I’m a self-confessed weight weenie. I’ve admitted I have a problem, and although that’s the first step toward recovery, the severity of my illness seems to be intensifying with age. Another side effect of aging, however, is the desire to keep on aging (read — stay alive). This brings me to the paradox of lightweight brakes — at what point does shaving grams off of the bike equate to shaving years off of your life?
In the interest of answering this question, I’ve decided to test out several aftermarket lightweight brake calipers and report back to the weight weenies of the world. The brakes I’m going to test are (from heaviest to lightest):
- TRP 960
- Zero Gravity Negative Gs
- EE Brakes
- Zero Gravity Zero Gs
- KCNC CB1s
I might test more brakes in the future, like some of the more exotic brakes from AX-Lightness or THM, but for now these are the brakes I have, and they represent some of the more popular and affordable choices. The TRP 960s and EE Brakes are of special interest to me because they have just become available and not too much has been written about them yet.
How do I plan to test the brakes? I don’t have a million dollar lab with fancy equipment, so I’ve decided to test the brakes the old fashion way — by installing them on my bike and then using them for a few weeks. I live in Colorado and I train on some very steep mountainous roads, so I figured that I’d use my daily training routine as my lab. One of my rides has about 8,000 vertical feet of descending, with sections of 16% grade, and when the road gets that steep it’s easy to separate the good from the bad.
First, a few things about the testing setup:
I weight 150 lbs. Keep this in mind — if you weight 200 lbs you’ll likely want/need stronger brakes than I.
- All brakes are being tested on my Ritchey BreakAway Ti/Carbon.
- All brakes are being tested with new SwissStop black brake pads.
- All brakes are being tested on DT Swiss RR 1.1 rims.
- All brakes are being tested with my Dura Ace 7800 levers.
- While I’m not specifically testing Dura Ace, Campy or SRAM brake calipers, I’ll compare the lightweight brakes with my Dura Ace 7800 calipers, which I believe are the industry standard for power and modulation. I might change a few things in this review once the new 7900 calipers are available.
- All weights I list are the weights from my digital scale, not the manufacturers claimed weight.
Okay, on with the test! First up is the TRP 960… Check it out!