Review: Hope Technology MTB Crankset
The Hope Technology crankset attracted some great press attention when it was released earlier this year. That's not surprising, because although Hope are constantly testing and developing products, they're the kind of company that won't release anything until it meets the grade, and betters it. Therefore, when a new product does come into wide-scale production, it's sure to be superb. This crankset certainly is.
From the moment you unbox this carefully machined piece of metal, it demonstrates all of the signature Hope characteristics. From its anodised colouring, with its laser-etched graphics, to the custom installation tools; this is a product whose R&D process left no stone unturned.
Whilst carbon cranksets are now wide spread, a lot of firms (including Japanese giant Shimano) continue to produce even their highest specification cranks from alloys. This is primarily because they find the stiffness of metal to still be greater than that of carbon, at least on a product like a crank arm. It's also because a crank arm transmits an incredible amount of force, and metal is less likely to fall victim to catastrophic failure, as can occur with carbon composites. Hope is very much an alloy company anyway, and specialises in its machining and anodising technology; so it was predictable that they too, would opt for the metal crank option.
Unboxed and laid out on the workbench, the Hope Crankset demonstrates a beautiful simplicity, and a product that as a result could probably last a lifetime. Installation is straightforward and simple: following the instructions and using the supplied tools, you effectively lock the two parts of the crankset together at high torque, then use just finger tightness to move in the locking ring, and take out any play.
It's simple, yet incredibly reliable. The finger-tight locking ring means that there isn't a smidgen of movement, but it also means that you're not at risk of over-compressing the bottom bracket bearings. I haven't had to touch it since I've installed it, apart from a small nip up on the locking ring after a few rides. It's simple, yet bombproof.
The cranks spin freely in the bottom bracket, and the wide BB30 bearings provide a great solid feel and a strong platform. Out on the trails, the power transfer is evident, and these feel like the stiffest cranks that I've tested off-road (or on-road for that matter).
OK, so carbon cranks would be lighter; but, there is a great reassurance that you haven't caused a hairline fracture in your cranks, just because you hit that rock on a drop off. There is also reassurance that you aren't causing serious damage from occasional heel rub on the crank arm (in fact, the clever machining on these means I haven't seen any heel rub at all). Alloy is still definitely my preferred choice for MTB cranks, at least for the time being, and this is as good as alloy gets.
The cranks partner perfectly with Hope's version of the "thick/thin" single chainring. You can either bolt one on, with the supplied chainring bolts and spacers; or you can use the neat cinch rings, which do away with chainring bolts altogether and reduce overall weight [I have not tested the latter of these on these cranks]. The ability to use either a traditional crank spider or this new cinch technology, makes these future-proof.
In summary, I can't fault the Hope Technology Crankset at all. Much like their hubs, headsets and bottom brackets; it offers a beautifully simple, yet incredibly durable design. It offers superb power transfer, strength and stiffness; all in a stylish package.
Hope have done it again. They've created a product that will last for years, and quietly continue to function flawlessly throughout that time. British engineering, at its best.