Clipless pedals are largely standard for mountain bikers, and most clipless riders are either camp Crankbrothers or camp SPD. Then there are the clipless pedal outliers with their own cleat design like Hope, Time, and Funn. I’ve long been in the SPD camp myself, but do occasionally use Crankbrothers. However for most of this year I have been using Hope Union TC (Trail Clip) pedals in a variety of conditions all over the world, and they are now hogging up the crank space on my bike. I don’t plan on moving them anytime soon.
Hope released the Union TC pedal last year alongside two other models — a cross country pedal and a gravity pedal. The TC has a dual clip mechanism where both sides of the retention system flex for easy engagement, and they use proprietary cleats so cleats from other brands won’t work with the pedal. Hope offers two cleat options: a 4°/ 5° float and a 12°/13° option. The pedals have a decent amount of adjustability within the cleat mechanism and there is room for the retention to be softer or more firm.
The axle is made of chromoly, the pedal body is machined aluminum, and the clip mechanism and cleats are stainless steel. Inside the axle there are three cartridge bearings with serviceable internals.
The Union TC pedals retail for $190. They weigh 218g per pedal.
Hope Union TC ride impressions
At first glance, I had no idea the Union TCs had a proprietary cleat. Running short on time, I threaded them into my cranks and grabbed a set of shoes with SPD cleats installed. They sort of engaged, but pulled out all too easily. Lesson learned.
After I installed the Hope cleats, I realized the magic of the pedals. I wouldn’t call the feeling of a Shimano SPD vague but the Union TCs have a sharp and distinct feel when they click in.
I have been using the 4° cleats and they provide just the right amount of float. I can still twist my heels around in the corners a bit, but you have to be intentional for the pedals to release the cleat. They start disengaging at around 4/5° but to fully pop out, it takes a good twist of the heel.
Clipping in, the pointy tip of the Hope cleat makes it clear where your foot needs to be. A hard press down confirms the desire to ride. Under the foot, the TCs have a solid, supportive feel.
I’ve set my retention firmness in about the middle on all sides of my pedals. With the tension dialed down, it’s pretty effortless to disengage the cleat, but not without a good twist still so I don’t believe accidental unclips would be common. With the tension dialed up, it takes a good push to couple the shoe and pedal, and it can be challenging to get this on take-off.
Even though the guide company recommended flat pedals on a trip to Ecuador this summer, I took my Hope pedals. Why did they recommend flats? Mud, mud, and more mud. Considering the conditions, the Hope Union TC pedals performed as well as they could, but often, there was just too much damn mud. Crankbrothers may have worked slightly better, but I can’t be sure.
What I can say is that after all that mud and all those wash downs, the bearings feel as good as new on the Union TC pedals. They don’t have any crunch or resistance coming from the spindle and no play whatsoever. Not bad considering these have been mounted up for six months and saw some brutal conditions.
Hope’s new Union Trail Clip pedals are a sweet clipless option. I can’t say there has been one negative aspect of the pedal that has stuck out during my time with them. They have a distinct engagement and disengagement feel and work admirably in wet, mucky conditions.
Some may not dig the proprietary cleat, but I haven’t had any issues with them and the feel of the mechanism is distinct from SPD.
The price is not what I’d call cheap, but it’s in the same ballpark as an XTR pedal and the weight is only slightly heavier than an XTR. If you’re looking to try something new, I’d highly recommend the Hope Union TC pedal.
- Great engagement feel
- Different colors
Pros and cons of the Hope Union TC pedals.
- Not cheap, but competitive price
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