British brand Hope Technology is world renowned for creating hydraulic disc brakes, known for its CNC-machined parts that stand out against its rivals and after-sales support. After a few years away from creating a super-lightweight disc brake package, can the super light XCR Pro X2 brakes deliver the performance to make it a real contender among the best mountain bike brakes?
- Shimano Deore XT M8100 2020 two piston brake review
- Hope Tech 4 E4 brake review
- Magura MT5 hydraulic disc brake system review
Hope XCR Pro X2 Brakes – Technical details
The actual weight of our brakes (pictured here) out of the box without cutting the hoses, was 193g for the front without caliper bolts, the rear weighed 225g. Rotors are not included but to test the brakes I used 160mm Hope Floating rotors front and rear that weigh 102g each without bolts, creating a very light overall setup. It is worth noting for riders concerned about weight that the 180mm Hope Floating rotor features a thicker centre section and not just the extra width and the weight will increase to 145g. Hope produces the brake with either flat-mount or post-mount caliper options.
The XCR Pro X2 is available either as a bare aluminium colour or anodised black, and both options show off the intricate CNC-machining detailing that sets them apart from other brands. Hope has paid attention to the smaller parts to help keep the weight down, with titanium caliper bolts and alloy bolts for the hinged lever, which makes changing and installation easier.
The lever features reach adjustment via a small bolt that needs a 2mm Allen key. The small bolt means that care and a good quality tool are recommended to prevent the bolt from rounding, but once set to the preferred distance it is unlikely to need much use. Out of the box, the hoses are long enough to fit all bike sizes and this means cutting the hoses was needed for a neater fit. Cutting and bleeding were very simple, with the system using DOT brake fluid.
Once installed and bled, the amount of lever travel was the first element I noticed, with more free travel before the biting point than both SRAM and Shimano. My first impression was that I had not bled them correctly but after a second attempt and no air noticed within the system I then presumed it is how they are designed. The longer free travel does mean that the lever cannot be run extremely close to the handlebar, which may be a problem for riders with very small hands. The lever blade itself is carbon, with a beautiful shape that holds a braking finger in nicely, with enough of a bend at the end to give some security.
Hope XCR Pro X2 Brakes - Performance
Once bed-in the performance and feel began to show through, and this is quite different from the other two big S brands. SRAM brakes in comparison have a very linear feel, and Shimano will feel sharp with power early in the travel. The Pro X2 is almost the opposite, with longer lever travel before the bite, and a more gradual build of power, which can feel odd if you are changing from SRAM or Shimano. The modulation available allows for more precise control and feathering, but it can make the lever feel soft with a longer pull of the lever needed to develop more power. At 60kg I am a reasonably lightweight rider, and the 160mm front and rear rotor combination delivered enough power in all situations for typical cross-country riding but also gives room for a larger rotor if more power is a key factor.
The brake pads provided are aluminium-backed, that Hope says saves 7g per pad over the standard steel-backed pads, and these are held in place by a very small and quite fiddly pad retaining clip and it would be very easy to lose.
During the first rides after using the brake, the lever had a notch that prevented it from fully retracting and needed to be pushed back out to its normal position. This did improve and eventually stop with more use and, after contacting Hope, the company suggested using a small amount of silicone oil on the lever master cylinder to reduce friction.
Overall braking performance was good in all weather but they did squeal quite loudly in wet conditions. They were silent in the dry. The noise may be due to the aluminium pad backing, the rotor or a combination of factors and this could be something worth investigating for riders that prefer a quieter ride.
The longer I used the brakes, the more I was won over by the feel they provide and the shape of the lever. While they might not be as sharp as some other brands, they provided all the power I needed, even on the steepest descents.
Hope XCR Pro X2 Brakes - Verdict
The Hope XCR Pro X2 brakes cost £250 each (not including a rotor) and, despite this being expensive, the pricing is comparable to other lightweight options with SRAM Level Ultimate at £276, Shimano XTR at £235, and the lightest Magura MT8 SL at £240, all sold without adapters or rotors.
Whether they represent good value will depend on how much weight saving you're after, rather than outright braking performance, as the lower models from each brand will almost certainly deliver at least the same power and performance.
If a lightweight brake is what you're after, the Hope XCR Pro X2 delivers reliable and dependable braking with lots of power. With beautiful looks that make them stand out against other brands and the assurance of top after-sales and spares availability, the Hope XCR Pro X2 are a worthy - read excellent - brake option.