O pinion is still split among cyclocross riders as to whether disc brakes are the future or not. Good cantilevers offer plenty of stopping power for narrow tyres with a finite level of grip on changeable surfaces, but will wear your rims.
Disc-specific wheels don’t need a braking track, so can have lighter rims, saving rotational weight in the most crucial area. Disc brakes are heavier than cantis, but aren’t bothered by wet, mucky or out of true rims, and eliminate clogging around the brakes, saving you from carting extra mud around.
Until long-awaited full hydraulic drop bar systems arrive, the only way to run hydraulic callipers is via a converter, turning mechanical cable pull into hydraulic piston actuation.
Hope’s neat V- Twin converter mounts on a stainless steel steerer tube bracket, nestling beneath the stem, and including callipers and hoses weighs 512g. The brake cables only have a short run from the levers and enter the V-Twin from the front, passing through and clamping behind the pistons. When pulled, the pistons actuate the brake master cylinders, and in turn the X2 callipers.
Initial setup takes time, and you need to take care to route the cables and hoses correctly. The V-Twin system is supplied fully connected and bled with hose lengths to suit larger frames, but we had to shorten ours.
Once we’d centred the callipers, the brakes felt excellent, very much like a good cantilever, with a positive return action offering resistance and great fine control. The Hopes exhibited none of the sponginess present in some disc brake systems, with snappy operation and superbly progressive power from the X2 callipers.
The pads took a short time to bed in, but since then the system has required no maintenance or adjustment, something borne out by the Hope Factory Team finishing 11 riders in last season’s epic Three Peaks cyclo-cross race, with descents longer and faster than any conventional domestic event.
With braking unaffected by ground or weather conditions, consistent feel and ample controllable power, the V-Twin’s reliability is worth a few extra grams.