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Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby madcow » Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:09 pm

Welcome to the 3rd Fair Wheel Bikes brake shootout. This will be a more current version of the last two tests, it will include all of the brakes from the last tests plus a bunch of new ones.

I'm basically going to just refine the last test, changes to the last test will be noted in red I'll insert the new brakes into the test alphabetically.

I had been delaying this test while waiting for the ZG carbon Gravitas brakes to arrive as I thought it would be great to have one more carbon brake in the test. Unfortunately I'm still waiting for them. Hopefully they'll show up soon and I'll be able to add them in. The Gravitas will still not be included in this test.

I realize that my last test was not as widely applicable as I'd like because it based a brakes performance on how it worked for me, of course I can't judge it on anything else. So this time I'm going to start by saying that I consider all of the brakes in the test adequate in stopping power and I don't consider any of them un-usable. So basically you can think of this as a comparison of brakes that I'd consider for my own bikes. This still holds true with all the new additions as well. Putting together the notes for this review has made me remember how much I like doing shootouts like this. What I love about them is that I think all the brakes are great, but doing this forces me to sit down and take a thorough look at each one side by side which makes me realize new things about them and my feelings about them.

So in alphabetical order, here are the brakes.

1. Ax Lightness Orion
2. Ax Lightness 3000 Premium
3. Bontrager Speedlimit XXX
4. Ciamillo Gsl
5. Ciamillo Negative Gravity
6. Ciamillo Zero Gravity
7. EE
8. Far and Near
9. Kcnc Cb1
10. Kcnc C6
11. Kcnc C7
12. M5
13. Shimano DA 7900
14. Thm Fibula
15. TRP 960

So on to the review...

First the Ax Lightness Orion.
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The lightest and most expensive brake in the reviewNo longer true. Decent but not great raw stopping power with good modulation. It's looks on and off a bike are simply top notch. Stock spring tension is too low. If left alone it can cause rattles. On the upside, the flat spring is one of the easiest to adjust tension on, a pair of needle nose pliers and you can adjust the tension with the brake and wheel still on the bike. Of all the single pivot brakes I've ridden over the years, this is the first one that I never had to center after the initial installation. They open wide enough to work on most if not all of the newer wide rims. Setup is quick and simple, but small ti bolts strip easily if you're heavy handed.

Weight: 96.3gr
Price: $950
Pad holders: included
Single Pad holder weight: 6.9gr
Pads: Cork included
Powercordz compatible: no
arm width: 76mm
quick release: not functional when open

Likes: weight, looks, adjustability, easy setup, good performance.
Dislikes: price, no pads or holders. Seems most of these concerns have been addressed. They now include pads and holders and the price has come down by $250

-----------------------------

Ax Lightness 3000 (Orion Premium)
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The 3000 replaces the Orion as the lightest and most expensive brake in the review. It's basically the Orion on a diet and I still can't get past how silly light it really is. It has visible UD carbon on the tops of the arms instead of the standard 3k. The rear pivot bolt swaps from ti to aluminum and the springs become carbon. The rear mounting nut is also swapped from ti to aluminum. Stopping power is decreased from the stock Orion but the brake still has no listed rider weight limit and the change in stopping power is not as great as I would have expected. One of the few complaints we had about the standard Orion was that the spring seemed to be under tensioned, however we did like how easy it was to re-shape the spring to increase the tension. On the premium you cannot re-shape the spring, however this really isn't a problem as the spring does not seem to lack any tension. We have had a couple of the carbon springs break which signals a small drop in durability to me, but a drop should be expected with a brake at this incredible weight. My biggest complaint about this brake is also the most meaningless complaint. The packaging. While it really isn't important it's pretty tough to swallow a brake of this caliber and price coming in a plastic bag with no manual. I believe this complaint is already being addressed in future versions.

