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When things get a bit loose, at least I’ll be able to stop now

When my brakes gave up at Llandegla it was time to consider getting a new set. I’d bled them before, had them bled at a bike shop nearby and then had them bled again at One Planet. The resulting change in braking wasn’t anywhere near perfect; they just about got by stopping me. Apparently, Guide Rs are renowned for being a sub-par set of brakes because of the internals within the levers. I’ve been advised by loads of people to ditch them and try something else.

The problem has always been the price. Brakes aren’t cheap. A decent set are even more expensive and I didn’t want to replace something that wasn’t really performing with something else that wouldn’t live up to my expectations either. That’s when I settled on the SRAM Guide RSCs, which I’ve been told have a totally different lever configuration internally, or the Hope E4s. Neither were particularly wallet friendly but I’d saved up a little bit of cash expecting I’d need to swap brakes sooner rather than later.

Luckily, a mate has recently got Magura factory support so was swapping out his Hope E4s. Perfect. I grabbed the full set from him for a more than reasonable price. Sure, they’re a little scuffed here and there but they’re brakes on a mountain bike – they’d only get scuffed up with me anyway.

Orange wasn’t particularly the colour I’d have chosen, but the price was too good to pass up on and they do match the rest of my bike. I set to work fitting them right before I rode Flyup417 and Forest of Dean. Initially, I had no idea what I was doing so I went down the brake set that was already on the bike and mirrored what had been done before. It wasn’t too difficult…

…until I reached the callipers. It turns out that I needed specific mounts to fit them to the bike. Of course, I didn’t know which size to get so I sent an email to Hope to ask them which ones were needed. In the meantime, the whole system came back off and the Guide Rs went back on so I could at least go and ride Flyup and FoD. Hope were great and got back to me with the specific calliper mounts I’d need and I got to finding them online. I ordered one of the Hope adapters for the shifters too so that they could be mounted using the same bracket as the lever mount (rather than bolting two separate things to the bars). They were pricey for what they actually are, but that’s Hope for you I guess.

Bleeding them was a piece of cake. In comparison to the excessively faffy nature of the SRAM Guides, the Hopes were simple. Spanner open, pull lever, spanner close, release lever, repeat. A breeze! The colour of the fluid was hilarious but they were soon filled with new stuff and back up to what I’d expected.

Once they were finally on the bike, I gave them a spin at Dalby on the off-piste stuff there. It’s steep and technical in places, and it’s really easy to pick up speed – especially when you’re following a local around like Pete Rees (who happened to drop me on every single run). Funnily, I actually bought the brakes from him so I knew that they must be decent enough to cope with what I’d be riding. And I wasn’t disappointed. The E4s bit quicker than the Guide Rs and had plenty of modulation. Having never ridden using a set of brakes which allow customisable bite point as well as lever reach, I very much felt spoilt. There’s a little bit of getting used to the lever blade shape but otherwise I’m happy with the result in power and modulation. And, above all else, when things get a bit loose at least I’ll be able to stop now.

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