Despite chitter chatter about disc brakes taking over the cyclo-cross world, the vast majority of CX bikes, for the meantime, are equipped for cantilever brakes and a quick look at the fields of Flanders suggests that cantis are still king for the top-level racer. And at this price and in this colour these TRP RevoX Carbon Cantilever Brakes are for the serious racer.
Despite looking to one possible future of cyclocross with their Parabox cable-to-disc brake converter and Spyre and HY/RD cable actuated disc calipers, TRP still have a lot of feet in the past with a large collection of cantilever brakes on their books and the new RevoX has been produced with input from 2012 World Champion Niels Albert.
It's an old fashioned cyclo-cross cantilever with some modern benefits - the twin-plate carbon-fibre arms are formed into a semi-low profile silhouette but with long arms for extra leverage and come decorated with titanium hardware to keep the weight down. Cable tension adjusters slot into the ends of the arms for quick and easy tweaking and the spring tension of each arm can be adjusted individually.
Despite their newness they're still very much a traditional cyclo-cross cantilever in that they need three hands, a variety of tools, patience and a bit of know-how to set up. But if you've just splurged over £200 on a set of CX brakes you'll probably know what you're getting into. You'll probably already have the old 13mm spanner to tighten the brake pad on too, and the quiet persistence to use the four different sized allen keys needed to fit the RevoX brakes to a bike.
If you don't mind the tinkering they're a lot more adjustable than similarly styled cyclo-cross cantilevers, some of which were best finely tuned with hammers and mole-grips. There's about 15mm of up/down pad adjustment on the brake arm, allowing the brake pad to hit the rim squarely rather than at an odd angle as so often happened with other canti brakes.
The TRP brake pads feature their Inplace Adjust pad holders too, which quickly and easily let you adjust the pads for toe-in to silence any possible squeal. No need here to try and hold the brake pad in place whilst fumbling to get some toe-in factored in, the brake pad stays where you want it whilst a simple loosen-adjust-tighten of an allen bolt at the end of the pad arm dials in the toe-in you need. Lovely.
The pads are road bike sized; making finding replacements or swapping them for carbon rimmed versions or wet weather pads easier. The individual spring adjustment at the bottom of each arm makes it a quick job to centre the pads over the rim, a leap forward for the traditional wide-armed cyclo-cross cantilever but not as much of an amazing feature as TRP might have you believe as you can do this with enough other cantilever brakes.
The carbon versions of the brake come in white, UD carbon or this well on-trend yellow that TRP call Neox, and that hi-viz colour will let everyone else on the start line know you're serious about your braking.
Enough of that, do they actually stop you? Yes. Very much so.
The arms of the RevoX are set in a semi-upright stance and are pretty long for a canti brake, approaching (whisper it so the purists don't hear) mini-V brake dimensions, but it's a design that works well, those long arms giving lots of leverage. In just-set-them-up ride-up-and-down-the-road just-to-see testing I was able to do successful one finger braking, from the hoods, and do front wheel endos really stupidly easily whilst doing so. Which is kind of fun for a cantilever.
The brakes can feel a little spongy at the lever in the workshop without that reassuring solid clamp on the rim sensation. Old-fashioned 'moving the straddle yoke up and down' can deal with that a bit but once on the move that woolly feeling can be ignored as the braking is absolutely outstanding.
Forget that 'pull and hope for the best' you can get with some other cantilevers, the RevoX give consistent and powerful braking throughout the lever stroke with none of that running out of brake fear that can happen exactly when you don't want it to. Which is a bit of a revelation to be honest, and the carbon arms keep everything flex-free despite their length.
Although the arms of the RevoX brakes start off going straight up from the post mounts, they angle out after the pads to create lots of room between the brakes and the tyre - leaving enough space for mud and leaves to slew through so there's no danger of mid-race clogging embarrassment there.
For all that money and that carbon and that titanium hardwear you might expect the RevoX to be a weight-weenies delight, but they're not. At 128g per wheel they're about the same weight as a standard wide-armed cantilever, and there are other lighter for cheaper brakes out there. The length of the arms and independent spring adjustment add to the mass, probably. If you're of the light-is-right persuasion it'll be up to you whether that ordinary weight is worth the extra performance.
The RevoX thankfully comes in an alloy variant that costs £140 less for the added drag of 20g per wheel.
The TRP RevoX Carbon is a really very good brake, it's infinitely adjustable and those long arms give strong and predictable braking throughout the lever pull, never leveling off in the stopping curve just when you need it most. Shame about the bonkers price though, get the £100 alloy ones.
An exceptional brake with strong and predictable results, at a bonkers price.
road.cc test report
Make and model: TRP RevoX Carbon Cantilever Brakes
Size tested: n/a
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?
With Cyclocross becoming more popular and exciting, TRP say they always like to be on top. The RevoX is the latest on the cyclocross scene with its ultra light plate construction like the EuroX but with semi-low profile geometry similar to a CR959. This offers profound stopping power and control while still maintaining a good balance of mud clearance at a very low weight. Individual spring tension adjusters let you precisely center your pads while our Inplace Adjust pad holders allow for toe-in and toe-out adjustment. Pad height adjustment insures that you will always hit you rim square. The integrated barrel adjuster end lets you fine tune the feel or make on the fly adjustments. Some might say it will revolutionize the sport.
I'm not really sure that a new cantilever brake will revolutionize the sport, that's probably the job of other brakes right now, but for an old-fashioned rim brake they're as good as it gets.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Semi low profile carbon fiber arms, dual spring tension adjusters, integrated barrel adjuster, adjustable angle cartridge pads, titanium hardware,130 grams per wheel (including hardware)
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a thing for stopping the RevoX did an exceptional job.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The braking performance, the adjustability, the colour.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
That price, the colour.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? That's a whole bunch of money for a set of brakes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd sternly point them in the direction of the alloy ones.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he’s not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he’s not doing either of those he’s pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he’s agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours doesn’t. He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.