Weight: 81.4gr
Price:$1200
Pad holders: included
Single Pad holder weight: 6.9gr
Pads: Cork included
Powercordz compatible: no
arm width: 76 with a functional 62mm.
Width with stock pads/holders: 30mm
quick release: yes, but not functional when open

Likes: weight(it's the lightest of everything available), looks(It's probably the best looking brake in the test), easy setup, exclusivity
Dislikes: Reduced performance and durability and the packaging.

-----------------------------

Bontrager Speedlimit XXX.
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One of only two carbon brakes on review this timeNo longer true, there are now 4 carbon brakes in the review., the Bontrager is available in two colors, nude carbon and white. I happened to get both just so I could see the finish on them. The performance on them is good for a lightweight carbon brake. More stopping power than the Ax, but at some extra weight, 173grams makes them the heaviest of the test. Like most things Bontrager the fit and finish are top notch. These are certainly some of the best looking brakes in the test. I appreciate that Bontrager often looks after the details such as having a teflon liner inside the barrel adjuster. I did have to center the brakes once after the initial install but beyond that they seemed to stay put well. They also have the strongest spring of any of the single pivots in the test which returns your levers solidly and without rattle. The price is very attractive for a carbon brake.

Weight: 173.2grams
Price: $399
Holders: Included. Campagnolo sized mounting bolts but Shimano pad fitting.
Single pad holder weight: 8.7grams
Pads: Bontrager for aluminum rims included.
Powercordz compatible: Yes
Arm width: 61mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 27.6mm
QR: yes, but only partially functional when open

Likes: Price, excellent finish and looks, good performance, details.
Dislikes: slightly heavy, single pivot.

-----------------------

Ciamillo GSL
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The GSL is one of Ciamillos latest brakes, basically a tuned Negative gravity. This brake should be the one that puts the last nail in the coffin of the original ZG brakes. At 139grams these brakes are practically the same weight as the originals but with increased leverage and increased stiffness. This results in better stopping power than the originals, and arguably better modulation. The price is more than reasonable for the performance. You can custom build your own brake choosing the color of each piece. The spring retention holes have been redesigned and the spring no longer has a tendency to pop out. The spring though isn't very strong and depending on cable routing may leave your levers with a rattle. Like some of the others the GSL does require occasional centering of the brake. The new cable clamp mech is nice looking and holds a steel cable secure. The angle of the hole is a little outboard from where it should be and it also seems to eliminate powercordz as a stock option. The higher leverage is nice for increased stopping power but decreases arm travel which means typically your pads need to be close to the rim which also eliminates their use with some wider rims. I had to use the low profile pad holders that they offer on my Edge wheels and still couldn't get as much clearance as I like, any wider of a rim and use of the brake really wouldn't have been an option. The barrel adjuster is very short and offers only minimal adjustment. It's one of only 2 brakes that offer custom colors from the factory and I really love that it's already included in the price. When considered as a whole package(price, weight, custom options, performance etc...) this has to be one of the leaders and when it comes to customer service Ciamillo is typically in with the best of the bunch.

Weight: 139.2
Price: $399
Pad Holders: Included (takes Campag style pads)
Pad holder weight: 8.1grams
Pads: Kool stop black. Downgrade from previous Swiss stop yellow, but still a good pad.
Powercordz compatible: Not without some changes.
Arm width: 59.5mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 23mm w stock holders, 25mm with low profile option.
QR: yes, but only partially functional when open

Likes: looks, good performance, but most of all the custom options are great.
Dislikes: very narrow width, weak spring, centering

---------------------------------------------------

Ciamillo Negative gravity.
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The NG was the first real re-design of the famed ZG brake. Stopping power is good, modulation is good. Weight is a bit hefty, but not bad. A price decrease this year has made it a more attractive brake as it shares basically the same design as the GSL but with a little extra weight and a lower price.

Weight: 164.2
Price: $299
Pad Holders: Included (takes Campag style pads)
Pad holder weight: 8.1grams
Pads: Kool stop black.
Powercordz compatible: Yes
Arm width: 59.5mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 23mm w stock holders, 25mm with low profile option.
QR: yes, but only partially functional when open

Likes: Good performer, good price.
Dislikes: very narrow width, weak spring, centering.

