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Verdict: 
Quite possibly the best mechanical disc brake solution out there - more expensive than its predecessor but less expensive than a hydraulics
Weight: 
292g
TRP Spyre SLC Mechanical Disc Brakes
9 10

At the moment, buying a mid range disc brake equipped road bike or cyclocross bike means that there is an extremely high chance you'll end up with a pair of TRP Spyres bolted to it. In the tidal wave of new disc bike drop bar bikes appearing on the market, the Spyre has become the benchmark for ease of setup, use and reliability.

We tested the original TRP Spyres back last year, and it's fair to say we were impressed. For the updated version of the Spyre tested here - the Spyre SLC - the aforementioned set up was very easy. To get the most out of the SLCs, TRP suggest you use their supplied inner and outer cables. For the most part these cables are the same as any others you would use. The main difference is that the cable designed to run from the hoods under the bartape is made from an articulated metal pipe, and is noticeably stiffer. This is presumably to reduce the amount of deflection you get in the outer - which often leads to a cable disc brake feeling spongy.

My only gripe with the cable set up was the clamp used to secure the cable at the updated carbon calliper. It's a very small Torx screw, and essentially squashes the inner cable into a barrel. This system needs to be done up tight, otherwise sharp pulls on the brake can lead to the cable coming free from the calliper and the rather alarming result of having no brakes available. (Admittedly I didn't use a torque wrench for this job, but I have no doubt using one to TRPs settings would prevent this happening). Doing up the cable this tight deforms it quite a lot, and in fact made it fray at the rear slightly when secured.

Another slight let down for the SLCs were the rotors provided. I found that out of the box, the rotors were not true when bolted to my hub. I had to spend a bit of time giving them a bend with an adjustable spanner, in order to get them perfectly in line to prevent the dreaded ching of rotor against pad. Having got them true now, I haven't had an issue since.

Out on the road and trail, braking power seems to be a significant improvement over the regular Spyres I have on my main CX bike - although this can't be taken as a perfectly fair test due to the fact that I wasn't using the same levers on both bikes. I use "old" 10sp 105 levers on Spyre SLCs, while I use the new 105 11sp levers for the regular Spyres. In terms of reliability, the SLCs have been excellent. I have used them for a hell of a lot of road mileage, along with 4 cyclocross races now, so they've been through conditions ranging from dry roads to squelchy grass to full on bog races - and they've been as reliable as any hydraulic system I've ever tried. There's a clear bite point and plenty of modulation for when you are looking to just scrub a bit of speed, regardless of being on or off road. The cables and actuation arms still move smoothly and freely, despite several race-then-wash cycles of mud, grit and degreaser. Pad life also seems to be excellent, I'm nowhere near needing a new set of pads yet.

Possibly the biggest question for me on these brakes is 'Are they worth it over the standard Spyres?'. For me, its a bit of a toss up, but I'm not sure I could justify spending an extra 20 quid an end for what is essentially a very similar brake to the original Spyre. The SLCs only provide 8g worth of weight savings at each end, and while they may be noticeably more powerful than the original Spyres, it's not as if I was particularly underpowered before. The aesthetic of the SLCs is slightly nicer, but again, not £40 nicer in my eyes.

Overall these brakes are excellent. Our previous verdict of the TRP Spyre being the best mechanical solution out there, still rings true with these callipers. But for a penny under ninety quid, the marginal improvements in the SLC over the considerably cheaper version just don't seem practical to me.

Verdict

Quite possibly the best mechanical disc brake solution out there - more expensive than its predecessor but less expensive than a hydraulics

road.cc test report

Make and model: TRP Spyre Mechanical Disc Brakes

Size tested: 160mm rotor - 85g each

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

From TRP's site description for the Spyre SLC:

Finally a mechanical disc brake that offers superior performance and is a snap to set up. The Spyre SLC is a dual sided mechanical where both pads actuate providing even and precise clamping force. This translates into even pad wear and, then we added a simple cable barrel adjuster so the pads can be adjusted easily and hassle free. No frustration at completely adjusting the whole caliper, only to have it continue to drag the fixed side, adding wear! All of this in a incredibly thin 40mm wide, 146g slender package that works with any of the drop bar levers on the market. Available with 140mm or 160mm rotor and includes all mounting hardware, rotor, and adapters.

