HOPE TECH EVO 155mm CRANKSET REVIEW
Words & Photos by Dario DiGiulio
The folks at Hope Technologies have just about every tool of manufacturing at their disposal, giving them a unique ability to test out ideas and iterate on their existing products. This results in some rather unique solutions to common problems, such as with their new ultra-short 155mm Evo cranks. While not the first all-mountain crankset of this length to hit the market, Hope claims to have done the legwork in testing all the different length options and settling on what they see as the ideal length. It’s certainly a departure from the norm, but does that difference shake out positively on trail?
From a construction perspective, not much has changed with the release of these new shorties. They still feature Hope’s forged and CNC-milled 7150 aluminum crank arms, 30mm axle, and Versatile Spline chainring mount interface that allows for either direct-mount chainrings or a traditional spider. Back in 2019 Hope integrated a self-extracting bolt design to make for some easier removal. Like all Hope products, they come in an array of anodized colors to match your style. You can get the cranks in 165, 170, and 175mm lengths as well, but in this case we’ll just be focusing on the newest 155mm long option.
The Evo cranks use a 30mm axle, available in lengths to suit anything from XC to Fatbikes, as well as SuperBoost frames, and can be retrofitted to fit a new frame. Hope’s Spiderless Retainer chainrings are compatible with 9-12 speed drivetrains (T-Type might not work, TBD), and are available in sizes from 28 to 36 teeth. The Evo 155mm Crankset retails for £270 or $342 for the crankarms and axle, with the Spiderless Retainer chainrings an extra £55 or $70.
Hope makes some interesting claims about the utility of running shorter cranks, extending far beyond the obvious pedal clearance gains. The shorter length has quite a significant effect on body position on the bike, as well as how you pedal up to speed in certain sections of trail.
After fitting the cranks to my Stumpy EVO Alloy, I took some time to adjust saddle height to compensate for the change in leg extension. Prior to the Hopes, I’d had the Race Face Eras installed, so there was a 10mm change to account for. I started by simply raising the saddle 10mm but found that the short cranks felt a bit more natural with the saddle lower, so ended up around 7mm above my baseline. My guess is that the slight reduction in leverage biases towards the muscles you tend to use while seated lower on the bike, giving you a bit more oomph to turn it over.
Speaking of the pedaling performance, there was definitely an adjustment period when I first hopped on the bike. I went out for a pretty standard loop of mine, consisting of mostly fire road climbing access that totals around 4500’. The descents on the loop are pretty pedal free, but you get a solid sense for effort over the connecting climbs. By the end of the loop, I felt a bit more fatigue than I typically would, but nothing too insane. After about a week on the Evo cranks, I felt accustomed to the different pedaling form, and found the effort to be about the same over a whole ride. While Hope recommends a 2-tooth reduction in chainring size for every 10mm of crank length, I ran my standard 32t ring and felt fine.
On the descents, things felt equally unusual at the outset, but yielded some cool results after the adjustment period. The sensation is a bit hard to describe, but it feels like your hips are squarer with the plane of the bike, giving you a more natural forward-facing stance on the bike. The made turning more like skiing, where you have a better hip-driven turn feeling than the typical skateboard/bike sensation. I really liked how this felt on slappy turns where you really want to push the back of the bike around and can feel the effect getting more pronounced as I ride the little cranks more.
The downside to that closer foot position is what feels like a higher center of gravity on the bike, as you’re effectively standing on a smaller platform underfoot. All I can say to this is it felt like I was standing taller on the bike, and as someone who’s already quite tall, it made for some awkward feeling moments where I typically wouldn’t think of anything at all. I raised my cockpit slightly to compensate, and that helped get the fit feeling more balanced and natural.
One other funky attribute on the descents was the sensitivity to gearing that you get with the shorter crank. Where a more traditional length crank allows you to gear high and push through slower sections, the 155mm arms felt like they required a better choice of gears in order to pedal out of turns or over tech features on trail. I wouldn’t call this a night and day difference, but I definitely had to be more aware of what gear I was in before hitting pedal spots on trail, which of course you get used to after some time acclimating.
Last but not least, and perhaps most obviously, the pedal clearance on these little guys is downright ridiculous. I’ve been riding Vancouver’s North Shore a lot this winter, and those slow, awkward, janky trails are a perfect testing ground for what you can get away with. On trails I was riding blind, I found I could simply pedal for speed through spots where you’d usually have to preserve momentum, making for a lot more cleaned moves than I expected. I really don’t think this is the primary reason to move to ultra-short cranks, but it’s hard to overlook just how convenient that extra space really is.
I’ve swapped a few drivetrains around while running the Hope cranks and was surprised to find that there’s a bit of a benefit to running the smoother-shifting Shimano LinkGlide drivetrain with the higher-cadence 155mm cranks. I chalk this up to the ability for LinkGlide to shift under power no matter where you are on trail, so you can get to a comfortable cadence regardless of the tricky spot you’re in. SRAM Transmission’s seamless shifting would work the same way, but the T-Type chain restrictions mean you can’t run the new stuff with standard chainrings like this Hope one.
The Wolf’s Last Word
I expected to be surprised by the Hope Evo 155mm cranks, and they certainly made a noticeable difference to a bike I’m very used to. There are definitely some tradeoffs to the extreme change, but the balanced cornering feeling, and massive ground clearance were big highlights. The somewhat awkward sprint pedaling, and fit changes took some getting used to, but I do think it’s the kind of change one would adapt to pretty quickly if you were only running the shorties. At 6’3”, I think 160-165mm cranks still make more sense for me, but I’ll be experimenting with the 155mm Hopes for a long while yet.
Price: $342 USD
Weight: 560 grams