Review: Trickstuff Piccola C22 Brakes - Light, Powerful, & Pricey

Nov 9, 2023 at 20:14
by Dario DiGiulio  
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Perhaps you've ready my review of the Shimano BR420, centered around affordability and function in an otherwise unremarkable package. Get ready for something completely different.

Trickstuff occupies a special tier at the top end of the brake market, with price and rarity that border on mythical. While their Maxima downhill brakes get most of the attention, the more XC-focused Piccola model stands to be an equally impressive creation, boasting the lightest weight of any disc brake on the market.
Trickstuff Piccola C22 Details
• 2 piston caliper
• Carbon lever
• Sram and Shimano shifter mounts
• Made in Germany
• Weight: 157g (front), 167g (rear)
• MSRP: €1,100
trickstuff.de
Current lowest price

Weight is one thing, but it's all for naught if they can't keep your speed in check. I've been hammering a set for a few months now, treating them as if they didn't cost as much as my car, and the results have been mostly impressive.

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Technical Details

Clocking in at the staggering price of €1,100 for the set, the Piccolas are clearly not a value proposition, but that's really not the point. This world is full of expensive objects - more on that later.

As you'd hope of a top-tier component, every detail has been well considered on the Piccolas, though I wouldn't necessarily describe them as user-friendly. The tiny overall package requires defter fingers than other mechanical tasks, as I found the assembly to be a bit fiddly compared to more standard brake layouts. That said, once you get a hang of the bolt-and-band clamp, you realize just how impressive the minimalism Trickstuff achieved here really is. It feels like every gram has been earned, with every bit of material serving a purpose. The integrated shifter mounts are the best I've encountered, with ample adjustment and a very clean look.

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Clean.
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Minimalism with adjustment.
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The only frustration here is having to remove the shifter to access the 3mm brake clamp bolt.

The carbon lever is well shaped for single-finger braking, and the action is quite light and smooth thanks to the four bearings the mechanism rides on. The shape seems to be best suited to people who run their bite point with the lever parallel to the grip, about 20mm out. Tucked into the the face of the lever is the reach adjustment bolt, which I only readjusted a couple of times to change the feel of the levers after bleeding.

Speaking of bleeding, the procedure is fairly simple and clean, thanks to a two-syringe method very similar to the SRAM bleed procedure. The Trickstuffs use Bionol, a very thin and temperature stable vegetable-derived oil. It's nontoxic and biodegradable, and has a much higher boiling point than DOT or mineral oil. The Trickstuff bleed kit comes with everything you need to take care of the brakes, as you'd hope for such a precious system. There is one tricky element to the Piccola bleed that isn't communicated very well in the Trickstuff bleed procedure, revolving around the sniffer valve on the master cylinder.

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The sniffer is that little hole in the smooth flat face.

After going about the major steps in the bleed, you have to do a small sub-bleed of the equalization chamber around the sniffer valve - this requires you to depress the lever a certain amount and pull a vacuum while covering the valve, then opening the valve to take in air. Sounds confusing, but the process is well displayed in this video, where a Trickstuff mechanic goes through the entire bleed step by step. The Piccolas felt particularly bad if bled poorly - while this holds true for just about any brake out there, I think the extra-small architecture enhanced any inconsistencies.

I carried out this test running the stock Trickstuff Power pads, which proved to be excellent in the wet and the dry. They have a slightly more tacky bite than a typical metallic pad in the dry, and perform well in the wet once the system has heated up a bit - this usually takes a couple hard braking points then they're off to the races. Clamped between those pads were the 180mm Trickstuff Däche UL rotors, which were pleasantly unremarkable, save for one smart detail. The outer edge of the rotors is chamfered, giving it a leading edge when you're installing the wheel in the bike. It's a small detail that makes life a little easier, which is always welcomed.

It's worth noting that the Piccolas fit the ubiquitous SRAM 2-piston brake pad, so finding replacements shouldn't be too hard, even if you're out in the boonies. Fixing more integral parts of the brake is rarely a field-serviceable procedure, but the Piccolas have been well designed to make service fairly easy and repeatable. Even shortening the lines is a relatively painless event, as they don't use the standard barb and olive connection, just a simple compression nut fitting.

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Pairs nicely with Trickstuff Dächle UL rotors. The 180mm variant is 2mm thick.

Performance

They may weigh about as much as a hummingbird (or 10, apparently those guys weigh about 15 grams), but Trickstuff claims the Piccolas pack as much power as some of the more common big dog downhill brakes out there. Bold claims, but in this case you kind of get what you pay for. The power on tap with these little brakes is very impressive, but the way you get to max power is a little unique relative to other options on the market.

The lever pull of the Piccolas is far more linear than other brakes I've used, which took some time to adapt to. Where other powerful stoppers like the Hayes Dominion, TRP DH-R Evo, and even the SRAM Code have a fairly sharp bite point that provides something close to full power when set up well, the Piccolas don't really start locking up until you've pulled past the initial bite point. This felt a bit odd at first, but in a way it benefits the use cases that they're meant to cater towards, where scrubbing off speed is more typical, as opposed to slamming on the brakes for quick braking points.

The very light lever action makes actuating the brakes easy and controllable, with no wander in the bite point once the system heated up - there's a little pump from a cold start, but they stay consistent once at operating temperature. As I mentioned earlier, that feel is highly reliant on a good bleed, more than other brakes out there. I feel like a $1,100 brakeset should come with a little brake elf who sets them up for you, but since that accessory is missing you'll just have to be diligent and make sure it's done right.

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Start here.
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End here.

I had the Piccolas mounted to my Staff Ride Tallboy, which is currently more of a trail bike than an XC whip. The brakes felt appropriate for the little Santa Cruz, even when ridden well outside the bike's purview. Taking it down steep sustained tracks (think thousands of feet in less than a couple miles), the feel at the lever remained the same top to bottom, without any fading or pumping-up. I've ridden this trail on plenty of different brake systems at this point, and even with 180mm rotors front and rear the Trickstuffs outmatched any other XC-ish brake I've taken down the track.

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Small and mighty.

It's hard to quantify the subjective feel of braking power, especially given the variables in pad compound, rotor size, and overall setup/wear, but I'd place these high on my list, even as a 2-piston brake competing with the wide field of 4-piston options out there. They even have an auditory tell when the brakes are working well, in the form of a strong warbling when things are locked up. Some might mind the noise, but I found myself enjoying it.