---------------------------------------------------

Ciamillo Zero Gravity Ti.

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Once the ZG ti was the only real weight weenie choice. The years have seen advancement from within the company and others as well. Even with the price coming down to $345 I have to wonder, if it makes sense to keep this brake around. For the extra $50 on the GSL you get basically the same weight, more power, more modulation and custom color options. Add custom options to this one and it's $399. The same price as the GSL(which would make me guess that we're going to see the ZG Ti disappear in the coming year)

Weight: 135.8
Price: $345
Pad Holders: Included (takes Campag style pads)
Pad holder weight: 8.1grams
Pads: Kool stop black.
Powercordz compatible: Yes
Arm width: 60mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 28mm w stock holders, 30mm with low profile option.
QR: yes, but only partially functional when open

Likes, weight, new price
dislikes, centering, price vs newer models

------------------------------------------------

EE Cycle works

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What can be said about the EE that hasn't already been said. In terms of pure performance this is the best brake in the test. Strong stopping power, great modulation, and lightweight. Some have said it looks overly complicated, but I'll take the complex look if it comes with performance like the EE. When reading the instructions, the setup can seem fairly complicated. However once having installed even one brake, setup actually is quite simple, but does require you to pay attention to housing length. The brake pad holders are very creative and the easiest to change pads on of anything I've ever used. A nice bonus is that they are also the lightest pad holders I've had. I love that custom colors are available, but don't like that it's an additional charge to an already pricey brake. In addition to the pad holders, the brake centering of the EE is top notch. Loosen a pinch bolt, squeeze and hold the brake lever while tightening the bolt is all it takes to center and keep centered. Like Ciamillo, EE cycleworks customer service is some of the best we've ever encountered in this industry. EE has made several changes for the 2010 model. The most visible is the new barrel adjuster. The arms have changed in dimension, getting bigger and even stiffer, the pivots have gotten larger and stiffer and the ratio of the brake has changed to match a little closer with new 7900 standard. The end result is everything that was good about the 2009 model but with more stopping power and more modulation at no weight penalty. The bad is that it has resulted in a price increase.

Weight: 135.62010 version weighed 1 gram more.
Price: $569
Pad Holders: Included
Pad holder weight: 5.9grams
Pads: not included
Powercordz compatible: Yes
Arm width: 60mmIncreased from 60 to 68, but functional range is closer to 63mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 32mm, Increased to 40mm with functional range being about 35mm
QR: yes, not functional when open

Likes, performance, performance, performance. Weight, pad holders, centering. Functionality with the widest of rims.
Dislikes, price, pads not included.

---------------------------------------------

Far and Near

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This is one of the biggest surprises for me. We had some of these to test for the last 6 months or so and other than criticizing what I thought was wrong with them, I hadn't really thought much about what was right with them. I should point out that we do a lot of product testing for companies, and while they always listen they don't always agree with us or the changes we suggest. It was nice to see that FnN addressed every issue we had with the prototypes. This is a very solid performing dual pivot brake at a very respectable weight. They didn't chase a weight target but rather seem to have gone after a performance target and then tried to make it as light as possible while staying on that target. True dual pivot moving on bearings. Interesting and weightless side slotted quick release system. Full ti hardware. Very similar to the TRP 960 but at a better price and 50 grams of weight savings. There is very little about this brake that I don't like. I think the thing that bothers me most is the mystery etching on it. Etched on one arm in small letters it says SSL/ 8mm/4mm. We have been unable to figure out what this means and we refuse to ask as we want to solve it without any help. Also the included pads are not the best for alloy rims.

