The Bike List

TRP EuroX Alloy Cantilever Brakes £100

Tested by Ped Baker, tester for The Bike List

In their black, foam padded box the alloy TRP EuroX cantilevers look every penny of their £100. The rich and glossy black finish (red and silver versions are also available) is contrasted by the bronze boss mounts, the stainless mounting bolts sparkle alongside the black straddle cable bridge and spare soft pads intended for carbon rims. Altogether a delicious package of parts with an ‘old school’ feel and an ideal match for my lugged steel frame tourer.

If you’re not a reasonably equipped and competent mechanic, fitting the TRP’s could be time consuming. The instructions are clearly laid out but setting up is a fiddly affair. Things are made much easier with a Third Hand Tool (a clamp that holds the brake pads against the rim, or an old toe strap) but even then it can take several attempts to reach perfection.

One particular problem with the set-up for many basic canti’s is toe-in for the pads. Some models rely on bending for adjustment but the EuroX’s have a clever ‘in-place’ adjusters hidden in the pad holders. Setting them is a matter of loosening the small Allen bolt at the end of the post and adjusting the angle of the pad holder.

Mounted on my touring bike the EuroX arms poke out beyond the sides of the frame by a inch. This isn’t an issue with the larger frame sizes but riders of smaller frames could encounter problems with heels catching the wide arms, so check where your heels sweep past your seat stays before you buy. Also check any pannier bags won’t foul them. Properly set-up, the EuroX pads sit well away from the wheel rims for plenty of mud clearance; a primary reason why they’re so popular in Cyclocross.

Once bedded in, the brake is progressive and squeal free. I suffered some judder from the front set probably due to large dimensions of my frame and subsequent distance from hanger on my stem to the fork. As the forks flex this momentarily increases the tension on the cable until the spring in the fork pulls it back setting off a low, resonating judder. The only fix is to hang the cable closer to the fork.

A barrel cable adjuster on one side takes up the slack but there’s no micro adjustment for spring tension. If the arms don’t sit centrally, tweaking the springs with pliers should make them comply. I matched the TRP’s with Sram drop levers from the excellent Apex groupset and while the power and feel was good enough, riders used to V-brakes might be a tad disappointed with the effort needed to bring a bike to a stop. A softer set of pads would probably improve matters.

At 120g per wheel, the TRP EuroX’s are light, beautifully made and have some nice design touches such as the anodised cable hanger and toe in adjusters. Even though they’re essentially a Cyclocross brake the ‘old school’ cool style and big leverage makes them ideal for retro tourers.

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How canti’s work

No review of cantilever brakes would be complete without a quick(ish) explanation of how they work. The excellent (if a little long-in-the-tooth) website by Sheldon Brown comprehensively explains the principals and mechanics of canti’s but If you only want the gist of how the magic works, here it is.

As the name implies, cantilever brakes work by utilising leverage. They work in exactly the same way as using a long length of timber to lift something heavy like a fridge freezer. Slid a few inches underneath the freezer and levered upwards the timber gives something called mechanical advantage – lifting the freezer becomes much, much easier.

Sliding the length of timber further under the freezer increases the amount of elevation achieved but lowers the mechanical advantage (making it harder to lift), sliding it out increases it. The easier the freezer is to lift (the greater the mechanical advantage of the lever), the higher you need to raise the timber to achieve the same amount of lift at the freezer end.

What this means to brakes

Cantilever brakes (and that includes V-brakes) use the same principal. Where the timber pivots against the floor, the brake arm pivots around a brake boss. Where the timber contacts and lifts the freezer, a brake pad presses against a wheel rim.

Unlike the movable piece of timber, the length of cantilever brake arms and the distance from pad to pivot point is fixed. The mechanical advantage is factory set. However, (this is the clever bit) by altering the angle of pull of the cantilever straddle cable (the bit that links both arms) you can adjust the amount of travel (in relation to the lever on the bars) and feel of the brake the rider has enabling a smooth, progressive but powerful brake. For canti’s to work properly they need setting up carefully, and that’s one of the primary reasons why the factory-set, non-adjustable V-brakes have become so popular.

Click here to see Benno Belhumeur’s excellent Cantilever Geometry Visual Calculator that enables you to move around yoke heights to plot mechanical advantage.

At a glance

Verdict Wide profile cantilever brakes that are light, reasonably powerful and superbly made. Designed for Cyclocross but good for tourers too.

TRP says:

Cyclocross racing is steeped in history and top racers know from experience which equipment best meets the demands of this rugged sport. When asked what they wanted from their brakes, elite riders gave us some very straight answers. “Make it light and powerful with lots of mud clearance.” Seasoned mechanics added adjustable profile straddle cables, shorter brake pads and custom tunable return springs to the list. The EuroX delivered in spades proven by the numerous championships, repeated podiums and countless six packs won around the world.

  • CNC Aluminum cantilever brake
  • Open stance provides excellent mud clearance and stopping power with standard road levers
  • New “Inplace Adjust” adjustable toe-in brake pad holders
  • Road size pads for better frame / fork clearance
  • Front and rear complete set includes all mounting hardware
  • Colors: Red, Silver, and Black
  • Weight: 120 grams / wheel
  • Includes: Alloy cable hanger, Cable barrel adjuster, Straddle cable, Stainless mounting bolts, Extra set of brake pads for Carbon rims.

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