TRP HYRD Brakes – The Definitive Guide – Updated

Salt Lake City, UT, 21 November 2013 – By now you’re keenly aware that I’ve had a road bike custom built by Mike DeSalvo spec’d with TRP HY/RD disc brakes.   I’ll discuss the frame, which is, as one of my LBS’s race-experienced employees said, “the most beautiful bike I’ve ever seen,” in a separate post.

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This bike turns heads and I can’t wait to tell you about it.  But first, I want to discuss the brakes since I’ve been hard pressed to find any user experience information about the actual performance of these brakes aside from the usual glowing product reviews.

Tektro Racing Products (TRP) has an office in Ogden, UT where I believe much of the design work originates.  TRP make aftermarket and OEM brakes under two product lines:  Tektro which you’ve probably seen on bikes outfitted with mid-tier Shimano or SRAM component groups, and TRP the company’s after-market performance racing line.  I was first introduced to TRP brakes when I began planning my foray into buying a custom titanium road bike last year.  The buzz about disc brakes on road bikes was just beginning to build steam at the same time the rumors of Shimano and SRAM’s impending road disc brake plans were speeding over the Internet.  There’s no doubt the technology is quickly filtering to road bikes as more manufacturers introduce disc brake versions of their bicycles.  Anyone planning a build has few options for hydraulic disc brake calipers and fewer if they’re interested in mechanical shifting.

During my investigative work I happened upon the few articles that exist about TRP HY/RD, “Hight Road”, hydraulic road disc brakes and was instantly drawn to the seemingly simplicity of the design.

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Let me break off to a quick tangent to discuss the name HY/RD. One of the few criticisms I have for these brakes is their name.  Using the name HY/RD in the title of this article in WordPress will be impossible because of the slash.  I’ll have to use either HY RD, HYRD, or HY-RD, none of which is correct. This I’m sure makes finding information about these brakes even more difficult for the less tech savvy among us.  I suggest TRP change the name quickly and officially to something more Internet-friendly like HYRD.

HY/RD disc brakes are the only, or perhaps one of the few, hydraulic disc brake designs I’m aware of with the hydraulic cylinder integrated into the calipers.  This makes the calipers heavier obviously, but it also eliminates the need for the shifter/brake handles to integrate the hydraulic piston at the handlebar.  There are numerous mechanical disc brake choices available as well but the advantages of hydraulics including better modulation, dual piston and self adjusting pads are worth the added weight in my opinion.

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Mechanical shifting systems take up most of the space in the shifter handle so there’s little room for placement of the hydraulic fluid reservoir and piston eliminating the ability to retrofit older component groups with hydraulic disc brakes.  With newer electronic shift systems microswitches replace cable guides leaving room for the hydraulics which is how the big-three component manufacturers are able to design hydraulic into their newer electronic groups.

This also means the bike has a three foot hydraulic line running the length of the frame from the shifters to the calipers.  I can only imagine what would happen if a rider falls and breaks one of these lines on their SRAM DOT-filled hydraulic brakes.  I think I’ll stop there leaving the potential for litigation over the cleanup of the EPA Superfund site from spilled DOT 5.1 fluid on Federal land to the Nature Conservancy attorneys.  But you can imagine the mess this would create in any crash where the hose was compromised.

TRP took the high road in their HY/RD hydraulic disc brake design by using mineral oil that’s not nearly as potentially harmful to work with as DOT 5.1 brake fluid.  The caliper body weighs 195 grams per wheel.  Shimano 6700 rim calipers weigh 317 grams for a set, 73 grams lighter than HY/RD.  Only the weeniest of weight-weenies will likely notice the 2.5 ounce difference.  The brakes can be connected to any mechanical cable actuated brake set.  Of course, you need a bike with the correct caliper mounts and hub spacing.

The HY/RD brakes come standard with a semi-metallic pad designed to be a good all around brake for general use.  TRP says the pad, “compound works well in dry conditions but may wear quickly in wet/muddy conditions.”   Since I tend to enjoy hill climbing and the requisite downhill  portions of my rides I’m not sure these stock pads will be the best choice for riders who push the limits of their cycling endeavors like I do.

