Mechanical disc brake calipers from major manufacturers
Shimano is shifting to hydraulic discs as its main focus for both road and MTB. In terms of road-oriented components, TIAGRA and above are the only hydraulic components in the lineup, and CLARIS has no disc brakes. In other words, Shimano’s only mechanical disc brake for road use is SORA.
The ULTEGRA-grade BR-CX77 and 105-grade BR-R517 are no longer in production, so the two options available now are the post-mounted BR-R317 and flat-mounted BR-RS305. Since most current disc brake road bike frames are flat-mounted, it is not too much to say that the BR-RS305 is the only choice.
Both brakes work well, but in terms of braking power, they are inferior to the EQUAL and TRP mentioned below. However, Shimano is still the best in terms of availability of replacement parts and cost performance.
EQUAL is a mechanical disc brake system released in 2022 by Growtac, a Japanese manufacturer famous for its roller stands.
The great thing about EQUAL is that even though it is a mechanical type, it provides a feeling and braking force similar to that of hydraulic brakes. The EQUAL was originally a brake with a high reputation, but once it was actually put on sale, users who installed it gave it high marks one after another, and it became so popular that it was frequently sold out in various places.
Not only are the brakes effective, but the brake caliper itself is one of the lightest in its class at 136g. It also contributes to weight reduction of disc brake road bikes, which tend to be heavy in weight.
In addition, the lineup includes not only flat-mount models but also post-mount models, making them compatible not only with current flat-mount frames but also with post-mount frames that are common on older disc-brake road bikes, cross bikes, and MTB bikes.
These “this is what I wanted” specifications are also a factor in their high evaluation, and it is no exaggeration to say that they are the strongest mechanical disc brakes available as of 2023.
TRP is a higher grade of Tektro, a standard complete bicycle series. SPYRE and SPYKE (MTB) series are available for mechanical disc brakes, but the SPYRE series is for road use.
TRP’s SPYRE series has very lightweight brake calipers, with the higher grade SPYRE FLAT MOUNT SLC weighing 146 g. It uses the flat mount type, which is the current mainstream. The lineup also includes the HY/RD FLAT MOUNT, a hybrid with mechanical wire pull and hydraulic pistons.
Both of these models are said to have good braking performance and feel for mechanical brakes, but since they were released several years ago, their performance may not be as good as that of the latest disc brake calipers.
The SPYRE series also includes the SPYRE C model, which is an OEM model for complete bikes. Its performance is equivalent to that of the SPYRE FLAT MOUNT.
SRAM’s mechanical disc brake series is Avid, which is highly regarded for its braking power similar to that of hydraulic systems despite being mechanical.
The Avid BB7 and Avid BB5 are quite old models, but they are still available with compatible pads, making them surprisingly easy brakes to choose from.
Note that they are all post-mounted, so you will need a conversion adapter to install them on a flat-mounted chassis.
Mechanical Disc Brake Caliper Comparison Chart
Finally, here is a comparison of mechanical disc brake calipers from the major manufacturers introduced so far.
In terms of specifications, Growtac’s EQUAL is still very superior. However, considering price, Shimano’s BR-RS305 cosmetics and TRP’s SPYRE FLAT MOUNT SLC, which is almost as lightweight as EQUAL and available at about 2/3 the price, are also options. If you are upgrading from a current disc brake car, which is mainly a flat-mount type, these are the three choices.
For older post-mounted cars, Shimano’s BR-R317 and SRAM’s Avid BB7S would be the best upgrades.
Mechanical disc brakes are a niche genre slightly outside the current disc road bike trend, but with the advent of Growtac’s EQUAL, “ease of adjustment” and “ease of maintenance” have been rediscovered, and the number of users who love them is increasing.
If you are concerned about hydraulic disc brakes, consider mechanical disc brakes.