Teardown | First Look

Aaron Gwin's TRP Quadiem Brakes - Teardown

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Nov 10, 2017

We The People

I'm holding the TRP Quadiem brakes in my hands and two things come to mind. Maybe neither sounds flattering at first glance but I promise both are heavy compliments.

1) They look like original Shimano M755 4-pot disc brakes on steroids.

2) The design and features could have been crowd-sourced from the crew I ride with.

The Quadiem and Quadiem G-Spec* brakes use non-finned doppelgangers of Shimano Saint/Zee pads so spares will be easy to come by. The lever blades rely on brute leverage rather than any hydraulic or cam tricks to drive the pistons and are generously hooked at the end. The calipers are massive to bleed heat. Bleeding is simple and the brakes are completely rebuildable - both the calipers and master cylinders.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

The big block finned caliper is 100% intended to shed heat. Surface area, baby.

I'm not shy when comparing every brake I ride against Magura's Trail Sport. Of the brakes I've ridden and serviced, it is the Holy Grail of price, performance, power, and feel. But, as my friend Steve would say, it's a manufactured brake: master cylinder, caliper, and ride. If there are any issues beyond swapping a lever blade then the complete unit needs to be swapped.

Before I've even squeezed the lever the Quadiem scores points with me by being fully rebuildable**. The piston seals are easily replaced in a brake that was engineered to be 100% serviceable. It's probably a vocal minority of riders who care about a user rebuildable, easy to service, mineral oil brake system. For those riders options are limited.

*The brakes are identical except for the finish and a couple pieces of titanium hardware.
**Assuming TRP makes all the parts easily available.


It's 'UGE. It has machined fins. It looks sweet. It's held together by a pair of T30 bolts that beg any home mechanic to take it apart and have a peek. It is the TRP Quadiem caliper.

Heat dissipation is the name of the game and the giant chunk of aluminum with fins for increased surface area makes everything else on the market look dainty.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

A pair of Torx T-30 bolts hold the caliper halves together.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

Unlike any other 4-pot brakes, the TRP pistons are the same size.

It's surprising that TRP is using uniform piston sizing for the Quadiem caliper. Running smaller leading pistons should improve braking modulation since they will contact the rotor first, creating more ramp for power. These brakes were created with input from one of the world's fastest DH racers and raw power may have won the day over modulation.

Once I have time on the brakes in various conditions I'll have a more in-depth assessment.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

The high quality lip seals backing the piston will prevent any fluid weeping around the pistons.

Master Cylinder

That long, dimpled lever blade with the big hook on the end feels SO SWEET. My only concern is that with my relatively presidential hands the lever starting point is parallel to the bar, so the hooks don't feel as pronounced as they would for a rider with bigger meat mitts.

Given the choice I'd skip the tool-free reach adjuster for a clean and simple hex-key arrangement but the TRP adjuster is very easy to use with gloved hands and well tucked out of the way so it's not vulnerable. Riders that prefer a tool-free adjuster will appreciate the Quadiem.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

No mechanical wizardry here, just leverage. The harder you pull the harder the pistons drive the pads into the rotor.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

The simple hinge clamp is the cleanest and fastest I've used. It's not really notable except I swap bars quite frequently.

The Quadiem came apart and went back together intuitively. Even a capable home mechanic less familiar with the working of brakes than Jeff should be able to figure it out by taking time and remembering the order of operations.

The only 'special' tool needed is circlip pliers. Air quotes applied because if you're tackling this level of teardown that isn't really a special tool.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

A dimpled lever blade borrows my favourite Shimano brake feature.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

Easily replaceable top hat bushings for slop-free performance.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

The big return spring helps the lever blade return to position.

The Quadiem guts remind me of the original champagne Hayes while at the same time the layout and manufacturing scream Shimano. I suppose there are only so many ways to skin a Jabberwocky but if TRP isn't making parts for Shimano I'll eat my NSMB socks.

Thanks to their finish the G-Spec looks wicked from a few steps away. Up close they're still a really nice looking brake but they lack the smooth sex appeal of Formula's made in Italy ROR or the brutality of Hope's hard-cut machined lines.


