Since returning to the high-end brake market in 2018, Hayes has slowly returned to their former glory, winning people over with the impressive performance and smart design of the Dominion A4.
They didn't stop with the one model, though, with more iterations trickling out over the years since the initial release. As the resident lightweight, the seemingly XC-oriented T2 is Hayes' take on the gram-conscious end of the spectrum, but there's more to these 2-piston stoppers than you might expect.
Hayes Dominion T2 Brakes
• Intended use: trail/all-mountain
• Two piston caliper
• Tooled reach adjust
• Reynolds carbon levers
• Kevlar hoses
• DOT 5.1 or 4 fluid
• 254g per brake
• MSRP: $289.99
In pursuit of shaving every last gram, Hayes has tricked out the T2 with a Reynolds-made carbon lever, titanium hardware, a composite reservoir cover, aluminum-backed pads, and a good deal of machining to take off excess material. The resulting form is sleek and function-driven, giving you the sense that only the critical elements have been left behind. Luckily, when it comes to on-trail performance, things aren't quite as minimalistic.Setup
When it comes to getting things dialed in, the Dominions are easy and consistent to work with. Having swapped them around on a few bikes at this point, I've had to go through the line-cut and bleed procedure more than once, and have never had it give me any trouble. Thanks to the dual bleed ports on the caliper, you can always be sure the system is free of any hidden bubbles. With the ingenious Crosshair Alignment screws, pad spacing is much easier than just about every other brake design out there. Simply snug the caliper bolts most of the way, then use the 2mm grub screws to push the outboard pad away from the rotor until you have even clearance. As far as I see it, this should be a requisite design element on all high-end brakesets from here out.
The only negative in the setup process - and with the brakes in general - are the delicate little screws used to adjust the pad contact. The reach screw has just enough material to it to allow for safe adjustment with the 2mm hex, but the pad contact screw is very easy to strip while also requiring a good deal of force to move. Luckily you shouldn't be messing with the latter all that much, and it stays put over long periods of use without shifting position. Compared to the very well-integrated reach adjust on the A4/A2 models (which don't use a carbon lever), this mode of adjustment feels much less robust, and less convenient. That said, handle with care, and all should be well.Performance
A lot of folks will automatically default to using a 4-piston brake, regardless of the purview of the bike, but I'm here to say I think the humble 2-piston counterparts have their place. What you give up in pad modulation, you gain in initial bite, which might suit certain riders and applications. I'm thinking of folks who like to quickly stab the brakes on and off, ride areas that don't have seriously long descents, and those who fastidiously weigh their bike parts.
What has impressed me again and again about the Dominion T2s was just how consistent they've been across long runs and extended periods of use. I've used the 4-piston A4 quite a bit as well, and don't find these lacking in comparison when it comes to fade performance. The primary feel difference between the two is the overall power, which seems to have no ceiling with the A4. The T2 has plenty of power for many situations, but doesn't keep giving you more as you reef on the lever. For some, this snappier bite point could seem like a turnoff, but the Dominions have a trick up their sleeve: the impressively light action at the lever. This allows you to actuate the brake with much less force, making the contact point all the more distinct and easy to feather. I've found that with both the A4 and the T2, this ultra-light lever feel leads to less arm pump over the course of a long run, and allows you to be more precise with your braking points.
Ultimately, the A4
(or newly released T4
) are going to be the choice for folks looking for all-out stopping power balanced with easy and consistent modulation. The smaller 2-piston options will serve many very well though, as the crisp bite point and lower overall power can suit certain bikes quite well. I'm torn as to whether I believe in the all-the-brake-all-the-time mantra, or whether XC / light trail bikes warrant a less massive anchor.
It's worth noting that although Hayes strongly encourages the use of their D-series rotors, I've had great luck with plenty of other options out there. Magura Storm HCs, SRAM Centerlines, and SRAM HS2 rotors were my typical choices, primarily because they're what I had hanging on that nail on the wall. While the thicker options did seem to have better feel, the Centerlines didn't fall short.