The Economics of Jewelry

It's easy to be critical of the price of these brakes, but for the sake of argument let's look at it a bit more abstractly. There is a budget-perfect alternate reality where we all consume the perfect priceline things that satisfy our needs: single-ply toilet paper, beige box generic cereal, the normcore beauty of the Monobloc chair (designed by a Canadian!), simple and functional objects devoid of panache. But that's not the way of the world, as we all like shiny new things. Consumerism is gross, but within it there is room for special objects that hold value beyond their function. I'd place the Piccolas in this camp; they do a job, but they're also just very nice to look at, a small and precious totem to industrial design and efficiency.

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Along the same lines is the Balmuda toaster, a $300 monument to the ever-elusive goal that is the perfect slice of charred bread. I've lusted after one of these for years, but simply can't bring myself to expand my toaster budget 30x its current scope. Until I figure out how to convince Balmuda to send me one for a review period, I'll continue to burn my bread like a peasant. For the right person though, this is a logical and sensible purchase that may very well improve their daily life - that's the beauty of all the choices we have. I'll continue to use the Shimano BR-MT420 of toasters, and some oil sheik will enjoy his Trickstuff Piccola humidified bread oven.

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Trickstuff Piccola C22
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Hayes Dominion T2

How Do They Compare?

The Piccolas and the Dominion T2s are the best 2-piston brakes I've ever used, but the feel is quite different between the two. The Hayes are snappier, with a sharper bite point and quicker full-power pull. The Trickstuffs have more power on tap, but it's a bit harder to get there in typical trail situations.

Bleeding is easier and more consistent on the Hayes, meaning they're more likely to have a robust setup regardless of use or how rushed you were in the garage. Replacement pads are definitely easier to find for the Trickstuffs, which is ironic considering how hard it is to get a pair of the brakes themselves.

The Dominions weigh about 250 grams per brake, more in line with the less-powerful SRAM Level Ultimate - the Piccolas are only matched in weight by Shimano's XTR 9100 brakes, which don't match when it comes to power.

If I had to choose one set right now, it would be the Dominions, based mostly on the lever feel. I'm more used to brakes that have a progressive pull, and although the Piccolas are possible class-leaders in terms of power and fade resistance, they were a little less intuitive for me.

Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe Trickstuff Piccola C22s are beautiful objects, with excellent performance to match. Their smart design, impressively low weight, and remarkable stopping power are all worth noting, but so is the slightly unusual lever feel. If a more linear pull is compelling to you, or if you just want a different feel compared to more common options, then these might be the ticket. They truly are powerful enough to run on a more serious gravity-oriented bike, and might fit the build perfectly if the theme is a diamond-encrusted lightweight enduro rig.  Dario DiGiulio





Author Info:
dariodigiulio avatar

Member since Dec 25, 2016
147 articles

216 Comments
  • 375 4
 The toaster analogy helped. Please include an appliance comparison in more reviews.
  • 153 0
 Orange bikes are usually compared well against garage doors and filing cabinets.
  • 7 1
 We grill bread on a cast iron panini pan, off grid living at it's finest!
  • 9 0
 Also, does someone have this toaster? Can you reply with a "How Do They Compare?" with that and my $9 Nostalgia MyMini Single Slice Toaster?

I would also like your final take. Thank you.
  • 25 0
 @ratedgg13: If Orange made garage doors it would be the kind that lifts as a single piece - operated by rope and muscle.
  • 5 0
 So my $30 Black and Decker is a bad toaster? Now I am intrigued with Balmuda...
  • 22 1
 I"m a busy guy with a high powered job, kids, etc., etc. The Balmuda toaster lets me toast twice as much bread for the same effort! Sure it's expensive, but so worth it. It's even helping me see my regular old breads in new ways. 10/10 would recommend.
  • 10 0
 @bikerider0985: I'm still reeling from the single ply toilet paper to care about the toaster.
  • 8 3
 I want the toaster that burns a picture of Jesus into every slice. Priceless.
  • 4 0
 @VtVolk: New Robin 'not CEO of Outside' account?
  • 2 0
 @sanchofula: e-toasters are the future I’m afraid
  • 7 0
 @sanchofula: "off grid" but still on the internets Rolleyes
  • 5 0
 learned today that toaster nerdism is a thing. What a time to be alive!
  • 2 0
 @VtVolk: What is a 'high powered' job?
  • 14 0
 @WhateverBikes: Repairing electrical distribution lines.
  • 5 10
flag scott-townes (Nov 15, 2023 at 5:06) (Below Threshold)
 @Becciu: Learned a while back that certain people have too much money and they should get the hell taxed outta them.
  • 2 0
 I too hope to see more appliance comparos. Definitely that toaster and maybe a Smeg fridge?
  • 1 0
 Reminds me of a popularish YouTuber who covered an older, 1940's (?) era toaster that was really fancy. Amazing how many people commented on how they built something so much better back then compared to now.

After accounting for inflation, it was like a $300 toaster.
  • 3 0
 Definitely need to do a review of the Noun Glass toaster by Vasa Bugatti. Balmuda is for the poors.
  • 1 0
 @p0rtal00: The only thing worse than single-ply is IZAL…
  • 1 0
 @steelpolish: You can get an air fryer toaster oven for around $60. Makes perfect toast in half the time. Even a $20 regular air fryer makes great toast, but you have to flip it.

