Hope Pro 3 RS-SP full carbon clincher wheelset - review

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Hope Pro 3 RS-SP 30 full carbon clincher wheelset – review

It is hard to see where a £995, 1,670 gram carbon clincher wheelset fits into the market. These new full carbon offerings from Hope present just such a conundrum.

What I can say is that these haven’t been off the Test Rig much since our ‘first look” near the start of December; not due to laziness, but due to the quality of the wheels. Okay – turning up for a winter ride with carbon hoops is a luxury we can all aspire to, but halfway through the test period I started to believe that it was a luxury I could get used to.

These are robust wheels: hidden potholes on flooded roads were crashed into with alarming regularity on one ride and the rims maintained their shape with no visible damage. A few bunny hops (certainly not to the standard of fellow Hope wheel user, Martyn Ashton), also demonstrated the strength of the wheels.

The four-pawl hub Pro 3 Aero hub offered excellent pick up and the signature ‘Hope buzz’

That characteristic is due in no small part to the weight of the rim which must be of a fairly considerable character given our knowledge not only of the Sapim spokes but also of the Pro3 Aero hubs, which are slimmed down versions of the original Pro3 units.

However, for the time being the rims are doing a fine job. Indeed, in terms of strength, I was regretting the passing of the Specialized Crux as these wheels would be entirely up to the rigours of cyclo-cross.

On the road, the wheels spin up to speed quickly, and they are admirable stiff under acceleration and hard cornering. They exhibited no discernible flex down several twisty and rough tarmac descents, and on a classic local sprint, I did not feel held back by the slight weight penalty over a set of carbon wheels of comparable dimensions: a 1,485 gram Chris King R45/Reynolds Attack combo, coming soon to these pages.

Uphill would be a different matter, of course, with the near 200-gram weight penalty carried by the Hopes over my less affordable example becoming a little more noticeable, especially as the majority of the additional heft is contained within the rear wheel.

The rolling terrain of the local roads and current state of tarmac in the area, however, suits these more robust offerings. Stable at speed and in cross winds, the gently-rounded spoke bed does seem to cut through the air well. In blustery conditions, I was never conscious of having to ‘catch’ the front wheel.

The gently rounded spoke bed cut through the air well with no neccessity to ‘catch’ the wheel in blustery conditions

The rotating weight maintained good speed over undulating terrain. I had another pair of Vredestein TriComps on the Hope Hoops, having run out of the Schwalbe Ultremos, and they did a good job on the wide rims, fitting easily and nearly lining perfectly flush with the brake track surface – nicely aero.

Pick up was classic Hope, with four pawls and 24 teeth in the rear hub: the signature ‘Hope buzz’ was ever-present when freewheeling. Anodised in black, the hubs look great, and these would be a superb centerpiece to an alternative wheel build (new Hope Hoops suggestion from RCUK here: Pro3 Aero laced to Stans Alpha 340’s…now that sounds tasty).

The usual positive traits of reliability and resilience to moisture ingress were prevalent in the Pro3 Aero hubs: several wet rides and one crossing of a road beside a river in flood demonstrated their prowess at keeping water out and grease in. Excellent work.

Braking on the carbon rims with the supplied pads was adequate rather than exceptional. Stickers on the rim warn of the dangers of using alternative blocks, I would imagine to prevent the use of non-carbon compatible pads. I cheekily tried SwissStop’s Yellow Kings and thought that braking performance improved, especially in the wet where the time taken to ‘bite’ was considerably reduced.

The PRO 3 front hub exhibited the usual Hope characteristic of reliability and resistance to moisture ingress

I have really enjoyed riding the Test Rig with the Hope RS-SP 30 fitted, and believe they are a good set of wheels.

I would like to say they are perfect: I like Hope, their ethos, and their products, but I can’t help but feel that at near £1,000 and knocking on for 1,700 grams, these are either too expensive or 300 grams too heavy. A change in one direction or the other and you would have a considerably more palatable wheelset. A tough call? Perhaps, because these are fine wheels.

Hope has, for example, with their mountain bike Pro3’s, hit the nail on the head. Built with Stan’s 355 rims, they offer not only a bargain but a seriously light pair of wheels. With the RS-SP 30, you feel a little as if Hope have not quite judged their offering to the road market correctly – yet.

Close, but not close enough? The old adage of ‘light, strong, cheap: chose two’ runs true with the Hope RS-SP 30, with ‘strong’ ably accomodated. Now Barnoldswick needs to choose a second characteristic.

 

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