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Hope's Road CL Disc Rotor is designed to fit centre-lock hubs, and be swapped easily between wheelsets. While adding substantial bling to your bike for no weight penalty, they can be tricky to keep true and may foul on your calliper or frame/fork, so check carefully. Also, leaning towards Hope's mountain bike heritage, the rotors only come in the single 160mm size to match Hope's RX4 road-gravel-adventure four-piston calipers, so if you fancy them but use 140mm, you'll need to investigate adaptors to lift your callipers outwards.
Centre-lock brake rotors are a great option – easily removed and swapped between wheels, they make running different tyres for different surfaces a far-simpler proposition than having to drill out and refit six bolts per wheel along with reapplying thread locker and retorquing the rotor cap screws each time.
The rise and rise of do-it-all framesets with lots of tyre clearance means you can have a pretty light frame and fork that will take a narrower slick road-orientated tyre, but also swap in a chunky fat gravel/singletrack/mud-eating balloon for the rowdy stuff. So instead of needing two bikes, you can have one bike and two wheelsets.
When I go on holidays I take one drop-bar bike, and an extra set of centre-lock wheels. When the time comes to swap from road to mud or back, it's a two-minute exercise with a Shimano freehub tool and torque wrench to shift the rotors from one set to the other. My experience of travelling with a spare wheelset including rotors isn't great, even in a padded wheelbag – the rotors are just too easy to ping, and then you're delayed at the start trying to get rid of a niggling rotor rub. Easier to have the one set that travel safely on the bike, and get swapped over.
Prior to centre-lock rotors, that swapping would have meant faffing with 12 rotor cap screws, so all hail our new splined rotor overlords. Being relatively cheap and easily changed, they are also a perfect way to customise your bike, and that's what Hope has here with six zinging colours to choose from – red, orange, blue, purple, black and silver.
CNC-machined from single alloy blocks in Hope's Lancashire factory and fitted with a laser-cut steel rotor, they certainly look the business.
The steel rotor is held on the spider with five rivets, and to be clear, it's not a 'floating' design in the strictest sense – there is no play at all if you wiggle the rotor, and certainly no noise. There's the tiniest of gaps between the steel rotor and the alloy carrier where the rivet holds both solidly together. This, in theory, would allow the rotor to expand when hot without warping what would otherwise be the spindly connecting arms of an all-steel rotor. Warped arms will put your rotor out of true and lead to lots of rubbing, so if you did run your brakes that hot this could be a benefit.
Getting ahead of the inevitable comments, there's an awful lot of anecdata out there on this subject of heat transfer with no conclusive scientific answer. This is an area of cycling science just begging for PhD thesis treatment, with justifiably large amounts of hard riding involved.
The rivets protrude 1mm out from each side of the rotor, about 18mm in from the outer circumference. Hope acknowledges that for some frame/fork/calliper setups this might cause a clash, and provides a detailed dimensions sheet on its website so you can check if your setup might be incompatible. I had no issues fitting the rotors to a flat mount frame/fork with Hope's RX4 calliper (as you'd, er, hope. Sorry). Whilst they should work OK with other callipers, make sure you check as some combinations of frame, fork and calliper might not work.
Hope rounds off the wedges of the rotor, both on the inside and outside. You can press your finger down really hard on either edge, slide it back and forth, and not cut yourself.
Weight-wise, the Hopes are pretty darn good for a rotor involving so much chunky alloy. The Shimano Ultegra SM-RT800 rotor (£50 rrp) is 128g for the same 160mm size – a whole 9g porker. So all that CNC loveliness isn't holding you back up the hills.
I've been truing disc rotors for decades, and pride myself as something of a 'rotor whisperer' (stop sniggering at the back) – but initially the Hopes left me struggling for a grasp on sanity. Traditional application of a rotor truing fork – long slot or small – just doesn't work. I'm not sure why, but the design where the alloy spider-carrier obviously does not bend (unless you've really come a cropper) means the bit that does bend needs a different approach.
Talking to Hope tech support, they recommended using your thumbs. Yes, thumbs. Initially sceptical, I started off with what I thought was sufficient pressure to correct a wee wobble – but that was overkill. These really do need just a light application to get them true again. I don't think that translates into 'they are easily put out of true' – as all bike rotors are so light/flimsy that minimal force will see them warped – rather, that when you need to it's a tool-free process and is done relatively easily using the caliper-eye-o-meter method.
As overall weight is close to that of higher-end Shimano centre lock rotors, and there's no hard science telling us one design is better than the other at heat dissipation, the reason for choosing the Hope rotors really comes down to the bling factor and supporting UK businesses. Both are perfectly valid arguments, and if your calliper/frame clearances support the Hope rotors then the extra £15 or so per end over Ultegra won't leave your wallet gasping.
Even if you are considering them as an upgrade from a considerably cheaper £30-ish rotor, the Bling Watts alone justify the extra spend in my view.
If you're running Hope's centre lock hubs (which come in the same colors – full review to come) they are a near-compulsory buy, and there are 216 colour combinations of Hope hub, rotor and matching rotor lockring you can create. Or 46,656 if you go wild with both ends.
In terms of stopping performance, I can't say I noticed any difference over decent Shimano rotors – which is to say, they worked just fine. It's hard to find alpine-size runs hereabouts, and the ambient temperature of 'Baltic' this time of year meant no chance to run hot on a 30-degree-plus day to get the worst out of them. Again there's anecdata both ways on the web comparing the Hopes with other rotors, so let's see that PhD thesis soon.
Yes, £65 is a premium price, and being a small manufacturer Hope is unlikely to appear on any clearance sale list (the black ones are currently £61.75, if you follow the buying link up top). But made in the UK from premium materials, in a range of colours, and easily trued tool-free once you know how, the Hope Technology Road CL Disc Rotor is a good buy to bling your bike.
Blingtastic way to upgrade your bike with lightweight UK-made bits
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Hope Road CL Disc Rotor
Size tested: 160mm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
They are for people wanting to bling their bike, with no real downsides.
Hope says: 'With the growth of disc brakes in the road market, centre-lock rotors are becoming a standard fitment. Taking our proven road disc and floating technology, we've now combined them onto a splined spider to enable these road bike applications.'
Round edge braking surface
The rotor is machined with a radius on the inner and outer edge
2 piece floating design
Available in our 6 standard colours
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
**IMPORTANT NOTICE**Please ensure you have sufficient clearance to use this rotor, pay attention to any possible interference with caliper mount, frame, etc. See diagram in Manuals and Diagrams below
Custom steel braking surface riveted to an aluminium central carrier
Centrelock Spline Fitment
Available in: 160mm only
Floating design deals with changes in temperature
Available in our six colour options
The bling is strong and the centre lock just works.
Can't see any issues, apart form the usual 'rotors get bent'.
For something so chunky they are pretty darn light.
This depends on how much you value bling. Performance-wise, they are on a par with good Shimano rotors.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Once I knew how to true them, just fine.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The bling. It's all about bling.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Initially, how to true the sods. But I got over that.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, once I learned how to true them.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes-ish.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but with caveats re clearance and truing.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Assuming you don't have clearance issues, and you want the bling, it's hard not to recommend these rotors.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L