For reference, I had a Black and Decker toaster for 10 years that died and when I searched online for a replacement toaster, all these air fryers kept showing up. What the heck is an air fryer? Found one for like $50 at the time and bought it. It is rad. Lol.
  • 2 1
 @scott-townes: look! There someone with something I don’t have. They don’t deserve it! Let’s steal it and give it to someone else!
  • 1 0
 I dont usually read the articles the comments section and pictures usually tell me what was reviwed and if its any good , all i know is black and decker make toasters …… my mind has gone
  • 176 3
 Can we just take a moment to appreciate the way @dariodigiulio wrote this article. It was engaging start to finish and completely unique and literate especially for the mountain bike industry that is usually full of cliches and grammatical blunders. And the 'economic of jewelry' section was brilliant! Well done Dario!
  • 16 1
 Agreed. Dario has a knack for bringing the obscure stuff down to a layman level, and considering his personal bikes methinks he appreciates it more than whatever mainstream products the big brands are pushing. I hope PB gives him more trinkets and odds & ends to review.
  • 4 0
 Yup, very well written and also entertaining. Cool to see the Piccola talked about more too. I feel like I can only find articles on the Maximas or maybe the Direttissima.
  • 5 1
 100% this. I was planning a skim as I’m not about to spend on these brakes but read it all from top to bottom. I stayed for the turns of phrase and subtle wit. Thanks @dariodigiulio !
  • 2 8
flag valrock (Nov 14, 2023 at 14:40) (Below Threshold)
 but did this article make you buy the brakes?
  • 6 4
 @valrock: Not all media needs to be rooted in capitalism.
  • 7 0
 @valrock: It's a review not sponsored content (read as paid ad). This is perfect for a review
  • 4 1
 @valrock: no article should make you buy stuff, but give you an idea of what to expect IF you buy that product or, give information that you need to understand whether is something for you or not
  • 3 1
 @mrbrighteyes: «consumerism» . Fixed yer spelling for ya.
  • 102 0
 I was quite happy with my fancy Breville toaster until i read this review about bicycle brakes.
  • 11 1
 That thing is a triumph of design; someone wrote a whole article about the "A bit more" button": www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/07/toaster-a-bit-more-button/534312
  • 21 0
 @dolface: I'm not even rich enough to read the article about the toaster I can't afford Frown
  • 1 0
 @everythingsucks: The Breville is "only" $90....
  • 4 0
 @dolface: I had a Breville toaster start shorting out on itself and replaced it with a 20 dollar mini oven and its held up much better. Toasters get so many things permanently baked onto them that theyre almost disposable
  • 2 0
 @dolface: probably going to get a breville toaster on black friday now
  • 1 0
 @everythingsucks: look up archive.is
  • 29 2
 Finally a return to 90s style boutique products that are not only expensive and rare but very difficult to set up and maintain. But they're pretty and light.
  • 7 0
 But not purple Frown
  • 7 3
 This isn’t an i9 of 5 Dev product. Those companies add two crucial features of the 1990’s nightmare.

1) 3d violet color. Does make the part in question look cool.

2) Fragile/tend to break/fail. Some parts (the AC cranks 5dev copied the styling of come to mind) were near a 100% fail rate. Like every……single……pair I saw come through the shop I worked at broke. Hydra hubs absolutely carry on that tradition.
  • 5 0
 @wyorider: Wheelworks handcrafted wheels has a fantastic video on hydra hubs that recently came out: “is it worth breaking axles for 690 POE?”
  • 5 0
 I have Trickstuff brakes on my enduro rig - expensive (check!), rare (check!)...but I've not found them difficult to setup or maintain.

Heck, they use sunflower oil as the brake fluid! Makes cooking easy when you are bike camping.
  • 36 13
 "Clocking in at the staggering price of €1,100 for the set, the Piccolas are clearly not a value proposition"

FFS please don't promote value as equivalent to price. The longer influencers and trusted voices keep saying so, the more people buy cheaper stuff while thinking they're smarter by doing so.

If you pay 1100$ for brakes that you can ran for 10+ years AND they perform much better than other options, then it's probably a great value despite their price. Same applies to expensive wheel or frame with a lifetime warranty and customer care who don't run away from you. Cheaper stuff is not necessarily more valuable, it's just cheaper.

Price is what you pay, value is what you get.
  • 36 7
 There's no false equivalence here, these are simply a horrible value buy. The $130 shimano set can also easily last 10 years, and is much easier to service and find replacement parts.
  • 10 2
 Indeed, Trickstuff brakes are "lifetime" brakes. Everything is serviceable. Most everything is upgradeable. I will never sell them (I will never need to!). I have spent 10x more on other brakes in the last 7 years because there was no incentive to keep them when getting a new bike. I'm sure I will keep getting new bikes, but I will never need to buy brakes again.
  • 38 0
 @bigtuna00: You've spent over €10k on brakes in seven years? What on earth are you doing to them?!
  • 10 6
 These are cool, but the seals are no different from any other brake. The value in brakes this expensive that will need rebuilds every 2-3 years under hard use versus Deore 4 pots that can stop a freight train and cost something like $200 for both wheels will never be realized.

Kitchen knives and cast iron skillets are one-time purchases. No bike part is.
  • 3 0
 @adamweld: so an Audi is a horrible value buy over a Skoda because it's essentially the same car just twice as expensive (especially factoring in maintenance and insurance cost)?

Like Velosexualist said, value does not equal cost efficiency or low price. Value is perception and highly individual. There are plenty sold Piccolas out there, so they do provide more value than their purchase cost for a certain group of people.
  • 5 0
 I own the set of Direttissima for 6 years now with more than 1 000 000 meters of elevation executed without any issue. Only one bleed with organic oil, and the feeling on the lever is the same as the first day. Only technical drawback, red anodization is exhausted but this is normal aging process due to wear and temperature, take them in raw! It is not cheap for sure, but considering it is manufactured in Germany, with quality material, design to last with strong supplier support, I think the value is here, I fully agree.
  • 3 0
 @boozed: To be fair I paid only €800 for my Piccolas, that was the price 2 years ago when I ordered. But yes I was exaggerating to make a point. I've purchased at least 5 sets of brakes aftermarket (i.e. as upgrades to stock brakes, I bought the stock brakes too) in the last 7 years. I'm not "doing" anything to them, this is my hobby and I like to upgrade and tinker.
  • 1 6
flag opignonlibre (Nov 15, 2023 at 0:55) (Below Threshold)
 @bigtuna00: But instead of purchasing 5 individual sets of aftermarket brakes you could have transferred the 1st set of satisfying aftermarket brakes to the 4 other bikes (or build from frameset).

You were really bad at math in school right?
  • 3 0
 This is a perfect example of people complaining about "They don't make them like they used to" and then complaining when "They make it like they used to".

