Have you seen those bikes with big, coloured inner disc rotors? Maybe they also had matching coloured calipers, and hubs and quick-releases too? There’s a big chance that these products came from Barnoldswick in Lancashire, UK: the home town of Hope Technology. This unique company brings far more than simply colour to the cycling world.

Hope Tech, made in Barnoldswick

You can no longer call the company a small business, but it’s certainly unique. Almost all the products at Hope are made in their own factory. New bits of kits don’t come into existence through targeted market research; Hope develops products because it wants them to exist. And if they can make stuff that is better than the existing products, then they simply go out and manufacture them. Then sell them, if there’s a demand. And without marketing. The product must sell itself.

“Our ethos is simple… We make high quality products, no sales waffle. Let the products do the talking.”

Because they make everything (OK, almost everything) themselves, they are more flexible than the competition. They don’t have to rely on huge orders from China for their products. But that means that if a product doesn’t sell, then so be it. If there’s high demand for a product, however, they simply increase production. This attitude is deeply rooted in Hope Tech. It all began when Ian Weatherill and Simon Sharp, friends from the trials motorcycling scene, became unhappy with the quality of the brakes on their mountainbikes. As they were both ex-Rolls Royce Aerospace engineers, they decided to go about improving the designs themselves. In the first place they made these hydraulic disc brakes for themselves and their friends, but after two years of tinkering the duo realised they may have accidentally stumbled on a business model.

Ian Weatherill Hope

Ian Weatherill (left) is still closely linked to all Hope’s business activities. Photograph: Road Bike Connection – Tristan Cardew.

Hope RX4

And so it was. While the brand is now an established name in the world of downhill, trail and mountain bikes, they are gradually moving into the world of road bikes too. Not that this is new: Hope fitted a racing bike with disc brakes in the 1990s. But now the world appears to be finally catching up. And a lot of people are upgrading and customising their bikes, which means the marketplace for Hope is suddenly expanding fast.

A bigger, wider market for bikes and parts means more choice for all. And Hope certainly adds to that. The RX4, for example, is an after-market road bicycle disc brake with four pistons. This is the first such design for road bikes and it offers better clearance (less squeaking/howling while braking) and a larger braking surface. The RX4 brakes are currently available for SRAM and Shimano systems. Normal road disc brakes only have two pistons, which push against the brake pads and bring the bike to a halt. Four pistons also mean less friction, and less chance of the brakes overheating. And that’s something which road riders, especially those descending long alpine passes, can certainly use!

Hope Tech Caliper

Hope’s brake calipers, from origin to end product: all in one piece. Photograph: Road Bike Connection – Tristan Cardew.

All the rotating parts and more!

One glance at the Hope product catalogue and you can easily see that the company has certainly not been standing still in recent years. If you’re looking for brake discs, brake callipers, quick-releases, hubs or cranks, just about every quality upgrade can be found here. And that now includes the upgrade generally seen as the most efficient upgrade of a standard road racer: carbon wheels. (There are also rumours of a Hope frame, sometime in the future…)

The 20Five and RDForty are both wheelsets that can be used on both gravel and the road. This is thanks to the variety of tyres you can run on them: from 25mm up to 40mm wide. With rim depth of 25mm, the 20Five is a good option for bike packers who have a more heavily laden bike. There is also a choice of 24 or 32 spoke versions. The wheels are tubeless-ready and have Hope hubs that are both Shimano and Campagnolo compatible. Rim brakes? Hope want nothing to do with these thanks, so these wheel sets are for disc brakes only. A pair of the wheels weigh in at around 1,825g. The RDForty have 40mm high rims (surprise!) are fitted with Hope’s RS4 hubs and Sapin CX-Ray spokes—these are made for more robust cyclocross work. The complete set weighs 1,495g. Both wheel sets are only available in 700c.

Hope RDForty wheels

Hope’s minimalistic RDForty wheel set. Photograph: Road Bike Connection – Tristan Cardew.

It all began with some of the first hydraulic disc brakes fitted to bicycles, but where it will end, nobody knows. One thing is certain, Ian and his team will continue to make high-quality products for an increasingly wide range of cycling disciplines. The company also does its best to enrich the cycling experience for young and old. Purely out of love for the sport. That’s got to be the best marketing there is…