TRP claims the Trail EVO is built specifically for trail bikes and electric mountain bikes, with a redesigned caliper and lever architecture utilising lessons learnt from its World Cup DH brakes.
TRP Trail EVO specifications
TRP’s Trail EVO has a lever blade reminiscent of the shape found on Shimano brakes, with a flat middle section of the blade, which has some dimpled texturing, before an upturned end to keep your finger in place.
It’s quite long, sitting mid-way between a Hope Tech 4 lever and Shimano’s own.
The lever reach is adjustable, tool free, via a dial between the lever and bar – it is accessible with your fingers, and offers a wide range of adjustment. However, on our test brakes, we felt that it didn’t come particularly close to the bar – something to be aware of if you have smaller hands.
A simple hinged clamp connects the lever body to the bar. Shifter mounting accessories are available, but my test brakes came without. In its place is a small plastic shim that was prone to falling out – fortunately it doesn’t seem to impact on lever security.
With just a simple bar clamp, I had no issues mounting the brake near shifters or dropper levers.
TRP connects the lever to the rear caliper with a new, stiffer 5mm diameter hose. It’s said to cope with temperature better, as well as braking forces, and provides easier routing through frames.
It comes unattached to the levers from new, which makes routing the hose easy. I didn’t need to re-bleed the brakes after attaching the levers.
Bleeding the brakes is similar to a Shimano setup, and requires the Tektro or TRP bleed pot (which has a different thread to the Shimano pot).
The hose enters the caliper via an adjustable banjo, to aid rear trangle hose routing, and a long resin (from stock) pad is top-loaded into the caliper, and is pushed on by four stainless steel pistons.
The brakes are designed to be run with TRP’s 2.3mm thick rotors, so I ensured I did so during testing to ensure I assessed their performance fairly.
TRP Trail EVO performance
There’s little lever throw before the pads hit the rotor, which may not suit riders with smaller hands thanks to how far out from the bar the lever sits, even when reach-adjust is fully wound-in.
The lever throw, while the pads are in contact with the rotor, isn’t particularly far either, so maximum power is delivered before the lever gets close to the bar, and you’re unlikely to find your fingers squeezed between lever and grip.
Though the absolute initial bite of the soft resin pads isn’t quite as punchy as I might have imagined, the early lever stroke proves that TRP’s brakes have ample stopping power.
Pulling just past the initial contact point results in the pads gripping doggedly to the thick, heat and warp-resistant rotor, and power only builds from there.
The lever feel is fairly solid, not quite as firm as Shimano’s but far and away more solid feeling than Magura’s. It’s like that from SRAM in my experience.
There’s a linear build to the brake’s power as you squeeze the lever. This makes it easy to mete out the power delivered without suddenly finding the brake ramps up unexpectedly.
To get the maximum out of the brake, though, requires more finger force than some of the best brakes out there, which can be quite tiring on long descents (even though they cope well with heat).
There’s also more resistance to the lever’s action than some other brakes, contributing to that heavy feeling.
The brakes are relatively heavy, and while the caliper is well built, I didn’t feel the lever construction felt as premium as other brakes at a similar price point, with the finish being a little more basic than some.
TRP Trail EVO bottom line
The Trail EVO performs well, with high levels of power and stability when hot.
However, the bite point is further out than many of its competitors, and lever adjustments don’t allow it to come particularly close to the bar.
This is likely to be an issue for riders who like their levers to sit close to the bar, whether via preference or hand size.
How we tested
This year, our expert reviewers have tested a selection of the best mountain bike brakes, split into two broad genres.
First, there’s a selection of the most powerful stoppers, aimed at downhill, enduro and electric mountain bike riders. We’ve kitted these brakes out with 200mm rotors front and rear to get the most out of their four-piston calipers and tested them on an e-MTB and our enduro bikes.
The second cohort is targeted at cross-country and downcountry riders, who still need plenty of stopping power without upsetting the scales. These two- and four-piston brakes grab onto 180mm and 160mm rotors in our testing, fitted to our downcountry test rig.
Before hitting the trail, we gave each brake a full going over in our workshop. Hoses were cut to get the brakes fitting neatly and to check out how easily they’re bled at home. We weighed and measured them, making sure no detail was missed.
We lined our levers up against SRAM and Shimano shifters to see which play nicely and weighed up the balance of cost and spec in order to reach our conclusions.
Brakes on test
- Clarks M4 review
- Magura MT7 Pro review
- TRP Trail Evo review
- Hope Tech 4 V4 review
- SRAM Code R review
- Hayes Dominion T4 review
- Shimano XT M8120 review
- Magura MT8 Pro review
- Hope Tech 4 X2 review
- Shimano XTR M9100 review
- SRAM Level Ultimate review