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  1. #1
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Review: TRP HY/RD brakes

    In my never-ending quest to find the best brakes for my commuter bike, I recently bought a set of TRP HY/RD's. TRP released these this spring, and the initial reviews from their press day were glowing (see, for example, Cyclocross Magazine, Cycling News and Bike Radar). While I had been running the venerable Avid BB7's on my 2013 Kona Jake, the reviews were just so good I had to give them a try.

    What follows is my initial report after one 18-mile ride.

    The day I stumbled across the reviews, I couldn't find them in stock anywhere, but I setup an alert on Universal Cycles and within a couple of days they had them available. I actually bought these brakes about three weeks ago, but I've been too busy riding to get them installed. I finally got them on the bike this weekend and put them on the road this afternoon.

    These brakes are designed as a kind of cable/hydraulic hybrid. They work with ordinary cable-actuated (short pull) road levers, but the cable pulls an arm on the brake caliper that uses a self-contained hydraulic system to move the brake pads. When I first read about these brakes, I remember a few people asking questions along the lines of "What's the point of a hydraulic caliper that is operated by a cable?" It seemed like a fair question, but I can now tell you that it's a question you only ask if you haven't tried these brakes.

    Personally, I know just enough about brake system design to be wildly misguided. I understand the basics of how hydraulic systems transfer force, and I understand the effects that inner cable stretch, outer cable compression and friction have on a cable operated brake. For the purposes of this review, however, I'm going to pretend I don't know any of that and just talk about how the brakes work. They're great!

    Here's the box they came in with TRP's hastily translated marketing hype.



    Note: "Greatest modulation than mechanical ones." If that's what it takes to get these on my bike before the end of summer, I'll take it.

    Basically, what I get from all that is that among the traditional benefits of hydraulic disc brakes you get the nice modulation, dual moving self-centering pads and automatic pad wear adjustment. You, theoretically, give up a bit of the loss-less power transfer from lever to caliper, but on the flip side you probably won't ever have to worry about bleeding your brakes (though there are instructions for that).

    Although the pictures from the marketing day reviews show what appear to be Tektro Lyra rotors, these brakes actually came with something a bit more substantial.



    They also came with this mounting hardware:



    Standard bolts, plus two IS mount adapters -- one labeled 180F/160R and one labeled 160F/140R. Note: this is what comes with the "160mm" version of the brake. Some retail sites (including Universal) refer to this as a "front" brake, but that is just referring to TRP's recommendation to use a 160mm rotor on the front and a 140mm rotor on the rear. The calipers are identical. The only thing that changes is what size rotor you get and which mounting adapters are included.

    Here's a final shot of both calipers in the box to give you an only slightly out of focus view of both sides.



    I decided to stick with the 180mm front and 160mm rear Avid HS1 rotors that I already had installed on my bike, so I bought two "front" brakes and left the rotors in the box. I probably could have kept my Avid mounting adapters too, but I swapped in the TRP adapters just to eliminate that as a possible source of trouble. To minimize the cable drag, I opted for Jagwire Ripcord "compressionless" brake cable housing and teflon coated inner cables.

    Installation was very easy. The HY/RD calipers have a little screw that locks the actuating arm in place while you tighten down the brake cable. Then you unlock the actuating arm and squeeze the lever to center the caliper body before tightening the bolts that hold the caliper in place. I had no troubles with this. With everything bolted in place, I made some minor tweaks with the built-in barrel adjusters to get the lever pull the way I wanted it and I was ready to ride. (Update: Don't do this! It turns out that 1.5 turns of the barrel adjuster closes off the hydraulic system and they don't self-adjust for pad wear anymore.)

    One or two of the reviews mentioned that cable routing to the rear brake might be an issue, but I actually found that it was a bit smoother than my old BB7's.

    I got the chrome-bodied version of the brakes, which are a bit on the shiny side (at least until it rains). The calipers are fairly huge, but I think they look OK.







