First look: Ashima prototype hydraulic road brake

Super-lightweight stopper that works with a standard lever

Ashima's groundbreaking new pistonless mountain bike disc brake is set to have a big impact when it hits shop shelves in March, and we'll be bringing you more on that later this week.

But the product that really caught our eye when we met up with the brains behind the Taiwanese firm, British ex-pat Wayne Moore, in Harrogate this week was this prototype road version of the aforementioned hydraulic PanCake Brake (PCB).

As with the mountain bike version, instead of traditional solid pistons it uses rolling diaphragm seals to push out the pads, in this case against the rim rather than a disc rotor.

With its one-piece full-carbon arch the brake looks surprisingly minimal, and that's because the master cylinder fits inside a specially designed stem (the plastic version shown here is just a mock-up), which also features a taperlock system instead of the usual two steerer clamp bolts.

It's operated using a standard road lever, and the only cable on show is a short section between the lever and stem – everything else is tucked away inside the stem/steerer tube/fork crown.

Moore says the PCB Road will offer performance on a par with a normal road brake – because no more power is needed – but with the lightest weight of any system on the market.

The price has yet to be confirmed, but he admits: "It's not going to be cheap." The road brake looks set to be launched in 2011, and plans are in the pipeline for a (non-disc) mountain bike version.

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