Hope Pro 3 SP-XC3 mountain bike wheelset £385

Lighter, flightier and possibly mightier

BikeRadar score 4/5

Hope’s Pro 3s could be the best new wheelset of 2009. At 1,473g (3.2lb) they’re among the lightest production wheels on the market and share the outstanding reputation for durability that all Hope’s in-house wheelsets have. They offer a direct yet sublime ride, spinning up with ease and improving practically any bike they’re fitted to.

The key changes are to the hub shell design, which has moved to an integrated three-arm rotor spider. This tri-arm arrangement narrows rotor choice down to Hope’s own three-spoke compatible design, so they're banking on riders accepting this narrowing of choice in the face of some good weight savings.

Rotors are attached using slim chainring bolts and everything remains tight, straight and free-running, even when dragging the anchors down extended descents. All bearings (two in the front hub, two in the rear with another three in the freehub body) are top-spec stainless steel sealed cartridges. They’re aided in their duty by some hard-working labyrinth seals and O-ring equipped axle ends, so they’re likely to stay free-running for a while.

The freehub body sits on the alloy rear axle, which uses four leaf-sprung pawls acting on a 24-tooth engagement for optimum power transfer. The 24-hole hubs can be converted from standard 9mm quick-release to a 12mm through-axle without tools, and are laced with DT Swiss Super Comp double-butted spokes to a set of Stan’s ZTR 355 rims.

There are limited rotor options (160mm, 180mm, 183mm and 185mm up front, with the same options plus a 140mm rotor for the rear). If you’re a big-hitter or need bigger brakes, go for the ‘Flow’ rim version where you can fit 200mm, 203mm and tyre-destroying 205mm rotors.

Although the wheelset is tubeless-ready, it doesn’t come with the relevant rim strip (to convert to tubeless out of the box), so we converted ours with a Stan’s Rim Strip and valve and found it to be one of the easiest rims to successfully mount tubeless and non-tubeless tyres to.

Riders will feel the benefit of the 673g front and 810g rear wheels as you apply power – fitted with suitably low-weight rubber, you’ll be climbing mountains and cruising singletrack faster than ever.

We’ve been riding and racing these wheels for a couple of months on a daily basis and we’ve nothing negative to report. They simply spin and keep spinning, shrugging off clumsy ‘didn’t see that rock’ moments.

They’re so good at transmitting their instant drive and light weight that we’ve got into the habit of putting them on any bike we ride. Given the number of wheels we have access to, that’s testament to their performance.

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