While they aren’t new to the market, the TRP Quadiem brakes have become some of our favorite brakes to ride for many reasons. In 2016, Aaron Gwin, a top DH world cup racer, started working with TRP and helped develop the current model of TRP Quadiem brakes. TRP has been in the brake business for a long time and is actually the high-performance arm of the larger parent brake company Tektro. Considering they’ve been in the game for a long time, it's no surprise that TRP has come to market with an exceptional DH grade brake that gets high praise from almost everyone who has ridden them. With great modulation, an ergonomic lever blade designed by Aaron Gwin, and requiring mineral oil instead of DOT fluid for the brake fluid, let’s dive deeper into the Quadiem brakes and why they have become a shop favorite.
As mentioned above, the TRP Quadiem brakes deliver an insane amount on modulation. They take the place of top honors in my personal book of best modulating brakes out of everything that I’ve ridden. In terms of power, the Quadiems land somewhere in between Shimano and Sram, while still maintaining the ease of modulation to control all trail situations. Shimano seems to have a very sharp bite, stopping you right when you need it but lacks modulation over others. SRAM brakes have great modulation but are often considered “spongy” or “mushy”. The TRP Quadiems seem to balance these two brake characteristics into their own. Personally, I love the way SRAM brakes feel, but I do think the TRP Quadiems have better, more consistent modulation while delivering lots of power. Another fantastic trait of the TRP Quadiem is the consistency on long descents. When properly bled, I never experienced any weird lever pull or pumping; they just felt the same all the time. That is a major confidence booster for me because it lets me take my mind off the bike to focus on the trail. No fading or loss of power in the middle or end of a long DH run doesn’t hurt, either.
The power is clearly present in these brakes. While they don’t have the same initial bite as Shimano brakes do, there is plenty of stopping strength from the 4 piston calipers. The calipers have some very neat machining work done resulting in cooling fins that grab air flow and direct it to the brake pads and rotor. There is no doubt that this contributes to the consistency of the brakes as well. At the end of the day, the TRP Quadiem brake checks all of our boxes out on the trail.
Some of our favorite parts of the TRP Quadiem brake is the modulation coupled with significant power. While it is ultimately a personal preference, many of us at the shop love the feel of the lever blade over many other brake levers. The use of mineral oil makes maintenance significantly easier. While TRP has engineered an amazing brake, there are a couple of things that fail to impress us. First is the bulky and long lever blade. While it feels great, it may not exactly strike most people as aesthetically pleasing. The long lever also means you’re moving the clamp farther inboard from the grip. Next up, and probably the biggest con, is the lack of contact adjust. This makes getting the bleed just right important because it dictates how much the lever pulls for your personal preference. You can manipulate the brake by over- or under-bleeding and manually extending the pistons, but a contact adjust would certainly make this process significantly easier. The last negative is the shifter adaptors are sometimes unavailable and don’t provide much adjustment.
It's great to see more and more options coming from smaller brands that are able to compete with industry leaders. We’d rank TRP as one of the best competitors to SRAM and Shimano. The TRP Quadiem brake has all the goods, offering amazing modulation and power with a dimpled, ergonomic lever blade. Other great features like the use of mineral oil, machined cooling fins on the caliper, and the option to fit your shifter on the same clamp give us plenty of reasons why it has quickly become one of our favorite brakes.