the setback post

Tag: discs

Braking news: harmjoy edition

It’s not nice to take pleasure in others’ misfortune. In fact it’s so not nice, the Germans invented a word for it: schadenfreude, which literally translates as harmjoy*. So when I post this job ad from SRAM, please rest assured that I am not amused:


I’m especially not amused by this bit:


And this bit:


Because, ouch.

This presumably means that the poor bastard in charge of SRAM brake development fell on his sword, which would be quite upsetting if it weren’t a “transitionary” mechanical sword with only half the disembowelling power of the recalled hydraulic version.

In all seriousness, this sounds like a pretty cool job, at least until the next round of recalls.

[*This would be an awesome name for a bike by the way. I should trademark it and then find someone to sue.]

I can haz dick breaks

A little while ago I nailed my colours to the CX disc brake mast. (I also spliced the mainbrace, shivered timbers, and groped the cabin boy for good measure.) The time has come to put skin in the game.

I’m not going to be reviewing these any time soon because you can’t review a product meaningfully until you’ve done your best to break it in a variety of comical mishaps, but I’m now in possession of a set of post-recall TRP Spyres, which are are bringing the The Secret Project to a halt with some alacrity.

spyre (1 of 1)

Watch this space.

Braking news – wait, what?

It goes without saying that as an internet bike expert, industry insider douchebag and all-round great guy I have an almost limitless knowledge of the current market. I know exactly who sells what bike doodad, what’s good, and whose kneecaps need blowing off.

Somehow, despite all that, I failed to notice the drop bar hydraulic brake system that’s been sitting under my nose:

TRP Hylex

The TRP Hylex Photo: TRP

Granted, it’s completely useless if you want your gear-changey things attached to your bike-stopper things, which I do, but luckily someone is on the case. Cue Retroshift, makers of that cludgy but lovable downtube shifter/brake lever mashup…

Retroshift Hylex

The above image was posted on their facebook last month and apart from demonstrating their willfully lax approach to studio cleanliness, it also shows a TRP Hylex brake lever with a shifter bolted to it. This has to be by far the simplest (and doubtless most affordable) way to combine your love of changing gear with your desire to stop in a timely and controlled fashion.

I’m not saying I’m going to buy it – I’m not – but I salute the effort. I’m sure it will be of interest to the sort of person who’s still letting bar-cons stand in the way of their accession to adulthood.

In other news (and with possible relevance to what shall henceforth be referred to as The Secret Project, or TSP’s TSP, or something else entirely), TRP has announced the arrival of the first post recall Spyre brakes, releasing the following:

Spyre post-recall

I am confident that this marks the beginning of the end of what historians shall remember as a time of great darkness in the march to greater brake enlightenment.

TSP goes Euro – CX in Luxembourg

On grounds that I should witness at least one ’cross race in person before actually competing, Boxing day saw me and some surprisingly acquiescent family members at Luxembourg’s Fond-de-Gras at Differdange.

The race got off to a blistering start under leaden Continental skies, quickly heading offroad onto a course with an alarming amount of climbing.

differdangecx (1 of 13)

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The crowd went wild. Dogs wore coats.

differdangecx-coat (1 of 1)

As a huge #SVENNESS fan, I got excited when I realised Telenet-Fidea, a team I actually recognised, had a rider in the race. One Ben Boets, if I’m not mistaken.

differdangecx (3 of 13)

His pit crew were hard at work making his bikes look cleaner than anyone else’s.

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Soon enough, the race split up, with local favourite Christian Helmig looking strong at the front. He faded slightly as the race went on, ultimately finishing 5th. Dave de Cleyn (in black) was the eventual winner, finishing a scant 13s ahead of Joeri Hofman (in green).

differdangecx (4 of 13)

The view at the finish line.

differdangecx (5 of 13)

Because I like pink bicycles…

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As the race took its toll, trailing riders retired or were gently reminded to get out of the goddamn way.

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Under 23 champion Massimo Morabito came 11th.

differdangecx (7 of 13)

Much Di2 was in evidence, with lashings of Dugast and carbon.

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As the highest placing Luxembourger and recipient of the most shouts of encouragement, it was Helmig the press most wanted a piece of in the immediate aftermath.

differdangecx (10 of 13)

Second place was well earned.

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In keep with continental racing’s traditional scepticism about discs, I counted just three riders eschewing cantilevers. It came as a surprise that Christian Helmig was one of them, but this may be explained by the fact that he’s been racing in the US for the last few years where discs have all but taken over in the pro ranks.

What’s more significant is that this is the first time I’ve seen the new Shimano R785 hydraulics in the flesh. Helmig’s Specialized Crux sported the distinctive levers along with what appears to be custom Luxembourgish bar tape. Perhaps because of existing equipment constraints however, he was running 10 speed rather than 11.

differdangecx (13 of 13)

I’m not sure how much I learnt from all this, except that it is blatantly obvious I’m going to be destroyed when it comes to actual racing. How jolly.

’Cross examination: braking news

Rides like this have been an interesting exercise for me in exploring the limitations of a ’cross bike. I love that even with mud tyres, the bike really isn’t half bad on the road, and of course it opens up a realm of possibilities off-road. It is not, however, a MTB as the gearing and rigid fork do their best to remind me whenever the going gets gnarly and my lack of technical skills makes itself evident.

Moor CX

Gentle grassy rise? Bricking it. Photo: Jack Luke of

Being an obsessive, I’ve naturally already started refining my ideas about the ideal bicycle for this sort of thing. Leaving aside that my humble TCX lacks even a carbon fork, there are some non-negotiable features already being added to the spec for my dream ’cross/all-road/gravel-douching machine. Most obviously…

Disc brakes. Really, having used cantis off-road, I’m astonished it’s taking this long for road lever compatible discs to come of age. Cantis, even set up by a rockstar mechanic like me, suck. I’m already lusting after the new Shimano hydraulics, although some of the latest mechanical setups like the dual piston TRP Spyre look worthy of consideration:

TRP Spyre mechanical disc brake


…or perhaps the ingenious hydraulic/mechanical hybrid Hy/Rd:

TRP HyRd disc brake - rear


The arguments for and against discs for the road-only use have been hashed out, refined and regurgitated more times than I’ve had saddle sores (which is a lot of times, my taint is a warzone), so I won’t explore them again. What I will say is that for ’cross or any of the endlessly proliferating sub-genres of all-road bikes, I really don’t know why this is still up for discussion.

Sure, blame the UCI or years of tradition or blame the tiny weight penalty or just blame good old fear of change, but really, just get on with it. Discs work.