Building on their 25+ years in the biz, the Hope Tech 4 E4 brakes pull in a range of updates designed with the enduro rider in mind. As expected, build quality is top-notch and the changes offer increased power. However, they can be tricky to bleed properly and the brake lever isn't as comfy as others.
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The Tech 4 brakes are Hope’s newest iteration, replacing their much-loved Tech 3s. This time around they've been given a whole new look, featuring an all-new brake lever designed to be more ergonomic while providing what Hope reckons is the best mechanical advantage during braking. According to Hope, these are 30% more powerful than the Tech 3 brakes.
Along with the new lever, most clearly, the reservoir's shape has been rejigged, increasing its overall area in order to reduce its stack height. Against the previous Tech 3 lever, it’s much flatter. A very welcome change means the brake now uses a hinged clamp with a single bolt. Not only does this save weight, but it makes installation a bit easier.
The lever’s shifter integration has been improved too, now offering 30° of angle adjustment. There’s also some lateral adjustment built in. Using the adaptors that Hope sent over, I was quickly able to set my cockpit up exactly how I wanted.
On test, we had the four-piston Tech 4 hooked up to the E4 caliper, which has been given some rather cool updates too. It uses hybrid-style pistons that move more smoothly and apparently, according to Hope, they’ll now require less maintenance. It also comes with a phenolic insert that helps the caliper manage heat transfer when they get seriously hot.
True to classic Hope form, the Tech 4 E4 is completely CNC’d from a single piece, and as expected from the brand, the build quality is superb. These brakes look great, and the quality remains within the bite point and reach adjustment dials. Each dial is massively tactile, with plenty of grip provided by the CNC finish and the confident 'click' as they’re turned.
Hope Tech 4 E4 | Bleeding
Bleeding the Tech 4 E4 is a simple enough task that’s made even easier with Hope’s beautifully made Easy Bleed Kit. The kit makes the process simple and hassle-free. It can be a little tricky to get started, but this really does make it easy to remove any air in the system.
While the method is certainly simple, it's very easy to trap air underneath the rubber diaphragm that lives under the reservoir cap. It requires a rolling motion in a particular direction which is fine, but when bled, after a brief period with the bike upside down (when installing the front wheel, for example) trapped air can make its way into the hose. Solid brake feel does return after a while, however, it's just not the perfect situation. Care when reassembling the brake will fix this.
Hope Tech 4 E4 | On the bike
As the Tech 4’s lever is longer and noticeably fatter than brakes I’m used to, it took a bit of time to get acquainted. To aid grip, there are dots cut into the face of the lever which in my case, went unnoticed. If you ride without gloves, that sleek CNC machining can be felt and in some areas, can feel rather sharp.
Squeeze on the levers and you meet a very assertive initial bite, summoning up an impressive level of stopping power. This first introduction of pad to rotor is strong but not super harsh, offering plenty of modulation.
The UK isn’t graced with alpine-length descents, but during the test period on some of the steepest trails I could find, they remained consistent throughout in both the feel at the lever and their power.
New for Hope and included in the pack (along with a pair of all conditions pads) is the racing compound pad. It’s a resin pad that sacrifices longevity to offer more braking power and resist fade. While definitely powerful, I’ve found this particular pad to be pretty squealy whilst braking. I’m not talking about the kind of howl you’ll get in wet weather, it’s more of a high-pitched whistle that occurs even in the dry, although, this didn't impede power.
There are also signs of very premature wear where the pad has crumbled away in the corners a little. With these slightly crumbled pads, there was a lot of vibration under heavy braking where the surface of the pad interacted with the rotor's texture. That’s nothing that a swap to the all-conditions pad didn’t fix and could well be a one-time issue with this particular pair of pads, as there was no such issue with the other set.
Hope Tech 4 E4 | Value
This Tech 4 E4 setup will set you back £195 per brake with plain black hoses (braided hoses available at an extra cost). If you want to go all matchy-matchy with the rotors, that’ll be another £50 to £55, depending on the rotor size. Then, If you want to clean up your cockpit, shifter mounts are an extra £16.50 a pop.
Compare that to a set of Shimano XT BR-M8120s, which are priced at £200 per brake with rotors costing from £40 to £55 depending on the size. Then SRAM’s Code RSC brakes are priced at £230 with HS2 rotors costing from £52 to £65. While those are both very solid sets of brakes, neither has the build quality of Hope’s offering.
Hope Tech 4 E4 | Verdict
To conclude, despite a quirk or two, I am a fan of the Tech 4 E4s. They deliver a very usable level of power with an assertive, yet widely modulative lever feel. While they can be a pain to bleed properly and the new race compound pads seem a little delicate, the brakes are high quality, and a worthwhile consideration if you’re looking to bling up your bike. They are very reasonably priced against the competition too.