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TRP Hylex RS disc brakes review

TRP’s Hylex combines retro single speed looks with optional electric shifter functionality for a nice bit of niche tech

TRP Hylex RS disc brakes review
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

It’s not the most sensitive brake and it’s expensive, but it does the job solidly and with serious retro style. There aren’t many other single-speed hydraulic options either

For

  • - Sweet retro looks
  • - Shaped and drilled levers feel great
  • - Plenty of power
  • - Long body for gear grinding
  • - Good pad wear
  • - Shimano pad compatible
  • - Reach is adjustable
  • - Easy hose trimming
  • - Color options

Against

  • - Expensive
  • - Numb feel
  • - Long reach can feel odd
  • - Needs brake plates adding

Bike Perfect Verdict

It’s not the most sensitive brake and it’s expensive, but it does the job solidly and with serious retro style. There aren’t many other single-speed hydraulic options either

Pros

  • +

    - Sweet retro looks

  • +

    - Shaped and drilled levers feel great

  • +

    - Plenty of power

  • +

    - Long body for gear grinding

  • +

    - Good pad wear

  • +

    - Shimano pad compatible

  • +

    - Reach is adjustable

  • +

    - Easy hose trimming

  • +

    - Color options

Cons

  • -

    - Expensive

  • -

    - Numb feel

  • -

    - Long reach can feel odd

  • -

    - Needs brake plates adding

TRP (Tektro Racing Products) is the top-end product segment of the mass market brake supremos Tektro, and amongst some excellent cable disc brakes and solid MTB hydraulic stoppers, they’re one of the few (maybe the only) brand to make hydraulic drop-bar brakes without any shifting element. Great for single speed setups and with an extra mount Di2 compatible too if you want a retro vibe on your digitally-driven ride. 

But how does it fit among the best mountain bike brakes in the segment? We've been using it for some time, so read on to find out. 

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TRP Hylex RS disc brakes review

TRP Hylex RS comes in a classic black (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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TRP Hylex RS disc brakes review

They also come in a very classic looking tan and silver colorway (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

It’s not just the silver lever blade and tan hood option that brings out the retro either, as both colorways use a drilled lever, which took my fingers straight back to furtively squeezing brakes on bikes we could never afford in my local bike shop in the late '70s. Given how grippy and tactile it makes the levers feel, we wish it was more common now too. The reach-adjustable blade also swoops and swerves outwards slightly below the top-notch. This also felt really good under our digits, especially when used with a flared bar that matched the curve. The lever bodies are around a centimeter longer than Shimano and SRAM (they’re about 1.5cm longer than the latest Rival) and the pommel at the front is much less pronounced so they will stretch you out more than normal. That means more ‘throat’ to grab when you’re trying to wrestle your ungeared bike up a serious climb.

The actual braking feel is more solid and blunt than other brands, so subtle modulation is slightly lacking and you’re more likely to get arm pump on a really long descent. There’s plenty of power from the two-cylinder caliper though so you can tackle serious steeps from the hoods using just the curved top segment. Switch to the drops and pull the tips, and you’ll be able to slide tires with a single digit, even on a loaded bikepacking rig. Obviously, going hydraulic rather than cable means all the usual self-adjustment for wear, lack of corrosion concerns, and a much more direct feel too. They’re available in Flat Mount or Post Mount options too, but you’ll need to provide the appropriate plate mount.

TRP Hylex RS disc brakes review

Single pot brake calipers offer loads of braking power (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

While the semi-sintered pads have a tendency to sing loudly if the rotor is slightly out of line (you need to add your own rotor), they last better than the original pads in SRAM and Shimano brakes. You can also use Shimano fit pads as replacements which makes finding spares a lot easier. The brakes are supplied fully bled, and the 800mm front and 1800mm rear hoses mean they’ll fit straight onto most bikes. If you need to chop them, a spare olive and barb are provided and they're not prone to dripping so ours worked fine without bleeding, even after we had to swap the hoses over and then cut them to length. They run on mineral oil so any drips that do occur won’t be as potentially paint- or planet-damaging as a brake using DOT fluid. If you need a full 2000mm length, you can get a spare with olive pre-attached in white or black. Hoods, bar clamps, and lever bushes are also available as spares. There’s even a Di2 kit that includes cutaway hoods and mounts for Shimano’s satellite ‘climbing’ shifters so you can use electric shifting while still having that Eroica look. 

Verdict

Given the very limited options for single speed hydraulic brakes, the performance of the Hylex’s is almost academic. We’re happy to say that while they’re not the most touchy-feely anchors, they’re far more powerful and predictable than a cable setup. While the long bodies feel odd at first, we really like the shape and feel of the drilled levers, pad life is good and they’re easy to bleed if you actually need to. 

The price seems high for a relatively simple setup with no shifter guts but then, as we say, this is something of a hostage situation in terms of other options. 

Tech Specs: TRP Hylex RS disc brakes

  • Price: $149.99 / £140.00
  • Weight: 378g (Front lever, hose and caliper)
  • Colors: All black or Tan hoods with silver lever and caliper.
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg