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4-Piston Brake Review

TRP DH-R Evo Brake Review

Words AJ Barlas
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Nov 11, 2020
Reading time

TRP may not be a new name to you by this point. We’ve featured several of their brakes and they’ve been steadily building their presence on the World Cup Circuit. Aaron Gwin first brought much of the attention when he began using them and now he's been joined by his Intense Factory Racing teammates. But now TRP can be found on the factory team bikes of other World Cup teams, including Scott Factory Racing, The YT Mob and Commencal 100.

Their latest release, the DH-R Evo is the brake choice of these downhill teams. On the outside, they look almost identical to the DHR and don’t differ much from the Quadiem but TRP claims there are quite a few differences. I enjoyed the feel and consistency of both the TRP Slate T4 trail brakes and Quadiem DH brake but they lacked initial bite and required more effort to pull power from. I was hopeful TRP’s changes might fix those issues, while remaining consistent when things get wild.

Features:

  • Tool-free lever reach adjust
  • Four-piston calliper
  • Mineral oil
  • 2.3mm thick rotors
    • Most standard rotors are 1.8mm thick
  • Thinner and stiffer, 5mm thick hose
  • Improved oil flow
  • New “performance resin” pads stock in brake
    • Metallic and regular resin pads available
  • Steel/ceramic hybrid piston material
  • Weight: 662g w/o rotors (full 1,900mm hose length front and rear)
    • Brake Lever – 133g/side
    • Brake Caliper w/ 1900mm Line – 198g
    • Rotors – 274g (223mm) / 244g (203mm) / 189g (180mm)
  • MSRP: 229.99 USD w/o rotors

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On the outside, the brakes look almost identical to previous aggressive brakes from TRP. The calliper for the DH-R Evo changes colour from the DHR but inside the changes are more relevant.

The Updates

Development of the DH-R Evo brakes started after Neko Mulally of Intense Factory Racing got his mitts on a set of development e-bike brakes. They featured 2.3mm x 223mm rotors and Neko enjoyed them so much that Gwin had to give them a try. He got along with the performance as well and TRP began developing the DH-R Evo, working closely with World Cup Downhill teams and doing heaps of testing.

Two years later, what started as tweaks to their eMTB brake turned into somewhat of an overhaul for aggressive riding. You’d be mistaken to think all that’s changed from the DHR or Quadiem is bigger rotors, which I wondered about when they first launched. Yes, the rotors are thicker and TRP is pushing the larger 223mm size but it’s only a small part of the changes. To improve the brakes, TRP made the lever feel lighter, access to the power easier while increasing power and improving heat management. Improving cooling is something I heard many times when chatting with TRP and almost every update has some effect on it.

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Externally, the lever/master cylinder assembly of the Evo looks almost exactly the same as TRP's other DH level brakes…

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Tool-free lever adjustment.

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The BMX style hinged clamp design makes them easy to install and remove.

To improve lever feel, TRP started by moving to a smaller 9mm piston, down from the 10mm pistons in the master cylinders of the DHR and Quadiem brakes. I asked TRP why they went smaller here and was informed that the smaller piston increases the force in the system. In the calliper, the opposite is true; four 16mm hybrid ceramic/stainless pistons remain. This combination results in less pressure to bring the brakes to attention, something that was clear the first time I squeezed the lever. The new Hayes Dominion also features a 9mm master cylinder piston and similar, light access to the power.

TRP Slate T4 Lever Blade

I don't have a good shot of the Quadiem brake lever but aside from the drillings for grip, the blade was the same as the Slate.

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The lever blade has been refined to be thinner and there's a bit more rounding at the edges. They're very comfortable.

At the calliper, oil flow was improved by smoothing out the path it travels through. This smoother routing helps prevent chokepoints as the fluid is pushed through and released. Removing some of the nooks also helps with the bleeding process, eliminating places for air to hide. It also translates to less drag through the system, improving piston response. The new calliper internals also increase oil volume, improving heat management. TRP also noted a new mineral oil formula has increased the boiling point and making it thinner allows it to move through the system with less effort. It may look the same as Shimano’s or TRP’s old stuff but I was told that's not the case.