Weight: 161.4
Price: $290
Pad Holders: Included
Pad holder weight: 5.2grams
Pads: 2 sets included (multi compound for alloy and cork for carbon)
Powercordz compatible: Yes
Arm width: 62mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 31mm
QR: yes, not functional when open

Likes: great weight/price/performance ratio, dual pivot w/bearings.
Dislikes: pads and etching

---------------------------------------------

Kcnc CB1

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The 2nd lightest brake in the test, and along with the EE is the only dual pivot Neither of the aforementioned are still true.. Of course there is going to be a tradeoff to get a dual pivot brake this light. The arms do show some flex under hard braking. It's available in 4 colors and has the best price to weight of anything in the test. The included pads (two sets, one for carbon one for alloy) are not great and I recommend replacing them. The pin that keeps the arms moving together can sometimes start to feel a little sticky if it gets enough dirt in it, but it's an easy thing to clean. This is the brake I chose as the best overall during my last review, but with several new contenders, is it still the most balanced?

Weight: 114.2
Price: $330
Pad Holders: Included
Pad holder weight: 6.2grams
Pads: 2 sets included
Powercordz compatible: Yes
Arm width: 59mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 31mm
QR: yes, functional when open

Likes: best weight/price, colors, dual pivot
Dislikes: pads

---------------------------------------------

Kcnc C6 and Kcnc C7

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I'm choosing to list these two brakes together because the similarities are greater than the differences. The brake is the latest version of the CB1 which was a budget favorite of mine. The C6/C7 brakes take that design and address some of the issues I had with it. Arm flex is reduced by moving from a single piece front arm to a double piece which straddles the rear arm. This does indeed reduce the amount of visible flex in the arms. The stickiness of the pin that coordinates arm movement has been addressed by fitting it with a brass roller, which while it still doesn't feel like bearings, is an improvement. The stock brake pads have been upgraded to a new compound red in the C7 and orange in the C6 which also is an improvement though still worthy of an aftermarket upgrade in my opinion. The new dual front arm meant a change in the cable retention system which with steel cables doesn't really have any effect, though it does mean the new brake is no longer power cordz compatible.

The differences between the two brakes: C6(the silver pictured brake) is a 6000 series aluminum and C7(the black pictured brake) is a 7000 series aluminum. (the 7000 is a bit more rigid of a brake, though the difference between the two is most likely not noticeable.) The C7 is fitted with full titanium hardware and the C6 is fitted with stainless steel. Both brakes come with 5 different length aluminum mounting nuts meaning they fit almost any frame/fork. The C6 comes in 6 colors(black, blue, gold, green, red, silver) and the C7 comes in 4 colors(black, gold, red, silver.)

Weight C6: 154.4gr
Weight C7: 114.2gr
Price C6: $180
Price C7: $330
Pad Holders: Included
Pad holder weight: C6, 10.0gr
Pad holder weight: C7, 5.7gr
Pads: C6, Orange for alloy rims
Pads: C7, Red for alloy rims, Cork for carbon rims.
Powercordz compatible: No
Arm width: 60.5
Width with stock pads/holders: 31mm
QR: yes, functional when open

Likes: best weight/price ratio, colors, dual pivot and good performers. At $180 the C6 is the lowest priced brake in the test.
Dislikes: pads/cable retention.

---------------------------------------------

M5

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The M5 is one of the strongest brakes in the test, but doesn't modulate as well as the others. I like the strong spring tension which makes for a clean return, though not always to center. No quick release is a problem for Shimano/Sram users. And unfortunately it's also one of the most expensive brakes in this review.

Weight: 154.0
Price: $700
Pad Holders: Included
Pad holder weight: 7.2grams
Pads: not included
Powercordz compatible: No
Arm width: 60mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 26mm
QR: none

Likes: stopping power
Dislikes: price, width, no quick release, weight.

--------------------------------------------------

Shimano Dura Ace 7900

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What can you say about the 7900 brake, it's THE brake. The benchmark by which all others measure their performance which is why it's included in this test. Simply put, it just works. It has raw stopping power but also plenty of modulation. It's best feature is the fact that once you put it on, it's likely that you'll never think about it again, and that's a good thing. It's just so darn heavy.

