Hope updates a classic wheel with faster engagement, improved sealing and a host of other improvements
Hope has been making hubs in Lancashire long enough that it will only mess about with a winning formula if significant improvements are on the table. Well the venerable Pro 4 has finally become the Pro 5, where the biggest shift is to a much faster engagement. The points of engagement have gone up to 102 from 44, thanks to a new offset six-pawl freehub design with a 54t ratchet, which gives a maximum 3.5º pick-up.
There’s also improved sealing including a new flexy labyrinth seal behind the freehub body that really snaps into place, and a reduced axle diameter to accommodate larger, stronger bearings. Pawl return springs have also had tension reduced to significantly decrease rolling drag. The most obvious element of all this is not the much faster pick up and free speed, but the very different freehub sound – now quieter and higher pitched.
Flying under the radar somewhat are the improvements to Hope’s Fortus rim line-up, including this SC (single cavity) version here. This has a slimmer profile, omits some reinforcing bridges inside the rim and is a lot lighter than the regular 30mm internal Fortus rim – all ensuring it’s a far more sensible weight for a UK trail/enduro rim.
These Centrelock SC wheels use 32 Sapim race J-bend spokes with silver brass nipples and weigh a significant 375g less a pair than Hope’s chunky, double-walled Fortus 30 Pro 4 six-bolt wheels that we’ve tested before. Machine built and hand finished, spoke tension was good and didn’t loosen during testing, which has happened with Hope wheels previously. But the main improvement is that these SCs ride a lot better.
The lack of a double cavity inside the rim means there’s less outright rigidity, but you can’t feel any downside while riding, and the 6061 aluminium welded rim has the same wall, which we’ve always found pretty tough and dent-resistant.
Lighter, yet just as solid, these are the best Hope mountain bike wheels we’ve tested. They feel stiff and direct, but with a comfortable and smooth ride quality that offers a great balance between rolling speed, reasonable weight for acceleration and climbing, and sufficient toughness and impact resistance. And with that really snappy engagement, the SCs feel world’s apart from the heavy, slow, wooden old Pro 4 Fortus 30s.
Whether this new-found liveliness is thanks to the Pro 5 reduced freehub drag helping them spin faster, or the lower rim weight, or a combination of both is hard to tell, but the result is what matters. Having to tape the rims yourself and add valves is about our only gripe. This annoying step is time consuming and needs care to ensure you don’t create bubbles or wrinkles, which can affect tubeless sealing. That aside, this is a solid, flex-free package that doesn’t ever feel like you’re dragging around a lump, like the old Fortus did. Even the price is fair considering the overall quality.