All About Brakes.

Last updated 23/1/23

A collection of my reviews, advice and personal opinions on everything brake related. In the future, I’ll continue to update this as I review new products and create some content on brake setup and riding skills.

For transparency, I’m an expert level 70kg rider who mostly rides DH, enduro and bike park. Reviews on this site or my youtube channel are 100% funded by me. Any other reviews linked here were at previous jobs where I received products for free and was paid to create reviews.

What I’m looking for in a brake is massive usable power with good modulation, perfect heat management, consistency, robustness, ease of service + spare parts. There are more brakes on the market than in this list, but these are the most important ones that come to mind for my riding style and the frequently requested by my followers.

Price isn’t a huge concern as I’m lucky to have a budget to buy all these overpriced products so that I can tell you about them! Price is very dependent on the consumer as dropping €1300 on some Trickstuff is nothing for one rider when another is struggling to buy some used Shimano Deore for €80 on Marketplace.

Weight is not a concern at all. I would never try to save weight on brakes for the following reason: according to’s figures, an uber-light pair of Trickstuff Piccola carbon XC brakes weigh 324g against a really heavy pair of Hope Tech4 with tough braided hoses weighs 386g more at 710g.

As a percentage of my weight + kit + bike that’s something like a 0.4% difference to the total system: I’ll make that sacrifice and have more power, better heat management, the ability to brake safer and later, bigger bolts that aren’t fiddly along with braided stainless steel hoses which are many times tougher than plastic.

Brake Pads that I can recommend are Trickstuff Power pads which can make an unreal difference to some brakes, they don’t last long but offer max power. Galfer Green are also incredible but I prefer the longer-lasting Galfer Purple, but forget their Red options. I’m sure there are many other great pads, but I cannot try everything. If you have underperforming brakes then some of these pads mentioned will be a good start to improve them.

Rotors are ideally 200mm for me. 180mm can be good if you are not burning down long alpine descents and 220mm are sick for max power and cooling but always involve extra mounts and bigger rotors which are (heavier Lol) more susceptible to bending or striking obstacles. Older style 1.8mm thin rotors are out-of-date and 2.0mm or 2.3mm should become the standard everywhere to keep 200/220mm rotors straight. I’m currently more than happy with Hope HD 200mm x 2.3mm on my Hope Tech 4 these give me more than all the power I need and I never have heat issues or warped rotors.

Hoses literally protect your life with the tiny amount of hydraulic oil hidden inside them. Plastic hoses can get crushed between dual crown fork stanchions and the frame, or damaged in transit or crashes, they can also get cut fairly easily by flying rocks. A lot of this damage risk is reduced with modern internal routing but I think that MTB riding is dangerous enough as it is and I don’t want to discover I have no brakes when I need them most. Goodridge (found on Trickstuff) are the gold standard and are essentially unbreakable, standard stainless steel braided work well and some brands like Formula offer kevlar reinforced options. My advice is to get the toughest you can find before you find out what a split hose feels like.

Bleeding. Buy the proper bleed kit on day one and learn how to bleed them properly. Don’t wait for the third day of your summer holiday in Morzine after using them for a year and never bleeding them, you are asking for problems if you do this. I have definitely been guilty of this and worse in the past.


Hope Tech4 V4 + Braided hoses

Currently, the Hope Tech4 V4 brakes are the only brakes I can truly recommend, use on my personal bikes and giveaway: when I find something I think is better then I will replace the Hope’s in all these areas. Many of the brakes mentioned below are great performers, but we are here to #buildbikebetter and hunt down the best.

I still need to complete a full review of these but I am too busy riding and loving them. After trying multiple pairs the answer is they are the best brakes in every aspect. I’ve been saying this since May 2022 and more recent reviews from VitalMTB, Singletrack and MBR highly praised them and even won ‘Product of the Year’.

I’ve given away 9x pairs of these brakes in the last year and have only received good words from the winners so go and win some on my competition page.

The Rest:

Formula Cura 2

These Formula Cura 2 brakes are fantastic brakes and you can watch my full AstonMTB review here and read my Pinkbike review from 2018.

Many people also ask me about the Cura 4Piston, which are also fantastic but with a sticky piston issue: this is based on my experience with four brand-new pairs on a fleet of Nicolai demo bikes from a few years ago plus testing other pairs on other bikes. Every single pair I had quickly developed sticky pistons and would end up out of line wearing pads unevenly and dragging, this has also been confirmed by other friends and followers. As of January 2023, I don’t know if this issue has been remedied: if it has then these would be great a brake too.