Weight: 215.8gr
Price: $440
Pad Holders: Included
Pad holder weight: 10.8gr
Pads: black for alloy rims
Powercordz compatible: Yes
Arm width: 62mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 32mm
QR: yes, functional when open

Likes: Performance
Dislikes: Weight

---------------------------------------------

Thm Fibula

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Looking at this brake you can just see how much thought went into creating what Thomas felt was an ideal brake. While both are single pivot their front/rear designs are very different. Taking a cue from ZG, Frm and others they used a cam in the front to increase the ratio and give more stopping power, but a traditional single pivot rear to keep the weight down. The normal imbalance due to cable and housing length between traditional front and rear brakes is increased by this difference in the designs of the two calipers. The finish is flawless, the weight is very light, and the overall performance is really good. The pad holders are super light, though they only come in silver. They include different length ti mounting nuts as well as a centering tool. Once mounted the brakes stay put and don't have to be regularly centered.

Weight: 107.6gr
Price: $1150
Pad Holders: Included
Pad holder weight: 4.8gr
Pads: not included
Powercordz compatible: No
Arm width: 56.5mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 30.5mm
QR: yes, not functional when open

Likes: performance, finish, weight, exclusivity, looks (rear brake)
Dislikes: no pads, imbalance between front and rear, no black pad holders, looks (front brake)

---------------------------------------------

TRP 960

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This has long been a good performing, semi-light, medium budget brake. It really does hit many of the marks well. However it seems to me it had it's day a year or two ago. While I do like this brake, it's very smooth with very solid performance, today it seems to fit into a slot in the market which in my opinion isn't there. It's only 7 grams lighter than Dura Ace 7900(if you include pads and holders the DA is actually a touch lighter) and only $30 less expensive. Compared to the Far and Near which is a near match in performance and design the TRP is actually 47grams heavier and $100 more expensive. This brake does however come in some very cool colors(black, blue, gold, orange, pink and red.) Not many brakes can be found in pink or orange. If you happen to find this brake on sale somewhere and can pick it up for half price it becomes much more appealing, but at full price it seems to not measure up to some of it's competitors. I am looking forward to trying out the 970SL Magnesium version soon though.

Weight: 208.5
Price: $410
Pad Holders: Included
Pad holder weight: 12.3grams
Pads: black included for alloy rims
Powercordz compatible: Yes
Arm width: 63mm
Width with stock pads/holders: 30mm
QR: yes, not functional when open

Likes: performance, colors
Dislikes: weight vs price.

---------------------------------------------

Once again I'm going to revise how I list and rank brakes. Since stopping power and modulation is subjective to my feelings on the bike, I'm not going to try and draw lines between brakes that are very similar but will instead group them. I'll also be grouping other categories to give things that are very close the same score in that category.

So on we go.

Raw stopping power. I'm grouping these into 4 categories and scoring 1-9 pts per category with 2 pts between groups.
Group 1, the stongest brakes: EE, M5, Shimano 7900. (9pts each)
Group 2, Ciamillo GLS, Ciamillo Neg Gravity, Far and Near, Trp. (7 pts each)
Group 3, Ax Orion, Bontrager, Ciamillo Zero Gravity, Kcnc Cb1, Kcnc C6, Kcnc C7, Thm Fibula (5 pts each)
Group 4, Ax3000 (3 pts each.)


