Review: Hope Pro 2 Evo/Spank Subrosa 30 Wheelset
Apr 4, 2016
These wheels are the product of long talks with Jason at Sugar combined with a few months of trial and error. I'm rough on my bikes, to say the least. I went through three rims on my rear wheel this past winter and spring. The goal is to build something that would stand up to at least a season of hard riding, while maintaining a reasonable weight and modular ability.
INTENDED USE: AM/Trail
RIMS: Spank Subrosa 30AL EVO
HUBS: Hope Pro 2 Evo
SPOKES: Sapim Race 14/15ga double butted
NIPPLES: Sapim Polyax brass
WEIGHT: ~2000 grams
MSRP: $680 as built
After already experimenting with wider rims, I knew I wanted something at least 30mm (external). A good tubeless design is also a must. After many heavy discussions, I settled on the Spank Subrosa 30.
The Subrosa is the bigger brother to the Oozy, sporting both a greater width and a stronger sidewall. Spank labels the Subrosa as bridging the categories of aggressive XC to DH race. At 610g each, these aren't the lightest offerings out there (for some context: Spank's Oozy 295 clocks in at 490g, while Enve's Trail/AM offering is 400g), but far be it from Spank to put out a heavy rim devoid of any tech to compensate. There are some interesting things going on that are immediately apparent out of the box.
The unusual rim bed. These days you see one of two things in a rim bed: either a concave or a flat surface. In the Subrosa, you see more of a W shape. Spanks calls this design "Oohbah". The idea is that a corrugated surface is stiffer and stronger than a flat one, with only marginal weight gains.
The bead-seat profile. Over the past few years we've seen a shift from a classic hooked rim wall design to a hookless design, particularly with carbon. Spank, however, has set themselves squarely in the hooked realm with their "BeadNip" technology. They have a toothed profile along their bead-seat, designed to prioritize tire security while riding with low pressure. if you're running tubes, it holds the bead in place during harsh bottom outs and prevents it from shifting and pinching the tube. If you're running tubeless, it prevents burping on harsh bottom-outs
For this wheelset I used a set of Hope Pro II Evo's I purchased back in 2012. They've seen some serious riding over the years, originally in my first lightweight XC wheelset and then on a dirt jumper a few years later. Other than spoke indentations from previous lacings, they've got zero blemishes and the anodization is as fresh as day one.
I like Hope hubs; they're simple, durable and modular. With the Evo, you've got beefy axles (20mm front and 17mm rear), which create a solid, stable platform for the wheels, and allow for easy, affordable conversion between axle standards.
The freehub employs a 4-pawl engagement system that is very simple and effective. I'm using the older version of the Evo II with only 24 engagement teeth. The current version has been upped to a snappy 40 teeth. (I've ridden both; the improvement is huge. Otherwise, though, the hubs perform the same.) The freehub body is machined from T6 billet aluminum, and a stainless steel option is available. Freehub bodies are consistent across the Evo line-up regardless of the model year, and are offered in Shimano Road 10/Mtn 11, Shimano Road 11, or Sram XD.
On the Trail
With this set I'm running a Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR with Stan's sealant inside. The tires seated on the rim quickly with a floor pump (I've since had luck with trailside hand-pump re-seating as well), impressively easy for a tubeless setup. Having used Minions on other narrower rims in the past, I can see how the 30mm wide Subrosa rim creates a more squared tire profile.
I've been on these wheels for the past three months, with some very heavy riding. The wheels have survived everything from all-day epics around St. Helens to rock-rolls and 10 ft doubles in Bellingham. I've put somewhere north of 500 miles on them thus far and have experienced only one burp (while messing around in the parking lot!) and have yet to turn a single nipple with a spoke wrench -- surely a testament to Sugar's work as much as the build itself. I've had numerous harsh bottom-outs from bad line choice in rock gardens, only one of which has resulted in a dent. The dent pulled out nicely and I lost no more than a few PSI while on the trail.
The wheels are noticeably more stiff and solid feeling on trail than other wheels I've been on. They hold a line as confidently as some of the more expensive carbon options I've ridden. While not being nearly as quick to accelerate, they do so admirably. The heft of the wheelset is definitely noticeable on the trail and it requires a bit more work to put the front wheel where you want on technical and steep uphills. However, the setup is definitely geared towards durability and blasting the downs. If I was concerned with the overall weight, I could easily drop grams with different tires.
With the help of Sugar Wheel Works, I was able to build up a wheelset that can handle the way I ride down the hills and still allow me to have fun on the way up. No, they aren't the lightest offerings out there, but they're durable and well within my budget. I'm exceedingly happy with only one dent after over 500 miles of some of the PNW's most punishing trails. The Subrosa 30 surpasses expectations planted by Spank's marketing and I'm firmly sold on their Oohbah rim profiles ability to hold onto my tire in the roughest of terrain. The Hope hubs, as always, are durable, modular and simple in their design, making maintenance easy and keeping my bike looking good in the process. They're a part of my bike that I almost never think of, which is a testament to a good product.
I would recommend this wheelset to the type of person who rides their bike hard and often, and wants confidence in their wheels ability to handle a beating on the trail.