Can Stop, Will Stop: TRP Mini-V Brakes
I have embarked on a long term test ride of a Honey cyclocross bike, similar to the one I rode in the Kearsarge Klassic last summer. When asked about component preferences on the demo bike, one thing I requested was stronger brakes. I had remarkably poor stopping power with the cantilever brakes on the bike I'd borrowed earlier, and I generally have not had good luck with cantis. I described these problems to Honey and we decided to try v-brakes. They suggested the TRP CX8.4 "mini-vs."
The TRP CX8.4 linerar pull brakes were designed for maximum stopping power on cyclocross bikes. Unlike full sized v-brakes, they were also designed to work with integrated road levers (this particular model works best with Campagnolo and SRAM) without requiring an adapter - reducing bulk, weight and complexity. These brakes have a number of features to recommend them for cyclocross racing, but having no experience with that side of things I will stick to describing them in the context of "just riding."
Under my weak grip, the TRPs feel reassuringly powerful. Those with strong hands could in fact find this problematic, but for me it is a welcome change from having to worry about stopping a fat-tire roadbike with cantis at the bottom of a hill. This is the first time I have used v-brakes on such a bike, and the quality of the braking does feel different from centerpulls and cantilevers. I have to apply pressure differently to regulate exactly how much I want to brake, but it didn't take long to train my hands to "understand." When attempting to slow down at high speeds, the braking is not harsh or jerky, but it is stronger than typical - so it helps to have a gentle touch, or else to use only one finger on the lever. For harder braking, there is a luxurious, modulation-friendly margin before coming to a full stop that I find especially helpful. In the past, I have had to get creative in order to stop on downhills during unpaved rides, and I've even employed my foot as an auxilliary brake on a couple of occasions. The TRPs are at their best precisely in those situations.
I have ridden the bike only a couple of times so far, but our winter conditions have allowed me to immediately try it on snow and slush. Getting the rims slushy did reduce braking power, but there was so much of it to begin with that it remained manageable. Basically, with the mini-vs the bike rides with slush-clogged rims like it did with dry rims when it had cantis.
The Honey cross is set up with a carbon fiber fork, and I have not detected any judder with the TRP CX8.4s. These brakes easily clear the 700Cx35mm tires currently on the bike, and look like they could fit a fender. My understanding is they will not clear a 650B x 42mm tire; for that full sized v-brakes may be required.
With an MSRP of $149 per set, the TRP CX8.4 brakes seem like an excellent and accessible option for those seeking extra braking power on a roadbike with canti/v bosses. As I get the opportunity to try other brakes worth mentioning, I will continue the "can stop, will stop" series (See also: Paul Racer centerpull brakes).