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Hope Fortus SC 30 wheelset review – budget trail wheels with Hope's latest rim design

Hope’s war-horse Pro 4 hubs have been wed to brand new single-cavity rims. Are they a match made in heaven or the product of a shotgun wedding?

Hope Fortus SC 30 Hero
(Image: © GuyKesTV)

Bike Perfect Verdict

The Hope Fortus 30 SC’s consistent and planted ride feel make them a reliable upgrade prospect if you’re willing to endure the extra mass.

Pros

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    Excellent hub durability/reliability

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    Tough rims

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    Legendary Hope support

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    Different matchy-matchy hub colors

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    Easy to take tires on and off

Cons

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    Noticeable weight

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    Rims don’t come pre-taped

Hope’s Fortus 30 SCs with their all-new, lighter Single Cavity rim design look to appeal to riders after a livelier but still durable setup than previous 30mm options from their Lancashire factory. They’ve come through an intensive testing period unscathed too, but they are heavier and pricier than our benchmark best budget MTB wheels.

Hope Fortus SC 30

(Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Design and specifications

Hope has completely changed its rim design with the new Fortus SC, reducing material in all locations, giving a much shallower rim and Single Cavity (SC) internal construction. This has provided a slim side profile and, in my opinion, makes them a much more attractive rim. Removing the extra internal wall has reduced each rim mass by 100g making them slightly more suited to long days in the saddle than their morbidly obese big brother – the standard double wall Fortus 30. They still use traditional stress spreading eyelet inserts for each spoke too. While these rims are certainly lighter than their predecessor, they are still a (cross) country mile from being classed as a genuinely light wheelset coming in at 2190g excluding rim tape and valves. 

I found it unbelievably easy to swap tires on and off the rim. Tubeless inflation was also a treat with them coming up after a couple of swift pumps from a track pump. While the added ease of maintenance is greatly welcomed, it did come with the extra anxiety for the safety of my tire sidewalls when heading into rocky sections of track. I was also concerned about burping when throwing roost around too, but neither issue proved to be a problem on the trail. Hope’s wheel building quality control has clearly improved as they stayed true and adequately taut throughout testing.

Hope Fortus SC internal rim

The single cavity rims are still heavy and you'll have to fit the supplied tubeless tape yourself (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

The famous Hope Pro 4 hubs are an excellent hub choice for a minimal maintenance wheelset. The 4-pawl ratchet hubs come with 44 teeth for an 8.2-degree angle between points of engagement. The freehub is easily serviceable and can be removed and refitted without tools.  It’s worth noting that if the thick green seal is not correctly reinserted, it can cause the hub to seize up – so be careful not to trap it when working on the hub. This monster seal makes these wheels a great bog-bashing component though, as the interiors remained pristine after months of swamp riding (aka UK mountain biking). Hope also have an awesome reputation for factory direct support and you’ll find their tech truck at most events too. My only real criticism of this otherwise great hub is the freehub end-cap, which was too bulky to throw a cassette straight onto and must be removed to allow clearance for my relatively low-profile cassette tool. 

The wheels also come un-taped with valves in a bag along with spare spokes, alcohol wipes, and a roll of rim tape. While it’s not the be-all-end-all it would be a nice touch if they had come pre-taped, especially as they’re on the more expensive end of their competitors and the tape itself is a bit plasticky and awkward to install smoothly.

Hope Fortus SC 30

Hope machine carve and laser etch the hubs then lace them up into wheels in their Lancashire factory  (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

The mass of the wheels is very noticeable and did take a full ride to start getting used to. In particular, the hefty unsprung rotating mass of the rims definitely reduced suspension responsiveness. This prompted me to take off a couple of clicks of rebound damping to wake the rear suspension up. They also proved cumbersome when squeezing through tight, nadgery sections or anywhere else you need muscle to make up for momentum. While it’s not as instant as some the Pro 4 freehub, connection is dependably solid when it does bite. Its 44-click timing is a good compromise between pick up and giving enough space for suspension with higher anti-squat numbers to breathe freely without pulling on your pedals.   

As the Latin name suggests, this wheelset will treat you well if you’re persistently brave when tackling committing lines. Despite the huge purge of material, the Fortus 30 SC has maintained great strength, and throughout the test remained near enough true after many mistimed compressions and cased landings. The machine-built, hand-finished 32-spoke wheels seemed to sit in a nice window of stiffness, providing a solid platform that balanced responsiveness with relatively low trail feedback.  When really charging through a section they performed at their best, as they can allow you to maintain momentum when catching an edge and don’t get bogged down in compressions. On the contrary, in slower technical sections I found them to be a challenge when getting up and over technical features, and on longer climbs the weight can become arduous to haul around. In other words the Fortus 30 SC are definitely better for riding with gravity on your side rather than working against you.

Hope Pro 4 freehub

Hope's latest Pro 4 Freehub has faster engagement and comes in all cassette fit flavours (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Verdict

If you want to invest in longevity and lifetime support the Fortus 30 SCs are built onto super reliable hubs and the rims feel solid so far too. So if you want a pair of hoops to last through World War III, these new Hopes could be for you. Having worked in a British bike shop I can confirm that the fact the hubs come in six different anodized colors (Black, Silver, Purple, Red, Blue and Orange) so you can get super matchy with all your other Hope bits is also a big deal for a lot of people. If you’re looking to save both money and weight with an otherwise similar performance though, the Nukeproof Horizon V2, and Hunt Enduro Wide V2 wheelsets are still the benchmarks.

Tech Specs: Hope Fortus 30 SC Wheels

  • Prices: Front: £170 / $215 / €210 Rear:  £280 / $340 / €355 Complete £450 / $555 /€565
  • Weight: 1040g front, 1150g rear
  • Internal width: 30mm
  • External width: 35mm
  • Depth: 20mm
  • Sizes: 27.5” and 29” Boost hubs as standard, 15mm, Torque Cap and QR conversion kit and Super Boost options