    So now let's talk about how these brakes perform.

    First off, let me be clear that I was fairly happy with the performance of the BB7's. My only complaints were about their tendency to squeal and the fact that to get the power I wanted out of them I had to keep the pads close enough to the rotors that some minor scraping was a frequent fact of life. They did stop the bike very well though, especially with my oversized rotors.

    Waiting for the first ride, I really built up some high expectations in my mind. My first impression was "OK, they're pretty good but I'm not overwhelmed." That was while I was riding back and forth in front of my house trying to do a little bedding in. I'm not clear whether bedding in is really necessary when installing new brakes with old rotors, but I did it anyway. After 5-10 minutes I headed down the steep hill from my house, dragging the brakes now and then to keep my speed under control. At the bottom I went with a full stop from about 25 mph. At that point, I was very satisfied. Over the next 18 miles, I kept finding myself more and more satisfied.

    Overall, I don't have the kind of memory that allows for a really great comparison between brakes. I would definitely say that the stopping power of these brakes is better than the BB7's, but certainly not an order of magnitude better. What is an order of magnitude better is the way they feel and sound. Today was dry and sunny, so I don't want to get to attached to the sound but it was very nice -- quiet, even and relatively low pitched. The feel was outstanding. An easy squeeze on the lever and the brake started to engage, and the more I squeezed the firmer the braking became -- just as you'd hope.

    Let me say at this point that I never skid my rear tire on dry, even pavement with any brakes. Part of that is because I'm a heavy guy with small hands. Part of that is because I use wide tires with great grip (700x35 Marathon Supremes). Mostly, though, I think it's because I have a mental block that stops me from braking that hard unless I'm in an actual emergency situation. That said, everybody who talks about brakes having "enough power" talks about being able to skid the rear tire. So I headed out to a local MUP, found a nice smooth stretch with nobody to run into, cruised up to around 15 mph and grabbed a handful of brakes (front and rear) from the hoods. The rear tire immediately went into a skid. So now I can check that box and go back to braking just hard enough not to skid. I guess the take-away is that these brakes have more potential stopping power than I'll use most of the time.

    Do I have any complaints? Not yet. The true test of a disc brake, of course, is how it performs in the rain (and what it sounds like). I don't expect we'll be seeing any substantial rain around here until September or October (even after I've said that!). I'll update this review after I see how that goes. By then I'll probably also know how the brakes respond to pad wear.


    Update: We've had some rain but I made some idiot moves on the setup, so I'm still undecided about how they work.

    Update: See my 1000 mile update in post 67. Executive summary, I've had some problems but they've been fixable.

    Update: See post 68. The previous fixes didn't stick and TRP ended up sending me a new set of brakes.
    Last edited by Andy_K; 04-25-14 at 12:12 PM. Reason: Long term use information

  2. #2
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    I desperately want these on my road bike but am still debating how I can rationalize spend 400-500 on weight weenie carbon disc fork.
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

  3. #3
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    A long time ago I had an AMP mountain bike with AMP disc brakes. They were cable-pulled hydraulic brakes. I really liked them, but the self-centering spring always left a minuscule amount of pad rub that could be heard if you listened for it. I'd be interested in the TRPs. I think they are too shiny and they could use a little streamlining or simplification with their cable/arm setup. Perhaps if they make it to a second generation design I'll pull the trigger.
    Tell me and I will forget; Show me and I may not remember; Involve me and I will understand.

  4. #4
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Yeah, a carbon fork is the next logical upgrade for me too, I think.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I sent in my .02, asking why the mix of polished and black?

    they also black anodize the body but use the polished cap and lever arm,
    \
    or polished body and black cap and lever arm, that Andy got.

    my desire , just black.. arm cap and all . friggin stylists..

  6. #6
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    I sent in my .02, asking why the mix of polished and black?

    they also black anodize the body but use the polished cap and lever arm,
    \
    or polished body and black cap and lever arm, that Andy got.

    my desire , just black.. arm cap and all . friggin stylists..
    Obviously you need to buy two sets and match them up.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    or rattle can for anonymity, flat black..