Modulation: Again in 4 groups with same scoring as power.
Group 1, the best modulators, EE, Far and Near, Shimano Dura Ace, Trp. (9 pts each.)
Group 2, Ciamillo GSL, Ciamillo Neg Gravity, Kcnc C6, Kcnc C7, Thm (7 pts each)
Group 3, Ax3000, Ax Orion, Bontrager, Ciamillo Zero Gravity, Kcnc Cb1 (5 pts each)
Group 4, M5 (3 pts each)


Weight, grouped together with 5 gram increments and one point between groups.
Group 1, Ax 3000, (9 pts)
Group 2, Ax Orion, (8 pts)
Group 3, Thm, (7 pts)
Group 4, Kcnc C7, Kcnc Cb1, (6 pts)
Group 5, EE Ciamillo Zero Gravity, Ciamillo GSL (5 pts)
Group 6, M5, Kcnc C6 (4 pts)
Group 7, Far and Near, Ciamillo Negative gravity, (3 pts)
Group 8, Bontrager, (2 pts)
Group 9, Trp, Shimano 7900, (1 pts)


Width of brakes, their ability to work well with wider rims. Grouped in 1mm increments with 1-2 pts between groups depending on increment change.
Group 1, works with the widest range of rim sizes: EE, (9 pts)
Group 2, Shimano 7900, (7 pts)
Group 3, Far and Near, Kcnc C6, Kcnc C7, Kcnc Cb1 (6 pts)
Group 4, Thm, (5 pts)
Group 5, Ax Orion, Ax 3000, Trp (4 pts)
Group 6, Bontrager, Ciamillo Zero Gravity, (3 pts)
Group 7, M5 (2 pts)
Group 8, Ciamillo GSL, Ciamillo Neg Gravity (1 pts)


Pad holders. A mix of weight and ease of changing pads as well as pad retention. Scored in 2 point increments.
Group 1, the best. EE, (9 pts)
Group 2, Ax Orion, Ax 3000, Far and Near, Kcnc C6, Kcnc C7, Kcnc CB1, Thm (7 points)
Group 3, Ciamillo, GSL, Negative Gravity, Zero Gravity, M5 (5 pts)
Group 4, Bontrager, Shimano 7900, Trp (3 pts)


Brake Pads
Most brakes come with pretty equivalent pads. Some are better for alloy some for carbon but there's no significant difference in any of them since most likely they'll all be replaced by aftermarket anyway. I will deduct 2 pts from each of the following: EE, M5, and Thm because they don't come with any pads at all.


Price: Grouped in $20 increments except over $1000 where it is $50 increments. 1 point spread.
Group 1, Kcnc C6, (9 pts)
Group 2, Far and Near, Ciamillo Negative Gravity (8 pts)
Group 3, Kcnc C7, Kcnc Cb1, Ciamillo Zero Gravity (7 pts)
Group 4, Bontrager, Ciamillo GSL, TRP, (6 pts)
Group 5, Shimano 7900 (5 pts)
Group 6, EE (4 pts)
Group 7, M5, (3 pts)
Group 8, Ax Orion (2 pts)
Group 9, Ax 3000, Thm Fibula (1 pts)


Setup. Includes things like sensitivity to cable length, ease of adjustment, ability to not strip bolts or fray cables etc... 3 groups, 2 pt increments.
Group 1, easiest to setup, Far and Near, Kcnc Cb1, Shimano 7900, TRP (9 pts)
Group 2, Bontrager, EE, Kcnc C6, Kcnc C7, M5 (7 pts)
Group 3, Ax3000, Ax Orion, Ciamillo GSL, Negative Gravity & Zero Gravity, Thm Fibula (5 pts)


Maintenance. Includes things like ability to handle contamination, need for cleaning, lubrication and ease of cleaning/lubrication ability to stay centered/adjusted etc... 4 groups 1 point increments.
Group 1. Least maintenance, Far and Near, Shimano Dura Ace, Trp, (9 pts)
Group 2. EE, Kcnc C6, Kcnc C7, Thm, Ax3000 (8 pts)
Group 3. Ax Orion, Bontrager, Kcnc Cb1, M5, (7 pts)
Group 4. Ciamillo GSL, Negative Gravity, Zero Gravity, (6 pts)


Now if all things were equal you could just add up the scores and get this.
1 Tie between EE and Far and Near (58 pts)
3 Tie between Kcnc C6 and C7 (53 pts)
5 Tie between Kcnc Cb1 and Shimano 7900 (52 pts)
7 TRP (48 pts)
8 Tie Ax Orion and Thm Fibula (43 pts)
10 Tie Ax3000, Ciamillo GSL and Ciamillo Negative Gravity (42 pts)
12 Ciamillo Zero Gravity (41 pts)
13 Tie Bontrager and M5 (38 pts.)