My one setup suggestion is to skip the semi-metallic pads, and go straight for the sintered option. Thanks to the relatively small mass of the caliper, the pads heat up rather quickly, which is a boon to the performance of the sintered options, but causes the semi-metallics to struggle. The semi-metallics have a tendency to overheat, where I never really faced that issue with the sintered pads. Durability
To further assuage any concerns you might have about an ultralight brake, I present my long-term abuse test: years of use on a trail bike, followed by a full through-ride of the Colorado Trail this past summer. They were reliably slowing me down for months on Bellingham's steep trails, so I figured the T2s would be a good choice on my bikepacking rig. After 550 miles of unrelenting ups and downs on a roughly 70lb bike, the sporty little Dominions were unfazed and still working the same as day one.
Some of the descents along the trail rack up as much as 7000' of elevation loss in one go, and even after burning down that entire run, they still had strong bite and a relatively firm feel at the lever. Part of this sensation might be the fact that the brakes seem to feel the same as each other no matter how far you are down a run, where others tend to get softer or weaker in the rear before the front. This sensation is typically due to the additional fluid line length, which can create sponginess. When both brakes are functioning and degrading (as all naturally do with use) at the same rate, you get less of the unsureness felt in other "less reliable" systems. The way I see it, consistency is key, and the T2s have proven to be just that. Comparisons
It can be hard to draw direct comparisons between different brake brands, as they depend so much on one's individual setup and ride style, but here goes. The Dominion T2 is more aligned with the digital feel of brakes like the Shimano 4-piston series, but with a crisper feel at the bite point. Not more digital, but the relative difference between the very free stroke of the lever and the bite point makes it a brighter line that you cross.
Compared to the SRAM G2, which is a closer competitor than the Code, I prefer the feel and performance of the Dominion, as you need much less force at the lever to get full power out of the brake. The G2s require you to white-knuckle pretty hard to feel like you're really closing them down, where the full-power point on the Dominions comes much sooner.
Magura MT7s feel fully different, unless you're running the Loic Bruni lever. The power is incomparable, hands down going to the MT7s, but the bite point is similarly sharp and easy to find.
Ultimately it comes down to preference, and the unfortunate reality is you're going to have to commit to something without fully understanding the system. I've found over the course of testing multiple brake systems that you adapt pretty quickly to whatever you're running, even if they occupy polar opposite ends of the spectrum. Just spend the time to set them up right, learn the feel, and you'll have a great ride.
Very reliable performance+
Easy bleed procedure+
Strong, consistent bite point+
Remarkably light lever action
Fiddly and delicate pad contact adjust screws-
Full-power T4 is only 3g heavier
|Ultimately, if I were buying brakes for an enduro or all-mountain bike, the easy choice would be the more powerful and purpose-built Dominion A4 or T4. But for general trail bike use, cross country, or anything where snappy and precise braking is valued over all-out power, I think the T2s are a strong contender. Don't forget about the A2 version either - they're not as light, but they offer the same level of performance with tool-free adjustments and a lower price.— Dario DiGiulio|
This fall I switched over to the A4's again and wow, so consistent, way more modulation, and now I notice the wandering bitepoint on my other bikes 7120s way more. In terms of power, I would say that the 7120's may actually have more absolute power (galfer pads), but that power is not always usable with the much worse modulation.
Overall the Dominions are a fantastic set of brakes
You can adjust the bitepoint...turn the screw all the way in to bleed and then all the way out with your preferred lever position.
But I'd advise you to run 2.0-2.3mm wide rotors. The ones from Trickstuff are 2.1 which is perfect, TRP 2.3mm Rotors rub in the beginning and the SRAM 2.0 Rotors don't bring the difference you are looking for since the Hayes one are 1.95.
If they are, I’ll have to try them out at some point.
