Hope has added three clipless options to its previously flats-only mountain bike pedal range. While the TR’s look is very similar to most other best mountain bike pedals for trail riding, a bunch of unique details and premium features make them both distinctively easy for entry and supportively communicative. There's also an added bonus of extra color choice and tuneable peg options, and the expected longevity helps justify their high price too.
I’ll admit to being surprised when Hope announced its new Union clipless pedal range (RC for small platform race, TR for trail and GC for gravity/Enduro), especially as Hope is already working flat out trying to meet the demand for the products it machines into shape at its factory in the UK.
First glances suggested that they are just a prettier version of the classic Shimano PDM530 that retails for a third of the price, but when you look up close, you notice it’s not only the signature 3D CNC machining or six in-house anodized color, laser-etched logo options that make the Union’s different.
While the clipless gate arrangement looks similar, both front and rear hooks are separately sprung with a broader mouth that syncs with broader cleats. That means the Unions aren’t compatible with standard SPD cleats, which may put some riders off, but you do get two sets in the box with the pedals, offering either four degrees of float and a 12-degree release angle or five degrees of float and a 13-degree release angle.
Both the gate mechanism and the cleats are stainless steel to stop corrosion and boost longevity, and the mid-sized body has threaded inserts for four grip pins (also supplied in the box) on each side, and you get a cutout cardboard gauge to check sole clearance and see if you need to add cleat shims.
What's more, Hope takes its hard-earned reputation for longevity very seriously, so the pedals sit on the same heat-treated and plated cro-mo steel axles and triple cartridge bearing, single Igus bushing internals as the F20 platform pedal.
You may notice that we said 'sit on', rather than ‘spin on’ the axles, just now. That's because the pedals are really stiff out of the box and remain that way after a couple of months of several-rides-per-week use. With that said, the rotation is very smooth so hopefully, the drag and general tightness speak to very accurate tolerances and a long life even in grim conditions.
Thankfully the stiffness doesn’t get in the way of function as the double-ended cleat retention mechanism can be stomped into with a flat foot, not just 'toed' down into, and the light but positive clip action is easy to firm up via the Hex key adjusters if you need a more secure feel. Even at a light setting, the broader cleat and squared-off body still gives a really planted and secure feel anyway, with noticeably less twist, lift and rattle for a more communicative/driveable foot connection even without the pins in.
The shallow pedal design puts your foot right on top of the axle and increases ground clearance slightly too. Unlike similarly double-ended Time pedals there’s no forward shift under heavy braking or if your feet get tipped forward either.
Interestingly, while fitting the pegs definitely adds some more twist grip and theoretical ‘flailing foot’ emergency catch, we found they tend to stick your shoe when a bit of twist was still needed to locate or exit. That means we actually removed them after a few sessions and haven't struggled to target the clips however rough things got. It’s good to have the option though and if you want even more grip again, the bigger platform GC pedal has up to seven pins on each side to stick things down. While we’ve not had a chance to try them in the snow, we’ve tried clogging them up in clay, grass and gravel without any connection or release issues thanks to the large clearances between gates and cage, plus the relatively narrow axle core.
The stainless steel cleats and mechanism have certainly stayed fresh so far and they don’t gouge out shoe soles either, but we’ll have to come back to you on that after a few more months to confirm there’s a significant longevity gain.
One thing we have already noticed is that the lack of free spin means there’s clearly one side of each pedal that’s being used more than the other, so we’ll have to see if that continues and maybe deliberately half-turn them before rides to even it out. The pedals are fully rebuildable even if differential wear rates or crash damage need repairing.
We also struggled to feel any obvious difference between the two cleat options, although this is perhaps unsurprising since there’s only one degree of float differentiating them. On the plus side, both of them worked fine for us and that gives you a spare set of cleats for a second pair of shoes or replacements when the first set becomes worn.
The build quality, likely longevity, two sets of cleats and Hope’s excellent reputation for factory direct or on-site event support all help to close the slight price increase over other premium pedals. The RC pedals get titanium axles as standard for the same price too.
Hope’s Union pedals look pricey on paper but when you get them in your hands you can see the level of workmanship and materials is definitely premium. Most importantly, cleat entry is super easy and the extra connection and communication they give is very clear when you get them under your feet.
The addition of optional pins, two pairs of cleats and various colors all help justify the extra spend and hopefully the stainless steel contact points and tight bearings mean excellent long-term life too. Obviously, we’ll get back to you on that further down the line but Hope has a great reputation for having your back anyway so the extra spend can be deemed an investment, not an indulgence.
Tech Specs: Hope Union TR pedal
- Price: $190 / £150
- Weight: 440g (pair without pins)
- Size (cage): 99 x 69 x 17mm
- Colors: Red, black, silver, blue, purple, orange