For some, a bike brake that works effectively is as good as any other. For others, particularly racing cyclists, investing in the best brakes is a crucial step to increasing performance and gaining an edge on the competition. Lighter, more precise brakes reduce overall bike weight and provide greater control. There are four leading components manufacturers in the cycling industry.
Introduced nearly 40 years ago, Shimano's top-shelf Dura-Ace component group has been a leading favorite of cyclists ever since. Shimano claims its 2010 Dura-Ace 7900 brake produces 120 percent increase in stopping power (in dry conditions) over previous models. Increased pad durability offers 50 percent longer wear. The brake features an anodized finish and titanium center bolt. Each brake weighs in at 293 grams. A set of 2010 Dura-Ace 7900 brakes retails for around $345.
Campagnolo Super Record
Still made in Italy and arguably the most storied components manufacturer in existence, Campagnolo remains the choice of many enthusiasts. Super-Record stands atop Campagnolo's components group ladder. Super-Record brakes of forged aluminum and titanium feature hollow braking arms that reduce overall weight. Front brakes include a double pivot design for maximum braking, while rear brakes include a single pivot only to further reduce weight. The Super-Record brake weighs 275 grams. A 2010 set retails for about $365.
Introduced in 2006, Sram has quickly made a name for itself in the professional cycling peloton. Sram components outfitted the bicycles of the top three finishers in the 2009 Tour de France. Like Campagnolo, Sram's premier brake features a hollow, skeleton-like design that reduces overall weight. Composed of cold forged aluminum and alloy pivot bolts, both brakes allow for centering and spring tension adjustment. Each brake weighs just 265 grams, making it the lightest of the three manufacturers. A set of 2010 Sram Red brakes retails for around $240.
TRP 970 SL
While less known than Shimano, Campagnolo or Sram, TRP has a singular advantage. Their energies focus entirely on producing the finest bicycle brakes money can buy. The 970 SL represent TRP's premier effort in the field of road brakes. Each brake features dual pivot design, forged magnesium arms, and titanium hardware. Brakes come in either ED White or Matte Black. A single brake weighs a scant 104 grams, or roughly half the weight of other leading manufactures' brakes. A set of TRP 970 SL brakes retails for $599.95.