High quality, long lasting, serviceable, and you pay for them. Am I buying some? Probably not. Do I see the value of them? Yes. And with more expendable income, I would have some.
  • 3 1
 @opignonlibre: I think my math is at least as good as your reading comprehension...
  • 22 1
 Thanks for the review Smile I was a bit surprised to find a review that wasn‘t all positive on a Trickstuff-Brake, but I actually appreciate it. You also did a good job on communicating what was simply down to preference. Thank you Dario Smile
  • 17 0
 I've heard the Mitsubishi TO-ST1 is the toaster to die for. AvE did a great video on its magic, seems like a seriously impressive (single slice of) bread warmer.

Is the Balmuda supposed to be better than the $350 Mitsubishi?
  • 5 1
 AvE his videos are great, and he makes me laugh.
He rides mtb as well….
  • 21 1
 There's a mystique to the Balmuda that's held me in its clutches for years, though that Mitsu is something to behold. If AvE is lurking here, please reach out - big fan.
  • 23 0
 I am currently running a Breville BTS840XL. I’d say she runs at about a Magura MT7 level. Powerful and predictable. Also effective under heavy bagel usage
  • 6 0
 You know what's supposedly better than both of those? A Sunbeam toaster from the 1940s. www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OfxlSG6q5Y
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: his teardown on his/babydoll's Xfusion inline shock was pretty informative when I was first getting into the sport. Once you understand Skookum PNW Engrish he's a fun watch
  • 5 1
 @theedon: impossible to get the bagels to stop rubbing, tho
  • 6 0
 @theedon: the in-laws replaced their Dualit 4 slicer with one of those Brevilles because the Dualit's power cord only works at certain angles. I guess that's like throwing out some XTRs for some MT7s?

Either way, I have a Dualit toaster now...and Code Rs on my bike
  • 2 0
 @koncretekahuna:
I've got one. Though mine was made in the 1960s. It's very good. But in a clearly Trickstuff kind of way. I've no idea if it's as good as the fancy toasters already mentioned.
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: He is my favorite Kanuckistanian.
  • 2 0
 @koncretekahuna: I just referenced that video in another post.

Also, accounting for inflation, that is a $300 toaster.
  • 17 0
 Dont understand. I cant fit the bread in my XT 4 pots?
  • 17 0
 I got the bread done but when as I was eating the bread shifted around, I had to let my bite point wander.
  • 16 0
 Well now I want a $300 toaster.
  • 5 0
 I didn’t look at the author but knew it was obviously Dario when I started reading about artisanal toasters.
  • 12 0
 These brakes are quintessential bike bling at its best. Expensive, well engineered, but also built with the expectation that the mechanic wrenching on them is a very, very exacting person. Like exotic spokes or high-end suspension units, the benefit is marginal but real versus the best price/performance kit.

Will I ever buy a set of Trickstuff brakes? No.
Am I glad they exist? Yes.

And I hope some of the features they’re using trickle down to the stuff a pleb line me can actually afford/justify.
  • 6 0
 I can't speak for these exact brakes, but I have the Maximas on my enduro rig and they are, quite literally, perfect.

More power than I could ever need, very light lever action with nearly perfect, linear modulation feeling, easy to maintain and generally work on (so long as you don't honor their request to take them off the bike to do a bleed, which you absolutely do not have to do), and no fade.

Personally, I've found these brakes to be a huge upgrade to actual riding performance. Having that much control over your wheels instills confidence similar to that brand new tire feeling. Personally, I think they are worth every penny as they will be the brakes I take from bike to bike for the foreseeable future.
  • 10 0
 That is a smart toaster, but the smartest toaster was made in 1949:
www.theverge.com/22801890/sunbeam-radiant-control-toaster-t20-t35-vista

People still restore these sunbeams because they're better at automatically perfect toast than anything made in the last 70 years. Restored and resold they cost more than the Balmuda unless you DIY (have to modernize the cord for safety) but they also look better.

I have two-piston Cura 2s, five years in and still perfect.
  • 8 0
 obligatory Cura2 upvote. Running my pair for five years as well
  • 4 0
 Another vote for awesome Cura 2's.
  • 4 0
 +1 for the Curas
  • 3 0
 I have cura4 so they are obviously betterer.
  • 2 0
 @opignonlibre: I have them too. Great brakes. Can't compare to the 2 though
  • 8 0
 Now we need another "Editors Vehicles" article.

Curious of the "these brakes cost more than my car" was literal, or hyperbole (which is totally acceptable in this context). As it takes a pretty cheap car to be less than these brakes.

Anecdotal: My car is worth so little these days, that I think its actually appreciating again (or would be if the car market/economy was still hot), at least according to bringatrailer Big Grin .