Let's take a quick look at the top 10.

1st place. Tie for first. EE obviously is a great brake. The Far and Near was a surprise to me, but looking at it objectively it has solid performance, good weight and a great price. I guess I shouldn't be surprised to see it here. So for the performance rider the EE would be my choice but for the budget rider the Far and Near could be a great choice.

3rd place Interesting that the two Kcnc brakes scored evenly, they offset each other in weight and cost.

5th place No surprise to see 7900 finish here. A really solid performer but the heaviest of the test.

7th place, Also, no surpise to me with this one, as I do think the 7900 or the Far and Near are better choices for this shopper, unless you want a solid stopper in plenty of color choices.

8th place Again no surprise that the Ax and Thm brake tied, they are very similar with one weighing a little less and the other performing a little better.

For 10th place, things get a little grey here, it's not that any of these are particularly bad brakes, they just have some categories that hurt them. The 3000 is a specific brake for a specific market it's expensive and super light so that's a limited use. The Ciamillo stuff suffered from not being useful with wider rims as well as finicky setup/maintenance. However these are not important traits to some and for those people the results should look very different.


But of course we know all things aren't equal. So lets look at a couple of variations.
Price is no issue:
1. EE (47)
2. 7900 (44)
3. Far and Near (43)

Now look at simply performance
1. EE and 7900 (18)
3. Far and Near and TRP (16)
5. GSL and Negative gravity (14)

Performance and weight:
1. EE (23)
2. GSL, Far and Near, Dura Ace, Thm Fibula (19)
3. Ax Orion and C7 (18)

Weight and price:
1. Kcnc C6, C7 and Cb1 (13)
2. Zero Gravity (12)
3. GSL, Negative Gravity, Far and Near (11)


Of course you can manipulate the rankings anyway you want to weight or lessen the value of a category that you see as valuable. Perhaps you think modulation is twice as important as performance you just double the modulation scores. Put these into a spread sheet and calculate what's important to you, it would be interesting to see the results so post them if you take the time to calculate them.

DISCLAIMER: Due to a lack of time, I typed this out fairly quick and without thoroughly proof reading it. I'm sure it's full of mistakes so please point them out when you see them. This also is all based on my own feelings having ridden all of the brakes. All brakes were ridden using yellow swiss stop pads on Edge rims. I should probably add a few other notes, but it's late and I've been in the office for almost 12 hours again, so I'm going home.

It was requested to have a more complete weight listing so with that in mind, here is the weight of each set with pad holders but without pads. From lightest to heaviest.

Ax3000, 109grams
Ax Orion, 123.9gr.
Thm, 126.8gr.
Kcnc C7, 137gr.
Kcnc Cb1, 139gr
EE, 159.2gr.
Zero Gravity, 168.2gr.
GSL, 171.6gr.
Far and Near, 182.2gr
M5, 182.8gr.
Kcnc C6, 194.4gr
Negative Gravity, 196.6gr
Bontrager, 208gr.
Trp, 257.7gr.
Shimano 7900, 259gr.
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madcow
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby coloclimber » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:57 pm

All hail King Madcow. Once again an excellent review.
Grouping is genius and the category breakdowns make it easy to apply to different builds.
Thank you.
-Enjoy the Ride
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby rlpaul » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:04 pm

I didn't even know about the Far and Near brakes... great job once again. Brake purchase is on my list in the future, and this will help me narrow down the range :)

I too liked the category breakdowns, makes it a lot easier to compare.
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby Fuchs » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:55 pm

thanks for this one!

would be cool to see the BTP brake in there. is been on the market for a year now but nobody seems to ride it.
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby Fibre-Lyte » Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:16 am

