Hope’s all-new superlight XCR mountain bike brakes build on decades of UK CNC-machining expertise to stop the latest crop of lightweight downcountry bikes. As XC race bikes have evolved to take on more technical tracks, Hope has created a new premium option for trail riders looking for the best stopping power without the extra weight. We’ve had just a short time on the brakes so far, but even on my first rides it was easy to appreciate the power boost over the already great set of older XTR brakes that I swapped out…
Hope XCR lightweight CNC-machined mountain bike brakes
Hope’s earlier XC-focused Race EVO X2 2-piston brakeset has been out of productions for a while, leaving weight weenies still begging for the lightest the UK manufacturer had to offer. While the Races were light, it seems some riders felt they didn’t live up to the proven stopping power of other Hope brakes without adding heavier 4-piston calipers. In the meantime, Hope’s proven Tech 3 lever & X2 calipers have been delivering excellent XC to trail stopping power at around 249g a set (also available in great adaptive-use versions!). But Hope knew they could do better.
The new XCR design makes a few key changes to reduce weight without sacrificing on performance. For Hope’s machined alloy fans, the new carbon brake lever is an obvious shift, rotating on new reduced friction lever pivot bushings. Carbon’s not really a big surprise with all of the other in-house Hope carbon they’ve been getting up to in recent years.
The other big shift is the new minimalist master cylinder layout, now essentially integrated into the brake mount body that positions the lever pivot away from the bar. This configuration allows Hope to maintain their easy-to-bleed, large-volume hydraulic reservoir inside the boxy hollow structure, resulting in a stiff & wide clamp to your bar.
The classic Hope CNC-machining is still there in the silver-only anodized body (other colors likely possible in the future) with a new wide, hinged clamp design that makes install super easy (& light). There’s even a built-in direct mount for Shimano I-spec shifters, plus a SRAM matchmaker adapter available separately. The new brakes also still allow for tooled lever reach adjust with a 2mm allen key.
The all-new XCR brake master cylinder & carbon lever are attached to a special edition X2 caliper. Not much has really changed here, but the XCR caliper does shift to alloy-backed pads. And the hydraulic line uses a lighter crimped brake line with a fixed end at the caliper (trim to fit at the brake lever body, where there is still a regular olive.)
Lightweight XC setup – Actual weights
A key focus on the new design is lighter weight. Claiming a total system weight from just 199g (lever, hose, caliper & DOT 5.1 fluid) our test front brake came in under than that at 194g, without even shortening the brake line yet. The rear is just a bit over at 211g complete, before we get around to trimming several inches of hose to fit.
Hope says that many of their competitors like to share brake weight without fluid, so they gave us that figure for the XCR too, from 182g. Add to either of those numbers 16g of brake mounting bolts, plus 147g per wheel for the 180mm floating rotors we are running.
The actual combined front & rear weight or 405g was 77g lighter than the XTR M988/985 brakes they replaced (252g rear, 230g front, cut to length), an impressive 16% weight savings.
Hope XCR brakes – Pricing, options & availability
Like everyone else in the industry fighting with component availability, Hope is working hard to meet increased demand. While their brakes are all made in-house, the new XCR is for the time being, manufactured on the CNC machines in the Hope R&D lab. What that means is that although they are available right now, quantities are going to be limited for the foreseeable future. Act fast if you need to upgrade your stopping power and shed a few grams.
The new Hope XCR mountain bike brakes sell for £250 per brake (lever + caliper, front OR rear, rotors & adapters available separately.) We haven’t heard yet explicitly, but the XCR brake lever should also be compatible with the flat mount version of the X2 caliper for those with a flat mount XC mountain bike frame.
First Trail Impressions
Hope hasn’t yet mentioned any other (more affordable, for example) version of the new XCR brakes, but the XCR setup manual includes an exploded diagram that shows both carbon & aluminium compatible lever blades. And of course you can still set up the XCRs as 4-piston brakes together with an E4 brake caliper.
We’ve started riding the new Hope XCR brakes on our local singletrack and tossing them through some urban enduro trails to push them to the limit. With the light X2 calipers & 180mm rotors we have no need to ask for more braking power.
Hope calls their new XCR brake, “lighter, more powerful, better ergonomics, lighter lever feel than anything we have offered before. It’s a lightweight brake with no compromises whether you’re racing or trail riding.”
The stopping power is an unmistakable improvement over the older XTRs that I’ve loved for years, with excellent 1 or 2 finger modulation to confidently scrub speed between jumps, while railing turns, and through technical chutes. Next step, some bigger mountain rides to see how they handle more extended braking…