Housing the new oil is a new, slimmer 5mm hose. TRP previously used a 5.5mm hose but found with internal cable routing, it could be trickier to feed through frames. The new hose is constructed with a new compound, consisting of a stronger nylon wrap. Together, TRP says these make the line stiffer, more efficiently transferring pressure to the calliper. The new nylon being used is also said to improve heat management. Initially I was concerned the thinner hose might display the flimsy feel and poor durability of other brakes with smaller diameter lines, but these feel tough and durable and have lived up to that in performance.

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The calliper has seen numerous internal updates to improve oil flow, improving piston response and bleeds.

Stock, the new brakes are fitted with pads featuring what TRP is referring to as a “performance resin compound.” I've removed resin pads from my bikes in the past because of a lack of bite and power but these are a different beast. TRP claims the pads were developed for a number of reasons, including a faster bed-in process to help with feel on shop floors. They also provide more initial bite with an even, linear curve to the power delivery. The material consists of smaller pours to improve heat management – less air being caught in the material – and is harder than their other resin (red) brake pads. TRP claim that outside of really wet races, most of their World Cup Downhill athletes are using the performance resin (blue) pad in the front and the sintered pad in the rear. This provides a mix of bite at the front wheel with the greater heat management required for a rear brake pad.

Lastly, and the most obvious update is the larger rotors. The DH-R Evo is designed around a 2.3mm rotor, which TRP claims provides a 47% increase in stiffness. Moving to a thicker rotor provides more material to dissipate heat to improve… you guessed it, heat management. The increased thickness also provides more stiffness so the 223mm rotor can withstand abuse. TRP says the brakes will work with regular rotor widths too if you need a replacement in a pinch and can't source a 2.3mm option.

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The lever assembly and calliper are only available in this polished finish and since World Champs, a special edition polished gold finish.

Enough Tech: Practical Matters

Newer to TRP is their EZ plug system, which is supposed to speed up the initial setup process. The EZ plug allows TRP to provide customers with a full factory bled brake that when carefully installed, should provide a great experience. I took care during installation to maintain the factory bleed and with minimal purging at the lever during installation, achieved excellent feel. Over the past three-plus months and 700km on the Evos, there’s been no need for a follow-up bleed. The stock resin pads wore down enough before switching to the sintered option that if I had continued with them, a fluid top-up would have been necessary to keep my preferred lever feel. The resin pads are at about 50% and most of the testing was done with them.

If I'd had to perform a more involved bleed since installation, I would have said the initial care during setup outweighed the benefits. But given my success with the brakes since, it’s worth trying out. From the start, the lever feel has been excellent, the most notable characteristic being the light action. Before getting touchy-feely with Hayes Dominion levers and now the DH-R Evo, I didn’t have any problems with the lever feel of Shimano or SRAM brakes, but the light actuation is great, especially considering the power it harnesses.

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With the same size rotors front and rear as the SLX brakes I really enjoyed; 203mm front, 180mm rear…

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The DH-R Evo's had at least the same power on tap, but it was more easily managed and required less effort to access.

And power there is. Coming straight from the excellent Shimano SLX four-piston brakes (M7120) to these, I wasn’t expecting the Evos to offer a large benefit but they offer at least as much power. The delivery of that power is where these excel but it’s quite different and took a few rides to adjust to. During my second ride with the new brakes, I hit Somewhere Over There in Squamish where I'd ridden on my last outing with the Shimanos. Conditions were dry and loose and the light lever action combined with the power and bite caught me off-guard on one memorable occasion.

Motoring into a section with excess confidence, I found myself having to dump speed quickly or I'd be getting uncomfortably familiar with the trees lining the trail. The section featured some roots that tossed the bike about and my overly enthusiastic approach meant braking heavily on a hard, dusty rock rather than the usual sticky granite found around Squamish. With the dust on the surface and the hurried grab at the lever, I thought I was doomed, but the bike quickly slowed to a manageable pace. If I'd been on other brakes, I wouldn’t have stopped and most definitely would have broken traction. Not only that, the brakes allowed for a smooth continuation, as if nothing had happened.

