TRP CX9 Brakes
I don’t race cross but I have a cross bike, it’s my gravel road bike and I love riding it on the dirt and gravel roads that surround XXC Mag HQ. What I don’t love is cross brakes, A.K.A. cantilever brakes, or maybe I should say the stock cantis that came on my 2010 Kona Jake The Snake. I’m exaggerating, but basically it felt like there was a 3 second delay from the time I would pull the lever until the time the brakes engaged another couple seconds until the bike and my hulking Lycra clad body finally came to a stop. Intersections, even out on the dirt roads were harrowing to say the least (I mean nobody wants run down by a 10 ton combine!). Maybe I should just get a new ride? I love new rides… EVERYONE LOVES NEW RIDES!!
Because of all the riding I do on dirt and gravel roads aboard the Jake, I started
thinking about lusting for a disc brake equipped cross/road bike like the Salsa Vaya, Specialized CruX Comp Disc Apex, or Foundry Auger. All fine steeds that come with bad ass disc brake stopping power that could make gravel riding even more fun. BUT as XXC’s Paid Reader Department lets me know every day, none of those bikes are in the financial cards right now or in the foreseeable future.
I started thinking what it is that could actually improve my gravel grinding, shit road and UltraCX type riding/racing. I like my Jake. It’s comfy, fairly light and could probably get lighter if its rider wasn’t gaining 10 pounds a year since he turned 37 (sadly the rider is 40 now… ug!). Anyway, I have no qualms with the fit and ride of my bike, it came down to the brakes and their inability to stop with confidence in the dry/rain/snow/ice/etc. I convinced myself I needed disc brakes to be happy. My wallet said otherwise.
OK, a new bike is out of the question right now, what do I do? I hate canti’s and I don’t race cross, so I don’t have to justify myself to the cross-snob crowd. Years ago I used v-brakes set up with a Problem Solvers Travel Agent. It was OK, but there were issues at times with the brake cable not running smoothly through the adapter. Hmmm….
While I can’t afford $2,500 for a new bike or frame I was able to “cook the books” enough so as to afford trying out TRP’s CX9 brakes ($150 per set including hardware). I had heard some good things about the CX9s and figured that they couldn’t be much worse than what I was already using, so I went to Terry’s Cycles in “Scotland U.S.A.” Alma, Michigan to order up a set. Several QBP back orders later they finally came in.
I am a firm believer in getting things installed and set up right. This is why I forbid myself from trying to install things like new brakes on my bike. Some people just should NOT work on their bikes. I am one of those people. So, I let that up to Napper at Terry’s. When I questioned him over the phone on how the installation went, he said there were no issues, but he was a little disappointed with the initial feel of the brakes and that they were a little mushy to engage in his opinion, so he did play around with that a bit. I was slightly concerned. Turns out I had no reason to be.
Upon feeling the engagement of the brakes in the shop I was pretty stoked, I perceived no mushyness and the brakes gripped the rim the rim like a champ. Then again, this could just have been a reflection on how lackluster my old brakes were. Plus, I think I just have a picky wrench, but that’s a good thing!
The first ride was not all that much of a test; a cold 25 mile loop on pavement and frozen dry dirt roads. But what I can say is this….
- The brakes STOP. I mean STOP compared to the cantis I had. Not that I do a lot of one hand braking, but it is something that could never have been done with the cantis, but the TRP’s were more than capable of doing so.
- Since I was so used to grabbing two handfulls of brake, I had a couple stops that were abrupt to say the least. But it was easy to get used to even while wearing big ass winter riding gloves.
- Once I was used to the stopping power all was good and I had no issues with getting used to the modulation.
- NOTE: TRP recommends the CX9 brakes for Shimano levers and the CX 8.4 for SRAM.
Having said all that, ONE 25 loop in dry conditions is not really the best for overall feedback on whether the brakes are any good or not. So I will post up a ride report here every so often on my experiences with these brakes. I just know for now I am happy with stopping when I need to stop. I believe we are in for some light snow here for the weekend, so I may have some new conditions to test them in. Stay tuned for me on these stoppers.
Last week I posted my thoughts on the TRP CX9 brake set (you can read that HERE). I was pretty damn sweet on them, but I only had short ride in pretty dry conditions. So I wanted to do a short follow up on how the brakes felt.
Since I posted the initial review I’ve got in a couple more rides with them in less than desirable conditions: ice, snow, mud and slush. And I am happy to say that these brakes continued to just be awesome. I could not be happier with my purchase. With my old cantis, trying to stop going down hill on muddy gravel/dirt roads could be a tad harrowing. Not so with the TRP CX9s. Very happy with this purchase. Visit www.trpbrakes.com for more information on these brakes.
It’s now been over 3 months of riding and racing gravel using the CX9 brakes. I still love them. Their stopping power compared to regular cantilever brakes is amazing. Cross racers may not like the grabbiness during dismounts but most everyone else should dig it the most. I was recently in another local shop (Motorless Motion in Mount Pleasant, MI) and mentioned the brakes. The wrench there said he had just ordered and installed the brakes on a CX bike for a customer unsatisfied with their cantilevers an he was amazed at the stopping power. He also concurred with Napper at Terry’s that the brakes were a little spongy at first, took some playing with to get the feel he wanted from the levers, but once dialed they rocked. I will add that I had a brief bout of occasional squealing early on. Not sure if it was the pad compound or something on the rims, but it has since gone away and I remain happy.
As good as discs? Not sure, but I know they cost me less than upgrading to a new bike.
NOTE: This review was originally posted on the xxcmag.com blog in February 2012 and has some reader feedback in the comments.
*Brakes were purchased by the reviewer at Terry Cycles in Alma, MI.