This was the dream of Ian Weatherill and the late Simon Sharp, Hope’s co-founders. It was never about the idea of becoming a bike brand, but rather just to have the satisfaction of producing a complete bike. Initial ideas were for a welded steel frame, but as technology moved on over the years, so their ideas moved to carbon.
There’s a wealth of knowledge around carbon fibre in the UK, with the majority of the current F1 teams being based here as well as a thriving aerospace industry. This gives us access to some of the worlds most talented carbon fibre engineers, right on our doorstep. The challenge was taking their skill at producing one off components, and scaling it up to production quantities. Since our existing products are manufactured using the processes most companies only use to produce their first prototypes ie CNC machined rather than cast or precision forged, it’s not been an unusual experience for us. Mould production has been one of the easiest processes since these are made on CNC machines and we already have a few of these. Cutting and laying up the carbon sheet is quite a labour intensive process, but keeping production on site in Barnoldswick gives us total confidence in the quality of parts we can produce. In the past there have been reservations internally about the safety of manufacturing in carbon fibre and although carbon fibre production is a new process to us, with the correct controls and working practices put in place, it can be made an extremely safe process. Also by manufacturing in our own factory in the UK to strict health and safety regulations, we can ensure a safe working environment for our staff, which is more than can be said for some companies who have parts produced in anonymous factories around the world.
Although we didn’t really want to create new standards on this project we felt it was important as we have seen compromises bike manufacturers have made when designing frames and also the restrictions on component manufacturers to conform to standards. Very few companies have previously been able to combine the needs of the frame and component designer into one project. With this unique opportunity, we set about creating our idea of the perfect bike - without compromise. Our bike designs have gone through a big evolution over the years, changing as our current bike requirements have changed as well as the evolution in wheel sizes and the disappearance of the front mech. We started back in 2005 with a downhill bike, but this design progressed through many different disciplines and has finally settled on our current ride - 160mm travel All Mountain/Trail style bike. This bike uses very few current standards since it was initially developed as a design concept rather than a product design exercise. Maybe not the best solution for compatibility, but when you make every part, it gives you the opportunity to manufacture a bike without compromise.
We produced a uniquely spaced rear end to achieve a dishless wheel build. Moving the drive-side chainstay out has altered the chainline to give more clearance around the bottom bracket (this was pre boost, but realistically has achieved the same thing). Additionally we brought the non-driveside chainstay in to create a narrower 130mm dropout width rear end and moved the rotor/caliper as close as possible to the spokes. The hub is fitted with a 17mm thru axle and 25mm location spacers for maximum stiffness.
The radially mounted brake only needs spacers to change disc size. This makes for simple disc size changes as opposed to the current post mount which varies in position with different disc sizes. As our brake designer comments “It is really frustrating to model things perfectly on the screen, have CNC machines capable to hold very tight tolerances, to then fit a caliper and some randomly dimensioned brake mount. When you go away from the standard 160 postmount dimension depending which manufacturer spec you go for, the caliper ends up in a different position because there is no set standard.” Radial mounted calipers aren’t new and have been used on motorbikes for decades, our old Mono6-Ti caliper used this type of mount.
Designed around a 30mm axle as standard so no compromise. Unusual for the bike industry one designer worked on the frame, bottom bracket and the cranks so a perfect solution was used to give long bearing life as well as frame/pivot stiffness.
One of our “long term” development projects, the rear cassette went through many stages during its evolution. We gradually “tweaked” the tooth profile and ramps to give the perfect shifting both up and down the gears. The final design uses 7 sprockets, 10t-24t, machined from a single stainless steel billet that is heat treated. Then four larger sprockets, 28t-44t that are again machined from a single billet, although this time it’s aluminium that is hard anodised. The cassette fits onto a specially made freehub that is machined slightly shorter to accommodate the 10t sprocket.
For many years it’s been our dream to produce handlebars. We initially looked at producing aluminium bars and went through a long design and testing process, but realised the only way to produce them in aluminium would be to use Far East manufacturing. Not really the Hope way!
We then began looking at carbon fibre production and quickly realised that this method could enable handlebar manufacture to remain in Barnoldswick. With the development of the HB.160 frame giving vital carbon production experience a new facility was built at our Barnoldswick site.
Key design features in our Hope handlebar include larger diameters around the bends to significantly increase the strength of the profile, combined with an optimised laminate that has been designed to increase strength in high stress areas and remove material where it’s not required to reduce weight. The results of which is a bar that has been tuned
via rider and testing feedback to enhance performance.
We purposely remained rather conservative on the frame geometry rather than jumping in the longer, slacker trend. We wanted a lively, manoeuvrable and comfortable bike making the ride fun and able to steer around tight switchbacks rather than a planted and straight-line warrior. Despite what we can often read on marketing leaflets, suspension design is all a question of compromise. With this Horst link 4 bar linkage suspension, we believe we have made the right compromises, the suspension is optimised for the bikes intended use, an aggressive riding style and pedalling efficiency. The very progressive linkage leverage ratio makes the bike suitable to use either an air shock or coil shock.