Trickstuff's Directissima brakes already had a reputation for being incredibly powerful (and expensive), but the German company decided to take things even further. The Maxima is the result, which they claim has more power than any other brake on the market. It's also likely the most expensive brake on the market, with a price tag of 1100 Euro for the set.
Power is great, but it doesn't mean anything without modulation – skidding's fun and all, but not every single time you breathe on the brake lever. According to Trickstuff, “The Maxima doesn't help you by being able to lock up a wheel even stronger. It helps you by needing way less finger power to get there.”
Trickstuff Maxima Details
• Intended use: downhill / enduro
• Four piston caliper
• CNC machined from 7075 T6 aluminum
• Tool-free reach adjust
• Brake fluid: Bionol sunflower oil
• Weight: 302 grams (actual, front caliper w/pads, hose, and lever)
• MSRP: 1100€ (set)
Can brakes be beautiful? The Maximas present a very strong case – they're fully CNC machined from 7075 aluminum, and it's hard to not want to take a moment to sit and stare at them every once in a while. There are weight-saving cutouts on the lever blade, below the reservoir, and even on the backside of the lever body.
The lever blade pivots on a total of four sealed cartridge bearings – two at the main pivot point, and then two more where the lever pushes the piston into the master cylinder. The caliper is also machined from 7075 T6 aluminum, and houses four stainless steel pistons.
Hydraulic disc brakes typically use either mineral oil or DOT fluid, but the Maxima brakes are filled with something a little different – sunflower oil, or Bionol to be more specific. Created by Danico, the initial boiling point of Bionol is said to be 300-degrees Celcius, which is higher than mineral oil and DOT 5.1. It's not only for Trickstuff brakes, though; Bionol will also work in any mineral-oil operated brake.
Trickstuff equip the Maxima brakes with Goodridge's braided stainless steel line, which is designed to remain expansion-free even under hard braking, creating a more solid feel at the lever. The line diameter is 6mm, which means it may not be compatible with frames that use internal cable routing, but if that's the case, the brakes can be purchased with lines that don't have the outer plastic sheath, reducing the diameter to the typical 5mm. Installation
I installed the brakes on a Specialized Stumpjumper EVO in order to ensure that I'd be able to rack up as many miles as possible. Overkill? Likely, but I was curious to see how they'd work on terrain that wasn't always super steep. Don't worry, I rode plenty of silly steep stuff, too, and also put in a bunch of bike park laps.
Installation was in the middle of the road as far as difficulty goes. It didn't take long before I realized that the Goodridge line wasn't going to fit in the bike's internal routing passageway (the 'naked' line option would have been the way to go here). Time for some stick-on cable guides. With that minor hiccup out of the way, it was bleeding time (for the brakes, not me).
After a little internet sleuthing I found the English language instructions and got to work. It's fairly straightforward, but it is more involved than SRAM or Shimano's procedure, and Trickstuff recommend taking the brake entirely off the bike to accomplish it. There's a screw-in fitting for the caliper and the lever, but for some reason they're different sizes – it seems like it'd be simpler to make just one size fitting, but that's a fairly minor detail.
I did run into an issue with the lever body – a few drops of oil would occasionally make its way out of the vent hole located in the reservoir top cap. It turns out the interface between the rubber diaphragm and the thin aluminum top cap is a bit finicky, and if it's not positioned perfectly, or any fluid makes its way above the diaphragm and underneath the top cap, oil seepage can result. I'd more than likely inadvertently forced some fluid above the diaphragm when I bled the brakes, and that's what was coming out of the vent hole. Take extra care during the bleed procedure, and if for some reason you do need to take off the reservoir top cap, keep in mind that those bolts are very tiny, and don't need to be torqued down very hard.
Actually installing the levers onto the bike takes a little longer too, since there are two bolts for the clamping system. It's not nearly as convenient as a clam-shell design, but it does look snazzy once everything is in place. Trickstuff also offer adaptors to accommodate Shimano or SRAM shifters.Performance
Bedding in the Trickstuff pads takes a little longer than it does with SRAM or Shimano's offerings, so don't be surprised if the brakes don't instantly feel super powerful. It wasn't until partway through my first ride that the full power really emerged, but after that it was game on. Trickstuff weren't kidding about their creation – these brakes are seriously strong.
Thankfully, the power delivery is smooth, and there's enough modulation to prevent locking things up every single time the lever is pulled. If you do want to skid, all it takes is pulling the lever a little further and the pads will ferociously clamp down on the rotor no matter how steep the trail or how fast you're going. This is hands down the most powerful set of brakes that I've tried.
What sets the Maxima brakes apart from a set of SRAM Codes is how easy it is to access all that power – you don't need to pull very hard at all before they engage like an old-school bear trap snapping shut. They don't offer quite the same level of modulation as the Codes, but they also deliver more power, more easily. While the clamping force ramps up more quickly than the Codes, the Maxima brakes aren't quite as 'grabby' as a set of Shimano Saint brakes - there's a little bit more modulation before the pads really start to bite down on the rotor.
Riders who have a more on/off braking style will find a lot to love about the Maxima brakes, since a light tug on the lever is all it takes to dump some speed before a corner, or to rein things in when the trail gets steep. It did take a couple rides to get used to having that much power so readily accessible, but using the brakes soon became second nature. The only time I really thought about it was when I switched back to a set of less powerful stoppers and had to re-adjust my braking technique.
Steep, sustained rock rolls are a good way to suss out a brake's modulation – brakes that are too grabby can lead to unwanted skidding, and brakes that fade can lead to scary high exit speeds. There weren't any issues at all with the Maximas, and I was able to creep down long rock rolls without any trouble. There wasn't any fading or pumping up during the test period, and even on rides with big, non-stop descents, dropping upwards of 5,000 vertical feet in one instance, the brakes didn't misbehave in the slightest.
Silky smooth lever action+
Very, very expensive-
Time consuming bleed process-
9 month delivery time