Hybrids aren’t usually known for their performance, but TRP has managed wring out plenty of it from their hybrid HY/RD mechanical/hydraulic stoppers.
Pros: Offers superb power and modulation, yet still retains compatibility with mechanical systems.
Cons: Lever throw can be a bit long when paired with certain shifters; weight.
The Verdict: For those looking to throw a set of disc brakes on a skinny-tire build , but don’t want to resort to buying a brand new set of levers, the TRP HY/RD brakes tick all of the right boxes.
While many have been quick to embrace the adoption of disc brakes in conjunction with skinny tires, manufacturers haven’t exactly showered them with many feasible options. Several proven mechanical options compatible with existing mechanical levers are available, but those looking for the full benefits of disc brakes only truly afforded by a hydraulic system have seen slim pickings to choose from.
While SRAM did indeed launch it’s HydroR brakes last year, a complete recall left Shimano’s R785 as the standalone hydraulic offering (up until SRAM’s recently released redesign). And, even though Shimano’s system works spectacularly, it does require the use of an electronic drivetrain, leaving mechanical users out in the cold.
What that means, then, is that those looking for the smooth modulation of a hydraulic disc brake system that played nice with drop bars sporting mechanical shifters are sorely lacking in options.
That’s where TRP’s HY/RD disc brake caliper slots in, filling a rather convenient niche in the still-coalescing world of road disc brakes. Mating a hydraulic cylinder to a caliper housing a pair of ceramic pistons, TRP then turns to a traditional cable to actuate the hydraulic cylinder, preserving the brake’s compatibility with mechanical shift levers, while still providing much of the performance benefits of a hydraulic system.
That, my friends, is what you call a nifty little bit of engineering.
When I first installed this set of TRP HY/RD brakes in July of 2013, I was extremely hopeful, but at the same time, subconsciously preparing myself to be disappointed. How could anything with a mechanical component still promise to be as good as a full hydraulic system?
After a breeze of an installation process, I hit the road only to be amazed by how positive the lever feel was, as well as just how much modulation was on tap. While still missing a bit of the firmness of a full-hydraulic system, the majority of the modulation was there, allowing me to brake later, and harder, yet still with more control on tight, curvy descents. It’s also something I have definitely come to appreciate as I venture into more and more technical off-road terrain on skinny tires.
But, before the HY/RD’s performance begins to seem too good to be true, there’s an important question that needs to be asked. With much less fluid in the system than a full hydraulic setup, how do the TRP’s handle the heat of extended and repeated braking? Surprisingly, after plenty of long road and singletrack descents alike, heat buildup has never once been an issue, and the HY/RDs have an impressive fade-free record.
After nearly a year of hard use, it really does appear that TRP’s HY/RD disc brakes have indeed performed well above my greatest expectations. So much so, that I’ve since bought another set of them.
If the HY/RD system has an Achilles’ heel, it’s most certainly found in its heft on the scale. Commanding a roughly 55-gram weight penalty over Avid’s benchmark-setting BB7 SL caliper and rotor, the HY/RD caliper, 140-millimeter rotor and corresponding mounting hardware tip the scales at 345 grams. That being said however, the HY/RD’s weight leaves it far from ‘porky,’ instead slotting right in line with Avid’s standard BB7 mechanical offering—identical to the SL save for the SL’s high-zoot titanium hardware.
At a suggested retail price of $150, calling the HY/RD caliper a bargain would be a serious understatement. Offering performance and modulation many levels above Avid’s mechanical disc offerings, the HY/RD is actually cheaper than the BB7’s suggested retail price of $170. Add into the mix the TRP’s ease of service, long-wearing pads and (so far) warp-free rotors and you have yourself quite the deal.
To put things into even more perspective, the TRP’s are an absolute steal if you consider that they allow you to realize much of of the performance of a full hydraulic system (my ballpark estimate puts that figure at about 80-percent) while still being able to utilize your current mechanical groupset. This negates the cost of any pricey new hydraulic levers, or, as is potentially the case with switching to Shimano’s R785 system, nearly a whole new drivetrain.
For more information on TRP’s HY/RD brakes, click here.