TRP HY-RD Brake Review

When first we built up the Mandem, we threw on a set of Avid BB7 brakes that I had laying around.  I’ve spent a lot of time with BB7s on the Vaya, the Big Dummy, and various fat bikes, and have gotten pretty adept at tuning them.  On the Mandem, I never could get them quite right.  Maybe it’s all the cable pull, but they would either drag or not have any braking effectiveness.

I’m a big fan of hydraulic brakes, and find that on drop-bar bikes, hydro discs are head and shoulders above mechanical.  Looking at the Mandem, going to hydro looked like it would involve custom brake lines running to the rear, which was not something I was excited about.  Hence, we looked into the HY-RD setup.  Honestly, the reviews that the HY-RDs get are pretty bad, so I did not have high hopes…but I wanted to at least try them before we cobbled together custom hydro brakes.

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They HY-RDs have the brake fluid reservoir, piston and caliper all built into one device.  The brake cable runs to the caliper and activates a self-contained hydraulic system.  Ours installed without any bleeding or other issues.

Clearance is similar to BB7s.

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The cable pull is pretty short, for full activation (compare the 2 pics).
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As noted above, install was a breeze.  The brakes self-clearance like any hydro system, so even if there’s a waffle in your rotor, these don’t rub.  Modulation is perfect–just like you’d expect from hydros.  Total brake force is also fantastic, which is pretty important on a tandem.  They’re predictable, braking force is linear, they work great in rain/mud, and they’re easy to install.

For a ‘regular’ bike, I prefer true hydros because they’re lighter, and in the long run, I suspect more reliable.  You never have to recable true hydros.  For the Mandem, or for a budget alternative to true hydros, however, the TRPs are great.  They really provide a very high degree of confidence in riding the Mandem, in all conditions.  Thus far, a few months in, they come highly recommended.

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7 thoughts on “TRP HY-RD Brake Review

  1. Did you run the compressionless cables? I’m guessing it’s hard to get them long enough for a tandem. I read that they can make a big difference to the feel.

    It’s hard to see what rotors you are running. Are you using the ones that come with the HY/RD? A lot of people switched to Shimano Ice Tech rotors and had good results.

    I’m surprised that you said that the HY/RD’s get bad reviews. I’ve seen generally positive reviews.

  2. I agree that TRP’s Hy/Rd brakes are quite brilliant. Coincidentally, I am also using them on tandems.

    However, I would have to disagree with regard to the required cable pull. They actually need to be paired with levers that pull plenty of cable. Indeed, I think it is this fact that has resulted in bad reviews.

    Ironically, TRP’s own RRL brake levers, which is what I am using, pull very little cable. To get the combination to work, I had to move the brake cable to the other side of the anchor bolt to effectively shorten the brake arm. Used in conjunction with 203mm Icetech rotors, the stopping power and modulation is wonderful (and I live in a very hilly, nay, mountainous area).

    • I’ve done back to back comparisons to BB7s. In comparison, the HY/RDs take significantly less cable pull, and work much better with road levers–and that’s based off of the road version of the BB7s.

  3. With all due respect, I don’t think a cable pull comparison with BB7s should be used as the basis for an absolute statement saying, “the cable pull is pretty short.” From my own experience and that of friends, I can state that the cable pull needs of Hy/Rd calipers are well matched with SRAM and Campagnolo 9-speed brake levers. If you don’t mind running your brakes “loose,” Shimano Ultegra 11-speed (6800) brake levers might be acceptable. However, a friend with that combination likes his brakes to be touch sensitive, so he does what TRP recommends against, and has the barrel adjuster screwed way out, which closes the hydraulic system and forfeits the benefit of self-adjusting pads (which is all important for disk brakes, IMHO).

    To get them to work with TRP’s own RRL levers, I am using a workaround similar to that described in this thread:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/brake-time/overcharging-trp-hy-rd-brake-system-894815.html

    and run the brake cable on the other side of the anchor bolt. This shortens the cable pull requirements by 14%, according to my measurements, which brings the brake lever travel back into “normal” realms, as opposed to bottoming out, which is not something that is good to experience – on a tandem especially!

    • In comparison to just about every cable-actuated disc brake I’ve used, the cable pull is comparable or shorter. Most of my cable-actuated brake time has been with BB7s and BB5s, which are the most popular cable-actuated disc brakes on the market (when last I checked), so I think it’s a valid comparison.

      • I think you might be conflating (an ugly word, but I think it works in this context) “popular” and “common,” with regard to BB5s and BB7s. 🙂

        Again, though, I would say that a comparison is one thing but it cannot be the basis of an absolute statement. There are enough threads on forums from people looking to shorten the cable pull of Hy/Rd calipers that I think the absolute leans the other way.

        I’m delighted with mine and I’m happy they are working well for you too. Wishing you happy tandeming/mandeming!

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