For example, I heard the MT7's were the bomb from a couple of my bros. So, I got some for my latest build. Nothing but problems and poor performance. Pads run too close to the rotor and the lever is absolute plastic-flexy-leaky-squeeky shit. Something must of been lost in translation with their warranty dept because they never got back to me. Never had a problem running Shimanos, so I'm back on those.
Anyway. Having experience installing numerous Dominion brakes, I will say set-up is pretty good. Once dialed in you wont have to touch them for years, (just like the Hayes old stuff). Sucks they use DOT fluid. The caustic stuff gets into your bloodstream and absorbs water like crazy (in your brake fluid. not in your body). Not sure if the lever blade shape is the same as the aluminum versions, but that was a deal breaker for me on Hayes...Too square edged profile and large for my hands. In conclusion, Hayes makes some of the better brakes out there. It would not be a bad choice to purchase them.
the added benefit is that the pads for Hope are abundant and cheap as chips
the untrue things you said about DOT fluid are cool common misconceptions spread by fake internet experts. there's a reason your car uses DOT fluid and not mineral oil.
Not to jump in here but I’ve ridden both a fair amount and the TRPs feel a little more “squishy” while the dominions are really on/off. I really like the power of both and the lever feel of both, but they do feel different. I currently run dominions.
The dominions feel like really well bled shimanos for that click on feel. There’s not so much initial bite to the TRPs but there’s plenty of power. Plus I really dig the TRP levers themselves. Idk for me it’s sixes, I would run either with no complaints. It’s easier to find pads/parts for TRPs tho.
Built it for a customer. The Rub in the beginning is way to much but the customer wanted it like this and after a while they stopped, he says it's the most powerful setup he ever had.
I run them with Trickstuff 2.1 and that's the best solution in my opinion. Especially preferred over Magura rotors that bend/warp if you cough at them
SRAM HS2 seem a bit tougher than the ones from Magura but with both you only get .05 more material then with the original Hayes rotors
Also, we the "upsides" of a 2-piston versus a 4-piston seem like mental gymnastics - especially when you are talking about saving 3 grams! I struggle to imagine a circumstance where I'd give up the extended power, consistency and modulation (reviewers words!) of a 4-piston to save 3 grams.
Unless you’re riding descents from the top of literal mountains, there’s no reason to need 4 piston.
I can enjoy some pretty stupid trails on cheap 2-pot brakes - even have plenty of miles on shimano mt-200's (wander less than servo-wave!) and SLX 2-pot.
That said, I can ride harder/brake later/have less armpump & fatigue with 4-pot/big rotors
So, technically yes. A4 has a tiny bit more leverage ratio than A2. But not much at all.
On Shimano camp, we are looking at the leverage ratio of 4.8 vs 5.1 for 2 and 4 piston respectively. Which is more noticeable than difference between Hayes 2 and 4 calipers.
I'd say the offset pair of piston @thenotoriousmic mention is the bigger differentiator between 2 and 4 piston than difference in leverage ratio for Hayes.
Enduro MTB did a fantastic, rather scientific write up/comparison of about 20 brakes back in 2018. They confirmed both the average braking torque in a bench test AND did timed slowdown testing from 30-15 kmh and 45-0 kmh. The main takeaway: the most powerful brake on the test (Trickstuff) handily provided the best deceleration performance. The other take aways: 4-piston generally performed better than 2-piston, larger rotors dramatically improved deceleration (about 18% for jumping from 180 to 200), and that pads/pad size really, really matter.
My girlfriend barely rides and her XT brakes will still grab the same 6 months later,
I have done literally nothing to my Code R's since I got my bike 3 years ago except change pads and eventually rotors (200/180 were getting too hot).
I hopped on my friends bike with 4 piston XTRs after a recent service and bleed. They felt fine, but obviously less power no doubt about it. And they weren’t even in the same league as the A4s.
There’s a lot more to brakes than just number of pistons. I have the A4s in my enduro bike, and the T2s on my Xc bike. Very happy.
