Monday, 15 September 2014

Top 10 mountain bike brakes used in the Downhill World Cup

Focusing on the mountain bike brakes, Downhill World Cup is probably the most demanding mountain biking competition today, because the brakes work under very severe and changing conditions. So we ask: which brake brands and models have been used by the top 10 downhill riders in the World Cup 2013?.

Steve Smith 2013 DH World Cup Winner
Steve Smith 2013 DH World Cup Winner with Avid brakes


Displaying the final 2013 World Cup men's Championship standings, the following riders were at the top 10.


2013 Downhill World Cup Standings
Top 10 2013 DH World Cup standings


The brakes used by the Top 10 riders are displayed in the following table, with the lever/calliper combination.


Rank Name Brand Lever model Calliper Model
1 SMITH, Steve Avid Blackbox X0 Trail X0 Trail
2 ATHERTON, Gee Shimano Saint Saint
3 MINNAAR, Greg Shimano Saint Saint
4 BRUNI, Loic Avid Blackbox X0 Trail Code
5 BLENKINSOP, Samuel Avid Blackbox X0 Trail Code
6 HANNAH, Michael Formula RO RO
7 BROSNAN, Troy Avid Blackbox X0 Trail Code
8 HILL, Samuel Avid Blackbox X0 Trail Code
9 HART, Danny Avid Blackbox X0 Trail Code
10 THIRION, RĂ©mi Formula RO RO


We can clearly see that there are two main brake manufacturers that are very present, Avid and Shimano, and the rest use Formula brakes. Avid brakes used by DH racers in the World Cup often consists on a non-standard combination of lever and calliper, included within the special competition Blackbox SRAM development program. This program allows the customization of certain components (e.g. the brake lever) based upon rider preferences.

There are also Shimano riders using some non-standard lever/calliper combinations as Aaron Gwin or Steve Peat , typically with XTR Trail lever and Saint callipers, but is not as common as with Avid riders.

Let's look more thoroughly each brake models
used.

 

Shimano Saint

Shimano Saint brakes are the most powerful four-pot brake in the Shimano brake range, with very good reliability as always with Shimano brakes. The Servo Wave cam increases pad retraction so even with the big calliper is still easy to set up rub-free. The finned pads and the Ice Tech rotors reduce heat on long descents.


Shimano Saint lever and calliper
Shimano Saint lever and calliper

 
Avid XO Trail / CODE

The lever/calliper combination used in the DH World Championship consists of a BlackBox XO Trail lever with CODE callipers, the most powerful callipers in the Avid catalogue.

Avid’s lever geometry and cartridge-bearing pivot gives very good feedback and modulation, and includes bite point adjust. The power of the Avid XO Trail is average, but the combination used in the DH World Cup, with CODE callipers gives the needed extra power to the XO Trail lever.


Avid XO Trail BlackBox Lever
Avid Code calliper
Combination used in the DH World Cup, Avid XO Trail BlackBox lever with Avid Code calliper


Formula RO

The Formula RO is the only two-pot brake used in the DH World Championship, and the world’s first oval piston mountain bike brake. The oval pistons used in the RO, offer 18% more power than Formula The One brake and more compared to other two-pot designs. The power is comparable to a four-piston brake but with less weight and far fewer moving parts (they are very light for the offered
performance , only 360g). The only downside is that they tend to be noisy brakes.

Formula RO brake and calliper
Formula RO lever and calliper


At this point we see that three manufacturers dominate the top 10 Downhill World Championship 2013: Shimano, Avid and Formula. There are many other brands with quality mountain bike brakes like Hope, Magura or Hayes, but if you want to stop your bike with the same brakes as Greg Minaar or Sam Hill, now you know what to buy.


Bonus: What type of brake pads are used in the Downhill World Cup?.

In a very challenging competition like the DH World Cup, the brake pad compound used is not obviously always the same, but is difficult to find reliable information about this topic in the Web. In the following video a DH World Cup professional mechanic talks about mtb brake pads, and explains the difference between them and which type are used by the riders depending on the track or weather. If you find this topic interesting, please share this post to see this hidden gem video.










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