I wanted to understand how the HY/RD brakes felt when they were used in less-than-optimal conditions.  So, on what will be standard ride weather for the next several months—wet roads, windy, with the potential for a cold mix of rain and snow blowing across my face—I set out on a ride to test my new brakes.   There’s a new hill I’ve added to my usual 20-mile loop that starts out steep and tapers off for a half mile before another steep climb to the top of a cul-de-sac.  The end point has an inspiring view overlooking the valley that makes me want a home upgrade as well.

On the ascent, the brakes became sufficiently wet so that on the descent they took a few seconds to start to grab, a sensation I fully expected.  I used the rear brake for testing so that should any problems arise I had the full force of the front brake to prevent a disaster.  After coasting down to the steeper of the two grades I held the brakes slightly for a good part of the steep descent.  Half way down I noticed the brakes were not holding the bike back and I had to squeeze harder and apply more front brake to get the bike to stop at the bottom of the hill.   I now understand what brake fade feels like.  Its not much different than the feeling you get with rim brakes in wet weather as you reach a stop sign while you’re hoping the bike will stop before it slides into oncoming traffic.  The difference is if you’re not riding the disc brakes all the way down a hill you’ll have more than enough power to stop the bike whereas with rim brakes you’re hoping the rims dry out and the brakes hold before you reach the corner.  The disc brakes give a rider solid modulation to slow the bike down quickly on a descent even when wet which is one of their general advantages over rim brakes in the rain.

Many early reviewers of HY/RD have said they are able to brake later heading into a turn.  For the novice rider, I’m certain what they mean is you no longer need to coast riding the brakes into the turn to slow down.  As a matter of fact, after three weeks with the DeSalvo I’m learning I have to employ a completely new braking routine, one that incorporates much later braking than I’m used to with less coasting to stops.   This tends to be a bit scary for less experienced riders who don’t feel as secure riding brake-free for a good portion of a downhill ride.   As with learning to ride a bike in general, though, we learn to change our behavior to suit the circumstances; this is how things will be, I can imagine, for those transitioning to disc brakes.

So, now that we understand even with less than optimal brake pad material you can stop a disc road bike on a dime heading down a steep hill in the rain, what brakes would be better suited for this riding style?

HY/RD brakes, according to TRP, use the same pads as Shimano Deore 525 brakes.  The pads can be either M08 or M05 models.  The difference in Shimano terminology is the M05 pads are slightly thinner and in the case of Shimano brakes cannot be interchanged with M08 pads.  I would imagine this is not an issue with HY/RD because the hydraulic fluid is constantly being topped off in the brake cylinder as the pads wear.  This is an advantage over mechanical disc brakes that have to be adjusted manually, and another reason I chose to outfit my bike with HY/RD brakes.

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The most informative website I was able to find during my research for this article was from the people at Disco Brakes.com.  They have what I found to be one of the most informative comparisons of disc brake pads on the Internet.   The comparison here comes directly from their website since there’s little need to mess with perfection.

Semi-Metallic Compound

  • Also known as Compound S (Semi-Metallic)
  • Semi-metallic compound for good wear in all conditions. Medium density with consistent wet and dry performance and good grip.
  • Advantages: Cheap, Above average all around performance
  • Disadvantages: Grippier and longer lasting pads are available
  • Suitable For: Everything
  • Conclusion: Best Value

Professional Grade Black Ceramic Compound

  • Also known as Compound C (Ceramic Pro)
  • These soft organic ceramic fiber disc brake pads are carbonized. The ceramic compound insulates the brake system from friction heat up to 400oC. The result is a very powerful, quiet pad with extremely low heat generation which all but eliminates the chances of brake fade.
  • Upgrade on original fitted pads
  • DIN 79100 Standard Approved
  • Organic Compound contains no metal material
  • Reduces damage to rotor
  • Carbonized compound reduces brake fading
  • Ceramic Fiber insulates brake system from friction heat
  • Advantages: Excellent grip, Low noise, Low heat, Consistent in all conditions
  • Disadvantages: Short life span unless rider is light on brakes
  • Suitable For: DH, Dry XC, Ti Rotors
  • Conclusion: Best Performance, Short Life

Metallic Sintered

  • Also known as Compound T (Sintered)
  • Superior power in all conditions
  • Long wear pads, great for DH or XC
  • Consistent braking power in the wet
  • Almost unaffected by rain and snow
  • Copper back plate
  • Advantages: Better performing and longer lasting than most pads
  • Disadvantages: More expensive than medium pads
  • Suitable For: XC, DH (low brake use), All weather conditions, Mud
  • Conclusion: Solid Pads and Best All Rounders

