Saturday, 3 March 2012


A tale of brake calipers. 

When I built up my Basso 'Frankenbike' with components I had lying around, I didn't have any spare calipers.  On other bicycles thoughtfully assembled by me I had chosen Shimano each time - 105s on my son's bike, Dura Ace on my race bike and Ultegra on my sportive bike - because they are trusted, easy to set up and, with Swissstop pads, I had no qualms about descending col d'Izoard at 60mph.  However I was tempted to try something different, lighter and if they turned out better than Ultegra then I'd consider swapping to my sportive bike.  But I didn't want to spend ridiculous money.

After a bit of searching on the world wide web I came across the Planet-X CNC calipers. The reviews were good, the weight incredible and the price too good.  I decided on the gun metal colour and set an email request on Planet-X's web site to let me know when they had them in stock. I waited.

I waited for a week and happened to check again to see that the price had been increased by 25%!  They also had a pair of gun metal colour showing in stock and I hadn't received a courtesy email.  I telephoned them the following day and asked (politely) for an explanation.  Apparently the gun metal ones had been a customer return and, after a quick check with the manager, I was offered them at the original price.  Seize the day.

The verdict - less than 200grams, not so easy to set up, the fittings are a bit fragile, the pads take a few 100km to bed in and I have had a few wet-weather moments. Would I descend a mountain on them (even with Swissstop pads)? No way! So they aren't getting promoted to the sportive bike.

What could go on my Van Nicholas Chinook sportive bike though?  Coincidence/luck perhaps, but (prior to Lent - I promise) I bought a pair of used white TRP 970SL calipers for a good price.

An assessment is planned tomorrow when I shall try to beat last week's time for my 100km training ride.

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