Magura MT5/MT7

Great brakes from and made in Germany. Huge power and loads of options. I like the longer and cheaper alloy lever blades found on the MT5 and also the Bruni-spec levers. I don’t like the other shorter and pricey HC1 and HC3 Danny Macaskill levers because the lever ergonomics seem too straight/perpendicular to the grip instead of in a gentle line with your index/braking finger.

The Carbotecture lever bodies/clamps feel cheap and plastic and are not the strongest out there: I’ve split two mounts in the past.

Lots of people have asked me about ‘Shigura’ brakes which is a German bike forum’s bastard child mixture of MT7 calipers and Shimano levers. I have only heard good reports of this setup but haven’t found myself in a situation wanting to buy two pairs of brakes to make one working pair!



Shimano Saint are amazingly powerful and reliable brakes, I have tried loads of them and don’t remember any problems. They’ve been going for over ten years and are still some of the best.

I have also tried most of the other Shimano brakes on short-term tests with no problems. They always have a nice lever feel and plenty of power. The last few I tried did have the slightly annoying brake bite point change which seems to be common.



I reviewed the original Direttissima for PB back in 2017. Incredible pair of brakes with a few small issues: all of these appear to have been solved after the feedback from my review with an updated lever design and then later from the introduction of the Maxima.

Dozens of people have asked me about the Maxima brakes and why I haven’t reviewed them, there are couple of reasons: I’m an independent reviewer so purchase all products myself and with a €1300 price tag these are hard to justify. Even harder to pay that much upfront and wait for two years to get them. Yes, I said at the top of this page that price isn’t a concern for me but I’m trying to run a business so putting that much money in someone else’s account for 2years is silly. If anybody has a used pair to sell please email me and I will take them.

In my opinion, this price and lead time remove Trickstuff from being able to be compared against any other brake on the market until the availability improves. The following is from the Trickstuff website as of 23/1/2023

For the MAXIMA, a waiting time of approx. 24 months from receipt of the order must currently be expected.

Hayes Dominion A4

Great brakes, mega power and no issues over 6 months of use in 2020. Possibly a direct copy of the Trickstuff Direttissima presented in a cheaper Taiwan-made package. A great option.

Braking INCAS

A beautiful set of brakes made in Italy performed very very well and was reviewed on my site here. Damn good on the trail though a little fiddly in the workshop. The downsides were that it was difficult to get information about from the brand (terrible website, though I’m no web expert, as you can see) and the availability of specific parts at the time I bought them in June 2022: this situation may have improved since.


Another brake I have been asked about many times. These have been out of stock everywhere for months and I am trying to get a pair ready to test from April ‘23 onwards. Brakes are best tested when the lift-assisted season is in full swing. Just by chance, it turns out they are spec’d on the Commencal Supreme V5 which is available to pre-order to arrive end of April… hmmm.


Average at best. They’re not bad brakes but I wouldn’t say they are good compared to what is available in 2023. I may be proven wrong when SRAM release their next generation Codes with a marketing spiel like “exactly the same power and heat management as our old brakes” but I’m sure they will be releasing a better version soon and as soon as they do I will buy some to test.

My problems with Code’s are that they are not super powerful, they always come with hard sintered pads that squeal and vibrate when cold and they have a heat issue: I believe (with good authority from unnamed World Cup mechanics) that the problem is the caliper heats up and expands, leaving a loose piston seal which allows too much rollback of the pistons when the lever is released. This gives the same effect as pushing the pistons back into the caliper and changing the bite point closer to the grip.

I also believe that SRAM are one of the worst manufacturers for spare parts over long periods. They are a big corp that likes to keep changing standards so you keep buying new stuff, which is a fair business model for growth. But, ask any bike shop if they can rebuild a set of Juicy brakes from 10years ago and they will probably laugh, whereas a set of Hope from 1998 is fully rebuildable and all service parts are still available.

People think I might be too harsh on SRAM, but the biggest MTB company in the world should be able to produce something better: the last 3x bikes I had with Codes were the first component to get changed so you can make of that what you like.


If you have any other brake you think I should test, or opinions to share please get in touch here.