Brilliant review. I still have a soft spot for the Ciamillo GSL's, just waiting for the exchange rate to go our way :D

I had some Fibula's in my hand earlier this year at a show and they are a superb piece of kit, just an awful lot of money!! Still, you get what you pay for!
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby dalai » Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:03 am

Always great to read your shootouts Madcow. Thanks again!
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby Jeffr » Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:06 am

I have to say I replaced my 0gs with EE and have been very very pleased with them. The 0gs stopped fine, especially after the cam overhaul, but they were a pain in the butt to adjust. Frequently changing wheelsets always required adjustment of the cable length since the barrel adjuster would end up changing the pressure on the cable and throwing them out of alignment. EE stops well and looks really nice in person. I was slightly deterred because the pictures online make them look big but they are in fact quite small.

I also have a pair of the ax orion brakes and have been very fond of those actually. I am a light guy but they stop well and didn't come out of adjustment as much as 0g.
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby keithc » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:06 am

Congratulations on yet another interesting review of cycling component exotica not to be found elsewhere! Since you're surveying high-end brakes, I'm curious about the Campagnolo Super Record set and how they compare with your other choices. I still use Record 2006: I like the aesthetics and they work unfailingly well, even when wet!
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby Ypsylon » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:03 am

I played with your results a bit. For me, I set stopping power to 2, as it's important, but I'm not that big, Modulation is the biggest factor for me so I set it to 3. Weight I set to 2 and width to 3, since I want to run my HED wheels. Pad holders 1 Brake Pads 1, Price 2 as it is definetly important, Setup 0, as I enjoy working on my bike, maintainance 1, as I like to chose when I want to work on my bike and when not.

Top 5:

EE 105 pts

F&N 97 pts

KCNC C6 and C7 and Shimano DA 7900 tied at 90 pts.

What is interesting, if I say that width is so important I won't buy anything that won't work with my HED wheels, I actually set the width factor to 0 and kick out the ones that won't work by hand. Then Far & Near actually passes the EE brake by one point. Both the C6 and C7 move ahead of the DA 7900 calipers. Then it's time to hit the web and find out if F&N and KCNC will work with my specific rim width or not.

When I find the time I'll work out a scenario where I say that swapping pads is so important I'll upgrade whatever brake I might buy with EE pad holders anyways, so I drop the pad holder value to zero, but adjust the price score of the EE brake down, since it wouldn't have that added cost. If there are brakes with really heavy pad holders they might get a better weight score, but I don't think so.

Really a great resource that allows you to find the best brake for you, once you get your own priorities straight.
"Nothing compares to the simple pleasures of a bike ride," said John F. Kennedy, a man who had the pleasure of Marilyn Monroe.
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby slisk » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:44 am

I'm glad to see that my KCNC CB1 still holds up. It was my #1 choice for a few reasons when they were released.
I buy everything that JMT lists on this site.
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby mdeth1313 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:26 am

slisk wrote:I'm glad to see that my KCNC CB1 still holds up. It was my #1 choice for a few reasons when they were released.



SAME! I squeeze the levers, they stop the bike. Edge brake pads make them even better!
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby dunlinii » Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:39 pm

mdeth1313 wrote:
slisk wrote:I'm glad to see that my KCNC CB1 still holds up. It was my #1 choice for a few reasons when they were released.



SAME! I squeeze the levers, they stop the bike. Edge brake pads make them even better!


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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby Frisco » Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:39 am

I'd love to see the EE brakes fabricated in UD CF
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby JudgeNick » Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:43 am

Thanks for the comprehensive guide, Jason. I'm in the same boat as a few on here - glad to see the KCNC's have "stood the test of time," so to speak. I've enjoyed mine a lot, and the price to weight is unbelievable considering the competition.
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Re: Fair Wheel Brake Shootout #3

Postby henry g » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:14 am

I wonder how the Paul Racer M's on braze on studs would fair against the tested brakes.
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