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All of the 2.3mm rotor sizes come with these wear indicators. Once things get down to the black dot, it's time to replace them. It's been a while since I've worn a rotor down to have a gentle bow in the surface, but with how strong these are, maybe I'll get that far again.

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The blue pads hidden in the calliper are the new "performance resin" pad from TRP. It offers a similar initial bite to the Shimano brakes but was still easier to control.

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There remains a single bleed port on the callipers but TRP has moved the brake line attachment to the inside of the calliper, keeping it more safely tucked out of the way.

The power and light lever feel of the DH-R Evo made me change my braking strategy. I have a habit of lightly dragging my brakes longer than needed as I approach corners or features, before fully jumping on them. I’m not sure why I do it but I know others have the same issue. With the TRP Evos, I found myself coming into corners and features I know well, too slow. I began focusing on a more on-off approach to my braking, which has been great. They've allowed for more confidence when riding committed, braking purposefully when needed and staying completely off them anywhere else.

Before the SLX brakes, I‘d been on the TRP Quadiem and I’ve also been impressed by the smaller, less expensive TRP Slate T4 but neither of these offered easy access to loads of power, and required more hand strength. Where they excelled was in consistency and feel. On the longest most demanding descents in high summer they were always there with no change in lever feel. This TRP brake retains that consistency but now there’s bite and heaps of power to back it up.

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The 223mm x 2.3mm rotor has remained straight and there's been no warping despite attempts to overheat them.

Bring Out the Big Dogs

Until this point I'd been riding standard 203mm front and 180mm rear rotors. Before switching to the larger rotors, I spent a rather hot day – 30+C degrees – sliding down one of the steeper lines in my hometown of Squamish. This was a situation that required a more consistent drag on the brakes than I had been trying to achieve. The delivery and control of power was reassuring and I wanted to let go for longer, letting the speeds get higher between each jump on the anchors. Riding like this hasn’t been possible for me on this trail before because hitting the brakes so hard in the loose conditions would cause chaos. The way power can be controlled with these brakes can’t be over-stated – they’re really flippin’ good.

At the bottom of the trail, I briefly checked everything over and found discolouration on the front and rear rotors from excess heat – which usually happens at 250–316ºC. Amazingly, there was no rotor warping, and everything remained silent. The only rotor I’ve had that didn’t discolour in these conditions has been the Shimano Ice Tech with the black alloy carrier, but they still rubbed the pads when things got heated.

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For comparison, the 203mm x 2.3mm rotor…

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And 180mm x 2.3mm rotor. These now have a nice 'oil slick' look to them just off the braking surface.

After a few rides on the larger 223mm/203mm rotors I returned to the steeper line I'd ridden earlier, in similar conditions. After arriving at the bottom of the trail I looked down at the rotors to see if they too had discoloured. There was nothing. Performance with the larger rotors was remarkable. The seemingly effortless ability to slow the bike and control the power made riding the steep loose line easier than it’s ever been. Conditions on the trail were actually worse this time around, with more loose baby heads and deep dust all the way down. Having the ability to control the speed so easily and effectively sold me on the brakes and bigger rotors solidified my conclusion.

A recent ride in Pemberton backed up my experience in the super dusty conditions. On lines where even in ideal, hero dirt conditions I’m normally stressed, I cruised down with little concern despite surprise ice and wet spots in lines that used to terrify me. This control and confidence has allowed me to drop into challenging lines and worry about the outcome as it happens. This, all with less stress on the hands and arms, allowing me to maintain strength down an entire run.

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A downside for some riders will be weight. These thicker, larger rotors aren't going to win anyone over on the scales but if stopping power and consistency are vital, that's a minor concern. Having more energy to ride how I want on the way down has won me over.

I’ve never experienced hand or arm fatigue with this brake setup. Non-stop runs of Misfire in the Whistler Bike Park fatigued my hands a little with the 203mm/180mm rotor setup with the TRPs, but I wasn’t even able to pull a non-stop lap with the SLX brakes. Slapping the larger rotors on the TRPs allowed me to ride that same lap almost completely free of fatigue, although I'd still tire overall from the effort involved on the physical trail.

