Reverence: TRP R960

Reverence: TRP R960

by / / 62 posts

By now you’ve probably figured out that our Reverence series is not about reviewing gear in the classic review sense. The very word “reverence” connotes that the author of the article holds a certain affinity for the product whereas reviews are meant to be “objective” analyses. Nor is the point of the series necessarily to review the latest gear. It takes time to really appreciate and revere some things. So if you’re reading this article with the hope of getting some objective analysis on how TRP’s R960 brake set works, stop reading now. This is not an objective review – A) Because I love my pair, B) You certainly have an awareness of these brakes by now as they’ve been around for a while, and C) I don’t really know how well they slow and/or stop my bike. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m sure they work fine but they see about as much use on my bike as does my little ring. But don’t expect a Reverence: My Little Ring article from me either, I don’t want to end up like Frank, battered and beaten, on the great Anti-V Ride of the Year debate. Furthermore, I’m not really sure I even know what the hell “modulation” means. Huang…Huang?

My #1 bike is the first road bike that I’ve ever built from the frame up. This of course meant that I had complete and utter control over what components I used. I set about building the bike up with Red derailleurs and shifters I had  lusted after, FSA crankset and seat post, Fi’zi:k saddle, Mavic pedals, Dura Ace cassette and chain, 3T bars and stem, and Yokozuna cables. Only your own build allows for such customization. The result is a one-of-a-kind bike adorned with components that were pondered on, anguished over, and carefully selected. Nobody I’m aware of has a bike just like mine.

So when it came to brakes, as with all the other components, I relished the process of finding and selecting the right pair for my bike. Actual reviews of the Red brakes that compliment my levers and shifting mechs did nothing to impress me so I removed those from the list. I’ve always been very happy with my Shimano brakes and while Dura Ace brakes are often touted as the Holy Grail of stopping, I didn’t dare mix SRAM and Shimano, at least not in such an apparent way.  So off to the aftermarket I went pouring over the websites of FSA, Zero Gravity, Cane Creek and probably others.

The R960’s just sort of popped out at me from the TRP website. What stood out initially was the machining. The angular, hollowed out and for lack of a better word – industrial look of the brakes appealed to me. They were going on a BMC SLT01 TeamMachine with the same “I-Beamish” look and thus complimented the frame perfectly. Looking at the picture of them though I couldn’t imagine that they were light. Weight was not my first consideration but I didn’t need them slowing me down anymore than my riding already does. As it happens, the 960’s are a bit lighter than the top end brakes of the three major gruppo makers.

From there I surfed on over to some of the usual suspects’ review pages. As with all internet reviews of gear, most blokes liked them and some blokes didn’t. The blokes who didn’t like them driveled on about the ease, or lack thereof, of installation. Here’s what I’ve learned about less than stellar reviews pertaining to installation – most of these reviews are probably written by novice wrenches working on their bikes for the first time away from the watchful eye of their LBS or cycling sensei. I’m certainly no Oli when it comes to bicycle building but I’m a capable hand and don’t scare easily. My hunch was right. There’s nothing to the installation of the R960’s that is any different from other dual pivot caliper brakes I’ve used. Stretching it, I can see the quick release being a challenge for the dense but really it is a simple lever arm that took all of five seconds to figure out and master.

The first significant cycling trip I did with the R960’s was out to Washington for the Tour de Blast in 2010. Along the way I made a side-trip to the Beartooth Pass for some riding as well. Descending the dry conditions of the day on the Beartooth Pass I reached the highest speeds I ever had on non-motorized two wheels and retreating from the mid slopes of Mount St. Helens in pissing rain and wheel spray at 50 kph the R960’s inspired confidence.

While visiting Frank for the TdB he asked about the brakes and what I thought of them. Based on my enthusiasm he picked a pair up for his #1 bike. While I’ve heard him speak highly of the brakes I understand that on his bike they will not allow for a 25mm tire. Curiously enough, I’ve ridden mine successfully in the cobbled configuration with 25 Gatorskins on Open Pros. The clearance is minimal but totally works. It would be interesting to hear what the good folks at TRP have to say about this. They certainly are low profile brakes meant to be ridden on race bikes with race tires but 25mm tires should still work. I’m not doubting Frank, on the contrary, I find it curious that my BMC will accept a 25mm tire with the R960’s but his R3 will not.

