We visited Hope Tech near Manchester in Lancashire England a while a back to see how their production worked. Whilst we were there they gave us a few components to test. We were particularly interested in their four piston Tech 3 E4 Enduro brakes, which we mounted on our Cannondale Jekyll test bike for the last 4 months.
Our main testing location where the recent European Enduro Series took place in Punta Ala Tuscany, has provided us with some great variations in riding, from easy going trails to tracks like Rock-OH, which really challenge the stopping potential of your brakes.
Our Hope Tech 3 E4 brakes mounted and ready to go on the trails of Punta Ala.
Hope in their technical summary highlights their, “Rigid CNC’d one piece caliper with 4x16mm phenolic pistons to give more usable power.” They also mention, “The Tech 3 lever offers 5% more power compared to our previous lever, with an ergonomic design to fit around other handle bar items.”
The lever assembly.
The E4 caliper.
Hope make it clear the idea is to make a dependable adjustable brake system that fits on the bar and despite being third party, can easily be adaptable to the other components. Compatibility is key.
The lever and caliper sets come without needing to be bled or adjusted. However, as they are generic it might be necessary to trim the cables to length according to the bike they are being mounted on. It should be noted are left and right hand specific, so the correct set needs to be purchased. We mounted the brakes with laser cut hope discs in 180mm rear and 203mm front.
Tech 3/E4 details
-Tech 3 lever offers genuine bite point and reach adjustment without tools
-Uses post mount, 9.74 caliper with adapters to suit all mount options
-CNC machined from 2014 T6 aluminium alloy
-Top entry pad fitting
-Shimano I Spec Shifters can be fitted directly to lever body. Separate Sram Direct Mount also available
-Black anodized for durability
-Available to fit 160, 183 and 203mm front and rear rotors
-Weight from: 266g (standard hose), 300g (braided hose).
-€215 per brake.
These are our third set of brakes to have tested recently, so each time we have changed we had to adapt to a new feeling. The Hope Tech 3 levers are very adjustable and we felt comfortable with their ergonomics right away. We didn’t have to rearrange our bars too much to fit them on, and just got on with riding. The Hope levers had a responsive positive feel to them and although we mostly ride with one finger braking, the levers feel able to handle two finger control.
There are two main adjustments on the levers : reach and bite point. We set the reach at our go to spot that we normally use and adjusted the bite point accordingly. We were able to fine tune the levers very precisely, but it should be noted that only a quarter or half of a turn on the screw makes a big difference. The levers are tough, robust, and beautifully machined. Ascetically they ticked all the boxes.
The E4 caliper is a 4 piston design with two brake pads held in place with a retaining pin and springs. It is a one piece unit, hollowed out from a single block of aluminium.
The caliper is easy to mount and we found the brake hose angle compatible with our set up with no adjustment needed. In our time spent testing, brake pad wear on the Hope discs was on par. The cylinders and sealing features over had flawless performance throughout out test as well.
The pad retaining clip.
We fitted a 203mm rotor on the front and a 180mm out back. Hope utilize floating rotors which are a bit unique. The aluminum spider offer some weight savings compared to steel rotors. Also they seemed to respond better to heat changes. We found that during use the discs stayed true, but we had to make sure the calipers were adjusted correctly, any mis-alignment and we found the discs had a tendency to gently squeal if there was a build up of water or dirt. This went away with correct alignment.
Hope brakes come with all the parts needed to get up and running in terms of adapters and small parts. We found the stock hose length was actually ideal and didn’t require trimming. Bed in time for the pads was a couple of runs before the brakes started performing at full power. It was necessary to tune the lever feel a few times as the brakes were sensitive to correct adjustment. For the first few runs we tweaked the reach and bite point to until we worked out what felt optimum, something we have not done much before with other brake sets. All in all the tech 3 brakes were super adjustable and easy to work with.
we were pleasantly surprised with the ease of bleeding the Tech 3 brakes. They bleed in a very similar way to car brakes. Fill fluid in at the top, pump the brakes and let the air bubbles flow out of the bleed nipple at the bottom. In fact there is no way to attach a syringe at the top, you just open the reservoir. Inside is a supply of fluid, Hope specifies using DOT 5.1 brake fluid, so if you need to open them it is recommended not to get this fluid on paint or sensitive areas as it will damage it. As with all bleed procedures it is important to have clean brakes. This is particularly necessary when opening the Tech 3 lever cap so no excess dirt falls in. We were pleasantly surprised to find the Hope brakes to be one of the easiest, least fussy systems to bleed.
The top cap removed from the caliper.
The bleed nipple with valve bolt. You place a clear tube and collecting pot on this nipple to gauge how much air is in the system.
Hope Bleed Video
Hope have actually put together a useful video showing how easy the bleed procedure is.
On the trail
Our first run with these brakes was on Querca Numerata, a trail used for the Superenduro racing a few years ago. It’s quite long and is a good way to test scrubbing brakes and heating them up. We did a few runs and gradually worked out how to tune the handles and how the brakes worked over a period of prolonged heating and use.
The Tech 3 E4 feeling was different to previous brakes, powerful yes, but different. The initial stroke is quite soft and then the pads come into contact with the disc and the brakes ramp up fairly quickly as does their braking power. By tuning the screws on the lever precisely one could tune how the modulation worked. It took a few rounds to get it right. Once set, the brakes felt similar to our Magura MT7’s we had been using previously but with a little more of a solid feeling behind the lever once their power was being applied.
As the Tech 3 brakes heated up, the brake’s performance remained constant, we did notice that it was worth checking lever reach and bite point once we had done a run to make sure it was all the consistent. The Tech 3 felt slightly more sensitive to settings compared to our previous brakes we had tested. The four piston design certainly gave us power at all times and we felt safe with these brakes. We didn’t have to think about what condition our brakes were in, as their heat dissipation and performance was pretty top notch and fade was not an issue for us at any point.
Brake pad wear was really good over our time on the Tech 3’s, we felt that the pad compound had been made for harsh wet and muddy conditions, like that which typifies a UK riding trail.
Hope have a simple design that has been tested over time and has proven to work well. The Tech 3 E4 performed and did not let us down once. We pushed them hard and they did what they were supposed to do without fuss or drama. It has been interesting comparing brakes over the last months, and with the Hope brakes we found a system that was reliable, but needed precise tuning to maintain the exact feel that the rider was looking for.
Other brakes we have tried (Shimano/Magura) have not needed this adjustment as much, but it might be because their lever felt vague over time compared to the Hope Tech 3. The use of DOT 5.1 fluid intrigues us and could mean that the brakes are more sensitive to set-up due to the fluid properties. Once we found our ideal setting, we just rode with out thinking about it. We think that certain riders will like this sensitivity/precision of set-up, as they can tune exactly what they want all the time, where as other riders might prefer not to play as much.
Hope have produced a quality, good looking brake with the Tech 3 E4. We think that the power is certainly enough to be be used with Enduro riding, as the extra power 4 pistons give you is reassuring when descents get rowdy and long. Hope does well with their Floating discs to readdress the balance of weight. The discs ran great all the time we were on them, and proved to be our most durable discs we have used so far this year.
If you like the Hope styling and quality of finishing (which is pretty good in our opinion) and want a solid performer that is highly adjustable then the Tech 3 is a good option for a 4 piston brake system on an Enduro bike.