When we test brakes, we tend to give the price for the brake unit itself – single-sided excluding mounts and adaptors. Clarks sells the M2 with rotors as standard for £40 per end or for £69.99 as a pair including rotors.
This makes them some of the cheapest brakes on the market (Clarks’ Clout brake system comes in at a tenner less), but in tests gone by, its stoppers have always impressed.
Clarks M2 Disc Brake details
It’s no surprise that forty quid an end doesn’t get you many features, but I can certainly forgive Clarks for that.
The long-ish lever blade is well shaped to get a couple of fingers on there for maximum pull strength, and the upturned end keeps your fingers on the lever nice and easily.
The lever blade’s position is adjustable with a 2.5mm Allen bolt inside the lever pivot. It’s not the easiest to get an Allen key in to, but it should be set and forget for the most part.
There is a little bit of wobble between lever and lever blade, but not as bad as with some brakes I’ve tested that cost ten times more per pair.
The lever attaches to the handlebar via a band-type clamp that is tightened using an Allen key. With the bolt threading into the lever body horizontally, it’s usually easy to negotiate an Allen key past shifter levers for hassle-free attachment and adjustment – certainly, it’s easier than Tektro’s lever bolt.
Hose lengths are relatively short at 850mm for the front and 1,700mm for the rear. This will likely only cause problems on longer travel, aggressively shaped bikes, or XXL sized trail bikes.
The two-piston caliper doesn’t have the most refined finish ever – for example, the milled section of caliper where the mounting bolts meat the caliper isn’t the cleanest, but as I’ve said already, I can cut Clarks some slack here.
The top-loading pads are held in place with a screw-in pin, and there’s a little shaping of the caliper, which may help with heat dissipation.
Bleeding the kit was easy and Clarks supplied me with an excellent universal bleed kit that included syringes and hoses to fit a wide range of brakes. Tolerances on the bleed bolts weren’t amazing, but I opened and closed them with no issue.
Clarks M2 Disc Brake performance
Clarks’ M2 brakes have a really light lever feel, which I like under my finger. This is thanks to little friction in the lever, and a fairly long lever blade that gives ample leverage through which to pull – though, I ended up running the lever clamp further inboard than on other brakes to accommodate this.
The lever’s shape is great – similar to that of Shimano’s M501 lever. This is comfortable when hauling hard on the lever, and the upturned end keeps your finger in place when doing so.
If you want to stop quickly, you will be hauling on those levers. The two-piston caliper doesn’t offer the most power, though it’s easier to get to the upper reaches of its power capabilities than Tektro’s HD-M285 brake.
Much like the Tektro brake, I found myself dragging the brakes on longer, steeper descents. Without a ton of power in reserve, speeds must be regulated further in advance than they might otherwise.
While I didn’t have issues during testing, I’d be wary of heat build-up over very long descents doing this.
I did like the brake’s positive bite point, which gave early lever pull confidence, while I still felt able to easily regulate the power being delivered.
Clarks M2 Disc Brake bottom line
Unsurprisingly, the M2 brakes feel cheap in comparison to some of the pricier brakes I had on test, but at £40 per end, this is more than acceptable.
They’re the same price as the Tektro brakes, and while it’s marginal when it comes to performance, I preferred the feel of the Clarks stoppers.
Their power delivery was smooth through the lever’s stroke and I felt top-end power, while similar to that of the Tektro brakes, was slightly easier to achieve with the M2s.
These would make for an adequate brake on a budget build or as an emergency stop-gap on a trail bike.
How we tested
We rounded up 12 powerful hydraulic brakes to find out which are the ultimate speed-scrubbers.
To get to know what it’s like to live with these brakes, we asked the brands to send us their official bleed kit, then trimmed the hoses to our ideal length.
As such, we’ve cut and bled every set we tested to see just how easy they are to maintain. Then we saddled up to see how they performed on the trails.
Overall braking power is important, but so too is the ease with which you’re able to access that power – if you have to squeeze the lever really hard, that’s likely to lead to arm pump. Brake ‘feel’ is another key aspect – it’s subjective, but some people like a really grabby feel, while others prefer the power to progressively build as you squeeze the lever. We also needed to work out just how powerful the brakes are, and how resistant to heat build-up.
So, with the help of both leg power and some electrical assistance, we took them to the top of some of the South West’s steepest slopes and pointed our bikes downhill to see how these 12 stoppers coped.
Note: Weights and prices are for a single brake (caliper, hose and lever, but no rotor or adaptor, unless otherwise stated).
Also on test
- Formula Cura disc brakes
- Hope Tech 3 V4 disc brakes
- Magura MT Trail SL disc brakes
- Magura MT5 disc brakes
- Shimano BL-MT501/MT520 disc brakes
- Shimano SLX M7120 disc brakes
- Shimano XTR Trail disc brakes
- SRAM Code RSC disc brakes
- SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brakes
- Tektro HD-M285 disc brakes
- TRP Slate T4 Evo disc brakes
|Weight||568g – calliper, hose and lever - for front and rear|
|Brand||Clarks cycle systems|
Fluid: Mineral oil
Weight: 271g (f) 297g (r)
Details: Single piece lever clamp; No shifter mounting options
|Brake type||Hydraulic disc|