Hope’s Mono RS wheels are stiff, robust, and, when purchased with the optional Stan’s Alpha 400 rim, able to roll effectively at greatly reduced tyre pressures.
The great advantage of tubeless technology – where an inner tube is replaced by an airtight bead and latex sealant – is the ability to run lower pressures. This allows the tyre to deform more easily, making it more likely to ward off punctures (see how much harder it is to pop a ‘soft’ balloon than one newly inflated). It also places more rubber on the road, offering more grip. On paper, both are major benefits at this time of the year. And so it proved.
Our now debris-strewn test loops failed to prevent the Mono RS wheels from turning, despite being shod with rubber that might be considered unseasonal – the tubeless incarnation of Schwalbe’s racing tyre, the Ultremo ZX. It slithered on steepest and wettest climbs during a ride when we tried it at our standard 100psi. Later missions, completed at 80psi, and in the foulest conditions, provided no dramas. At no stage did we puncture.
Elsewhere, we continued our missions untroubled, despite rolling at a pressures a full 20psi lower than usual. For many, this will represent the Mono RS wheel’s greatest selling point (riding a summer tyre through the depths of winter with no greater expectation of punctures is not to be sniffed at) but it would be remiss to confine our review to its tubeless rim.
The hubs are Hope’s major contribution to this package, though they are laced in Barnoldswick, too. The four-pawl freehub engaged with more than adequate speed, and the seals, front and rear, proved effective over our admittedly limited acquaintance; one that included riding them through water to their axles. The cartridge bearings in each have continued without complaint. While we’ve yet to disassemble them, we have it on good authority that Hope’s offerings are easily serviced. We used the Shimano freehub body, also compatible with SRAM. A Campagnolo-specific freehub is also available.
The spokes, simple j-bend spars from Belgian spoke kings, Sapim, held their tension. The two-cross lacing provided its expected stiffness, although the use of such in the front wheel as well as the rear (32 spokes in each) will have contributed to a no more than respectable overall weight of 1620g (the reduced spoke count offered by a radial lacing, typically on both sides of the front and one side the rear, would have offered a weight saving). This is unlikely to be selected as a racing wheel, however, and in the off-season, we’re unlikely to be alone in valuing solidity over lightweight performance.
Braking performance in the wet conditions that characterised the end of our test period was adequate: no better, or worse than the various aluminium hoops to have passed through the gates of RCUK Towers this year and into our Kinesis Racelight TK3 test rig.
Neither did the Mono RS wheel offer the turn of speed we experienced with lighter hoops, notably the 1296g Spada Stiletto (not to mention the Bontrager Aeolus D3 3, but here we have moved beyond comparing apples with apples). This is a wheel whose principal pleasures come from the confidence with which it can be ridden through the worst of the winter conditions. Speed can wait until spring.
Skewers are not supplied with the wheels, and so we used those from our Mavic Ksyrium Elite S. Two spare spokes and rim tapes were in the box, however. We called on our friends at Paligap for sealant, who very kindly obliged.
The ability to ride a summer tyre in the depths of winter with relative impunity is one to relish. Hope’s Mono RS wheel offers that, thanks to its Stan’s Alpha 400 tubeless compatible rim, and this is its greatest quality. The beautifully engineered hub should see you through winter without blinking. Servicing is unlikely to present any serious challenge.
This last point brings us to the heart of Hope’s offering: a pre-assembled wheel, and so one that offers all the convenience of purchasing a factory hoop to the would-be owner, but with easily serviceable components – a hallmark of the handbuilt (Hope also sell this hub in combination with Mavic’s deeply respected Open Pro, for £380).
Price: £140 front; £240 rear
Website: Hope Tech