Hope Union RC pedal review – are these the best clipless XC and Gravel pedals in the world?

Our expert testers have been hammering these UK-made lightweight XC pedals for nearly two years so what’s their conclusion?

Hope Union RC pedal review
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

BikePerfect Verdict

Light enough for racing with excellent evergreen clip and release action and outstanding bearing life. The best XC / Gravel pedals I’ve used and well worth the initial investment


  • +

    Totally consistent clipless action

  • +

    Outstanding bearing and cleat life

  • +

    Lightweight titanium axles

  • +

    Fully serviceable and re-buildable

  • +

    Six color options


  • -

    Initial investment is expensive

  • -

    Some shoes need cleat shims

  • -

    There was a cleat bolt glitch at one point but they’re fine now

Why trust BikePerfect Our cycling experts have decades of testing experience. We'll always share our unbiased opinions on bikes and gear. Find out more about how we test.

I’ve been running two sets of Hope’s Race Clipless (RC) pedals since they launched two years ago. After thousands of XC, fast trail, and gravel miles in all conditions, I can confirm they’re the best lightweight compact pedal system I’ve ever used for several reasons.

Design and build

The RC is the lightest of three clipless pedal options from Hope with the Union Trail Clipless (TC) and Gravity Clipless (GC) adding larger platforms around the same clipless mechanism. The RC also gets weight-saving titanium axles as standard to drop weight to just over 300g. 

Each axle spins on three cartridge bearings (outside end) and an IGUS bushing (inner side). The body is machined, anodized in a choice of six colors, and then laser etched in-house in Barnoldswick Lancashire alongside Hope’s brakes, cranks, hubs, and other top-quality gear. The pedals are all assembled and checked in the factory too, with only the Ti axles and forged steel cleats outsourced. Hope recycles all their waste metal and machine cooling fluid and they use recycled cardboard packaging too.

While it looks very similar to Shimano’s classic SPD system the steel clipless mechanism is spring-loaded front and rear. The stainless steel wear plates on either side are replaceable too. 

The stainless steel cleats are specific to Hope’s pedals; you get two sets with each pair. These give four or five degrees of free float and release at 12 and 13 degrees respectively.

Hope Union RC pedal

Titanium axles make the Union RC competitive on weight but it's unbeatable for consistent catch-and-release action and overall durability (Image credit: GuyKesTV)


After a short-term glitch where cleats shipped with subpar bolts that wouldn’t do up properly, Hope has sorted a more reliable supplier. Make sure you use Hope’s simple but effective cut-out card tread depth gauge so see if have to use a shim under the cleat though.

Once sorted entry and exit are excellent, with the front and rear jaw movement giving potential to press down to engage rather than needing a toe in. Engagement feels slightly more positive and ‘sharp’ than fresh Shimano pedals and cleats too. The adjustment range from lightest to stiffest release effort is essentially identical. Perhaps unsurprisingly I couldn’t tell the single degree difference in float and release between the two different cleat versions either. 

What is very obvious is how consistent the engagement and release are. Not just in different conditions from dust to clay to snow but also in the way they don’t seem to have aged at all. That predictable performance was very obvious when I switched back to similarly well-used Shimano for a short while and found them a lot more variable and ‘sticky’.

The bearings show no sign of developing play or obvious wear yet either and still retain the slow, smooth turn they had when new. The whole axle assembly can be stripped down for servicing if you ever do need to get in there too and as usual for Hope, the whole pedal mechanism can be rebuilt if necessary. The spring-loaded detonation danger means Hope will do that in-house for you though.

In terms of weight and UK price comparisons, the RC is more expensive than the Shimano XTR M9100 at £139.99 but ten grams lighter. Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 and Time XC6 are around 15g lighter but cleat wear - and potentially shoe wear - is much faster on both those systems though and Crank Brothers certainly can’t match the bearing life of Hope. 

Hope Union RC pedal cleat

The stainless steel cleat is unique to Hope's Union pedals and needs a spacer underneath on deeper tread shoes. Past bolt issues have now all been sorted out too (Image credit: GuyKesTV)


They’re certainly not the lightest XC pedal (Crankbrother’s Eggbeater 11 are only 179g a pair but they cost $499.99 / £399.99) and most riders will be totally happy with Shimano’s £39.99, 374g PDM520 pedal. Having to use a shim is an extra potential chore when setting up too. However, if you want an exceptionally tough, smooth running lightweight clipless pedal with incredibly consistent long-term entry and release action and excellent product support from a sustainability-aware UK manufacturer then Hope’s RC is a superb investment. 

Tech specs: Hope Union RC pedal 

  • Price: $190 / £150 / €185
  • Colors: Black, Blue, Orange, Purple, Red, Silver
  • Weight: 308g (pair)
  • Float: 4-5 degrees
  • Release angle: 12-13 degrees 
Guy Kesteven

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect since we launched in 2019. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.

Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Forbidden Druid V2, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg