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Hope Pro 3 RS-SP5.0 Carbon Clincher Wheelset
Weight: 936g (front), 1079g (rear) (Claimed - Front: 933g, Rear: 1083g)
The catchily named Pro 3 RS-SP5.0's sit at the top of the Hope road wheel trio. These have a day-to-day cyclist friendly alloy clincher braking surface built into the 50mm deep-section 3K carbon aero rim, with the aero section being a structural part rather than just an added-on fairing, a full-carbon tub version is also available.
Angled drillings on the 20 hole front and 24 hole rear rims are used for better alignment of the Sapim CX Ray SP aero spokes that are threaded into Polyax alloy nipples when they're handbuilt in house at Hope's Barnoldswick factory. Spinning in the middle are the brand new Pro3 SP hubs, their straight pull flange further adding to the stiff construction according to Hope, the 4 pawl 24t engagement freewheel mechanism and stainless steel bearings are the same well proven and long-lived internals that have made Hope hubs famous and favoured around the mountain bike world and the alloy freehub body is available in either Shimano or Campagnolo fit. Weights on the kitchen scales are a chunky 1079g for the rear and 936g for the front without skewers, because they don't come with them, or rim-tape.
Famous in off-road circles for their moving, stopping, steering and night-vision components the northern brake, hub, headset, stem and light creationists have added to their range of prebuilt MTB hoops with a brace of road wheels and with a history of reliability and truism in their mountain bike wheels these have a certain reputation to live up to.
I've never ridden with aero wheels before so was pretty keen to get out on these and I wasn't to be disappointed, in the absence of wind-tunnels and Powermeters and scientific graphs they do seem to work. In justridaingalong terms they're a solid and stiff wheel, tracking noticeably more reliably round corners than the standard, if a bit old and baggy, spoked wheels they replaced, the short spokes mated with the deep-section rim keeping them firm and feeling every gentle ripple in the road but with the carbony goodness taking the rough edge off, harsh yet soft somehow, if that makes sense.
As soon as I got up to speeds of over 20mph the aero benefits really seemed to kick in, it was almost like cheating, on a training ride with a friend of similar fitness we swapped wheels and he simply and noticeably rode away from me soon as velocity increased. Hmmmm. Sadly with these wheels most of what feels like aero benefit could actually be put down to rolling momentum as the they're quite hefty hoops. Keep strong enough to stay on top of the weight and sustain the wheels rolling advantage then they can work well, although this kind of churning can lead to a lot of pain over the length of a ride. On rolling terrain it was necessary to switch the legs to Strong Rouleur mode and muscle the wheels over any rises and it became almost fun pretending to be Johan Museeuw but when faced with any significant climb and/or decreased speeds the weight penalty overcomes any aero advantage and the wheels suddenly become lead weights and frequent and persistent punching on the pedals is needed to coax the Hopes forward. Although it has to be said that keeping pedalling was audibly beneficial as the trademark Hope noisy freewheel that on a mountain bike is as good as a handlebar-bell to let walkers know you're there becomes incredibly intrusive on quiet country roads, and when racing on them I soon learnt to sneakily soft pedal the wheels when draughting someone.
But the weight and the freewheel noise were the least of my worries as after a short while on the wheels I got a terrifying judder on the front wheel under hard braking, a bit like chatter on a cyclo-cross fork, but nothing I've ever experienced on a road bike before. I fiddled with the brake position to make sure they were hitting the rim square, and checked for any rim dents or bobbles all to no joy making me worry that there was something structurally unsound about the wheels so obviously I sent them back to Hope for inspection. They measured the rim without the tyre and it was well within the demanding tolerances they require before they send them out, but a tyre on and up to pressure put enough force on the rim for it to deform and fall outside this tolerance, which was a little odd, perhaps just a "bad rim" with a weakness in the rim wall according to Hope.
While they were measuring the rim they discovered a little section on the very outer of the rim that had a very negligible machining error, so either the of these minor problems, or both together, led to the brake judder. Hope said that detecting this on the jig whilst the wheel was being built without a pressurised tyre on would have been very difficult, and went on to stress that this is the first and only time this has happened, and also the first time they've ever had a problem at all with these wheels and obviously the wheel would have been replaced straight away, no questions asked, if the problem had occurred on a customer's wheel.
Just for fun I slotted them into the cyclo-cross bike where a deep section carbon rim is often used as an effective way of soaking up trail bump and vibration. Sadly any comfort benefits were offset by their weight which became instantly apparent and keeping the bike moving forward smoothly was a troublesome affair. Whereas on the road bike the extra weight wasn't immediately apparent because of tarmac smoothness on the 'cross bike travelling over bumpy and stuttery terrain that weight had to be wrestled over ever single lump and ripple. It was a horrible experience, like kicking a bag of bricks across the floor rather than carrying them. After that one ride I took the wheels off the cyclocross bike.
The tubular version of the wheel are a somewhat lighter and competitive 646g for the front and 810g for the rear which instantly addresses the weight issue and the cheaper Hope Hoops Pro3 RS-SP 3.0 wheels, which are the same Pro3 SP hubs laced to a 30mm section alloy rim may not be as aero or start-line bling as these Carbons but are significantly lighter and just over a third the price. That's a no-brainer then.
I really wanted to have fun on these; homegrown wheels, Hope hub quality and carbon loveliness with real-world clincher compatibility, but I feel let down. Not angry, just disappointed. Although they're well made, ignoring the one-off quality issue, and should last for years they're heavy, hampering heavy. Can I try some nippy aero wheels now please?
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Make and model: Hope Hoops Pro 3 RS-Sp5.0 Carbon Clincher Wheels
Size tested: n/a
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?
Hope say this high end wheelset offers performance, aerodynamics and style all in one package. Lacing a proven 50mm deep aero section carbon tub or clincher rim to our Pro 3 SP hub, gives a new option at this end of the market for road race and cyclo-cross enthusiasts. The wheels take the reliability and lightweight of the Pro3 RS-SP to a pro level. Stunning design and high level component specification make them a perfect choice for performance events, racing and training.
I say yes, yes, yes, yes, whoa, hang on there a minute, lightweight?
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
CNC machined and handbuilt in Barnoldswick, England the 20 hole front and 24 hole rear hub bodies are hewn from 2014 T6 aluminium with a four pawl aluminium cassette body and running on cartridge bearings. A 3K carbon rim with a built in alloy braking surface and internal spoke nipples with angled drillings on the dedicated front and rear rims for better spoke alignment, truer building and a longer life.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A disappointing mediocre in the light of imagined promise, they could be so much better if they were just lighter.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The Made in Englandness and the further down-the-line easy maintenance and handsomely illustrated back up of Hope product.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The weight, and the freewheel noise could get to be annoying. And the weight again because now I want to buy some lightweight aero wheels.
Did you enjoy using the product? Sort of and then no, I could just about put up with the weight for the training workout benefits and maybe the rolling momentum when racing on the flat.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No, there's better and/or lighter for the price.
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.