Weight: 269g front, 278g rear (no rotors or bolts)
Rider: 6’2”, 205 lbs.
Test Locations: Colorado Front Range and Utah’s Wasatch
Conditions: Dry, wet, loose, rocky, muddy, hard, and everything in between
- Morewood Makalu 8” Downhill Bike
- Giant Reign X 170mm – All-Mountain / Freeride Bike
- Knolly Endorphin 140mm XC / Trail Bike
Test Duration: 45 total days of use, at least 7 on each bike
Features: pad contact adjust, lever reach adjust, flip-flop levers
In 2008, Hope Technologies released their Tech M4 brake set with an “improved” lever design over their tried and true Mini lever arrangement, which dates back to 2000. While the new “Tech” lever did add some nice adjustment features that worked quite well (pad contact and lever reach), somehow Hope managed to put the pivot of the lever in the wrong place, which resulted in poor geometry and made the brakes quite underpowered. So for 2011/12, Hope redesigned the lever geometry to correct the power issue, and termed the newly re-engineered lever, “Evo.”
Hope offers the Tech Evo lever in three caliper arrangements: the X2, the V2, and the M4. The Hope X2 caliper is a 2-piston caliper designed for lighter cross-country duties, and is offered with 6- or 7-inch rotors in the front and 6-inch in the rear. The Hope V2 is a massive 2-piston caliper with some of the largest fluid displacement on the market and is designed for extreme uses. It is currently offered with an 8-inch rotor only, front and rear.
The Hope M4 caliper falls between the X2 and the V2, with a lighter weight than the V2 caliper and a greater range of rotor sizes (6-, 7-, and 8-inch). There’s a small weight penalty compared with the X2 (~20g more per brake), but the trade off is more power, pad bite, and better heat dissipation.
If weight is an issue, Hope does offer a lighter, trimmed-down Race lever, which does not have pad contact or reach adjustment dials; is not “flip flop” style; and requires unhooking the line and bleeding the brake to set them up “moto-style.” The Race lever is offered with both the X2 and M4 calipers, and while I haven’t reviewed it here, I will in the future.
I set the Hope Tech Evo M4 brakes up on my DH bike with dual 8-inch rotors, and compared them with the M810 Shimano Saints and Formula THE ONE brake sets, which represent the two best DH brakes currently on the market.
THE ONE is a little more bare bones than the Hope. It does not include pad contact adjustments, and the lever reach adjustment requires a 2.5mm allen wrench. But THE ONE brake set is the lightest true DH power brake on the market thanks to its exceptionally machined shaping (215g). All of this shaping, however, comes with a high price tag, with THE ONE brakes costing ~$160 more per brake ($320 more per set) at retail. THE ONEs are also fairly labor intensive to set up and keep running.
The Shimano Saint brakes are generally seen as the most bulletproof, powerful, and user-friendly brakes on the market, but they are relatively heavy (342g). The Saint brake set also rings in at a solid $50 per brake more than the Hope M4 ($100 per pair) at retail.
The Saint features a tools-free lever reach adjustment and a “free-stroke” adjuster that does nothing to change the feel or geometry of the brake lever. But the Saint brakes are quite durable and do not require much or any care or feeding.
I set up the Hope Tech Evo M4 on my bike, and was off. I have to say that setup was a breeze, and I really appreciated both the lever adjustments, as they both worked very well and really helped dial in the lever’s feel.
A couple of runs later after the pads were fully burned in, I was quite pleased with the lever feel and modulation, but felt that the bite of the stock organic pads was a little lacking. This feeling did not get better throughout the day. The power was there, the feel was there, and the modulation was there. But the heavy hard bite from the pads was not. So as soon as I got home, I ordered some metallic pads for the front and rear, and installed them before the next ride….
The Shimano XTR Trail brake is a solid option to save weight without compromising stopping power. And after a season of testing, our reviewer has yet to experience any fade.
Avid's XO hydraulic disc brake set got put through its paces, and impressed at every step.
THE ONE brakes by Formula are some of the lightest and best performing brakes out there. (Especially with one highly recommended, relatively expensive upgrade.)