Time trial bikes have been getting better and better at going faster and faster. Aero enhancements let more power go to pushing the bike forward and less fighting the wind to get there while carbon blends and layups have steadily made sure that when you hit the gas, the bottom bracket doesn’t decide to pack it in and fold up the frame like Tuesday’s junk mail. Where modern bikes still fall apart is when you need to stop: the brakes that come on nearly every TT and Tri bike, in short, are just this side of terrible.
If you run aluminum brake tracks, Kool Stop’s salmon pads have been around for at least seven years and haven’t been topped in terms of stopping power in any condition you can throw at it, and until disc brakes come to transition, this is likely the single best braking improvement since 2000. Carbon brake track riders fare better, as the technology behind composites have really come a long way since the turn of the 21st century, as well as the interaction between their cork pads in terms of friction without delamination, resulting in braking performance that is slowly approaching its higher-metal-content brethren. Both, however, suffer from the clamping contraptions that adorn, and are increasingly integrated into, our front forks and rear triangles. If you happen to own an integrated solution for your front fork, unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to overcome the decidedly anemic clamping force your chosen bike comes with, but if you ride a fork with a non-integrated brake we just might have come onto what we believe is the best brake this side of hydraulic – the TriRig Omega.
What Nick over at TriRig has done isn’t exactly rocket science; he’s taken the best ideas from around the industry and put them all together in a single product that helps you stop better. The Omega is a center-pull brake, meaning that when you pull up on the lever, a central wedge moves upwards inside the aerodynamic fairing and cantilevers the brake lever arms towards the rim in a linear fashion, which means that modulation is excellent, stopping power is some of the best we’ve felt in years, and clearance for wheels of all widths is equally good. Additionally, the offset from center for the pads is individually adjustable without having the other move a micron via a pair of screws on either side, which makes it a snap to swap wheels of any width one could imagine in and out. Pull the old wheel out, open up the arms via the screws, put the new wheel in and set your pad distance. Done.
Installation was similarly easy, requiring only minimal cable trimming and installing the provided pair of KoolStop Salmon pads, a nice touch for a nice product. For any rider accustomed to fidgeting with brakes for an hour or more to get them where you want them to be, those days are over with the Omega. From putting the bike on the stand to test ride, we needed just ten minutes.
Similarly, braking hard with the Omega was just as easy as installing it. Stopping power from run-of-the-mill side pull brakes to the Omega was, simply put, night and day. Going from open to applying pad to rim takes less travel, is more tactile in the lever and applies pressure in a predictable fashion. We haven’t had the chance to run them in the wet as of yet, but we expect they’ll be just as good there.
In all, our first hundred or so miles have been a pleasure with the TriRig Omega, and we look forward to the next thousand. If you’re considering ditching your TT machine because it just won’t stop, stay tuned. By all accounts, TriRig just might have the solution you’ve been looking for.