We had our first look at the Hope PRO3 RS-SP5.0 wheels at the Cycle Show back in October, and we liked what we saw: Hope have invested a lot of capital to create a state-of-the-art wheelbuilding facility at their Barnoldswick factory and the focus is on a quality build with reliable, serviceable parts.
We didn't really expect to see the Carbon tubs sweeping the board at the regional 'cross champs though. But they did: Hope factory riders Paul Oldham and Dave Collins both won their respective finals in the North of England and the Midlands, as did Stu Bowers on the same wheelset in the South.
We spoke to Neil Arnold at Hope about the wheels, and he was less surprised. "The whole Carbon tubular concept actually stems from riders approaching us to fit Hope hubs to other deep section rims for 'cross racing", he told us. "Riders were finding that while the rims of standard deep section road wheels could easily take the abuse, the hubs didn't last when faced with all the the mud and jetwashing. Our hubs aren't jetwash-proof but they are designed to be serviceable and stand up to UK conditions. However, it's a nightmare trying to retrofit hubs to a rim not designed to take them, so in the end we just decided to make our own".
What they ended up making was a wheel that mated their serviceable, 4-pawl Pro3 SP hub to a lightweight 50mm section Carbon rim. The wheels are built by hand in the UK using Sapim CX-Ray spokes (20 at the front, 24 at the rear) and Polyax alloy nipples. The rim isn't a heavyweight – the stated wheelset weight of 1460g for a 50mm rim is pretty light, and there's a heavier verison of the same available from the same manufacturer, Neil told us, if they ever do want to make a more 'cross specific set. However, he's happy that the road wheels are plenty sturdy enough for off road riding in the hands of "someone who knows what they're doing". There's a clincher version too with an Aluminium braking surface which weighs in at a shade over 2kg a set.
There's a set of the wheels on its way to road.cc towers so we'll be able to give you our impressions of the wheels soon. We probably won't go CX racing on them though...
To see the whole range of road wheels, head to www.hopetech.com
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.