Hope Tech E4 Brake Review | Rear E4 Caliper



Words & Photos by Dario DiGiulio

As one of the first names in mountain bike disc brakes, Hope Technologies has a long reputation of making reliable and well-executed parts. Their brake lineup was starting to get a bit long in the teeth, with other competitors taking up market share on more and more bikes out there, but their fully revamped lineup is looking to put them back at the top. As the middle child of their brake options, the Tech 4 E4 is Hope’s attempt at a brake for any bike that likes to go downhill fast. The quality is sure to be there, but does the performance match that of the current top dogs?


The Tech 4 E4 brakes (to be known as E4s from here) retain the distinct look and feel of all Hope products, with manufacturing processes driving the design language, and function taking precedent over form…not to say they don’t look excellent. The tool-free reach and bite point adjustments are prominent and easy to adjust on the fly, with subtle clicks that allow you to count your changes to the settings. The lever shape is fairly flat, and comparable to the beefy blades from TRP – though the Hope blades feature a much nicer finish, with machined dimples to enhance grip. The lever assembly is held to the bar with a hinged clamp, which doesn’t take up too much real estate, making the cockpit easy to set up to your liking.

Hope Tech E4 Brake Review | Brake Lever

At the caliper end, Hope still uses their beautifully carved one-piece construction, though the guts of the assembly have gotten quite a few updates. The E4s use a new stainless steel piston design, with phenolic inserts to assure the smoothest operation possible while still performing well with heat buildup. They still use a Hope-specific pad shape, with the brakes including a set of both the green “Race” pads and the red “All Conditions” pads. Bleeding is carried out using Hope’s own “Easy Bleed” kit and widely available DOT 5.1 fluid.

You can purchase the Tech 4 E4 brakes for $272 per brake with a regular hose, or for $285 with a braided hose. The latter doesn’t offer any performance upgrade but does look pretty trick.

With a 30% increase in power over their prior Tech 3 E4 model of all-mountain brakes, and the tried-and-true look and feel of Hope products, how do the new E4s stack up against the competition?

Hope Tech E4 Brake Review |Front Caliper


I’m lucky enough to call Bellingham, Washington my home, but my brakes aren’t so lucky, as they’re exposed to the unrelentingly steep trails in the area. With a tendency to be straight down and full of turns and features, the terrain here is the perfect place to test brakes at their max capacity, with any weaknesses showing up before long. I installed the Tech 4 E4s on my Yeti SB160 test bike, so they also had the task of slowing down one of the fastest bikes out there right now. All told, it was a fairly heavy task at hand for the British stoppers.

Before getting into the performance on trail, it’s worth discussing the installation and maintenance of the E4s briefly. When it comes to the bleed procedure, I have to say I found the Hopes lacking refinement. The moto-style bleeding works just fine but requires a few goes before getting every last bubble out of the system, and ultimately, I had to just ride the brakes for a while before things started feeling truly consistent. Again, the procedure itself is pretty easy with the Easy Bleed kit, but the efficacy of the procedure is a lot less precise than other techniques used by brands like SRAM and Hayes that actively push fluid through.

Due to that iffy first setup, I found the bite point to be a bit inconsistent initially with the E4s, but after a few additional bleeds and a general break-in period (pun unfortunately unavoidable), they hit a sweet spot and really started to shine.

Hope Tech E4 Brake Review |

The first things you notice while riding the E4s are the lever shape, and the lever feel. The shape is pretty sizable, with a nicely beveled flat blade that worked great for my fairly large hands. The lever feel is nearly as feathery as the lightest on the market: the Hayes Dominion. It makes for an effortless feel at the bar, getting you to your bite point quickly and without any vague resistance. I think the levers could be set up for just about any preference under the sun, as the range of reach and bite point adjustment is quite wide.

The power on tap with the E4s is pretty similar to that of a Magura MT7 or a SRAM Code, which is to say there’s more than enough to slow you down. Where the E4 differs is in feel, with a very light first touch and a linear ramp to max power. The Magura brakes feel a bit more progressive through the pull, ramping up to full power faster, and Codes get to their strongest point with the least pull of the bunch. The Hopes offer a really nice and easy to control feel, and might be the ticket for folks who have a harder time modulating at the finger. You can be a bit more ham-fisted with the pull once you’ve started to engage the brakes, knowing that the gradual ramp is there to slow you before they fully lock up. This made them a bit different to stab on and off for fast braking points on trail, but once I got used to the feel it was intuitive as ever.

I would be curious to test the stronger Hope counterpart – the Tech 4 V4 – versus some of the other more powerful brakes on the market, such as my possible current favorite: the Hayes Dominion A4. That said, I have no issue with the power of something like a Code, and never found myself lacking bite with the E4s. The E4s and Dominions share a wonderful trait in their ability to modulate even when you feel like you’re fully gripped on the bar already. I’d chalk this up to their very light lever action that both brakes have achieved, a feature I’d love to see in more options on the market.

Hope Tech E4 Brake Review |Caliper Over-Shot

Over the course of long runs (think 2000’+ elevation loss in one go), the bite point barely wandered, only creeping towards the bar slightly as things hit the highest temperatures. I’m not the heaviest dude, and these weren’t on an ebike, but ridden hard with a bike plus rider weight of around 210 lbs, the E4s never felt too bogged down. I opted to use Hope’s Race compound pads for the most part, as they offered slightly better initial bite, and have been pretty impressed by the durability compared to other high-performance pads on the market. I only picked up one complaint about them, and it’s one I had to chase down at various points through the test: the noise.

Under hard braking, the pad/rotor combo would make what I can only describe as a metallic screech – a high-pitched sound that differed from the squeal other brakes make when wet or contaminated. I learned to think of this as the sound of the Hopes working, but at times it was a bit irritating when you’re bearing down in otherwise dreamy terrain. Another noise I learned to deal with was the ticking of the Hope floating rotors, as the multi-material beauties cooled down after the heat of prolonged use. What could be mistaken for the sound of spoked pinging around is simply the sound of the rivets settling back into place after heat expansion. I have a hard time believing these do a whole lot more than the standard one-piece rotors all other brands use, but they certainly look quite handsome and have remained nice and true throughout the test.

The last noise to note was caused by the insanely rattly pads that the E4s appeared to have initially. Like the finned models seen on Shimano brakes, I found myself frustrated at the persistent chatter coming from the front and rear brake, until I finally found the culprit. The pad springs were quite oddly shaped out of the packaging, and didn’t properly retain the pads in the caliper – all I had to do was flatten them with some Knipex pliers, and things were rattle-free.

Besides those potentially nitpicky noise complaints, there were no issues with durability or function throughout the test, and the Hopes remain as industrially beautiful as they were on day one.

The Wolf’s Last Word

The Hope Tech 4 E4 brakes might seem like a funny middle child in the Hope Brake lineup, between the 2-piston offerings and their strongest V4 model, but I think the mix of modulation and stop power is ideal for most all-mountain usage. They never felt underpowered, and despite the finicky setup and a couple of noise issues, they really impressed me throughout the test. While not my all-out favorite on the market, these are brakes I’ll happily use for years to come.

Brakes: $272 each
Rotors: $75 each

Weight: 266g per Brake
Website: Hopetech.com

We Dig

Great balance of power and modulation
Ergonomics and adjustability
Durable and rebuildable

We Don’t

Hard to get perfect bleed
Noisy pads/rotors
Might feel too mushy for some


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