FSA SL-K brakes review£115.00

Chunky-yet-lightweight calipers get fat rim friendly

BikeRadar score3.5/5

In terms of raw power FSA's SL-K conventional dual pivot brakes feel, compared with the latest cam assisted or Shimano SLR Evo wide pivot models, average rather than aggressive. 

Related: Best road disc and caliper brakes

High quality thrust bearings mean the power is smoothly delivered though, whether you’re skimming off speed gently in the wet or anchoring hard on hot, dry tarmac. The easy movement is also reflected in the light, crisp lever feel up to the contact point and the latest versions are significantly stiffer and more precise with their feedback at high finger pressures. The pads give impressively consistent bite in wet or dry conditions and they’re quiet and vibration free too.

The ratchet style QR lever means you can set the brakes up to work anywhere between fully open and closed (not just one or the other) if you’re swapping wheels in a race. Stainless hardware also means no flash rusting if you accidentally leave your brakes wet after a winter ride.

While the older models leave only 25mm between the pads, the latest versions have a 28mm pad span that’s more than enough for scuff free silence even with super wide rims on dirty days. They’re well priced for their quality too, making them a cultured alternative to the big brands and explaining their increasing popularity on complete bikes.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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: 45
  • 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 than 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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