1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 4.0L I6, in good condition for its age. But I do have to sort out an apparent transmission leak I discovered after backing out of the garage on Sunday and noticing a ~1/2 teaspoons worth of drippage under there (always check your parking spot visually when you back out!).
  • 8 0
 Very happy owner of a set of Dirretesimas. Ordered them in April 2020 and received them in January 2023. The wait was almost unbearable, but totally worth it! I received the new C42 calipers and they are EASILY the best brakes I have ever had (Formula, Shimano and Maura have all hung from various bikes in my stable). If you have the means and the patience you should take the plunge.
  • 4 0
 Almost three years wait time ! And that you’re stoked and not bitter means they must be good !
  • 1 0
 3 year wait for an ultrapremium product for this amount of money i expect not only the product to be good, but also to be treated with at least the minimum amount of respect that any human deserves… they should not be selling this stuff if they cant produce enough. but probably just a way to create artificial scarcity and inflate prices even more..
  • 2 0
 @mwysel: @Hookem34 said he waited not that he wasn't able to ride! Trickstuff are very up front about the lead times from ordering to delivery.
Not being able to ride causes bitterness, finally receiving the life time keeper brake set is a moment of happiness and celebration (which I am sure continues on everyone of his Trickstuff augmented rides).
And if the reality of using the brakes matches his expectation of the brakes then there wasn't any disappointment.
  • 2 0
 Same boat - I have the Maximas, which took nearly 2 years to receive. They are unbelievable. Even if I were given a magic wand to improve them, I am not sure what I'd do to make them better. All the power, all the modulation, normal bleed process, bionol fluid, no fade. Perfection at a price I suppose.
  • 11 0
 thats the price of my full bike Eek
  • 13 6
 Best brakes I've ever owned, hands down, in 20yrs of wrenching and owning disc brakes. And I do have both Piccola and Direttisima. They're powerful af, have great modulation, consistent bite point, and have been 99.9% reliable for more than a few years now. Yes, I spent more on brakes than I did on my truck, but I got so sick of sticky pistons, blown mc's, wandering bite points, and just generally shit-powered brakes that annoyed me. Dropped my pants and spent my life savings and waited a year for them, and don't regret it at all. Yes, they can be finicky to bleed, and a bit more delicate to work with. Zero consistency in hardware fittings (1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, T15, T25, all on one brake!). No dust seal on MC pushrod leads to dirt and wear in lever body (a la Sram, Shimano). But those are small servicing details and have never left me stranded on the trail. Email requests for service parts and assistance from customer service have always been quick and helpful, never dismissive or condescending like some brands. Yep it takes a week for shipping to Canada, but I've survived so far.
I just got a set of Hayes Dominion T4's as forums claimed 'Trickstuff-level' power. Disappointing so far. More arm pump and fatigue, and even with bigger rotors. Firmer bite point, less modulation. Direttissima has a firmer feel than Piccola, but not as on-off as Dominions. TBF, I haven't experimented with different pads yet. That's todays ride.
The Piccolas have a 'softer' modulation at the lever than the Direttissima's, but the power and consistency out of a 160gr brake is amazing. As an xc or trail brake they're perfect. Trail or enduro the Direttissima would definitely be the go-to. More power and I do like the firmer lever feel. I'm running 180mm rotors with both. Tried 200's and downsized - they slowed me down too much! Big 29er wheels on enduro or dh, yeah I could see the appeal of Maxima, but I haven't felt the need for that much stopping power yet. Honestly, I don't think about my brakes any more when riding, other than "f**k my brakes are sick!". Which is worth every penny for me over 4yrs of ownership.
Sorry for the long and salesy sounding post. Its the same spiel someone gets trailside when they ask about my brakes. Maybe now we can just say 'hi' and keep on riding.
  • 8 2
 You might be the only person I've ever heard that was disappointed with Dominion brakes.
  • 4 5
 I love how Whistler/Squamish turned into Miami for MTB

People with too much disposable income spending money on bling that doesn't matter, while the rest of the people in the area are desperately trying to live up to that standard.
  • 2 2
 @KickFlipABike: comes with all the money laundering and cocaine too
  • 2 0
 I'm with you. I have a set of the Maximas, Piccola, and Piccola HD. My fav is the Piccola HDs. Never thought the bike I choose to rode for the day is based on my favorite brakes. Just awesome stuff
  • 4 0
 I have a few sets of brakes, but my favorite is I pieced together a 4 piston Piccola HD for the front and the 2 piston Piccola for the rear, both on 180mm rotors, on my '23 Smuggler. Since this is my trail bike, I run faster tires and didn't want it to be overpowering and lock up the rear too easily. Frankly, it's an AMAZING set up. Light weight, super sensitive, very powerful but the back isn't overpowering, looks great, doesn't get hot and fade like Mineral Oil brakes do, etc.
  • 5 0
 A brake review without the word modulation? ;-)

Interesting that these seemed to have more modulation than sram code. I've found those to be incredibly progressive, which is what I like. Maybe I should give these a shot!
  • 1 0
 I hate the term modulation applied as a property of brakes and I hope it will be thrown out of reviews forever.
Modulation is what the rider does. What you mean is that the brake feels intuitive, which comes down to some parameters like: leverage curve, consistency of pad friction, consistency of bite point position etc.
Probably overly pedantic, but reading sentences like: "this brakes offers more modulation" makes me shudder a little every time.
  • 8 1
 Are the Hayes really that good?
  • 29 1
 Yes
  • 7 1
 They're incredible
  • 4 1
 Yeah, they really are
  • 7 4
 I've got a set of Piccola's and Maxima's on my enduro bike, waited years but glad I did. You don't have to pay for them until they ship, so what's the harm in sticking your name in the hat, you've got years to try and save up for them Smile In my experience, the most expensive parts I've purchased for my bike tend to be the "cheapest", simply because I use them for so long. Chris King Headsets and BB's, Cane creek ti cranks etc all have been on a bunch of different builds. I get that new riders aren't going to see the value here, but if you've been riding for many years and have tried a lot of stuff, eventually you just want something refined and reliable that is timeless.