Slideshow:
Fullscreen:

For this Keeper, the TRP R960’s are what brakes should be – awesome looking and light weight accouterments that, like the little ring, are virtually ignored  but very much appreciated when deployed. I’m to understand that TRP’s other products are worth a look and ride as well. If the R960’s are anything to go by it’s a pretty safe bet that their other road calipers and canti cross brakes are solid as well.

// Accessories and Gear // Reverence // Technology

  1. Here are the pictures of me testing my brakes with 25mm tires – the front wheel won’t even turn. That issue aside, however, the brakes do stop very well – no “Shimano Grab” at all – just a very good, smooth, direct deceleration vector. I’ll be swapping back to my Record calipers for Keepers Tour to accomodate the 25’s I’ll be riding there.

    Slideshow:

    Fullscreen:

    I’ll reach out to TRP and see what they can tell us about it. I’ll let you know if I hear anything back.

  2. @Oli, @Marko

    The reason Frank doesn’t have clearance and you do is most likely to do with the frame and fork numbers than the brake caliper – if the frame and/or fork are super tight tolerance any brake will struggle to clear a big tyre. On my Bianchi I can’t run 28s on my Columbus Muscle forks for exactly this reason, although I can on the steel forks it came with; even though the forks are the same rake the axle to crown numbers are different.

    I’ll see if I can pull out some pics of the fork without a brake – there is lots of clearance on the fork itself – it seems the drilling of the hole that accepts the caliper positions the brake such that it doesn’t allow the wheel to turn.

    Whether its the brake or the fork, whoever, the Record calipers do allow for the 25’s.

  3. @frank

    I don’t want to end up like Frank, battered and beaten, on the great Anti-V Ride of the Year debate.

    Battered and beaten? I’m standing tall and fighting everyone off with a stick! Take that! And that, you waskawy wabbits!

    Of course you are. I shan’t have intimated anything otherwise.

  4. @Marko
    Why the FSA crank? I thought the Red crank was supposed to be pretty good but the front derailleur was generally accepted to be weak (people often go for the stronger steel Force FD).

  5. Nice work, Marko. And terrific pairing with the BMC””looks like an aesthetically sound and consistent choice. Also pleased to hear they contribute to slowing the bike down from time to time, too.

    @frank
    My 3-year-old keeps her bike cleaner than that. Maybe you’re more battered and beaten than you think…

  6. @G’rilla
    A few reasons. Initially I transferred some FSA K-wings and K-force stem over from another bike and so was in a FSA phase at the time, they matched. Furthermore, the derailleurs and shifters came bundled (no brakes or crankset) which gave me the option, and I’d read about the Red big ring being too flexy. Not sure I’d do it again though. I haven’t had issues with the FSA cranks but I’m not sure I’m enamored by them either.

  7. More great guidance from the Keepers. My VMH drives a Cervelo team soloist. Fits her perfectly, and she got a good deal on it from the good folks at SpeedyReedy. But it came with Cervelo branded brakes. While adequate, I do notice them periodically (when I am not looking at someing else fer more interesting when I am riding behind my VMH) and always wonder just how much an upgrade would improve form and function. Of course, the color has to be black to match the frame, but I’ve yet to find a proper match. The TRPs might be the answer.

    On my Ti Alaris though, these angular shapes would be way out of character. Perfect for the time machine though.

  8. @Eightzero
    What groupset and wheels she’s got on a bike?

  9. @Eightzero
    The brakes on my Cervelo S1 are similarly horrible. I’m hoping an upgrade to Ultegra 6700 brake levers will help (they’re supposed to pull more cable than the older versions). I also looked at the cheaper TRP brakes which may also be better ($150-200 range).

  10. @Marko
    Nice set up Marko.Glad they work for you.
    As for me since I use Campy their brakes were always good enough for me.