It’s just your finger that needs some trainint
Bloody PB that doesn’t let you fix the comments
So... I guess my experience is the opposite of yours.What brakeset were you coming off of before you bought the A4's?
Can't really say I've ever had an issue with a brake being too powerful apart from when I ran Saints with 203mm rotors F/R on a XC bike, the tyres couldn't handle it and the initial bite took off way too much speed only for me to have to pedal the speed on again
I like the 3 bleed ports too. Its an extra 5-10 mins to bleed but the bleed is ROCK solid every.single.time because of the extra air I can get out. Nice brakes. Real nice.
had mt201s and mt410s, they both suffered from heat fade that made me miss my old guide RS's.
One complain I've heard about A4 is that some people don't like its light but long lever pull action.
T2 lever pull is still light, but it bite stronger earlier with less lever movement.
Aside from minuscule weight difference between T2/A2 to T4/A4, I think the shorter lever pull plus more bite versus longer lever pull plus more maximum power is the difference between the 2 and 4 piston Hayes models. Having both, I know which one I prefer on my XC bike.
If you're someone who doesn't like the smallest free stroke, please speak up, because I've never heard of anyone.
Instead, use lever reach adjustment (another screw) to adjust lever position. Which, Hayes lever maintain leverage ratio no matter how close or far the lever is set.
Building up my new DH bike with TRP DHR-Evo's. I'll see how they perform.
I have a Magura brakes (rear) on my DJ bike. Worst brakes I ever had.
Please respond back as quickly as possible as he has a strider race he has to make it to.
Also wanted to know WTF YETI WHERE IS HIS COOLER!
No it absolutely does not. Stop just making shit up to fill out articles. PB is currently a relatively reliable place to go for proper reviews, not just the nonsense opinions of some guy who happens to ride a bike. Please dont ruin that.
This is also nonsense
Isn't asynchronous pad contact the main thing that give 4 piston brake more modulation?
On 4 piston brakes, many manufacturers offset a pair of piston a bit further than another pair creating toe-in brake pad movement.
So that when you pull the lever, a pair of piston will contact first. Then another pair start to contact once you pull the brake lever a bit more.
That's in contrast to 2 piston brake caliper. Which, once pad touch, all the extra lever pull ramp up the braking force right away (hence more bite).
But at the end of the lever pull, 4 piston caliper have more power than the 2 piston because it has a little bit more leverage ratio. And by that leverage ratio difference, the 2 piston one also provide you a little shorter lever pull as well.
Since it's all explainable. What is nonsense?
Re: 4pots having a less aggressive initial bit cos the pads toe in: IF the caliper uses different sized leading pistons (not all do) then the pad does toe in yes. However no braking force at all is exerted until all 4 pistons are fully activated. 4 pots may offer more modulation due to a larger pad surface area in contact with the rotor. However there is no intrinsic reason a 2 piston design should offer more initial bite.
Other example ways to get toe in pads without different size pistons are:
1) Piston bore is angled (so that it has to move a longer distance than another straight pair). This isn't common.
2) Square seal used behind different pair of pistons are different. If a set of square seal behind the piston is flexier/firmer (not just just physically bigger) than another pair. Then the piston would retract and advance at the different rate.
Re: "no braking force at all is exerted until all 4 pistons are fully activated". Did you assume square seal bending force to be 0? Hayes Dominion A4 has 7.011x hydraulic leverage ratio and 5.909 mechanical leverage ratio. Combined, the light lever force at the lever (which is light, but isn't zero) is multiplied by 41x at the caliper. During partial pad contact (one set of piston is in, another pair isn't contact yet) you already have some noticeable braking force. The lever feel remain light until both set of pistons are fully engaged then lever firm up. That lever travel between when the braking start to apply to when the lever firm up is what give lower initial bite.
Making up nonsense and then writing it in a review you are being paid for is bad form.
Join Pinkbike Login