  8. #8
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Thanks for the detailed review. Never heard of these brakes before. I run full hydros, but this could work well for a bike with cable stops.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    Yeah, a carbon fork is the next logical upgrade for me too, I think.
    I run the nashbar plastic cyclo fork on one of my commuters but its a beast and aesthetics alone rule it out for the road bike.

    I've been looking at the whiskey #7 but its hard to find at a good price.
    http://www.bikerumor.com/2012/01/20/...boxed-weighed/
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

  10. #10
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan s View Post
    Thanks for the detailed review. Never heard of these brakes before. I run full hydros, but this could work well for a bike with cable stops.
    The main draw of these brakes is that they work with existing STI levers. I'm running full length outer cable housing, and I expect that will be typical. BTW, I don't think I mentioned that I'm using these with 4600-series Tiagra levers.

    The options for full hydro on a road bike right now are Shimano's new Di2 or SRAM's Red 22, either of which mean a very expensive upgrade. The other alternative is something like TRP's Parabox system, but that puts an extra bulky component on your stem and doesn't seem to offer a lot of advantage over the HY/RD's.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    others did sense the Hy-Rd would eat into their Parabox sales ..

  12. #12
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    others did sense the Hy-Rd would eat into their Parabox sales ..
    I'd expect these to kill the Parabox line completely.

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    wonter what the simalar cable to hydraulic sales wil look like

    UK Hope, and German Trickstuff being already at a not Asian made price point handicap..

  14. #14
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
    I've been looking at the whiskey #7 but its hard to find at a good price.
    http://www.bikerumor.com/2012/01/20/...boxed-weighed/
    The Whiskey fork has been on my wishlist too, but I think I'd need a new Chris King headset to make the tapered fork work with my bike's non-tapered head tube. It's a sacrifice I'd be willing to make if I had the money. Maybe if I sell a bike or two....

    That Bike Rumor article (from January 2012) claimed they were working on a straight steerer full carbon version, but it's starting to look like that isn't going to happen.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    It's a sacrifice I'd be willing to make if I had the money. Maybe if I sell a bike or two....
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

  16. #16
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    The main draw of these brakes is that they work with existing STI levers. I'm running full length outer cable housing, and I expect that will be typical. BTW, I don't think I mentioned that I'm using these with 4600-series Tiagra levers.

    The options for full hydro on a road bike right now are Shimano's new Di2 or SRAM's Red 22, either of which mean a very expensive upgrade. The other alternative is something like TRP's Parabox system, but that puts an extra bulky component on your stem and doesn't seem to offer a lot of advantage over the HY/RD's.
    Di2 or Red 22 on a commuter bike? Better have a safe place to keep it. I'll wait for the technology to trickle down.

  17. #17
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    Do I have any complaints? Not yet. The true test of a disc brake, of course, is how it performs in the rain (and what it sounds like). I don't expect we'll be seeing any substantial rain around here until September or October (even after I've said that!). I'll update this review after I see how that goes. By then I'll probably also know how the brakes respond to pad wear.
    Just go outside and wash your vehicle and/or bike, and it will most likely rain within short order.

    Very nice review, might like a set of those myself if I ever build up a dedicated commuter bike.
    2011 Felt Z85 105 | Ultegra | KMC | Selle Italia | Vuelta | Topeak
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  18. #18
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan s View Post
    Di2 or Red 22 on a commuter bike? Better have a safe place to keep it. I'll wait for the technology to trickle down.
    Exactly.

    The other issue with full hydraulics is that the master cylinder has to go somewhere. With Shimano's Di2 that isn't really an issue. SRAM's hyrdo levers have really huge hoods, which I can't quite reconcile myself to. So it may be that you'd need to wait for electronic shifting to trickle down, and I'm currently taking the Luddite position on electronic shifting.

