By Zack Vestal
Options in aftermarket brakes have multiplied in recent years. A category once defined by feathery but flimsy-looking carbon and aluminum has matured, and the TRP R960 is evidence that shedding weight need not result in shredded skin from a blown corner. At 245 grams for the pair (with pads, but minus mounting hardware) they are almost 50 grams lighter per pair than Shimano Dura-Ace, but proved to function almost as well.
The TRPs have forged and CNC machined 6061 arms, available in either red or black anodizing. The machining is extensive, and results in an industrial, hollowed-out look. All the hardware is titanium or aluminum, and the pad carriers are machined aluminum. Dual pivots keep the brake arch stiff and maintain braking force, and as far as I could tell, most mechanical features of standard-setting road brakes are included. A 2.5 mm centering screw functions just like the same piece on a Shimano Dura-Ace brakeset. Brake pad adjustment is simple and painless, using a 4mm Allen wrench.
Installation was no different from a typical brakeset from Shimano, Campagnolo, or SRAM. I did have to add about 2.5 or 3mm of extra spacing behind the front caliper to prevent the trailing edge of the pads from hitting the fork legs. As fork legs get more of an aero cross section, and brakesets look to shave material, this type of interference can crop up.
I appreciate the fact that no unusual Torx-head bolts were used for mounting or centering the calipers and brake pads. Everything stayed in adjustment for the duration of my four weeks riding this brakeset.
Rather than a flip-lever, quick release function on the TRP R950 depends on flipping a plastic retainer and then disengaging the barrel adjuster from the brake arm. I would consider this a two-step process, rather than one step of simply flipping a lever. That being said, it’s pretty easy to perform, and allows the brake arms to open a little wider to ease removal of a wheel. On a brake like this, where weight is the key target, it’s the one small sacrifice in functionality.
My only gripe is with the supplied aluminum brake caliper fixing nut. I’m not a huge fan of aluminum nuts or bolts in general, because the material is softer than steel or titanium and is more likely to round out. In fact, after two installations and removals I did round the rear nut to the point that I felt more comfortable replacing it with a standard steel piece.
I tried an ultralight aftermarket brakeset seven years ago, and took it off my bike within weeks due to the loss of stopping power and poor functionality. By contrast, if not required to take these brakes off my bike for photos, I could have left them on for months. They work almost as well as my benchmark brakes (Dura-Ace 7800) and weigh less.
I rode several mountain passes, including a steep dirt-road descent, and never had any worries for my safety or stopping power. Under braking, the arms do not flex visibly. I would rate the power at roughly a 7.5 or 8 out of 10, although I did not get to try them in wet conditions, which sometimes reveal more about a brakeset. Modulation was good, never grabby and always very predictable.
If you feel the need to lighten your bike by an ounce or two without much trade-off in power or functionality, I can recommend these brakes. The look is unique, and the “quick release” is not as quick as some, but for the most part these TRP brakes work quite well