Hope's UK-made wheels are a popular choice among riders around the world. So how does the Fortus 26 stack up against that reputation?
The Hope Fortus 26 (26mm internal width) versions use proven Pro 4 hubs and an own-brand rim that errs on the tougher/heavier end of the spectrum.
Hope offers two wider rims, if that’s your thing (it’s ours too), but the DH-specific, 30mm option is very heavy duty with extra internal struts and extra weight. The (lighter) 35mm one is too wide for the majority of tyres in the popular 2.4/2.5in ballpark too, so this 26mm version looked the best option.
Hope’s wheels use 32 Sapim Race J-bend spokes, tensioned and hand-finished with tougher brass nipples in-house in Lancashire. We’ve experienced a few sets of Hope completes on test bikes needing extra spoke tension after the first couple of rides, but once tweaked, the Fortus wheels stay rock solid and work well. It might be preferable if Hope tensioned the wheels slightly more or de-tuned them somehow, as either the Pro 4 hubs or Hope’s rims seem to come slightly looser than other brands following the bed-in period.
We’re big fans of Hope’s flagship Pro 4 hub now that the four-pawl pick up offers 44 engagement points, as it’s responsive enough to eliminate any noticeable lag or hesitation when cranking. They also last reliably for years without constant attention, partly because of Hope’s excellent bearing sealing. This design means the Pro4’s don’t spin quite as freely as some rivals with the bike static, but it’s impossible to notice this on the trail, and the fact that they stubbornly keep dirt out is a major bonus in UK conditions.
Hope Fortus 26 rim is weld-joined, uses spoke eyelets rather than a reinforced well and weighs a chunky 580g. This translates to requiring noticeably more effort to drag uphill, and also slower to accelerate than lighter wheels here. The Fortus set also feels slightly slower and less zingy than DT’s and Halo’s alloy options on test under power. These two brands are also cheaper as Hope’s complete wheel price has crept up slightly in recent years.
Hope’s 26mm rim delivers a tyre shape that’s slightly less squared-off than we’d prefer and, probably due to the extra weight, doesn’t feel particularly as fast or lively as some others with identical tyres and pressures. Basically, other wheels here make your bike feel more energetic under power for a bit less cash.
As a complete package, Hope’s offering is built on durability and reliability, but we can’t help but think they’d be even better with a lighter rim. In theory, this could add comfort and shed extra system weight, so the wheels roll more easily when climbing and generating speed from a standstill.