-Carbon actuation arm for maximum weight savings

-Dual sided actuation

-Even pad wear

-Easy adjustment and set up

-Works with ALL cable actuated road levers

-TRP's own ultra-grippy semi-metallic pad that is Shimano M525/M515 compatible allowing for further customization

- Compound works well in dry conditions but may wear quickly in wet/muddy conditions

-Available in glossy dark silver with carbon actuation arm

-140mm or 160mm rotor options will work for both front and rear

-All mounting hardware, rotor, and adapters included

-140 versions include our L2 (140R/160F) IS to PM adapter

-160 versions include both L2 and L3 (160R/180F) IS to PM adapters

-Post mount to post mount adapters available separately

-Weight: 146g per caliper

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

The best mechanical disc brake solution I've come across. The only way it could perform better is if it were hydraulic.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Ive done next to no maintenance in the last month and a half of road miles, off road Bridleways and cyclocross races.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

The original Spyres are better value in my personal opinion. However the SLCs are still far cheaper than the current hydraulic systems at a minimal performance disadvantage. So in that respect they could be seen as good value.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Excellently.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The power, reliability and modulation.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The slightly destructive method with which you secure the brake cable at the calliper itself.

The fairly small returns that your extra 20 quids worth of spend buys you.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? I'd probably go for the cheaper Spyre variant as its very similar.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they were looking for the best of the best without going hydraulic, yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

I was very tempted to knock off a point from the overall because of the price, but then you might think the increase in performance is worth the extra money over the original Spyres, even though they are certainly no slouches when it comes to stopping power either, and as I said in my comments on value compared to a set of hydraulic brakes the price looks like good value for a minimal loss of performance.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 21  Height: 182cm  Weight: 73kg

I usually ride: On-One Carbon Whippet Single Speed MTB/Kinesis Pro6  My best bike is: Scott CR1 Pro

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

10 comments

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hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 2 years ago
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You can usually remove the soggy feeling from a cable mechanical brake by installing a suitable, in-line barrel adjuster when you install the brake cabling. This allows you to pre-load the outer cable housing, which has a dramatic effect on the responsiveness of the brake system. This may negate the need to upgrade to this model with the specific metal cable housing mentioned in the article?

The original TRP Spyre is a very good mechanical brake in that both pistons / pads are operated by the brake action (in contrast to many mechanical systems which operate a fixed piston / pad and one moving piston / pad), which gives a good modulation, brake response and ease of setup.

In contrast, the fixed piston and single moving piston common to most mechanical brakes relies on the moving piston pushing the brake pad against the rotor, and bending the rotor against the brake pad mounted on the fixed piston, which feels spongy, soft and has variable modulation, as well as being tricky to setup without pad rub.

The wobbly rotors are not uncommon on TRP brakes whether mechanical or hydraulic, and also on rotors manufactured for Tektro's client Avid / SRAM, they are usually pretty bad whether its an aftermarket boxed brake product or on a complete bike. Of course, it can be fixed using a suitable tool (whether adjustable wrench or rotor truing tool) but its a PITA for a time-pressed bike mechanic, and can be very tricky for an inexperienced home mechanic.

Best rotors for trueness I've found over many years of selling and working on disc brakes? Hayes. Cannot say the same about their actual brake systems, but their rotors were excellent  3

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jacknorell [987 posts] 2 years ago
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There's (properly) compressionless cable housing available as well, which together with high quality cables does really help.

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Gasman Jim [205 posts] 2 years ago
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I've had a pair of Spyres on my winter bike since they first hit the market and found them to be big improvement on my old BB7s. I found they can be even further improved with Swiss Stop green pads. The correct pads are type 15.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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Could you clarify which 10 speed 105 levers you used? The 5600 with the gear cable that comes out of the side of the lever or the 5700 with the cable under the bar tape? I'd be interested to know as I tried to get the Shimano 517 callipers to work with the 5600 levers and they didn't pull enough cable to get a good feel. The 5700 levers work really well however.

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Welsh boy [430 posts] 2 years ago
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What is a "disc brake solution"?

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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Welsh boy wrote:

What is a "disc brake solution"?

It's what you get if you brake too hard and your rotors melt. Probably.

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Initialised [328 posts] 2 years ago
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£90 per wheel for a mechanical brake? Really?

TRP Parabox and HyRD come in at about the same price per wheel.

On the MTB/Hybrid side an M785 Caliper, hose, rotor and lever is only £75. The M785 uses the same caliper as the road version and could be mated to a 105 lever, as could any mineral oil caliper, like the 4-piston M640 ZEE (£85 per wheel with levers).

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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How can you do a review that concludes "Quite possibly the best mechanical disc brake solution out there" without once mentioning how they compare to BB7s?

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CanAmSteve [257 posts] 2 years ago
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Well, the previous (linked in article) review made a sorta comparison to BB7s.

"Better than BB7s is the short answer. Braking power is about the same, if not a tad better.

Faint prise for double the price, I'd say - and no mention of the recall - that all sorted now, probably?

http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/12/bikes-and-tech/trp-recalls-spyre-...

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amazon22 [282 posts] 1 year ago
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I've had a look at the cable fixing bolt arrangement and agree with your reservation -  it’s a horrible design. The end of the bolt has a small grid machined into it and the fixed bolt  on the other side the same. The bolt simply grinds into the cable, splitting it apart, and the more you tighten, the less cable is left clamped. I'm not going to trust my safety to such an arrangement!