  11. @TommyTubolare
    It’s ultegra levers (swapped out for the short reach ones) and Easton wheel set. The latter is really nice. Bombproof, never needed to true.

    @G’rilla
    Fairly, my VMH is not a real aggressive rider, particularly on downhills. Because of simple physics, I go downhill way faster (my ballistic coefficient is way lower) so her brakes seem “adequate” in the same way Marcos little ring is adequate. The real issue is that I just know there is better.

    Hear that honey? The view from behind makes me think there is better brakes out there. But honestly…no better view. Really. Swear to Merckx. I just want an open relationship with bike parts.

  12. @Eightzero
    I’m sure you remember Ultegra 6600 SL.That brakes would be nice plus if you look around they won’t be expensive.Otherwise new Ultegra if you don’t wan’t to buy ‘old ‘ shite! They have anodised ice grey finish.

  13. @frank
    But have you tried the big tyre with other calipers (Shimano or Campag)?

  14. Damn, should have read one line more…sorry, Frank!

  15. With a trip to Bright fast approaching, I thought it was really time to change the brakes on my BMC SLT01 from the KCNCs that were on there. The KCNC flexed way too much in the arms, and had way too little stopping power, especially for someone my size. With Force shifters, I was tossing up between the TRP’s, eebrakes and Dura Ace 7900’s. I ended up with the DA’s, at about half the price of the Eebrakes, and they arrived in the 3 days I had before leaving for Bright.

    Wow, what a difference actually being able to stop makes :)

    I’m sure the TRPs asthetics, and the non bastardisation of shramano will look a treat on the BMC and if they work as well as my mates TRP’s on Campy, the overall results will be fantastic.

  16. @G’rilla
    Did you check out the TRP R920 SL? Almost as light as Marko’s and half the price.

  17. @G’rilla

    @Eightzero

    Aren’t those “cervelo” brakes rebranded Cane Creeks? Or maybe they’re Tektros.

  18. I’m building a new Orbea Orca with TRP 970 SL brakes. I too have the Reverence.

  19. Them are some sweet brakes, you have me thinking about mine now. Great article.

  20. @Marko
    Likely tektros. Don’t think cc.

    @TommyTubolare
    The ultgra brakes would be a good combo, the the ice grey would not go well with the all flat black frame. Like everything, price is an issue.

  21. @frank

    Is 25 as much as Record calipers will take? Thought Roubaix would call for 27/28s.

  22. I have to ask…what is your new record on non-motorized transport?

  23. @frank
    Yeah I cant put a 25mm tire on the front of my R3 as the fork doesn’t give enough clearance and the carbon gets worn if you do it ( I did try it! )

  24. @Gerard
    Damn. I was hoping to put a 25mm tire on wide 23mm rims for the cobbles (Ultegra brakes). LBS said it would work, but I’ll take the bike in for a look before I buy the tires.

  25. @G’rilla
    yeah – I would check the tire fit – the Garmin guys who rode Roubaix had a higher clearance fork – why this isn’t standard I have no idea!
    Mine is a 2011 R3 with Ultegra brakes, brake clearance is ok, but on the front fork the crown is so deep that with 25mm tires the clearance is minimal – they work fine – but any grit on your tire WILL wear away the paint and carbon on the underside of your fork. You can put a coat of epoxy resin as preventative measure or since the ride is only a day you can put a piece of the clear adhesive film under there ( which I have now even with 23mm tires) just to stop grit trashing your fork.

  26. @Steampunk

    @frank
    My 3-year-old keeps her bike cleaner than that. Maybe you’re more battered and beaten than you think…

    Shame on me, but that was as good as I could muster mid-ride in the rain.

  27. @Eightzero, @G’rilla
    The Cervelo-branded brakes are Tekro brakes, which owns TRP, if I’ve understood the Tekro are IP-stealing bastards article correctly.

  28. @Marko, @Eightzero
    Ah…catching up.

    The ultgra brakes would be a good combo, the the ice grey would not go well with the all flat black frame. Like everything, price is an issue.

    I disagree, Pedalwan. The graphics on the Soloist are not white, but silver. The gray brakes would be dashing.