To be honest, I was hesitant to run the bigger rotors when I began this review and thought I would test them then roll back to the standard size I used to run. The quality and control the DH-R Evo's provide with my previously standard rotor size was excellent and I didn’t think it could get much better. But the extra slack effort needed to control the bike with the bigger rotors, on top of the already sensational performance has changed my view; the big dogs are staying put. I was also happy enough with the performance resin pads that there was no hurry to toss in the metallic option. They’re really good but the metallics provide a more positive response and less linear feel when hammering on the brakes. TRP mentioned that the metallic pads will deal with heat better but I haven’t had any concerns with the stock pads either so for me it comes down to feel. If you’re looking for more initial bite with a linear feel, toss in the performance resin. If you're looking for more solid feeling power throughout the stroke, choose metallic.

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These brakes from TRP suit their name…

Conclusions

Each of the staple brakes from SRAM and Shimano provides excellent stopping power. While the TRPs offer at least as much power as the big players, the consistency and reliability of delivery makes these different. They’re also easy to work on and there are heaps of setup options available with three pad materials and five rotor sizes to choose from. A set of Shimano pads can even be used in a pinch – though you may want to have a backup of the performance resin pads ready to go.

The TRP DH-R Evo brakes have surprised and impressed me in every situation. No matter what I’ve thrown at them, they’ve exceeded expectations. Their light feel, easy access to power and excellent control make them a joy to ride. TRP did their homework with the DH-R Evo and it shows on the trail.

TRP DH-R Evo

AJ_Barlas
AJ Barlas

Age: 39
Height: 191cm/6’3"
Weight: 73kg/160lbs
Ape Index: 1.037
Inseam: 32”
Trail on Repeat: Changes as often as my mood.
Current Regular: Every test product spends time on Entrail

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Comments

hongeorge
+2 jwellford Angu58
hongeorge  - Nov. 11, 2020, 1:15 a.m.

Curious if you tried them with standard rotors? Tempted to try these, but I share wheels between bikes, so non-standard rotors are a no-go for me unless I buy two sets of brakes plus four rotors. Having a little extra clearance sounds like a good thing also.

Reply

GawiQ
+1 Cam McRae
Mateusz Gawęcki  - Nov. 11, 2020, 1:28 a.m.

Please read carefully again. They were tried with standard rotors first.

Reply

jwellford
+2 Chad K hongeorge
jwellford  - Nov. 11, 2020, 4:40 a.m.

I’m not sure about this: I think when AJ says standard 203/180 rotors he’s just referring to “standard” rotor diameter. The corresponding pictures identify them as 2.3mm wide. I too am interested in how these perform with 1.8mm rotors.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+2 jwellford Andy Eunson
AJ Barlas  - Nov. 11, 2020, 7:28 a.m.

That’s correct. My usual sized rotors were where I started, but they were always the 2.3mm rotor width. 

Hongeorge, I haven’t tried them with standard width rotors. TRP claim they work fine with the thinner rotors but there would for sure be more piston exposed and it may require more frequent pad changes.

Reply

hongeorge
0
hongeorge  - Nov. 11, 2020, 9:25 a.m.

Half a millimetre across two pistons/pads seems like nothing, I just wonder if that small amount would change the feel/travel noticeably when amplified b the lever.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+2 Metacomet hongeorge
AJ Barlas  - Nov. 11, 2020, 11:03 a.m.

I'll try and set some time aside to test this for you. I'll comment back when I have but it could be a week or two. Make sure you have comment notifications on!

Reply

hongeorge
+2 AJ Barlas Metacomet
hongeorge  - Nov. 12, 2020, 11:38 a.m.

Reviews to order... now that's thorough :)

danimaniac
+1 Cam McRae
danimaniac  - Nov. 11, 2020, 2:36 a.m.

Can you get Andrew and Cam to ride these for comparison with the A4 and Cura 4? These actually sound like a real contender. Does the lever have any trickery like Servowave/Swinglink or is the mechanical leverage linear? (Please do a teardown!)

> To improve lever feel, TRP started by moving to a smaller 9mm piston, down from the 10mm pistons in the master cylinders of the DHR and Quadiem brakes. Apparently the smaller piston increases the force in the system. In the calliper, the opposite is true; four 16mm hybrid ceramic/stainless pistons remain. This combination results in less pressure to bring the brakes to attention, something that was clear the first time I squeezed the lever. The new Hayes Dominion also features a 9mm master cylinder piston and similar, light access to the power.