The only WTF part of the Quadiem is the stock pads. I used my standard pad/rotor break-in procedure but I'll give them a few rides just to make sure they don't have a crazy long break-in period. If there's no change I'll swap in some Shimano pads up front.

On the brake pad vs. caliper note, assuming just based on availability that a Quadiem rider will eventually end up running the original Shimano Saint sintered metal pads, having the fins machined into the massive calipers instead of mounted to the pads will be a notable cost savings over the life of these brakes.

trp brakes

I've ridden great sintered pads (Shimano) and great organic pads (Magura) and these are neither.

Cable Porn

Everyone has their thing. Some people collect tiny spoons, some people wear those running shoes with individual toes, some people will drop an extra c-note for brakes that are identical but for their finish. Jeff is really, really into massaging the cable routing on bikes he works on.

A sexy set of German-made hydraulic hoses join the caliper and master cylinder together.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

Jeff's Manitou magnum opus of cable routing.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

Not everyone appreciates clean cable routing?! The ultimate free upgrade: #CablePorn


Choice is chief and the TRP Quadiem brakes can be bled any number of ways. Jeff prefers to hook up a syringe to each bleed fitting and go at it Avid*** style.

It's at least as easy to just push out the top fitting into a receiving bucket or remove the whole master cylinder cap and bleed/suck like the original Shimano brakes for anyone who didn't throw down for the professional vacuum bleed kit. A gravity bleed is always an option too.

Pick your bleed method and be a dick about it.

***Previously known as Magura style for anyone who came up bleeding HS rim brakes.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

The Quadiem can be bled a few different ways as the caliper and master cylinder are both threaded for bleed fittings.

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

The master cylinder reservoir is threaded with a fitting for a syringe, bleed tube and the reservoir cap and bladder can also be removed.


The brake fittings are unique looking. No beta yet on whether other brand's fittings are interchangeable.


I'm a few rides in on the Quadiem G-Spec brakes. They are attention grabbers drawing lots of questions and comments.

I can appreciate why TRP would send top end Gwin edition brakes our way as they have a sex appeal, in photos and on the trail, that the $100 (USD) cheaper standard Quadiem can't touch. In the epic battle to balance performance and value I know riders who will happily pocket the 25% savings for an otherwise identical product and some who will easily justify the price difference for the look of the G-Spec model.

For the latter, as long as TRP supports the small parts, go ahead and amortize that difference over as long as you like if you're going to maintain them. I know riders still running Hayes hydraulics from almost 20 years ago.

trp brakes

A fully serviceable brake with big leverage at the lever and massive calipers for dissipating heat. Proven on the World Cup circuit and looking to carve out a share in a saturated and well established market.

I'm looking forward to reporting back after I score solid hours of riding on the brakes and potentially play with some different pad options.

In the meantime check out TRP for more information. The Quadiem brakes hit the street at about $300 (USD) a set and the Quadiem G-Spec shown here jumps in at $400 (USD) per pair sans rotors or adapters.

Trending on NSMB


Cr4w  - Nov. 10, 2017, 7:45 a.m.

I think you could away with Manitou Opus.


Andrew Major  - Nov. 10, 2017, 8:13 a.m.

Come on! That’s a great pun!

Manitou Magnum (now called Mattoc) || Magnum Opus


It’s also an awesome fork. Putting hours into the IRT air system and then I’ll write it up.


Mammal  - Nov. 10, 2017, 12:10 p.m.

IRT: playing with chamber balance is fascinating. You can reap a whole bunch of small bump compliance, without giving up much mid-stroke support by upping the ratio of IRT/Main pressure.


+1 Mammal
Andrew Major  - Nov. 10, 2017, 1:30 p.m.

Totally agree. 

I hope they release a long travel 29'er model (160mm) as I think it would complement a lot of bikes on the market. 