  29. @lucky

    @frank
    Is 25 as much as Record calipers will take? Thought Roubaix would call for 27/28s.

    Depends on a combination of factors. I think Record calipers should take 27/28’s on some frames. Prolly not mine – I’m rolling some tight clearance already on the 25’s.

  30. @Gerard, @G’rilla

    @frank
    Yeah I cant put a 25mm tire on the front of my R3 as the fork doesn’t give enough clearance and the carbon gets worn if you do it ( I did try it! )

    What fork do you have? The fork is the deciding factor on the clearance, not the frame (when talking about the front wheel). I have a badass Alpha-Q GS-40 on mine, not the regular Cervelo forks, which have typically either been Wolf (which are custom Alpha-Q’s specially made for Cervelo) or Easton until they recently switched to 3T.

    My Aero Wolf on my Soloist (don’t recall the model, not the recalled one) would never, in their wildest dreams, take a 25 from what I can tell, though I haven’t tried.

  31. @frank
    I wonder if the 960’s will fit the soloist

  32. There is way too much agreement going on in this thread so I’ll stir the pot a bit. I have to confess I have never understood the appeal of aftermarket brakes; they seem to be a solution in search of a problem (at least in the Campa/Shimano departments), and symptomatic of the Decline And Fall of the Gruppo perhaps caused by an insipid case of misplaced weight-weenyism. After all, if you are climbing enough hills to be worried about weight, you damn well better be sure featherweight brakes can actually do their job.

  33. @Nate

    There is way too much agreement going on in this thread so I’ll stir the pot a bit. I have to confess I have never understood the appeal of aftermarket brakes; they seem to be a solution in search of a problem (at least in the Campa/Shimano departments), and symptomatic of the Decline And Fall of the Gruppo perhaps caused by an insipid case of misplaced weight-weenyism. After all, if you are climbing enough hills to be worried about weight, you damn well better be sure featherweight brakes can actually do their job.

    Oh, you done stuck a stick in the beehive, my man! The DECLINE OF THE GROUPPO?? Dude, the Rise of the Grouppo was the cause of the First Fall of the Velominatus. In the 70’s, 80’s, and part of the 90’s, we could pick and choose our components and switch anything we wanted around. Croce d’Une derraileur with Simplex shifters? Sign me up, cap’n. Check out the Bridgestone builds for a small taste of how cool that was.

    Enter Shimano’s STI (Shimano Total Integration) and all of a sudden you need the match the shifters to the mechs and brakes. Now, they’ve taken it so far that you even need to use a Shimano Crank if you want the right shifting on the front. Its deplorable, from my point of view. A bikes build should be akin to a tailored suit; sure, it come from a store, but it was cut and trimmed to fit you like a glove.

    Should Shimano also make saddles and make them the only saddle compatible with their shifters?

    Being able to choose our bits is the path of the Velominatus. I could spend the next 12 weeks thinking about what brakeset to put on my VMH’s bike – without breaking a sweat. Or chains? Or which cluster ratio should I take to Keepers Tour? That one will occupy my mind for the balance of time remaining.

    Also, don’t knock it til you try it – the TRPs have a fantastic feeling to them; hit the brakes hard and you can feel the lack of flex in the brakes, its just very direct and responsive, with no sensation at all that you’re going to lock the wheel.

    They are very, very good brakes.

  34. @frank
    The recalled one was Wolf SL.You should have Wolf CL on your Soloist I think. It’s a nice fork and no problem at all with this model.

  35. @TommyTubolare
    Yes, it is the CL. Beautiful fork, aside from its steel steerer.

  36. @frank
    Good point, I wasn’t thinking about my pre STI history. But all the same, how are these better than your Record calipers?

  37. @Nate
    Its hard to articulate; there is less flex in the system, so the braking feels more direct. Not dissimilar to how your carbon rig feels when you accelerate versus your old alu frame (assuming you have either of those).

