This is the latest iteration of Hope’s classic aluminium crankset. It promises to be lighter, stiffer an easier to install than before with a new self extracting axle/arm interface. It is immediately recognisable as a Hope product with its clean lines and sharp edges, closely resembling their iconic brake calipers. As well as the black cranks that we tested, they come in 5 more colours, making it possible to match them to any bike.
The Evo cranks are available in 155, 165, 170 and 175mm lengths, and that is where they get interesting. You see most mainstream cranks tend to be 170-175mm long, with 165mm being common on DH bikes, and more recently, eBikes. It was the short, 155mm length that interested us though and that is what we are reviewing here. In fact, it is more of an article about our experiences with shorter cranks, and how they feel out on the trail.
Fitting was easy and straightforward, and it was a simple swap (with a new Hope BB too) from my Shimano XT cranks. You will need to read the supplied instructions as they are quite different to the main offerings from SRAM or Shimano, but the instructions are good and everything is well made and fits together very snuggly.
Coming from 170mm cranks, as I first pedalled up the road I felt like my feet were spinning tiny little circles. Almost like I was riding my 6 year old daughter’s bike. After about half hour of pedalling, it began to feel less strange, and after an hour it felt normal, unless I really focused on it.
At this point is it really easy to get all confused with the physics of lever lengths and whether you will need a different gearing, or to spin faster or slower etc. Whilst the lever is shorter, and generating less leverage, my foot actually travels a shorter distance and at a slower speed to do one pedal revolution, when compared to 170mm cranks at the same cadence (in rpm). Hope state on their website that you may want to reduce your chainring size by 2 teeth for the ‘change in final drive ratios.’
My perception was that I was riding in the same gears as I would normally and I never felt like I had lost power on the pedals. I compared gearing with mates as we spun up climbs and we were all in basically the same gears. The bottom line is that in terms of pedalling, once you are used to it, I didn’t feel any loss of power or need to change my riding.
Whilst they felt fine on the climbs, I actually don’t care that much. I wanted to try these for descending, and in particular, for cornering. Luckily the second ride was a day at Dyfi Bike Park, so I got plenty of chance to figure them out.
Like many riders (and Zoolander) I turn a lot better to one side than the other. If races were all left hand turns, I could safely bet on a top 10. All right turns? I’d rather not talk about it. I was hoping that by having my feet closer together, and more like the level pegs of a motorbike, that my cornering would improve and become more balanced left to right. In total my feet would be 30mm closer together, which is quite a bit in terms of the space available at the cranks.
When you are in a split stance like on the bike (one foot forward, one back) it is always tempting to turn the hips away from the front foot. So, for me as a right foot forward rider, my hips will want to turn to the left and that is probably why I favour left corners. As we come narrower with the feet, this effect will lessen and it becomes easier to keep the hips square and then to open them up and turn towards the lead leg. Basically it frees up movement in your hips to allow you to move and turn more freely. That is why I really wanted to try these shorter cranks.
The good news for me, is that I think it has worked. It is always hard to say for 100%, but I am feeling very balanced and secure on the bike since adding these cranks, and my right turns feel easier to set up for and lean in to. I can move more freely and am also able to drop my heels more on both feet, letting me generate more grip on the brakes in particular.
There is a reason that motorbike pegs are level and not offset, and that’s because it gives you the best position to manoeuvre from, so if we can move closer to that, then it can only help in my opinion.
I am 177cm tall, with a 79cm inside leg measurement, and these cranks felt great for me. In fact I am going to try and get a set for my eBike as well so that I am consistent when I ride and work on my skills. Taller riders may find the pedalling circle too tight, but I would suggest that shorter riders in particular would really benefit from trying a shorter crank.
What do we think?
I am a short crank convert. The 155mm Hope Evo crankset is a product that has improved my riding, and cornering in particular.
The hype is real
That Hope CNC’d goodness
Easy to install
Could do better:
Short cranks might not work for everyone
You can check out the Hope EVO crankset over on their website here.