Ed, former Showa engineer | current Manitou engineer, explained IRT (and by extension the Ohlins air system) to me in terms of a coil dirt bike fork. The main spring is your spring rate and the IRT spring is the equivalent of changing oil height to adjust the mid stroke. That makes more sense to me than most descriptions I've read of the system and how I explain it to people. 

Just as a few CC of oil can make a perceivable difference a few psi in/our of IRT allow a discerning rider to really dial in performance.


Darryl Chereshkoff  - Nov. 10, 2017, 8:30 a.m.

As a 225lb rider, I'm super curious about the standard Quadiems and looking forward to your in depth review (hopefully on Shimano metallic pads).


+1 Cam McRae
Derek At Work  - Nov. 10, 2017, 8:34 a.m.

As a 200lb rider, the stock pads are the only things that hold the un-blinged Quadiems back.


Andrew Major  - Nov. 10, 2017, 8:47 a.m.

Hi Darryl,

My wife runs Saint/Zee front calipers on her XT Trail brakes (much improved feel, power, modulation) so I already have pads in the shop - whether these break in more or not I’ll definitely swap them out and get back to you.

Thanks for reading!


Riley  - Nov. 10, 2017, 10:56 a.m.

A little off topic here but could you give us a quick run down on your pad/rotor break-in procedure you mentioned?


Andrew Major  - Nov. 10, 2017, 11:05 a.m.

There’s a long steep paved hill near my house where I always try to go to break in new pads/rotors. Similar concept to any vehicle in trying to get an even friction layer on the rotor.

I ride to the top and then do a series of hard on/off near stops on the way back down. Then I meander home to let everything cool. 

I did the process twice with the TRP and there was definitely more bite after the second run.


David Max  - Nov. 14, 2017, 11:14 a.m.

For anyone who's interested Bike.de has done what looks to be some quite scientific testing of various brake pads. The google translated german isn't the easiest to read, but the results are interesting. They have a fairly extensive test that they did in 2014 available as a PDF, and a newer updated one from this year:



After having read through all of it, it was interesting to note that there seem to be some pretty marked differences between the friction materials being offered by different manufacturers. Overall it seem like Koolstop sintered offer a pretty good balance of power and wear characteristics. Take from it what you will...


+1 Derek At Work
Albert Steward  - Nov. 16, 2017, 10:05 a.m.

Hey Andrew, great in-depth article. We (LTP Sports) just received stock of the Quadiems - std Quadiem is priced @ CA$190 per end and the G-Spec Quadiem is @ $255.00 per end. Hope this helps. Excuse the spam - figured the CA pricing might be useful.


Andrew Major  - Nov. 16, 2017, 11 a.m.

Hi Albert, thanks for jumping in!

That price is sans rotors?

Also, is that an SRP or Street Price? For Canadian pricing I usually talk to a few dealers to get an idea of what they’ll actually sell a product for since it can vary widely from Canadian SRP and is often more similar to the US SRP.


Albert Steward  - Nov. 17, 2017, 1:17 p.m.

Hi Andrew, 

Yep, sans rotor and adapter w/ 1000/1900mm hoses. I'll be adding the Matchmaker, I-SpecII and I-SpecB adaptor bracket shortly also. 

That's purely srp - there's nothing to stop a dealer trying to sell them for more (maybe just stunted sales). That said, I've tried as much as possible to price according to the US plan (both converted MAP and dealer margin profile) so there should be no penalty for the consumer for buying through a Canadian IBD like you get on some items (hopefully everyone wins this way). It's a little tough with the fluctuating $CA-$US currency but it's the best I can do to ensure a level playing field where possible with the US market.  

TRP run a pretty tight ship in regards to online pricing parity - weirdly CRC show the Quadiem G-Spec @ CA$262.99 with a 24% discount applied (CA$344.99 srp). I can't speak for the converted UK srp but it looks a little inflated to me or perhaps the Brexit effect biting the £GBP. 

Hope this helps


+1 Albert Steward
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2017, 1:29 p.m.

Thank you for the super thorough response Albert!

Nice when the IBD can be competitive on pricing, support their local community, pay taxes and keep the lights on!


Please log in to leave a comment.