At A Glance
TRP has come on leaps and bounds with their brakes in recent years and is fighting hard in a tough market. Never have we had braking so good, and riders are continually demanding more and more from their brakes. Power, weight, adjustability and modulation are all expected at our fingertips in equal measure.Buy Brakes on
G-Spec is the label given to the brakes designed and developed with Aaron Gwin, a relationship that started back in 2016 and produced products that have punched TRP into the mainstream. Here we have the G-Spec Trail SL brakes, which are essentially a slimmed-down version of their downhill brake. It's shaved a bit of weight and uses two different sized sets of pistons in the four-pot calliper, which claim to improve modulation. The calliper is a solid-looking piece of kit with fins CNC'd along the back, which gives a distinctive look and aids with heat loss.
The lever is a chunky affair, with drilled holes for grip along the blade and a good hook at the end. The body doesn't ooze finesse but looks like it's built to last with a reach adjuster tucked under the lever blade to dial the distance between lever and bar. The claimed weight for a front brake is 312g, and they hit the shops at $159.99 (£150) per end.
The system arrives fully bled but with the levers not attached and a blanking bolt installed on the end of the lever body and the hose end. All that is required is to cut the hose to length, install the barb, olive and plastic cover and screw into the lever. This was achieved without any loss of fluid and seems like a sensible way to deliver brakes to the consumer. The lever has a hinged clamp for easy installation with matchmaking solutions are available for both Shimano and SRAM shifters.
On The Trail
The G-Spec Trail SL brakes are an exercise in refined modulation. There is an easy-to-use intuitive feel to the brake, which increases power as you pull through the stroke. This may sound obvious, as this is what a brake should do, but with these, there is no discernable step-change in power, they keep ramping up and up. Despite the overly chunky feel of the lever, there is a sensitivity to the modulation of force and work well to avoid any unwanted locking of wheels.
This modulation is backed up with a great consistency through the lever, never 'pumping up' or down, just always where you expect it to be. The consistent bite point is excellent, but the lever lacks an independent bite point adjuster, which would be good to see at this price. Modulation and consistency are not at the expense of top-end power and the G-Spec Trail SLs give plenty of punch when you pull a bit harder.
What feels good is that hard braking usually comes when things get wild on the bike, and it's great to be able to be somewhat unsubtle at the top end of braking power. The last thing you need is to have to be dainty with your braking fingers while desperately hanging onto you bars through a rock garden.
In comparison, they don't have the 'hitting a brick wall' power of something like a Code, but swapping up from some Guide Rs was a big improvement in power. The overall feel and power delivery are more akin to Shimano than SRAM, but TRP certainly is creating their own style, which is thoroughly enjoyable to use.
Reliability has been excellent, and the stock pads have lasted well and can be swapped out for Shimano if needed. Their website has all spares and accessories available and plenty of information too.
Perhaps still an underdog in the braking game, the G-Spec Trail SL brakes prove TRP can cut it with the best and offer some of the finest modulation and power out there. A refined braking experience, they provide a viable and desirable alternative to the major players.
This review was in Issue 62 of IMB.For more information visit TRP Cycling
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.