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REVIEW

TRP Quadiem Brakes - (Gwin's Brakes!)

Words Andrew Major
Photos Dave Smith (unless noted)
Date Mar 7, 2018

Deja Vu

From the early 'spy shot*' releases to my first gentle test squeeze of the oh-so-long lever blades, the TRP Quadiem is a product I lusted to try on the trail. It's a deja vu scenario dating back to some custom brakes a customer had built using Shimano Saint M800 (non-Servo Wave) master cylinders, generously hooked Straitline lever blades, and Saint M810 four-piston calipers.

I know it was a different time with different expectations but my brief experiences with those brakes, coupled with the complete teardown serviceability, obvious manufacturing quality, and adherence to proliferating mineral oil dogma** had me rubbing my hands together like a villain. 

*<<all the laughter>>
**welcome to the party Hayes and Formula

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The finish on the G-Spec version of the Quadiem is slick but aside from that and some titanium hardware both levels of Quadiem are identical. 

Tektro is well known for manufacturing a plethora of good budget bicycle brakes including some very Shimano-esque disc brake systems. On the other hand, TRP, or Tektro Racing Products, has long been an industry joke along the lines of Huffy having bikes with 'Pro' in the name or Cannondale trademarking Freeride when locally they were known as 'Crack-And-Fail.'

I've been regularly noticing these brakes on bikes when I'm out on the trail with very positive feedback from riders. Between that and Gwin I'm sure the TRP marketing department has considered the slogan "who's laughing now?"

Teardown

Along with my friend Jeff of Bikeroom, and now WheelThing, I tore these Quadiems down to the piston bands back in November. I came away very impressed and if you missed it the piece is right here.

I had a couple key takeaways, both complimentary, that I carry forward to this review:

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

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

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

Would I shell out the extra 100 USD for the gorgeous G-Spec finish? ARGH. I'm going with 'maybe'. Photo: AM

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

Master cylinder teardown. Fully serviceable & rebuildable. Photo: AM

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

Big ass calipers dissipate heat and house four identically sized pistons backed by high quality lip seals. Photo: AM

With the obvious exceptions of Hope and SRAM, mineral oil has become the brake fluid of choice in the bike industry. Tektro fluid is apparently interchangeable with Shimano (I mean heck, they're both pink, right?) and also available through stocking dealers and direct from Tektro. 

These are easy brakes to bleed whether done Shimano-style using a bucket at the master cylinder, completely removing the master cylinder cap or Avid-style as Jeff used in our teardown. 

For the record, following up from the teardown, I'm not saying there are non-TRP brake fittings that work with the system if factory fittings are not available. 

Setup

Shimano and SRAM do themselves a huge favour with brake design when it comes to getting OE spec. They've come up with ways, Servo Wave and Swinglink respectively, to position pads further from the rotor for drag-free, but not necessarily optimized, setup. 

Setting up the Quadiem was similar to my experiences with Formula's ROR and any Magura four-piston caliper. With the pads pushed back in the calipers, I center the caliper over the rotor and then cycle the brake, pushing back whichever piston is contacting first, until everything is retracting perfectly. 

For my first ride, the wheels were spinning perfectly but there was still a faint pad-on-rotor sound which went away after the first good descent. Through my test period, I've had to reset the pistons on the rear brake one time which is at worst on par with any other four-piston caliper I've used out back. The TRP calipers are impressively out of mind when riding. 

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Easy to set up and the rear pistons stayed largely adjustment-free through the test. 

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Big brakes, big rotors, big stopping. I prefer a larger rotor up front running four-piston calipers in both positions. 

Modulation and pressure are both excellent. I have relatively small hands and with the brake levers positioned to my liking I did sometimes long for the more generous hook of Magura brakes. I compromised by adjusting the TRP lever blade reach out a little further than my usual preference and leveling the brake levers some. 

Anyone who isn't wearing at least a men's large glove will want to test ride before committing to these brakes. On the flip side if you have big meat hooks, then welcome home. Once I had the level and starting position dialed I had no complaints. 

Compatibility

TRP offers shifter mounts for I-Spec, I-Spec II, and MatchMaker. Additionally, I had no clearance issues with most dropper remotes and both SRAM and Shimano shifters. 

The one exception that I came across was the stock shifter-style remote on the Race Face Aeffect dropper post I'm testing. In order for the lever to have adequate throw, it has to be positioned so far inwards that using the post becomes a very deliberate action. 

TRP Quadiem G-Spec Brakes

Most dropper post remotes play nice with the Quadiem. The stock Race Face Aeffect remote is not one of them. Photo: AM

This is probably a minor issue that would affect a tiny fraction of riders who own an Aeffect post, haven't upgraded to Race Face's much nicer Turbine dropper remote (or an equivalent option), and are buying a set of Quadiem brakes. Compatibility is however a potential issue so be aware that not everything works with everything. 

TRP Quadiem G-Spec Brakes

Zero issues with SRAM or Shimano shifters. For those that prefer a cleaner look check out MatchMaker and I-Spec options. Photo: AM

Also, a note that with the levers being quite long, the master cylinders need to be positioned quite inwards relative to grips to achieve the best position for one-finger braking. I don't know anyone running bars so narrow, or who has so much stuff on their cockpit, that this would be an issue but I'm constantly surprised. 

Upgrades & Whingeing

I'd pay good money to buy a carbon fiber version of only two bicycle products: Magura HC and TRP Quadiem lever blades. If I had to pick one it would absolutely be the TRP brakes. 

