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Hope Evo Crankset (155mm) Review

Intro:

Those that have known me over the years, or followed this site, will recognize that I am a sucker for trying new things and seeing how they work out. Particularly if said things are made by small or niche brands. This typically manifests itself as brakes and suspension, but the idea of trying UK made 155mm cranks on a UK made bike was irresistible.

There is a lot of info floating around about Hope, so I won't delve into that, but I did pick up these cranks along with a bundle of other Hope products and give them a good run and see how they did.

The cranks:

The cranks themselves, ignoring the length that I'll discuss later, were really well put together. The preload ring is very smooth, the chainring retention is clean and smooth, and everything installed very easily. They look and feel like a quality made component, something I really appreciate especially given the price point, and they worked flawlessly.

In riding them, I couldn't discern any flex or bad traits associated with the design and they did their job perfectly. I will caveat that, for reasons I'll discuss later, I didn't stay on these long enough to really evaluate durability.

The only real beef I have with the cranks themselves is the chainring mechanism. I failed to get photos before selling these, but they do not use a standard SRAM or Raceface interface, rather they use yet another specific interface. This means locating chainrings will be challenging, especially in the US, and is something you should prepare for in advance.

That said, it is a really nice touch that they included the tool required to install the ring, something I failed to get an adequate photo of (sorry):


I thought this was a nice touch especially given how few of these are going to be around in the US. As far as I'm aware, no one in my area has Hope anything and my failure to research these sufficiently would've let to frustration had this not existed. The main thing here to be aware of is that these will not fit chainrings that aren't Hope patterned, so prepare in advance if you order from overseas.

Everything else was fairly straightforward. They have a 30mm spindle, which works with a number of BB options, clear instructions for spacers/installation, and the weight is reasonable, although not mind blowing. I couldn't find much to complain about.

The length (going up):

This is where things got interesting. My interest in these cranks was specifically due to the length. At 155mm, they are available in a very specific size that Hope claims they tested and found to be ideal for gravity-oriented disciplines. I bumped down from 170mm cranks to 155mm, a 15mm difference. I subsequently went to 160mm, then 165mm.

What I found is a lot of legitimacy behind Hopes claims that 155mm is an ideal length, but some drawbacks and other points of note that I think people will want to recognize.

First, yes, you lose leverage over the cranks. It's a more comfortable pedaling position when seated, if your bike geometry is correct (more on this later). Hope suggests going down a chainring size for every 10mm of length you cut, I ignored this advice and stuck with my 32t ring. I had intended to go down a size and even purchased another beautiful Hope ring for that purpose in 30t, but ultimately bailed on them for reasons I'll discuss later. Chainrings aside, the loss in leverage was evident, but not dramatic particularly when you were spinning heavy bikes up gravel roads in the saddle.

That said, if you are like me and adopted a SS approach to pedaling, where you stand a lot, you will notice the change more than those who grind up the hill. Further, sprinting is severely diminished at this length and I felt it created a somewhat unstable off the saddle pedaling position. You eventually adapt, but it requires more strength to push out of the saddle than grinding up the hill and it feels like you are falling over the front of the bike at first.

This is where I think the bikes geometry is going to be a deciding factor for many. My REEB SST has a fairly slack STA by today's standards, this is great as it gives me the room and platform to pedal off the saddle without a gear change or just to rest step some. For this bike, these cranks are not ideal for me, they make this style of pedaling more difficult. OTOH, my Murmur has a very steep STA and is more suited to grinding up the hill and the short cranks were more suited to this bike, where I felt they worked great.

There is also an element of your size too. I'm six feet tall, a shorter rider may find themselves more accommodated to this length.

The summary here is that if you are like me and pedal off the saddle a lot, I would consider the loss of leverage going to such a short crank particularly if you are on the taller side. If you grind a heavy bike up the hill seated, then I think the shorter length will be less noticed. In my observation, the climbing aspects were the least noticeable to me compared to going down the hill.

The length (going down):

Hope seems to emphasize that these shorter cranks are more suited to gravity disciplines, which aligns with my experiences climbing them above. What about going downhill?

