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Tektro R538 long drop brakes



Not flash but do the job at a fair price - ideal for tourers and town bikes

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Tektro's R538 long drop callipers are aimed at big-tyred tourers and town bikes and they're a good quality unit with a couple of nice touches. The bolts get rusty quickly, and the pads are a bit scratchy, but they're pretty well-made for the money.

The R538s are a forged Aluminium dual pivot affair, and a fairly standard design with long drop arms that accomodate pad heights of 47-57mm, ideal for tourers and other bikes designed to take a big tyre. My set have been fitted to a town bike with a Kinesis training fork and full 'guards, and they're just the ticket in terms of reach. At 164g a wheel they're not heavyweights either.

The quick release has been redesigned on these brakes to allow a wider opening to remove your chunky tyres, and it works really well. The brakes will easily accomodate larger rubber, I've had up to 35mm tryes in the frame with no problems and they could go bigger depending on where the pads are set in the arms.

The pads themselves are probably the worst bit of the R538s - they feel cheap, hard and scratchy. They still stop you, but you'll be glad when you've worn through them so you can fit something a bit less noisy - I've swapped them for a set of Ashima's Pro Gs and they've improved the feel no end. My other main gripe is that a month of wintry road grime has already started to rust the bolts. It hasn't affected the performance of the brakes but they don't look so good any more, not that that's a major concern with a town hack.


Tektro have a reputation for offering good value braking kit, and the R538s are no exception. In terms of performance they're not outstanding but they do the job and they're a good option for a workhorse or tourer. test report

Make and model: Tektro R538 long drop brakes

Size tested: Black

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
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Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
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Did you enjoy using the product? Great for a town hack or tourer

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 36  Height: 190cm  Weight: 98kg

I usually ride: whatever I\'m testing...  My best bike is: Trek 1.5 with Ultegra 6700

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: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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