Hope has been offering complete wheel packages for years, but, even as a heavier enduro rider, as well as being super tough, I’ve always found them to be on the weighty side. This means the brand’s Fortus wheels weren’t ever as fast to accelerate or change direction as some rivals, and lacked a bit of zip that can make your bike feel livelier and easier to pedal about the place.
Hope has also been making hubs in-house in Lancashire long enough, you’d imagine it wouldn’t tweak its winning hub recipe if significant improvements weren’t on the menu. Well Pro 4 has become Pro 5 (although the older design is still available for high torque e-bikes), where the biggest new ingredient is a much faster engagement with 108 (rather than 44) points of pick up and a new offset 6-pawl freehub design in a 54t ratchet.
Design and specifications
Alongside the new offset driver, there’s also improved sealing, which sees a new flexy labyrinth seal behind the freehub body that really snaps into place and a reduced axle diameter to accommodate larger, stronger bearings.
The wire cut high-strength steel pawls number six in total and use return springs that have also had tension reduced to significantly decrease rolling drag. I reckon this is as big part of the faster speed overall as the quicker pick-up, but even more importantly for some though might be how the changes have brought a much less Hope-sounding freehub tone that’s now quieter and higher pitched. I prefer it dulled down, though some riders will miss Hope’s signature whizz.
There have also been some less talked about improvements to Hope’s Fortus rim line-up too including this SC (single cavity) version. It has a slimmer profile, omits some reinforcing bridges inside and is a lot lighter than the regular 30mm Fortus internal rim – all ensuring it’s a far more sensible weight for a UK trail/enduro rim.
The centrelock SC wheels here are 29in, use 32 Sapim race j-bend spokes with silver brass nipples and weigh a significant 375g less a pair than Hope’s portly double-walled Fortus 30 Pro 4 6-bolt wheels tested previously. Machine built and then hand finished, spoke tension was good and didn’t loosen during testing, which is something I’ve had a few times with Hope wheels in the past.
The lack of a double cavity inside the rim means there’s less outright rigidity, but I can’t feel it riding and the 6061 aluminum welded rim has the same rim wall, which is still very tough and dent-resistant if you often ride somewhere rocky.
Lighter, but just as solid feeling, these are by a margin the best Hope mountain bike wheels I’ve ridden. Stiff and direct whether stomping on cranks or chucking the bike in and out of big berms, my tires remained stable with zero burps or loss of air once seated, and they offer a comfortable and smooth ride quality that isn’t too jarring or staccato if the ground is baked rock hard or you’re smashing over repeated rocks or root webs.
With the really snappy engagement, the SCs feel worlds apart from the old Pro 4 Fortus 30s that have always felt a bit of a dead lump and too slow climbing and getting going, and once you’re rolling here, there’s a great balance between reactiveness, acceleration and climbing feel and enough toughness and impact resistance.
Whether this new-found dynamism is mostly down to the Pro 5 claims of lower freehub drag making them spin faster or a lower rim weight, or both, is hard to determine, but they definitely feel less of a dog to drag around than older Hope wheelsets and much more responsive changing direction.
Having to tape the rims yourself and add valves from new is an annoying hoop Hope makes you jump through though; not only is it time consuming - you can easily mess it up if you get bubbles or wrinkles in the tape and affect tubeless sealing. I’d prefer to see the wheels leave Hope pre-taped by someone that does it day in, day out and preferably with access to a heat gun to ensure the tubeless tape glue is as sticky as possible when applied.
That aside, everything else here is pretty sorted for the cash; this a solid flex-free package that doesn’t ever feel like it’s holding you back like heavier Fortus wheels used to, and the price is reasonable too for the overall quality.
Hope’s latest Fortus SC package blends its legendary hubs in the most up-to-date version with a lighter rim that balances speed and strength, rather than just being bombproof. The faster Pro 5 hub engagement is very noticeable, but I also reckon the latest hubs seem to roll more rapidly now, as well as rocking a quieter freehub sound that I personally much prefer.
Tech specs: Hope Fortus 30 SC Pro 5 wheels
- Price: Front – $241.00 / £190.00 / €250.00. Rear – $392.00 / £310.00 / €400.00
- Discipline: Trail/enduro
- Weight: 950g front, 1,120g rear, 2,070g total (32 spoke x 29in Boost tested)
- Materials: 6061 T6 aluminum rim
- Wheel size options: 29 or 27.5-inch
- Rim dimensions: 30mm internal, 35mm external, profile depth 20mm
- Hub spacing options: Front –100, 110mm. Rear – 142, 148, 150mm
- Spoke options: 24. 28, 32 or 36
- Freehub options: HG, XD, MicroSpline
- Colors: Black rims, black, silver, blue, orange, purple, red hubs.
- Rival products: Nukeproof Horizon, Hunt Trail Wide, Race Face Aeffect R