The Swiss brake pad masters have branched out, adding the Catalyst rotor to their braking line up. We've just had some land on the work bench, along with some fresh ExoTherm pads for testing.
If you walk into any bike shop in Switzerland, you'll see a wall of SwissStop brake pads hanging near the workshop. Long-regarded around the world for their great stopping power and modulation, SwissStop added the ExoTherm brake pads to their range in 2015. We tested a set of their heat-dissipating design last year.
So why does every Swiss shop stock them? It could be national pride, but it's also because they are an exceptional set of brake pads. What's new here is having a rotor.
The SwissStop Catalyst rotor comes in 140mm, 160mm, 180mm and 203mm - and we have a set of the 160mm rotors to test.
The design process started with lab tests on a range of rotors in 2015, essentially to see what designs dealt with heat the best. If you got to Switzerland and see the size of their mountains, an how steep their trails are - you'll understand their focus on keeping brakes cool. With a whole lot of data, their engineers modeled prototypes that would deal with heat well, be stiff enough, a reasonable weight, and give the braking performance required.
And of course they went to measures beyond what you or I would think would suffice, to make sure the thermodynamics of the dsic's cooling was proven. They didn't mess around. If you'd like to see the results of their lab-testing - check them out online.
To keep the UCI happy, they even made sure the edge of the disc has no 90 degree edges, to keep cut shoes in the road peleton to a minimum!
The result? A two-piece design with an aluminium alloy carrier and a stainless steel (SUS410, if you're wondering) brake track. The cut outs are pretty standard, and they have even built in a wear marker for safety.
Testing has shown the rotors (and pads) perform better than other systems over long time periods, and shorter stopping distances. These are both excellent things. Their lab results aren't thetre to be questioned - but I'll get these pads and rotors fitted to my own bike and hunt out the steepest descents to test them on, as well as seeing if their stopping distance, wet-weather braking power, is what it claims to be.
All that said, with rotors at about $85 and the ExoTherm brake pads at almost $60, they aren't you normal 'Swiss' prices compared to the competition, which in this case would be Shimano IceTech rotors and brake pads.
Keep an eye out for our long-term review.
If you're keen to get your hands on some, head to Echelon Sports' website and go nuts!