Next up on our Downhill Brake Tech Deep Dive is TRP. TRP is sat somewhere between the dizzy heights of SRAM and Hayes on their comeback. Well, that's how I see it in my head at least. It's amazing to see how many riders are running the TRP brakes at the Downhill World Series.
Whether it's the big boys like Commencal/Muc-off or the Intense team, or many of the privateers dotted around the pits, it seems like TRP is everywhere. The TRP brake of choice is the TRP DH-R Evo. Although there are still some privateers running their older brakes, a large part of most people have ended up on the new-ish brake.
I visited the TRP pits to have a chat with their team on-site about what makes their brake so popular and speak about what tech lies behind this brake's success. I spoke to Colin Esquibel, who is the TRP engineer on-site at all downhill World Series races. Colin is the man who keeps everyone on TRP products running.
We spoke about, first and foremost, the reliability of their brake. As Colin pointed out, the DH-R EVO has been around a few years now and most of the riders using it have got it pretty much figured out. He describes it almost as something that, once you've got a setup that works well for you, you just need to keep on top of regular maintenance on the brake, and it will just keep working for you. It's almost a fit and forget situation. And that, to be fair, is the feedback I have had from the riders running TRP.
So let's hear what the Colin has to say:
So what's the kind of headline tech stuff from your DH brake? What are the kind of features you want to highlight really?
Well, everybody's been running this EVO, we're going into the third year now so it's pretty darn refined. I mean, I know it's not sexy commentary and everything, but we have it to the point, you bleed it and you leave it alone and you're good to go. Yeah, the more you mess with it, you're actually doing yourself a disservice. We've gotten it to the point, and we enjoy the reputation of how reliable it is, and with that don't mess with it.
The pad of choice, at this point, has been our blue resins. That works for 95% of the riders on 95% of the courses. This is actually the only course here where we've had a couple move over to our full sintered metallics. So we have some riders doing that, changing out the rotors and the pads, because as good practice when you change the pad compound, you change the rotor.
Are you seeing people jump up a rotor size here as well?
With a couple people. Yeah, there's been a couple of tiny riders. Some on the female side obviously because they're a little bit tinier and some of our juniors that were getting by with the 203 previously and we bumped them up to a 223 for the front here. So this is actually the main venue, where we make a couple changes because it is Val di Sole and the track here is so steep.
Is it much more service heavy here?
Yeah, we're seeing people more like privateers with big issues that are used to a certain braking style for the rest of the circuit. Coming here for the first time and not being used to the steepness and length. Where, not that they're doing anything wrong, it's just this is new to them and they're wearing stuff out a little bit sooner and glazing or baking stuff where they normally wouldn't in the rest of the world.
So the reach adjustment is all toolless isn't it any other features you want to highlight?
Yeah the reach adjust is pretty simple. its just behind the lever. It used mineral oil, so you can spill it and not kill the world or stain your clothes or what not, too badly. I mean the colours sexy. I know everybody wants special tech but we just have this so refined at this point and that's the desire of a lot of people.
So what kind of things are you fixing regularly at the World Cup? What kind of attrition do you get?
Um, the quick tune up for these mainly with a lot of the privateers, because the teams have a full supply of stuff. But with the privateers and juniors and stuff at this point, as the practice season progresses and we get busier and we are three rounds in, things are starting to wear we'll do a hose refresh and also a master cylinder piston refresh. As different riders use their bikes and maintain them in various ways, you tend to get a little bit of a spongy feel after some miles or some hours or some venue hits and a quick fix for that is a master cylinder and seal refresh and a hose refresh. And that gets it feeling like new as well as a fresh rotor pads and that with the master cylinder and hose, gives you a brand new set of brakes.
So for people at home, what is your top tip for keeping their brakes feeling fresh and race ready?
I would do a fluid purge. If you haven't done it in a while. An easy way with that, to see if you need it, is get your syringe, put some fresh fluid in there, open the bleed nipple up, pull some fluid out. And then you got different colour fluid coming out. Do a fluid purge and a re-bleed.if you want to you can call up one of our offices wherever we are in the world ask for a master cylinder and a hose kit.
Is it a big job?
It's pretty easy. Basic mechanical skills. I know that's a matter of perspective. Your shop can do it. Any shop that sold them to you should be able to do it.
I then headed over to the Intense pit to talk to Joe Breeden about how he likes to set up his TRP DH-R brakes.
Are you picky with your TRP setup at all?
In brakes set-up I'm generally very picky. TRPs are the brakes I've been the least picky with as possible. So in previous years, we've had to reset brake pad position every few runs at the World Cup, keeping pads almost brand new to keep a good feel, frequently bleeding. But now this last couple years since I've been on the new TRP brakes, it's been my easiest life for me and my mechanics now very rarely have to do any work on them because they're just super consistent lever feel. So when the breaks are consistent in there lever feel throughout all the pad wear, through different temperatures and levels of braking, then there's not a lot to do. So our life has got a lot easier since these new TRP brakes for sure.
So with your setup, lever-wise do you have a lot of reach on them?
No, I have my levers pretty close to the grip. The front I have more close than I do the rear. And if you were to feel them in the carpark they feel unbalanced, like the rear bites before the front. But somehow when I'm riding, maybe I don't pull as hard on the front or so, but when I'm on the brakes, they feel balanced when I'm coming down the track. So it's a little bit weird, because Stout, my mechanic, always says your brakes are unbalanced but I'm like nah when I'm on track, they're balanced. But I get what you mean in the in the carpark but we're very precise with lever angle. The bite point. But as I say they're super consistent on these brakes. So once we have it set, they're good. You know, even throughout the pad wear they stay very consistent.
You're on their new disc. How are we finding it?
Yeah, brilliant. I run 220 discs. I just like as much power as I can, front and back. I think they're a little bit thicker, so perhaps they deal with the heat a little bit better. They're definitely stiffer. And all I can really comment on is my experience here this week. You know Val di Sole is super steep, super demanding on the brake, get a lot of temperature into them and this is the best brake setup I've ever had here. The consistent feel and power top to bottom. So where exactly that's coming from? I don't know. But the brake and disc combined is phenomenal.
So is Val di Sole probably the most challenging track of the year for brakes?
Yeah, I'd say so. Yeah. It starts off pretty flat at the top, like not flat, but it's like you know you're not on a motorway. But then towards the bottom, the hill just gets steeper and steeper and steeper and by the last probably minute, you spent a lot of time on the brakes, and that's when they get really challenged. That's when the temperature really builds up and that's where you'll tell the difference.
Did you swap to the sintered pads instead of organics or do you just keep it pretty much the same?
No very, very rarely will we go sintered. We stick with resin pretty much the whole time. Unless it gets really wet and cold or really muddy then we'll start playing with sintered but that's quite rare.
Any tips people at home for looking after brakes?
Buy a set of TRPs as you never have to play with them. That all sounds like such a plug but honestly, the reality of it is. I used to play with brakes very frequently, at a World Cup it would be every few runs and just keep it consistent for feel and power. But honestly since having TRPs, I've put them on and they just stay the same until you have to replace the pads. So honestly, that is my biggest tip.