    The other place that I think these brakes have a lot of potential is for touring. While I understand that full hydro systems are quite reliable and maintenance-free, it's not really something I'd want to try to repair along side a trail in the middle of Montana if something did go wrong, whereas changing a cable is no problem (assuming you have a cable with you).
    Last edited by Andy_K; 07-10-13 at 03:23 PM.

  19. #19
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    Nice review, thanks for posting. I also run BB7's and while they work fine, I have the same complaint about having to keep the pads in tight in order to get the kind o stopping power I want. Which often leads to a scraping or pinging noise. I am going to check these out.

    FWIW I have a Whiskey 7 fork on my commuter and I really like it. It's really well-built. It wasn't cheap but after 7000 miles I am still very happy with it.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodway View Post
    Nice review, thanks for posting. I also run BB7's and while they work fine, I have the same complaint about having to keep the pads in tight in order to get the kind o stopping power I want. Which often leads to a scraping or pinging noise. I am going to check these out.
    While hyrds won't have the two finger power of my xts this review and others suggest an improvement over the mushy modulation of bb7s.
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Werkin's Avatar
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    I have BB7s on my road bike and there's nothing mushy about them. Some possible causes of mushy feel, weak brake housing, excessive housing length, sharp housing bends, stepped ferules allowing the sheath to separate from the wire core, sloppy adjuster installation, contaminated pads, less than optimum pad choice and/or inadequate rotor size, plus insufficient swept area for use. I don't have a problem with pad to rotor gap on my BB7s either. Braking noise is tied to pad compound; whether mechanical, hydraulic, or single pad movement isn't relevant. I don't doubt the HyRd has advantages over the BB7, but the BB7 mechanical is no mushy slouch.

    I see the OP hasn't mentioned long lever travel that other reviews have noted and TRP is aware of. "Lever feel is very good but lever throw is unfortunately longer than we'd prefer. Larrabee told BikeRadar that the company is investigating future modifications to the mechanical portion of the HY/RD but for now, it is what it is and the problem will be exacerbated for riders planning to pair these with Campagnolo or older SRAM levers."

  22. #22
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    thing is hydraulics dont need rider attention on pad wear , because hydraulics self adjust .
    on your car and your bike..

    I've run BB7's for a couple years .. the big red knob sometimes won't turn with your fingers..
    pad wear adjustment is Manual

  23. #23
    Senior Member Nick The Beard's Avatar
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    http://www.cxmagazine.com/trp-hylex-...eed-cyclocross

    I'm really looking to throwing these on my touring bike with bar end shifters.
    http://instagram.com/nickandbruce

  24. #24
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review. I've also used the BB7's extensively on several road bikes, and had similar impressions as others here - they are good but they could be improved.

    Because of this, I've recently been using Shimano's new cable road disc brakes, CX75 and R515. After a few months, I must say that I like these more than the BB7's. They have at least as much stopping power, and seem to need less adjustment and open a little wider to avoid having the rotor rubbing, while still having not much lever travel needed to engage them. I originally had them paired with my old Avid rotors, but I noticed a significant improvement in feel and power when changing to Shimano Ice rotors, so I would recommend changing your rotors at the same time as the brakes.

    I'm using these on my touring / go anywhere bikes, so I'm still not convinced that I want any hydraulic parts on those bikes. Therefore, I cannot ignore the fact that the TRP HyRd relies on a hydraulic system, and have been searching for the best cable-only disc systems out there. So far, I'd recommend Shimano's latest offerings over Avid's. TRP also launched a cable-only disc brake around the same time as the HyRd (called Spyre I believe), I've not had a chance to try those myself yet but the reviews I've read of them were a bit mixed.

  25. #25
    George Krpan
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    I'm running Avid cable road calipers with MTB brake levers. The pads don't have to be close to the disks so there is no noise AND there is more stopping power.

    The latest Shimano hydraulic discs ARE a magnitude better than cable discs. But that won't help if you HAVE to run a drop bar.

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