About this: you say "apparently".. this is just physic's law: Force/area = Pressure. Pressure is the same at master and slave cylinders. But as slave area is much greater than Master area Force increases by the same factor. Hydraulic leverage. So only because of this the DHR-E is about 23% stronger than the previos DHR.

But because of this deadstroke is longer, because still the same volume of oil needs to be pushed around.

Dominion's Master cylinder is 9.15mm diameter ;-) *g*

On a sidenote: I think it's unfair to bring the larger rotors into the equation like TRP does. Because every single brake gets stronger and more heat resistant by increasing rotor size. But of course it feels awesome. But can you try if the 2,3mm rotors fit the Dominion A4?

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Nov. 11, 2020, 7:39 a.m.

Hi danimaniac. 

I’m not sure how the apparently comment got in there. What you say is exactly what TRP shared with me and I’ve changed it back to reflect that. Thanks!

To be clear, the brakes were tested for most of the time on the usual rotor setup I run all brakes at. These outperformed in all ways. Bumping up to the bigger rotors only improved things again. 

Thanks!

Reply

danimaniac
+1 AJ Barlas
danimaniac  - Nov. 11, 2020, 2:48 a.m.

Also: Great review, good read!

Sorry for the nitpicking above.. I just love nerding about brakes.

Reply

olaa
+1 danimaniac
olaa  - Nov. 11, 2020, 4:12 a.m.

Did you try with even larger rotor in the back? I'm trying it out on my new bike (whenever it shows up in these Covid times) to see if the heat management will be better. Following the logic of having a large rotor in front for power and in the rear for heat management.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+1 olaa
AJ Barlas  - Nov. 11, 2020, 7:40 a.m.

I didn’t. Your theory is right, of course but I never found issue with heat management with the 203mm back there. I half expected to see it discoloured after the steep trail in hot conditions test but nada.

Reply

Lynx
0
Lynx .  - Nov. 11, 2020, 4:14 a.m.

Aj, good review, seems like TRP have stepped their game up again, really would love to try some of their brakes. As other suggested, would be good to let them other, heavier guys ride them and compare to the brakes they've tested.

Bit of a note on the article - you have the captions on the wrong images of the SLX and EVo brakes and the M8100 is an XT brake, not SLX, SLX is 7100/20, the *100 are the 2 piston brakes, *120 are the 4.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Nov. 11, 2020, 7:50 a.m.

Argh, all the numbers! Thanks for the catch, MBB, I’ve updated to the correct set. 👊🏼

Reply

rugbyred
+1 Cam McRae
Eric Van Sickle  - Nov. 11, 2020, 7:06 a.m.

As usual, NSMB review standards are amazing. 

Curious to know how these compare to Hope Tech3 E4’s and what the long term value is for them. Can spare parts to fix issues be purchased?

Thanks, 

Eric

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Nov. 11, 2020, 7:42 a.m.

Thanks heaps Eric!

No time on any Hope brakes but TRP have many of the parts needed to rebuild on their website. More than I’ve seen readily available – not saying you can’t get them through the LBS – from the main players.

Reply

ru-tang
0
ru-tang  - Nov. 11, 2020, 8:46 a.m.

Any thoughts to running these thicker rotors on Quadiems?  I just got new rotors, shimanos, and there seems to be more lever throw than there used to be.  It's making me think there is a bigger difference in the rotor thickness than I thought...or I need to re-bleed the system . . . .

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Nov. 11, 2020, 11:08 a.m.

Hi Ru-tang. It sounds like you would benefit from a bleed and/or some piston cheating. I've asked TRP about the compatibility of the thicker rotors w/ Quadiem's though and will report back when I hear from them.

Reply

rg1niner
0
rg1niner  - Nov. 11, 2020, 11:04 a.m.

Hey AJ, I noticed that you were able to direct mount what looks like a Shimano 12s I-Spec EV shifter. On TRP's website I couldn't find an adapter for this connection. What adapter did you end up using?

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Nov. 11, 2020, 3:15 p.m.

