First look: Ashima’s pistonless disc brake

'World first' stopper weighs 308g all-in

Earlier this week we showed you Ashima’s prototype hydraulic road brake. This is its equally groundbreaking mountain bike cousin, which is due to hit shop shelves in March.

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The PanCake Brake (PCB) is the world’s first pistonless hydraulic disk brake. Instead of being pushed against the rotor by solid pistons, the pads are instead mounted directly on a rolling diaphragm seal.

The most obvious benefit of this is the weight saving: the calliper, lever, pads and 180mm rotor are claimed to weigh just 308g.

As well as being extremely light, Ashima designer Wayne Moore says it’s easy to bleed and service thanks to its one-way fluid flow – he reckons it’s a two-minute job once you know what you’re doing – and very durable.

The lever body is plastic, because Moore reckons that gives the perfect blend of strength, light weight and quality of finish.

Ashima pancake brake: ashima pancake brake
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

He was originally hoping to launch the PCB last summer but experiences with other companies’ products on a brake-eating trail near his home in Taiwan – let’s just say he got through a fair few sets – convinced him that light weight and good looks were not enough.

Moore has since concentrated on increasing the power of the system so that it now offers similar performance to Shimano’s top-end trail stoppers. As he says, because this is a new concept, “people are worried by the endurance, so I must be able to prove them wrong”.

Justin Loretz from What Mountain Bike magazine has been desperate to get his hands on the PCB for some time now and now has a set on his desk ready to be fitted to his new Morewood test rig. Look out for more on that bike and this brake in WMB and on BikeRadar soon, including a full review. RRP is £129.99/€168.99 per brake.

Ashima pancake brake: ashima pancake brake
James Costley-White/BikeRadar


Also in the works are some beefier four-piston APV (Ashima Power Valve) brakes. Details are scant at this stage, because they’re not due to be launched until the Eurobike trade show in the autumn, but Moore says they’ll be the “world’s first multi-stage hydraulics”.

From what we understand, the first stage of lever travel will activate two of the pistons, delivering enough power for most trail situations. If you get into trouble, pull the lever a bit further and the second set of pistons will engage, providing even more stopping power. We’ll bring you more information as soon as we get it.

Ashima apv brake: ashima apv brake
James Costley-White/BikeRadar


Ashima are perhaps best known for their disc rotors; they’ve sold 75,000 in the past 18 months so they clearly know what they’re doing. You can now get them with coloured ‘spiders’ (white, red, black, blue or gold), and in an 185mm size (112g). Prices range from £24.99 (€32.50) for plain 140mm rotors to £34.99 (€45.50) for coloured 180mm or 203mm discs.

Ashima coloured disc rotor: ashima coloured disc rotor
James Costley-White/BikeRadar


When we met up with Mr Moore in Harrogate, he also showed us his latest cable sets, including the bling-looking top-of-the-range Reaction (£24.99/€32.50 for a full-bike kit) with its Kevlar-braided coloured outers and Teflon-coated inners.

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Of particular interest was this new flexible, ball-ended ferrule that he’s been working on in a bid to achieve smoother cable runs – the slits in the metal body allow it to bend slightly so it can follow the lines of your bike.

Ashima reaction cable: ashima reaction cable
James Costley-White/BikeRadar