Words and Photos: Chris Herron

You could be forgiven for not knowing about TRP brakes, but unless you’ve been living out the back of Bourke, you would have used a Tektro V brake or two on cheaper MTBs over the years. Well, TRP is the high-end brake manufacturer part of Tektro. They produce some pretty effective cable activated disc brakes for road and CX bikes, but their MTB hydraulic brakes have been pretty dormant up until now.

That is, until four-time World Cup overall champion Aaron Gwin approached TRP to supply a 4-piston hydraulic disc brake to take on the pro circuit. What we are left with is one very shiny silver brake lever and caliper that looks quite different to any other brake on the market.

A quick look at the brake reveals a rather large caliper body that houses four ceramic/steel pistons, CNC machined cooling fins and an adjustable outboard banjo hose connector. There’s also an oversize lever body with split hinge clamp, good length lever blade with dimpling where the forefinger resides, adjustable reach dial and easy access bleed port. One thing to note is that the clamp is also available in Shimano’s I-Spec b and II and SRAM’s Matchmaker.

THE SET UP
Throwing the front and rear brake sets on the scales gave us an indication just how light these brake don’t appear to be. 315g and 328g respectively - quite light compared to other 4-piston brakes on the market.

Set up of the brakes on my test bike was relatively straight forward with only shortening of the hoses required for that clean cockpit look. The included olives, barbs and Mineral Oil bleed kit were all that were needed to get lines cut, connected and a quick bleed to remove the last of the air in the lines. After a quick roll around the driveway to make sure that everything was working correctly, I jumped in the car and headed to the trails.

THE RIDE
First. let me get this out of the way: These brakes take a long time to bed in. Not the five minutes that we are used to with other brands, but literally 30-40 minutes of trail riding and some steep fire roads thrown in for good measure. But once that factory coating burned off the red backed semi metallic pads…WHOOOAAAR! These are very powerful brakes indeed, but not without a metric ton of modulation as well.

The great thing about a brake that has awesome stopping power and a good chunk of modulation is that braking is very predictable and controlled right through the range, from washing off speed to ripping your face off before going over the edge of that cliff.

The set up and squeeze is relatively easy with the large lever blade and ergonomic feel and that lasts quite a bit through the pull of the lever. That is until the four pistons are stamping their authority on the pads and really grabbing hold of that rotor, then the power just seems to continue for the last third of the stroke.

I never really felt any brake fade on some of the fast descents, although maybe a long run like Thredbo could give the brake fade some competition. The large reservoir in the lever body is most likely to assist in that department as there is quite a good amount of fluid in there, as well as the cooling fins machined into the caliper.

Pad life is something I wasn’t able to test as I had only dry days for testing and wasn’t able to test for long enough. A long-term review might be needed to determine how well these pads fare. However, I was supplied with a set of metallic pads, so one would assume they are longer lasting than the stock semi-metallic.

Overall these brakes have a fantastic finish, clean look and great power to modulation ratio. The only real issue I encountered whilst riding the TRPs is the small amount of flexibility in the body when yanking on the brake lever. There is a noticeable but small amount of movement in the clamp and lever body, which does give the impression of a slightly mushy feeling in the lever but it is only minor, nothing that would stop me from purchasing these brakes.

HITS MISSES
Insane power AND modulation A tiny bit of flex
Easy set up  
RRP $349.99
FROM adventurebrands.com.au