Good catch! The brakes are i-Spec ii compatible and TRP is working on an adapter to work with the new i-spec EV and an update to their matchmaker so they play better with AXS. I'm currently using a modified Wolf Tooth i-spec EV to ii adapter with the ridge filed off so it will fit.

Reply

rg1niner
0
rg1niner  - Nov. 11, 2020, 3:24 p.m.

Nice, I have a set of EVO's on the way and have been searching for the cleanest cockpit set up. Thanks for the info!

Reply

thaaad
0
thaaad  - Nov. 11, 2020, 12:32 p.m.

Any noise complaints? I watched a video by a popular Youtuber who had just purchased these the other day (not sure if he bought the rotors as well or stuck with his Sram rotors) and they were noisy as hell. Horrible sram  warble, super squeaky in the rain, it was brutal. The rain squeak I can deal with since most brakes do that, but the sram warble is a complete deal breaker for me.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Nov. 11, 2020, 3:19 p.m.

No issues with trail noise when set up properly. The performance resin pads made a bit of noise when real wet but once warmed up (a few heavy stops) they were quiet. It was a similar experience with the sintered pads but I'd say in the wet the resin was a bit louder. That said, everyone's brakes – a mix of Shimano and SRAM – were making turkey sounds that day.

Reply

SteveR
+1 Sean Chee
SteveR  - Nov. 11, 2020, 4:57 p.m.

As a clydesdale, it sounds like these are a contender for my next build, especially with the thicker rotors. But with all the talk about heat management- why not finned calipers? Yeah, I know- aesthetics, and they would hold more grunge- but still...

Reply

ollyh
+1 AJ Barlas
ollyh  - Nov. 11, 2020, 9:04 p.m.

My guess is that fins on the callipers don’t help all that much. TRP had them on earlier brakes and these are apparently an improvement. Also, Shimano put the fins on their ice-tech pads and rotors, but not the callipers, so they don’t think it’s worthwhile either.

Reply

danimaniac
+1 AJ Barlas
danimaniac  - Nov. 11, 2020, 9:44 p.m.

If you have to fin the caliper the brake system is designed to fail:

Heat is being produced between the pads and the rotor. The resin (semimetallic, too) itself is rather bad at transferring heat, while braking, the pads'n backplates only touch the pistons and that little clip, which is so small, it could heat up, but would not transfer heat through the screw or splint holding the pads in. Leaves us with the pistons on that side. There's some contact area, most of it is fluid what you don't want to heat up, rest is seals that you don't want to heat up. Actual touching of the caliper body itself is in fourth degree through the fluid (and through air) 

That's why the rotors shall take the heat. And by arriving cooler than the pads are while braking, because it went full circle, it will take more heat. 

That's why I think if you need finned calipers the brake is designed to fail.

Reply

jdw103
0
Jason West  - Nov. 12, 2020, 4:01 a.m.

TRP DH-R Evo vs. Dominion A4 vs. Formula Cura. If you had a one choice?

Reply

danimaniac
+1 Jason West
danimaniac  - Nov. 12, 2020, 7:13 a.m.

to (not) answer your question: With all I know today, I'd pick the Dominion over the Cura4 anyday. I think the TRP DH-R Evo is a nice third player in the market of brakes "as powerful as a Trickstuff Dirrettissima". [But that comparison might be a german thing. ]

I have a little excel-sheet calculating theoratical braking power of brakes. All three (and the TS-DRT, and Magura's MT5/7) deliver almost the same power (System Leverage as a combination of mechanical and hydraulic leverage) All the rest is friction in system (Dominion might be best in class), quality of hoses (pressure and stuff) and the rubbing partnership of pads and rotors.

Must say though: Like the appearance of the TRP Evo Master, would love to pair that with a silver MT-4pot caliper from Magura. Would make a hell of a brake, too!

Reply

Bad-Sean
0
Sean Chee  - Nov. 13, 2020, 5:09 a.m.

This big boy is loving 223mm rotors becoming more commonplace. I've been running the galfer rotor in the front for the last 18 months. Every ride I've been happy with it. I'm looking forward to 223mm rotors coming down in price. 

If they were more affordable, I would be up to try the 246mm rotors.

Reply

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