The brakes typically ship with organic pads. It would be nice if the reviewer mentioned what pads they used specifically (I don'r recall them doing that). Their organic pads wear fast, but feel great and dissipate heat very well. However I found the metallic sram pads to have more power which feels nicer to me on steep terrain. Comparing these to brakes that weigh almost twice as much is a bit odd as buyers of these are doing so to save weight, otherwise you'd probably go for Trickstuff's 4-piston brakes and be able to get away with smaller rotors and no adapters for example.
  • 7 0
 As mentioned in the article, I ran them with Trickstuff's Power Pads.
  • 1 1
 I tried the power pads in my Guide REs, and they certainly had more power, but dissolved in a wet ride in sandy soil. They'd been fully bedded in for a couple of rides, but went straight through to the backing metal and I ended up crashing into a tree when the brakes stopped working. Back to SRAM gold pads, which aren't as powerful but last ages even in our local soil
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: I also put them in my Guide REs for extra power and they've been going strong for hundreds of miles. I only rode in the dry, though, and live in a region sadly devoid of elevation change.
  • 1 0
 @ABhardtail: Oof, Illinois. I thought we had it bad over here...
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio: The thing about trickstuff brakes that you don't mention but this commenter touches on is that you order and lock in a price, but don't pay until they are ready to ship. I have piccola HDs and by the time I got them inflation (and dollar/euro parity) took care of most of the crazy price. Brakes,.rotors, bleed kit, extra pads and fluid for $900. Not cheap, but at the time I considered going with TRPs instead, but didn't as they would have only saved me like $200. So, order some now and by the time they're ready Deores might be pushing a grand.
  • 1 0
 @ABhardtail: Those pads certainly improved my Guide REs, and while we don't have Alps/Rockies elevation here, we have plenty of short steep winch and plummet, with plenty of trees on sharp turns to avoid. So having good brakes helps. And yeah, it rains a lot!
  • 6 1
 @dariodigiulio I like your reviews. You add in some non-bike references that I don’t always know, forcing me to look them up and learn.
  • 12 6
 Beautiful brake set, but I'll spend my $1,500 elsewhere thanks.
  • 6 0
 plot twist dude gets a set of maximas. Interesting that we are finally at a point where Trickstuff brakes are in stock. Might be more supply with DT Swiss backing, or that everyone who wants one already has one, who knows. People are surely spending their money elsewhere. Intend Trinity seems to be the new unobtanium.
  • 2 0
 @SlavikChris: 5 toasters?
  • 5 1
 This review actually got me more interested in the Dominion instead, anyone using the Dominion on an Endurobike or have used it in the Bikepark and/or racing Enduro?
  • 2 0
 Dominions are fantastic. My A4's survived 3 days at whistler with a bad rear bleed and still felt great. The metallic pads last forever as well, still on the same set when I purchased earlier this year and have around half of the material left.
  • 1 0
 I have the A4s on my Druid, and they’re so good. 3k+ ft descents with zero fade, and the best lever feel of any brakes I’ve used. Not quite as good modulation as code rsc, but more powerful.
  • 1 0
 Also really easy to do a full rebuild, and the calipers have bleed ports on both sides, making it much easier to truly eliminate any air bubbles. Plus, the calipers have set screws that make alignment much more foolproof.
  • 2 0
 Dario: Here's the answer to all your purchase dilemmas: The Hayes brakes are currently on sale for $243.74 USD/each. So, you can buy Hayes Front & Rear brakes, your fancy toaster, and still have enough $$ left over to buy other trinkets you've had on your wishlist for eons.....which ironically is how long you'd wait for Trickstuff to manufacture the Piccola's & for R2-bike to ship them to you.........
  • 4 0
 People will have the latest SRAM wireless bullshit and then talk about Trickstuff being frivolous. I’ll take the good brakes every time.
  • 2 0
 @dariodigiulio , just a correction on the statement in the article: "the Piccolas are only matched in weight by Shimano's XTR 9100 brakes". Not quite - XTR's weigh 25% more, at ~404g (f+r) compared to ~324g for a set of Piccolas. Really impressive.
  • 3 0
 I've heard bionol can help fix Shimano brake's wandering brake point. 1) does anyone have actual experience with this? and 2) how does would that work?
  • 1 0
 If Bionol helps it might be because of differences in viscosity.
  • 1 0
 I started using Redline Likewater Suspension fluid, and yeah, they feel much better, especially when combined with Galfer Pro pads. I haven't had to bleed as often, and when I do the fluid that comes out seems much cleaner. Not sure how it works, but I made the switch after coming across a forum post somewhere that had some people really nerding out on the fluid dynamics that was way over my head.
  • 2 0
 Got some 3d printed blocks to move 1 piston each time. For me to bleed any brake 100% you need that extra step,move pistons individually in and out a few times while the rest are lock in place.
Just basically bleed/purge the caliper itself if you have that wonderful bite point issue.
I got some Hope RX4+ calipers with Shimano mtb levers (Saint and MT200). You need to bleed those very good,work each piston like Hope describes to get a perfect feel. I can brake while the bike is upside down or whatever angle and elevation changes,those brakes are good to go every single time. All with Shimano mineral oil. To me it is very easy,just try it before any change,it is free,just only a little bit of time. Bleed the caliper like Hope manual suggest.
  • 1 3
 Nothing will fix it apart from regular lever bleeds. Just do a precautionary lever bleed every 5-10 rides and you won’t have an issue.
  • 4 0
 Putoline hpx 2.5. Yes, it works. The viscosity is lower, which means on retraction, the fluid can move back to the reservoir. The regular fluid sticks in the line, so on next application, the bite point is further out. Cleaning the pistons can help, but the fluid helps because it drops pressure quicker which means more force on pistons to retract which makes it less sensitive to contamination. IMO its a poor design, but honestly not a big deal for most people. The bite point really starts to wonder on steep dh runs. You get what you pay for in the end.
  • 1 0
 @rossinabox @KickFlipABike: any issues with the seals swelling? aren't redline/putoline non-mineral oils? does it matter?
  • 4 2
 @KickFlipABike: Just try to bleed the caliper in your Shimano brakes,it is not so hard to figure that air can compress,oil not. If your brakes do weird things,they got air inside.
Air can get trap behind the pistons when you fill the caliper/lines for the first time (Shimano assembly line do not make good bleed is my main conspiracy theory) and a normal lever bleed can not move those air pockets.
Brakes are not rocket science. But many Shimano brakes come with air inside from stock,is that simple.
  • 1 1
 @rossinabox: I wouldn't use suspension fluid in my brakes, suspension is bouncy, I don't want my brakes to bounce!
  • 2 0
 @homerjm: this has been my experience as well. Air trapped in the calliper and it took me a full service (including pulling pistons out) to see it.
I didn’t know about the Hope manual trick. I’ll check it out. Thanks.
  • 1 0
 @mwysel: Yep,people going nuts about oil and other things while all the symptoms point it is just air.
Hope manual for the RX4+ caliper is very simple.
  • 2 0
 @homerjm: Oh interesting. I'll give that a shot next time. The gravity bleed didn't work very long last time I tried it, this looks less messy too.
  • 2 0
 @homerjm: Ive bled my calipers plenty, I do a full fluid push from the top, then from the bottom, with the brake system off the bike completely vertical. Brakes feel rock solid. Shimanos are the most on/off brakes there are and you can easily tell if there is any air in there, and mine definitely do not. But they still have wondering bite point. Anyone who says this is due to air has no idea what they are talking about. Its a closed system. If you had air in the pressure side, that suddenly gets released to the back of the piston, you would feel it in the initial sponginess on the first application.

The issue with the wondering point only comes on quick resets. I.e, you are hard on the brakes, you let off, and you reapply, and the brakes work fine, the finger pressure is the same, but your finger is at a different point. If you let of slower, or you wait to reapply, it does not happen. This is 100% due to fluid viscocity, and the hpx oil is lower viscosity and fixes the issue.
  • 1 0
 @dreamlink87: Nope. Generally, suspension fork oil has additives that make it play nice with rubber seals, so its a safe bet.
  • 2 0
 @KickFlipABike: it’s because it’s a closed system like you said and you need to top it up when your pads wear. Nothing will solve it except regular lever bleeds that take 30 seconds to do.
  • 2 0
 @thenotoriousmic: but then don't you end up with an overfilled system? And with that the risk of a leaking lever that must be warrantied.

