would be fair to consider as “gravel”, the wheels held true, in every sense of the word. Remarkably, I didn’t suffer any pinch flats, but more importantly, the wheels have also remained ding free.
The wheels have been subjected to a full winter cross season and the bearings are still running smooth, despite receiving no maintenance at all. The anodised finish to the wheels and well considered graphics has meant they still look box-fresh after the endless winter.
If you’re looking for a reliable do it all wheel set I’d be doubtful that you could find a better option than the 20Fives. They’ll be right at home bashing round school playing fields or eating up winter miles, all the while quietly going about their business and not causing a fuss. For me, they are the holy grail of affordable wheelsets and with my first 3 peaks just around the corner I’m feeling these wheels will be a perfect choice. They may not be an out and out performance wheelset – the weight does eventually hold them back – they do put a smile on your face, and will continue to do so for many, many years.