If you've been to the bike shows or cast your eyes round the city streets you'll have noticed that retro is very much the modern thing and bike bits don't come much more retro-modern than the drilled version of TRP's RRL drop bar levers.
Fixed gear bikes are still going strong, steel frames and quill stems are springing up all over the place but, the problem is, modern components don't always blend in with your classic looking frame. So, you're looking for something a little bit special and don't need STI levers, these TRP levers could be just the thing. Harking back to a time when everything was drilled to aid lightness, the retro looks intertwined with modern ergonomics are just the ticket. Utilising drilled levers and black or gum coloured hoods, they will add a touch of class to a modern frame or an old school restoration project.
The levers offer an excellent position when in the drops and are ideal for the smaller hand, offering a pronounced kick out sideways from the drops of the bar. The hood shape is similar to STI and very comfortable, not too much bulk to hold on to while providing a good platform for out of the saddle efforts.
Braking performance is good with no flex at all through the minimalist lever, in this case being paired up with some far from powerful side pull callipers on one of the aforementioned new but retro fixies.
You'll find quick release buttons are built into the side of the hoods, enabling you to drop the wheels out easily and resetting is just a quick pull of the lever.
To fit, just a single hex key socket and band arrangement like virtually all brake levers with scope to fit a range of bar sizes. Cable routing is internal creating a clean look to the cockpit, the only minor downside is if, like me, you're using bars that are lacking the grooving for cables is the inevitable lump under the bar tape.
For those who prefer their modern stuff to look er, modern TRP also make a carbon version of the RRL yours for just a tenner more. If you want the levers without the holes your needs are catered for too with a non-holey aluminium version that, the cost of filling in the holes is a 10g weight penalty on the other hand you will save £20. I do like those holes though.
Overall the TRP's are a top quality brake lever, while definitely top end price wise there is very little on the market like them, the two that spring to mind are the similarly priced Shimano R600 levers and the Tektro R200s from the same stable as the TRPs - neither of them have holes though. The RRL SRs are possibly an extravagance but they look great and they perform, go on treat your pride and joy!
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road.cc test report
Make and model: TRP RRL SR Alloy Drop Bar Lever - Drilled - Pair
Size tested: Brown/Alloy
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?
TRP's website says "The RRL SR transcends the ages by blending a race quality lever that is not integrated with a shifter with the classic styling trademarked by heroes of decades past. Ideal for single speeds, fixed gear or custom applications."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Drilled alloy lever with a modern style hood
Solid construction and good overall finish
Solid lever worked well even with old school calipers lacking the bite of modern dual pivots
Can't see anything that would concern me about longevity
At 140g there are lighter out there but they don't look as good
good sized hoods which don't cause any hot spots like the models they replaced did
At the top end but worth it in my opinion, high on comfort and performance while looking good
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performance was good and it matches the look of classic styled bikes
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The looks and performance
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Very little, the price is steep I suppose but its a niche market
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 32 Height: 180cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Ribble Gran Fondo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.