The wandering bite point is one thing, but when it pulls to the bar suddenly is when it's inexcusable.

I've switched to Hayes Dominions and left those problems in the the past.
  • 1 0
 @KickFlipABike: This issue is well know in race cars and motorbikes. Brake would feel fine till air moves around and you got no brakes at all visiting the wall. It is not a new issue by any means.
Just add pushing the pistons in and out while caliper bleeding/flushing oil in the caliper direction.It is a very simple step,takes seconds. I bet you would see bubbles out.
What you describes is air in the system 100% if you are not ridding your bike at minus extreme temperatures,when fluid viscosity would have an effect.
The thing about the fluid is a nonsense to me. Sticky levers/slow return is a lever piston thing,but in Shimano brakes lever are closed units,you can not service them.
Many people wanders a lot about this,even most of professional mechanics,but it is dead simple.
  • 2 0
 @Canadmos: Yes you do have to push some fluid out when pushing your pistons back to fit some new pads or they won’t go back all the way but I would always do a full bleed with Shimano brakes when changing pads and definitely a lever bleed at least.
  • 5 0
 Ahem...it's "Cylon"...not "toaster"
  • 6 5
 "They even have an auditory tell when the brakes are working well, in the form of a strong warbling when things are locked up."

Holy shit. SRAM was shit on forever for this, and now all of a sudden when you have to pay extra for it with a certain brand name attached, it's good?

Also, how exactly do they warble when locked up? Locked up means the rotor isn't moving relative to the pads, not really going to make any noise in that state.
  • 2 0
 I’ve been completely priced out of that sentence. When my Codes were honking I was an a*shole!
  • 5 5
 Shit on by delusional middle aged pinkbikers who don’t ride, in the real world they’ve outsold every other brake combined, won however many world cups and EWS stages and genuinely considered the benchmark.
  • 2 0
 Didn’t understand a word of the bleeding process video but I thought the use of fingers instead of a bleed block was a novel approach. Surely these are supplied with a gold bleed block
  • 3 0
 Google's auto-translate captions work surprisingly well.
  • 1 0
 Have a look here for a manual (incl pictures) that describes the bleed process that's included in the video:
www.mtbr.com/threads/has-anyone-here-bled-trickstuff-piccola-brakes.1143851/#post-14845625
(look for the 7th post in this thread, not the first...)
  • 5 0
 Can we get an article on the Lewis brakes?
  • 4 1
 Stay tuned
  • 2 1
 @dariodigiulio: THANK YOU. That's what the internet wants Smile
  • 1 1
 @dariodigiulio: would be interesting if you could get a comment from Tricktuff on their thoughts. Flatter by the imitation or sending out the lawyers?
  • 1 0
 I am predicting the first thing anyone reviewing them comments on (for lewis brakes) is the adjustments/adjusters. Other brands please take note.
  • 1 0
 I have these brakes on my Stumpjumper and Arrival.
My take is that they feel most similar to Shimano brakes but with better modulation, which probably explains the linear feel Dario mentions.
I still run shimano’s on my other bikes and don’t have any issues adjusting when jumping from bike to bike.
I do love these brakes, they are for me the best brake out there in terms of power and weight.
As Dario mentions, the current XTRs aren’t as powerful, but if you can still find a pair of shimano xtr M980 brakes and run them with the current XTR lever, you’ll have something as powerful and only 80g heavier. For the record my new/old xtr setup came in Front: 191g, Rear: 202g
  • 1 0
 I recently purchased the Trickstuff Piccolas for my Rose PDQ Trail Hardtail.
I didn’t purchase them because they are so light but because of their braking performance.
Overall, I agree with most of the points from Dario.

The brake bleed was somewhat tricky, but with the video linked in the article it should be achievable to get a good brake lever feel.
One thing I noticed compared with my Shimano XTR is that the Trickstuff brake pads wear out very fast. I only managed 600km with the Trickstuff brakes compared with 3000km with the Shimano K05Ti brake pads.
I’m very happy with my purchase even considering the high price.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio thanks for a great review. I'll never be able to justify these, though I'm very glad they exist. A more down-to-earth pimp item looks to be the Formula Cura X; it's also the only other brake which approaches these in terms of weight or power, at about a third of the price. Have you tried them - or their less-bling Cura 2?

I'm still running a set of 12-year-old R1s which are very impressive and have great initial bite and power; the Curas are supposed to be similar. Also the only 2 piston brake regularly used for gravity as far as I know, and if their hype is to be believed!
  • 1 0
 There is no distributor in North America for TRICKSTUFF and because of this there is zero support. I have been trying to deal with the company for a pair of picollas that came stock on the 2022 SCOTT SPARK ULTIMATE and it's was such a failure both in the brake as well as product support from trickstuff that our customer had them replaced to the new SRAM LEVEL ULT 4 piston
  • 1 1
 I don't think I could ride at 100% pace with these due to fear that I would crash and break them. Even if I could afford them and didn't care about the money, the unobtanium nature and wait times time for replacement would favor preservation of them over ripping at full speed. Still, I am very glad they exist.
  • 3 1
 At the same time - great article, Dario! Really like that you're building a story, so it feels more than just a review.
  • 2 0
 As I read this I came to the conclusion whelp all our dental bills just went up in price.
  • 1 0
 What actually makes these (or Trickstuff in general) brakes so strong? What are they doing so different that makes such a difference?
  • 2 0
 anyone know a source to get Bionol in the US without paying crazy shipping fees?
  • 1 0
 I’ve been trying to figure out that and Putoline source as well
  • 1 1
 It’s not an oil sheik who would appreciate a nearly perfect toaster. Just someone obsessed with toast. The review was good but I’ve got to say you somewhat shallowly missed the point!
  • 1 1
 Too bad you couldn't also test them with the 4 piston HD calipers that use Sram G2 pads. That's a better brake for a trail bike and still among the lightest. Love them on my Spark.
  • 1 2
 Not to say these brakes aren't great. But I've never understood XC brakes in general there's very little in weight savings over a proper trail/ DH brake and difference in your ability and confidence to ride is huge. So if I was to drop the huge money on TRickstuff brakes it would be on the Maxima's
  • 2 4
 it's not the price, it's the wait time. lol. I think it was at over a year when I looked into a set of Maximas. Like.....I don't even keep a bike that long!?