I'm not trying to save 5 grams. Carbon brake levers are vastly more pleasant on really cold days. The silver polished TRP levers make these absolutely the coldest blades I've pulled on in memory. 

The G-Spec Quadiems look amazing but I'd be curious to try the standard model on a below-zero day to see if I notice a difference. It could also be a matter of surface area but all the black levers (Shimano, SRAM, Magura, Formula) I've ridden are less painful in the cold. 

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

The Quadiem pads are interchangeable with non-finned Shimano Saint and Zee pads. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, and brilliant. Photo: AM

Brilliantly, the TRP Quadiem brake pads are interchangeable with non-finned Shimano Saint and Zee pads. Big ups to TRP for giving up proprietary replacement part dollars to ensure customers can buy pads everywhere. Less brilliantly, the stock pads reflect poorly on the system. With my standard break-in procedure and a half dozen rides, there was still a disconnect between the pressure the system delivers and the amount of friction I was getting at the wheel. 

I'm not going to simplify it as sintered vs. organic pads. Try a set of Magura 'Race' pads and tell me again how organic pads suck, but in this case, a pair of Shimano sintered pads up front brought braking to life. The TRP pads last impressively long and work fine out back so it's not like the set off the front will go to waste. 

Lastly, it has never bothered me while riding, even solo at night when I can hear pine needles fall, but there is a lot of pad movement in the caliper when doing a standing brake check. It would not keep me from buying a set of Quadiem brakes, and I consider myself picky, but I have some truly persnickety friends who would go insane. Insane. 

Potential Rider

Riders who don't care about brake fluid can stack the Quadiem up against fully rebuildable DOT fluid DH brakes like the SRAM Code and the Hope V4. Those brakes are both excellent. Hope does a legendary job of supplying small replacement parts and SRAM is certainly trying. 

How does the Quadiem compare? I love the Hope V4 so brake fluid aside it would be my choice for a reasonable extra expense. I do most of my own work and I find mineral oil more pleasant to handle at home so the Quadiem comes out on top. Anyone who isn't in the practice of stocking wear items - like pads and rotors - is going to want to go with the Quadiem or Code for the sheer availability of last-minute replacement parts.  

Also note the aforementioned warning for those who wear size large gloves are larger. 

TRP Quadiem Teardown AndrewM

Are you in the market for a four-piston brake? Photo: AM

Definite Rider

Put a finger on that long-ass lever blade and give it a pull. No magic tricks, it's just the pads contacting a rotor and the harder I gank the harder my bike stops. There's no mush and modulating power is natural. It's a beautiful thing. 

It's currently the only brake-system that ticks all these boxes: mineral oil, four-piston calipers, and fully rebuildable. Couple the serviceability, compatibility with Shimano pads and fluid, and the superior feel of non-Servo-Wave and that leaves only the slightly more involved drag-free initial setup as the only reason I see to buy Saint or Zee over these.  

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The Quadiem system is well-balanced when running one rotor size larger in the front. 

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Control is excellent with a predictable power curve and a tenacious bite when needed. 

TRP could probably grab a few more customers, and simplify setup, by offering a 2-piston caliper that riders could run out back for trail usage and I'll reiterate the call for a carbon blade option for cold riders. I'd like to see a change in the lever shape or a second lever available before these brakes start popping up as OE-spec and I guarantee they are going to because they're awesome. 

I've met a handful of people riding them and everyone has been equally impressed with the performance so I'm feeling comfortable recommending them as an option beyond my limited sample size of one great system. 

For more information on the 400 USD TRP Quadiem G-Spec brake set please click here. For the same feel, power, and performance with a less Gucci finish please check out the 300 USD TRP Quadiem brake set here

Comments

DBone95
0
Darryl Chereshkoff  - March 7, 2018, 7:39 a.m.

Good stuff as usual. Unfortunately for me, I am one of those that would go insane. Insane!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 8, 2018, 12:04 p.m.

Thanks!

Yeah, I consider myself picky and it’s fine but I know a few people who it would bother so wanted to mention it since most folks are likely buying these without a test ride.

Reply

Kelownarider
0
Kelownarider  - March 8, 2018, 8:48 a.m.

Running these for a couple months. Spot on review, and thanks for the tip on the pad compatibility! One tip of my own: For a SRAM shifter/TRP brake matchmaker, buy the left side one for the rear shifter. The proper right side matchmaker mounts way to far inwards.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 8, 2018, 12:04 p.m.

Thanks!

That’s a great tip. Addicted to the clean look of integrated shifter/dropper with lever - even if logical me likes separate clamps.

Reply

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - March 8, 2018, 12:42 p.m.

I used a left side SRAM matchmaker for my right shifter for the same reason.

Reply

art-s
0
Art S  - March 12, 2018, 7:08 p.m.

Andrew, Nice review with depth and meat. Brakes and suspension are the two things I'm most picky about on my bike, ok. maybe tires too! How does the power compare to the Hope V4's that you love? I'm on MT5's right now.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 12, 2018, 8:19 p.m.

I can't give you a power comparison with the V4. Love the feel and working on them but it's been so long since I had (limited) trail time on a set it wouldn't be accurate.

MT5 and TRP Quadiem (with better pads) deliver similar power/performance. I prefer the TRP lever blade to the stock MT5 but for my smaller hands, the basic version of the HC lever blade from Magura is the best fit.

Reply

syncro
0
Mark  - March 14, 2018, 7:51 a.m.

Oh Andrew, if you're complaining about the cold it might be time to hang up the bike and move on to something less demanding like knitting. 

Good read as usual, cheers

Reply

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