TRP HY/RD Brakes
TRP HY/RD Brakes
Are the TRP HY/RD the answer for effective, affordable hydraulic road brakes?
When riding to work, I was often heard and not seen, especially in the rain. The stock cable‐activated mechanical disc brakes on my Cannondale commuter would announce any deceleration. On a multi‐use trail, a walker I approached from behind told me that he would have “…moved over for your bike, but from the sound, thought it was just a bunch of birds behind me.” I guess I’d tolerate the noise if the system allowed me to deftly stop on the proverbial dime in the wet ‐ which it didn’t. More like sloppily stopping on a very large pizza pan. Sigh.
A key challenge facing older “first gen” road disc bike riders is the cable‐activated mechanical disc brakes that came stock on their bikes. Although a vast improvement on caliper brakes, these units can be very noisy and often feel like on/off switches rather than providing graduated increases in braking power. As a daily commuter in the damp Northwest, the ability to lightly feather brakes in a downpour is more than a nicety ‐ it is essential to survival.
I’ve heard about the smoothness of hydraulic road disc brakes. I imagined that they are similar to the
binders that are found on mountain bikes ‐ so efficient and predictable that you forget about them after a while and just ride. I thought about converting to Shimano or SRAM hydraulic road discs, however, the retro‐fit cost for my commuter never seemed justified. (Or I could never find a way to justify the cost to my wife.) I was resigned to just soldiering on with what I had. After all, a daily commuter is not typically the high‐performer of your bike collection.
It seems to me that there is a decided bike commuter ethic that directs you to focus your “bike bucks” to your more glamorous rides ‐ the steeds you choose when you want to have fun, not just get from point A to point B. True, we love all of our bikes ‐ but let’s be real here ‐ we use our daily riders in the worst weather. Subjected to rain and road grit, they often look more organic than metallic. To be honest, the only cleaning my daily ride gets is either the annual “degunking” associated with the coming of Spring or the localized cleaning I need to do when I have to repair something.
So your commuter is the low‐man on the totem pole when it comes to upgrades. When a new saddle goes on my prized road bike, the old one moves down the food chain to my commuter. Typically, my commuter only gets something new when something wears out or breaks ‐ and even then it’s often a used part from the bin.
The only alternative to this hand‐me‐down philosophy is when something comes along that will make a substantial improvement in the operation of the bike without breaking the bank. That’s how I felt when I first heard about TRP’s HY/RD (pronounced “High Road”) brakes, a mechanically activated hydraulic road brake that would neatly bolt‐on to my existing commuter’s disc mounts. This hybrid approach seemed to be just what the doctor ordered and at a price point that made retro‐fitting fiscally responsible.
I bolted them on and set them up. Pretty straight‐forward even with Runkel secondary brake levers. A little fiddling with the adjustments to avoid the pad rubbing and I was ready to go. A test ride revealed that they indeed stopped well in the dry ‐ clearly better than the old brakes. The anticipated improvement in modulation was very apparent from the start. More importantly, I felt that it was possible to take the brakes right up to “just before locking” repeatedly and predictably! Amazing!
The real test would come when the rains came….which, if you have been following the weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest, didn’t happen this Spring! There I was with potentially the best wet binders I have ever had and uncharacteristically dry weather.
Fortunately, the product testing weather gods finally gave me a break, and the skies opened. I rushed out to see what the HY/RD’s would do in the wet. I was not disappointed! Quiet and effective! I tried a series of “emergency” stops with the rotors dripping and was pleased with the results ‐ each and every application resulted in the same outcome ‐ namely that the bike came to a predictable stop while I was able to avoid locking them up.
TRP has come up with the answer for all of us mechanical road disc “early adopters” who want to add state of the art performance to their existing bikes at a reasonable cost. The HY/RD’s smooth hydraulic action helped introduce me to the blissful sounds of silence. Additionally, stopping on those wet, dark commutes that are so common in the Northwest will be a lot less stressful.
Bottom line here is that if you’ve got an older groupset with disc brakes that aren’t getting the job done, but you aren’t ready to upgrade to a whole new hydraulic system, then the HY/RD is your answer. It’s easy to bolt on, the price is right and it does exactly what it’s supposed to. You won’t be sorry about this upgrade and I would definitely recommend it.
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