I read some who claimed an improvement in stability and comfort, as well as being more responsive with the shorter cranks. I can't say I noticed a huge difference, but I did notice a difference and it seemed to improve these things in some areas but be a detriment in others.

On the responsiveness side, I noticed it was a bit easier to press into the bike and get a response, it required less dramatic feeling movement and pressing in didn't stretch me out as much. This improved stability during the pressing motion a fair bit and made it feel like a more natural movement.

I am not sure I fully buy the claim of stability, though, and I think it depends on your terrain and braking style. The first thing I noticed on these going down the hill was when I grabbed a handful of brake, I had to brace harder against the bars. If you look at your legs forming a triangle, the further in you bring them, the less fore/aft stability you'll have, and I definitely noticed it almost immediately. As I went up in the length ranges, the more this loss in stability while braking diminished. I really don't see anyone else discussing this and it was by far the most notable aspect of this length for me aside from improved pedal clearance on a VERY low bike. If you are mainly maintaining higher speeds and not doing a lot of very strong, hard braking, then this will be less noticed for you, but the moment I grabbed a handful of brake and realized my legs weren't reinforcing me, the downside of this length became evident. Once again, you can adapt, but I think it might be worth considering this based on your terrain and how you brake.

Is this all bad? No. I'm on the taller side, someone shorter with a lower CG or shorter inseam will likely find this less dramatic. There were benefits in responsiveness, stability, and comfort, but ultimately this loss in stability made 155mm not work for me. That doesn't mean it won't for you, this is a very subjective thing and I would recommend trying if you are interested.

I'll put it this way: if you watch a martial artist fight, they have one foot in front of the other, much like a riding position. They aren't bringing their feet super close together or spreading them really far out, that would be unstable and get them off balance easily. The distance their feet are stable at depends on many factors, but despite having the same rough positioning, the gap between their feet will vary and there is no objectively correct gap there. The same will apply here, these will likely provide more stability to some riders than others. Who would I recommend this to?

The cranks themselves, ignoring the length, are beautiful. Really great work on Hopes part and I thought they came together nicely.

The length at 155mm is going to be a question based on a lot of subjective factors. I have no idea how a rider 4 inches shorter than me would react to these, so I can only speak to my experiences at 6ft, on my bike and my terrain.

If you grind up the hill on a bike with a steep STA, you'll notice the loss of leverage less than someone who rides out of the saddle a ton. That much I feel most can relate to.

Going downhill, if you brake hard and fast, you will need to adapt to the fact your legs aren't bracing you as readily as with longer cranks, but this may be more stable for you depending on your height. I could have adapted to this, it's not deal breaking by any means, but it is there. That said, you'll gain a more responsive and stronger position that makes pressing into the bike and getting a response less cumbersome. It does have a more natural, responsive feeling. For shorter riders, the cons will likely be less dramatic and the pros more positive than for a taller rider, at least in theory. In sum total for me, the downsides of having to downsize a ring, losing leverage to pedal how I wanted, and stability while braking made the benefits not worth it, but that may or may not apply to you.

I see what Hope is getting at with the 155mm length, it just wasn't for me. I found 165mm to be a bit more ideal in terms of leverage, clearance, and stability. That may or may not apply to you.

I would note that some users with joint problems below the waist report that shorter cranks helped them. I do not have these issues, so I can't evaluate that, I can say that I had no pain or problems switching to them, which is notable given what happens to your joints when you turn 40.

I would suggest anyone thinking about these to try it, but be prepared for how cutting off 15mm of crank length will effect your position going up and down the mountain. There are things I think most riders will observe, but others I think are more subjective.

Comparisons:

I haven't ridden any other cranks at this length, so I have no valid comparisons.


Pros:

  • Beautiful aesthetics

  • Reasonable weight

  • 30mm spindle works with a variety of BB options

  • Clear install instructions

  • Ships with the tool to install the chainring (I'm looking at you, Raceface...)

  • Stiff, no discernible flex

  • Available in a number of colors and length configurations

  • Made in the UK (if you care about that sort of thing)

Cons:

  • Chainring options will be limited in the US due to Hope specific chainring interface

  • 155mm length may not be for everyone and has drawbacks (see above)

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