Red Ceramic Compound – Hard

  • Also known as Compound D (Ceramic Hard)
  • Harder than ordinary pads. This is the highest density, hardest, ceramic compound for performance and longer lifetime. These organic disc brake pads contain a high amount of ceramic fiber, which insulate the brake system from friction heat up to 400oC.
  • Advantages: Better performing and longer lasting than medium pads
  • Upgrade on original fitted pads
  • DIN 79100 Standard Approved
  • Organic Compound contains no metal material
  • Reduces damage to rotor
  • Carbonized compound reduces brake fading
  • Ceramic Fiber insulates brake system from friction heat
  • Advantages: Longer lasting than Black Ceramic pads
  • Disadvantages: More expensive than Black Ceramic pads and not as grippy
  • Suitable For: XC, DH (low brake use)
  • Conclusion: Advantages of a Ceramic Pad with Longer Life

Kevlar Compound

  • Also known as Compound V (Kevlar) Contains Kevlar® brand fiber developed by DuPont
  • Kevlar is a high strength synthetic fiber which dramatically improves the performance of these medium density pads and gives excellent braking power
  • Advantages: Better performance than semi-metallic
  • Disadvantages: More expensive than semi-metallic and known to wear out faster in bad weather
  • Suitable For: XC, DH
  • Conclusion: Performance Advantages of Kevlar

Other Factors

  • Low Noise: The black ceramic compound C is thought to be virtually silent
  • DH: Black Ceramic pads are great for Downhill as the ceramic compound insulates the caliper pistons from heat build up so reducing the likelihood of brake fade.
  • Rotors: All of these compounds can be used with any rotor. Ceramic pads cause less damage to rotors than metallic compound pads.
  • Titanium Rotors: We recommend black ceramic compound for titanium coated rotors, as it contains no metal, so will reduce damage to the rotor. The coating on titanium plated rotors is extremely thin (often just a few microns), so will ultimately wear off no matter what pad you use, but ceramic pads will prolong their life over pads containing metal.

My plan is to order a set of the Professional Black and a set of Kevlar pads from Disco Brakes to test during the crisp cold days of our forthcoming Utah winter cycling season. One or both should be better suited for my style of riding than the stock TRP pads.

I’ve reached a point after a few weeks of almost daily riding my most beautiful bicycle in the world in dry and wet conditions that I’ve finally been able to stop thinking about the brakes and the bike and how it rides and focus on the ride itself.  I find myself realizing, as my braking pattern slowly transitions to less coasting stops, I enjoy the strong finite stopping power of the HY/RD brakes and the fact I’m not grinding away at my $1,000 wheel rims every time I brake.  And the more hours I spend on a disc brake equipped bicycle, the more I am convinced this is the wave of the future for bicycles.  As with any innovation as time passes the innovation becomes the standard.  You can expect disc brakes to be around for at least 100 years before the next technology takes over; after all bikes have changed little in the last century, much slower than every other technology we’ve fully embraced.

Mineral Oil Brake Fluid Comparisons:

http://www.peterverdone.com/archive/bikemineraloil.htm

Other Notable Reviews:

REVIEW: TRP HY/RD MECHANICAL-TO-HYDRAULIC DISC BRAKE CALIPERS – PART ONE

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About OneOffTwoWheels

Being on a bicycle is my escape from all the things that make life interesting. My partner Greg and I have a shared interest in staying healthy and enjoying life together and the bicycle makes everything a little more fun.

One response to “TRP HYRD Brakes – The Definitive Guide – Updated”

  1. David Rick says :

    I have ~3000 Colorado road miles so far on my Hy/Rd-equipped Seven build. Some observations:
    1) I’m never going back to caliper brakes on any bike that I ride down hill!
    2) Yes, you can get these brakes to fade, esp. the rear, where I’m running a 140 ICE rotor. But that beats the heck out of blowing a tube on 15% hairpin descent, which I’ve also done.
    3) With 6700 levers and Ritchey WCS logic bars, there is a lot of lever travel before the pads engage. If you don’t have proper cable tension, the levers can bottom out. Check this every day before you ride!
    4) Stock pads got (and stayed) very noisy after riding in the rain. Cleaning them with an alcohol-soaked shop towel fixed the problem.

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