I should look again, that was covid times, perhaps it has gotten better.....
  • 4 1
 You can order them from Germany with 0 wait time right now
  • 7 0
 @norcalbike: well shit....there goes $1200. lol
  • 2 0
 @Mtbdialed: you’re gonna love em. I have the HD version on my Smuggler and the Maximas on my Spire. The resolution and positive feel is insane. My trails are often -30% sustained elevation loss and they don’t fade.
  • 1 0
 There are a few sets for sale on here right now. Been keeping my eye on them for months
  • 2 0
 Ill be buying these. Whenever I sell my house.
  • 1 1
 You could easily build a new home in the time you'd have to wait for a set of these!
  • 3 5
 I struggle to think how this company stays profitable, they must sell around 500 of these a year but thats only 500k revenue at maybe 250k profit. Surely that cant cover their overheads, and marketing spend and R&D etc especially when a customer is likely to not return for 3-4 years? Ive never met anyone that has ever bought a pair.
  • 7 0
 I'm ready to bet they sell a fair bit more than 500 a year, and it's not their only product. They've got two more brakes on offer, and their discs and brake pads are a popular upgrade for all other brakes. How many you see also really depends on where you ride.
  • 7 0
 They are owned by DT Swiss AFAIK.

Considering the Maximas are unobtainium with a 1.5yr wait list, someone is buying them. Their other brakes can be found easier, but are still not trivial to find and are seemingly sold out most places.

Personally, I am fed up with most brakes on the market right now and would buy them if they were available solely for the sake of having something that hopefully works and I don't have to mess with. That said, I'm not willing to hunt down a pair because I've heard too many stories of customer service problems for US customers. When given the option, I went with Radic Kahas instead and they are proving to be REALLY good and he is super responsive to any questions/problems. These smaller, boutique brands will always have less market presence than others, but that doesn't mean they aren't pumping out products successfully.
  • 2 4
 The company is owned by DT Swiss. Maybe this is more of a R&D or exercise in what’s possible than a profit driven business. Just like VW owns Bugatti and sells each car at a loss. I have no idea if that comparison is accurate, but I’d have to agree that it’s a bit strange.
  • 1 4
 They're owned by DT Swiss if I remember correctly, maybe just an R&D write off for them?
  • 8 0
 Everyone noted that they’re owned by DTSwiss, but they weren’t always.
A lot of these small, high quality machine shops dabble in bike parts (think Cascade Components) but keep the lights on by providing machining/engineering solutions to other industries.
It’s a passion project, cause they’re cyclists themselves, and can build a better mouse trap.
  • 3 0
 @shinook: the 1.5y wait list is a thing of the past, they are generally available in German stores (bike-components.de, bike24.de etc)
  • 1 0
 @f00bar: Oh, interesting, thanks for the heads up. I checked about 2 months ago and they were sold out everywhere, so that's good to know
  • 2 0
 @Blablablup123: Um, add a '0' to that number.

I know of 4 sets in my circle, and 1 set is literally owned by my dental surgeon!
  • 6 0
 @shinook: I got a big bonus with work a while back and splurged on a set of Direteissimmas. Without a doubt, the best brakes ever made that I put on any bike I've ever ridden. TRP DHR-Evos are damn near the best brakes for the money out there. Trick stuff takes all of that to the next level with the level of fit and finish on par with Bentley or Rolls-Royce. lol
  • 2 1
 @bman33: I was blown away by the Dominions, hard to think there could be a level of performance above that again. Maybe 500 was undercooking, but its not like they are selling 1000s of these things. Also a waiting list is great marketing. There is no better pub than the one with a queue outside it......
  • 1 0
 @chillescarpe: agreed. I waited a year and a half for mine. Almost forgot they were on order. As for the dominions, I had some original Hayes way back in the mid-90s (Yes, I'm old). They were the benchmark back then. I hear the Dominions are really good as well.
  • 1 0
 It's been a while since Trickstuff hás been bought by DT Swiss,is it still operating independently?
  • 1 0
 No matter how expensive the toaster is, you'll stop using it when you see on the bread a cooked cockroach!
  • 1 0
 I have a set of 4 piston C42's for sale here: www.pinkbike.com/buysell/3745964
  • 2 0
 I will sell my bike and then buy these.
  • 2 0
 Just wait until e-Toasters are a thing
  • 1 0
 Great review, sold me on the toaster as a Xmas gift.

Real question: how will their power compare to XT 4 piston?
  • 3 0
 More power, much softer initial bite.
  • 1 0
 If anyone is keen to try something different. The 'Lewis' brakes are very impressive.
  • 5 0
 Don’t support Chinese IP theft from western companies
  • 1 0
 But, where did you find a car for that cheap?
  • 6 0
 Craigslist
  • 2 0
 @dariodigiulio: probably, if you don't mind some speed holes going through the driver seat...
  • 4 3
 Get some deore for nothing and your brakes will serve you well
  • 2 3
 The brakes to get are TRP DHRs. They are extremely well built for the price, and will just WORK without issues or bleeding or service.
  • 4 0
 @KickFlipABike: Actually, according to TRP themselves, recorded for posterity right here on PB, you should actually do the regular maintenance like bleeding and servicing if you expect them to "just work".

Kinda like most every other brake.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio do they colour match with my le creuset?
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio what grips are those? Been looking for a full waffle
  • 2 2
 I have NEVER seen a pair of Trickstuff brackes on a bike in my life!!
  • 2 0
 i've seen quite a bit on german tourist bikes
  • 1 0
 I’ve seen a few sets
  • 1 1
 Lewis brakes are XI approved and get my vote.
  • 1 2
 High-fives all around at Hayes today
  • 1 2
 I want AI in my toaster.
  • 1 3
 Hmm. Xt brakes or walletprickstuff brakes? Hmmmm?
  • 1 3
 $1200 and no contact pad adjustment? Hard pass.
  • 2 5
 I don’t think they look good.
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