It sounds too good to be true – road disc brakes that are cable-actuated, but with hydraulic power, for an affordable sum. Where's the catch? Well provided you can look past the fact Juin Tech isn't an established brand – at least not in the UK where this review is being written – you should be smiling with these R1 anchors.
We received a sample set towards the end of 2015 and have been riding them through the goop of a (very) wet British winter. Roads, bridleways, canal paths, deep muddy puddles – all these conditions and more were thrown at them, along with some aggressive riding, and the R1s haven't put a foot wrong yet. Their power won't blow you away, but it's nicely linear and ample for most situations.
Setting them up
First things first, we had to prise Juin Tech's R1 brakes out of their attractive lime-green packaging and fit them onto the bike. For non-mechanics, you'll be pleased to hear this process is very simple, exactly the same as fitting a set of cable disc brakes.
It can be achieved in less than 30mins and completely avoids the hassle of bleeding hoses, recabling STI levers or similar issues. There is a finger-nut on the calliper body for adjusting the bite point of the brakes – being hydraulic, they'll automatically re-centre the pads as they wear, but it's useful to have this manual adjuster for bite point.
So now they're mounted, how do they perform? Well the brakes didn't immediately feel much more powerful than the cable disc brakes (Hayes CX Expert) fitted previously, but after a week or two of riding the pads had bedded in nicely.
If you're hoping for stopping power that's comparable to the best hydraulic systems then we hate to break it to you, these aren't that. But power follows a nice linear path and – especially if you're braking from the drops – can stop you very quickly, though you never feel in danger of going over the bars.
In our final week of testing the Juin Tech R1 brakes, I was riding at pace along a quiet shared path when a pedestrian wearing headphones suddenly stepped in front of me. Despite being forced to brake from the hoods, I brought the bike to a complete standstill with minimal fuss, avoiding what would have been a certain crash with lesser brakes. This was impressive and reassuring.
Nor did I notice any major brake fade: we've not had the opportunity to ride them on proper mountains, but they laughed at all the wet, mud and grit I could throw at them over the past five months with little-to-no reduction in stopping power. Our Colorado-based team previously found that TRP's similar HY/RD model didn't suffer any noticeable brake fade on long descents of Boulder's Flagstaff mountain, and indications are good that the Juin Tech R1 brakes handle themselves similarly.
So would we recommend these brakes? Yes we would, especially for the price – just £150 or $200 for both front and rear brakes. Plus they're lighter than the competing TRP HY/RD model: we weighed them at 142g per caliper, compared with a claimed 195g per calliper for the HY/RDs.
You might want to consider investing in some compressionless cable housing from Tektro or similar. Power and modulation are definitely better than conventional cable-actuated disc brakes, but it won't blow your socks off out of the box. But once they've bedded in, they'll allow you to brake later and more confidently, and that's definitely worth paying for.