  38. The 970 SLs look like they’d be a nice upgrade from my Tiagras. The price is nice. Now, having made myself look like a po’ boy velominovice – which is fitting because I’m still learning – is the difference between these sets substantial enough to warrant the procurement? What other brakesets would y’all suggest for somebody on a budget who’s looking for better performance?

  39. @frank
    My alu is such a jackhammer both in terms of ride quality and noise, thanks to an infernal, internal cable, I don’t notice anything else. The feel of my Chorus 11 brakes is really nice — super modulation. Also, posted elsewhere but the Campa pads and the Nememsis rims together stop great, wet or dry.

    @Xyverz
    Can’t hurt to look at Ultegra. You might be able to find some used. I have a set; they are not as sublime as Campa but very much do the job and there should not be compatibility issues with what you are already running.

  40. @Nate
    Thanks Nate. I’ll look for a set of Ultegras. I was initially planning on upgrading to 105s after I bought the bike, but had been considering the Ultegras after I was informed that the 105s and the Tiagras really aren’t all that much different.

  41. This will come as a shocker to everyone, but @Oli was right…turns out the problem with my TRP’s and 25’s had more to do with my fork than the brakes, though they were much tighter than my record calipers, which worked. Anyhow – swapping out the fork and keeping the TRP’s does allow for enough clearance to accomodate 25’s.

    But fuggedabout getting 27’s or 28’s in there.

    The Alpha-Q GS-40 is totally designed around improved braking; the crown is built out heavily and the hole for attaching the brake is drilled very low, so the brake blocks are set at the upper maximum of the brake arms, meaning the brakes will also flex less…in any case, a more normal fork should in most cases allow for the TRP’s to work just fine with a 25mm tire.

  42. so, i first read this article back in january.  i’ve thought about the article and these brakes almost every day since then, looking at them online, reading whatever i could about them, pretty much obsessed with them.  today, nary 10 minutes ago, i ordered them.  it is monday, and by friday i shall be riding around with a brand new pair of sweet brakes on my bike.  thanks for the article.

  43. Marko, you still digging the Yokozuna cables you used for this setup?

    I’m going to have @scaler911 show me how to recable my bike in a few weeks, and was thinking Jagwire (good review and low cost for an entire brake/shifting set, plus it’s what I have now) but I’m a sucker for quality Japanese-manufactured parts.

  44. @mcsqueak

    Marko, you still digging the Yokozuna cables you used for this setup?

    I’m going to have @scaler911 show me how to recable my bike in a few weeks, and was thinking Jagwire (good review and low cost for an entire brake/shifting set, plus it’s what I have now) but I’m a sucker for quality Japanese-manufactured parts.

    Hey, let’s discuss this widely. I’m going to do some winter overhauling too, and am pondering cabling brands.

  45. @eightzero

    Yeah, of course I’m open to suggestions from anyone!

  46. @mcsqueak

    @eightzero

    Yeah, of course I’m open to suggestions from anyone!

    Yokozuna good. Stiff. But the housing is much larger than expected and may (did not) fit neatly into internal cable routing.

  47. @mxlmax

    Cool, good tip. No internal routing on my bike so that isn’t an issue thankfully.

  48. I’m riding it on 2 bikes. I like it a lot. Makes SRAM shift way butterier than normal and works great as well with campy. My BMC is internal and it works fine but the burly cable ends are fickle to get seated right. The housing lasts a really long time and I’ve recabled it with stock shimano, campy, and yoko and it all works.

  49. Anyone have experience with these brakes and ZIPP 303 or 404 firecrest clincher?  from above it sounds like the 25 is out regardless.  but a 23 fattens up well on the zipps so….

  50. @ritterider

    Anyone have experience with these brakes and ZIPP 303 or 404 firecrest clincher? from above it sounds like the 25 is out regardless. but a 23 fattens up well on the zipps so….

    It will depend more on the fork and frame clearance than the brakes; Marko was riding 404 clinchers (alu) with 25s and had no problem on his BMC, though I think the firecrests are a bit wider. If your current brakes give enough room for a 27, I’d say the TRPs are likely to work. If you don’t think you have enough clearance for that, you might be cutting it close. Its very hard to say without seeing your setup.

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar