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The Hope RS4 front and rear hubs are specially designed for road use and could be the last set you'll buy. Hope's legendary durability and parts availability mean they can roll forever with ease of maintenance if required and as the RS4s feature interchangeable end-caps to suit different axle standards, they can be swapped into future bikes, extending their longevity. They've been on a bike for quite a while now and ridden to the dirty end of endurance and back, and they show no signs of wanting to stop.
I come from an era when hubs need frequent maintenance and am well versed in the art of the cone spanner, so any time not spent fiddling with bearings and grease is good with me. For the most part, bicycle hubs have got a lot better, but there still some that can be troublesome; thankfully, Hope hubs allow a lot more sofa and tea time.
Hope Technology is based in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, and has been making bike parts for over 30 years. Via a backbone of hubs and brakes, it has expanded to produce most everything you can bolt onto a bicycle frame. It also makes mountain bike frames. Best known for its off-road components, its range of products is designed to survive the worst a UK climate can throw at them. The RS4 is Hope's first road hub and benefits from all that heritage, experience and weather.
Like all Hope hubs, the RS4 comes in a bewildering choice of versions: rim and disc brake, with the disc variants having six-bolt and Centerlock rotor options; straight pull spokes or standard J-bend; 16, 18, 20, 24, 28, 32 and 36 holes depending on the hub style; to fit quick-release or thru-axle frames; and with Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM freehubs. On top of all that, they're available in six colour options.
I opted for Centerlock disc hubs with a 12mm thru-axle front and rear, and holes for 24 J-bend spokes, to fit a pair of Zipp 303 rims that needed replacement hubs after a tough life, in boring black. I've never been a fan of brightly coloured anodised bike parts, having lived through the unicorn vomit bike accessorising of the 90s, and black means they'll match anything.
The hubs come with sealed stainless steel cartridge bearings, which have a reputation for longevity in Hope's harder working mountain biking hubs, and should the time come to change them they're quick and easy to replace without the need for expensive or esoteric parts or tools.
The freehub is aluminium to keep the weight down and it doesn't come with any steel inserts that some employ to deter the gouging that a cassette can inflict. Hope does recommend that cassettes with a rigid carrier holding the largest sprockets are used, so that could be an issue when it comes time to swap gears. The freehub comes in Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM XDR driver options, is 9/10/11 and 12-speed compatible, and as it's replaceable can easily be swapped for a different component system if you change groupsets.
Hope rear hubs are well known in the mountain bike world for having a noisy freewheel, so much so that some riders use a sharp back pedal in lieu of a bell to alert walkers of their presence. That's been toned down for the RS4 hubs, a lot. The freewheel noise still isn't the stealthiest and lets loose a high frequency buzz akin to a Chris King but a bit lower in tone and not as bee like; it's noticeable but certainly not an intrusion on a tranquil country lane.
Hope says there's a reduced drag ratchet mechanism in the road hub and that's achieved by using a two-pawl ratchet instead of the four-pawl ratchet system that's employed in its benchmark Pro 4 mountain bike hubs; it's also what contributes to the quieter freewheel noise. These pawls benefit from a 44-tooth engagement which makes for a swift pick-up (Shimano rear hubs have 18 points of engagement) when pushing on the pedals from freewheeling.
If you're worried about the quantity of wheel and frame axle standards then be reassured that Hope hubs are adaptable to fit any current axle standard. The hubs are designed with easily swappable end-caps so you can switch between quick release and 10mm/12mm/15mm thru-axles, as well as between 135mm and 142mm rear widths. Are you currently running a quick-release frame but want to move on to a bolt-thru bike later but want to keep your posh wheels? Easily done with Hope hubs and a fresh set of end-caps that you can swap without tools.
I'd put Hope hubs towards the higher level of hubs, be that for on or off-road bikes. I've had them on several dirt-related bikes over the years and have had nothing to complain about, and when the time does come to replace parts it's a very simple job. Hope is also very good on aftercare, with spares readily available and tech support an email away.
Price comes in squarely at Ultegra level – the front is £75, the rear £180 – but if we're into 'I fancy some nice handbuilt wheels' territory then the Hopes compare very favourably to the likes of DT and Shimano Dura-Ace, with the rear hub coming in lots cheaper, and if you're a fan of colour options they're a fraction of the cost of the rainbow parade of Chris King components.
The aesthetics and weight of the Hope hubs might both be a little more sturdy than you might prefer for a spangly lightweight build, but if you want a more long distance relationship, or parts availability and future adaptability are more your thing, then these might just sway you, and makes them even better long term value.
As Ronan Keating once sang, 'You say it best, when you say nothing at all' and he could have been referring to Hope hubs. These have been fitted to what could be called an endurance road bike and it's done a lot of endurance and piled some miles on the hubs through all of the weathers, not just on tarmac but dirt tracks and mild off-road where pointing a road bike down might be considered a bit cavalier, also the odd flood, and there's nothing much to report.
The front hub is running as smooth as it was straight out of the box, the rear hub bearings have the teeniest amount of 'feel' to them so you can tell they've been used, but that's it; they're a long long way from needing replacing or even opening up to have a look. The alloy freehub has some tooth marks from the cassette but the sprockets still slide off without the need for any struggle. Can I get back to you on these in a couple of years?
Specially designed for road use, in a plethora of options to fit any bike, and will last to swap to your next one
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Hope RS4 Centre Lock front and rear hubs
Size tested: Centre Lock
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?
The Hope RS4 hub is specially designed for road use and comes with a plethora of options to fit any bike, and the one after that. Its sturdiness and longevity also makes it perfectly gravel friendly.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Specifically designed for road use
Stainless Steel Bearings
Reduced drag ratchet mechanism
2 pawl ratchet
44 point engagement (8 deg)
Shimano, Campag and XDR freehub body options
9/10/11 and 12 speed compatible
Available in 16,18, 20, 24, 28, 32 and 36h
Colour: Black, Silver, Red, Blue, Purple and Orange
All very well made, with ease of maintenance if required.
Do what any hub should do, keep going round, fuss free, for a very long time.
Hope hubs are well known for durability in the mountain bike world where they get a wetter and muddier deal; on the road they're going to last a while before they'll need looking at, at which point tinkering is simple.
Not the lightest hubs out there but that's not the point, these will just keep going.
Not pricey when compared to some other hubs, and they'll last many seasons and then several bikes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The hubs did their job perfectly, going round (and still going round) without any issues.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Choice of options, adaptability, longevity, availability of parts, not having to think about them.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These hubs are a "Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten" product. With their longevity, availability of spares and bike frame adaptability, they'll last a long time with the potential for them to be transferred from bike to bike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Hope carries on its tradition of making bike components suited to the UK environment with these hardy road hubs. Availability of spares and futureproof adaptability mean they could be the last hubs you buy.
About the tester
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.