TRP Quadiem SL brake review£200.00

Powerful four-pot stoppers

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After a false start last year, TRP’s four-piston Quadiem brake is now available to buy in both basic and SL formats.

The SL version saves 100g over the basic Quadiem thanks to some hardware changes – including a broad-bladed carbon fibre lever – and a complete 180mm front setup comes in at 474g. That’s still 110g more than SRAM’s four-piston Trail X0 system, which remains the benchmark for trail brakes, but is in line with full-on downhill-focused brakes such as Avid’s Code.

While the hinged clamp makes installation easy and sits fine alongside trigger shifters, there are no combination-clamp options. Production versions will come with an alloy-centred, two-piece rotor designed to reduce heat build-up, but there are no finned pads or clever composite rotors to complement them a laShimano.

The big calliper is totally enclosed on top, so TRP rely on composite pistons to deal with the heat that's built-up during long descents. It certainly cools well enough to prevent fade in the UK, despite our deliberate anchor-dragging provocations, though we’re yet to confirm they’re as happy in true alpine conditions.

Power from the reworked lever internals, big, four-piston callipers and long pads is improved, and is now right up there with most heavy-duty stoppers. It’s not quite as brutal as Shimano’s Saint or Formula’s RO, but squeeze hard and the Quadiems deliver proper tyre-ripping power.

The way that power is delivered takes some getting used to. A gentle squeeze produces a very subtle start that ramps up quickly to full bite. This creates impressive modulation on smoother trails or tarmac, but grabbing at them suddenly – either deliberately or accidentally when thumping across braking bumps – delivers a mallet of momentum loss that’s hard to control or predict. You have to spend quite a lot of time with these brakes before you overcome this.

You have to keep re-compensating for a long time too, as the power keeps increasing for ages thanks to a very long bedding-in process. There’s no bite point adjust either, just a reach adjust in the crook of the lever.

Disappointingly for a brake that’s designed to live on downhill and hardcore bikes that are going to get crashed more than most, the hose is situated in a very exposed spot on the outside edge of the calliper. The semi-sintered pad design is unique to the brake rather than shared with a more commonly available brand, and pricing is very high too. 

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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