It’s been almost six months since I mounted the Trickstuff brakes on my Canyon Strive 29 long term rig. It was during that six months that I used them in all conditions, on all types of terrain and I changed brake pads a couple of times throughout. The time has therefore come to take stock, but not before spending a few words on this small German company, based in Freiburg, which produces complete brakesets in Germany. As often happens with Teutonic creations, we find mountain bike enthusiasts as lead engineers, something that shines in every detail of the Direttissima.
The caliper bodies are made of 7075 T6 aluminum and are entirely CNC machined. The caliper consists of two half-shells joined by two screws, while the pistons are made from polished stainless steel to prevent overheating of the system. The brakes use Bionol oil, a biodegradable mineral oil with a boiling point of 360°. The Direttissima work with any mineral oil, making maintenance easy even if Trickstuff oil is not available.
If in your region the pads are difficult to find, or you find yourself in a pinch, you can mount Shimano XTR / XT pads. During the test I used the Power + pads which, as the name implies, are the most powerful and also the least sensitive to high temperatures among those in the Trickstuff catalog (Eco, Standard and Power).
Aiming to be one of the most powerful brakes on the market, Trickstuff has equipped the Direttissima with a lever boasting a generous and ergonomic surface, in width, and with a very pleasant feeling that wasn’t too angular, even when you are constantly on the brakes over long descents and steeps. The bar mount, with its “heel” of sorts, placed next to the clamp, is designed prevent the lever from flexing. However, this means that the surface width they need is 24mm, a factor that can become an impediment for those who want to have levers very close to the grip or when space is needed for other components. Anyway, all types of SRAM and Shimano adapters are available on the Trickstuff website, despite not being shown in the test here.
The lever has four sealed bearings that ensure smooth and long-lasting operation. The knob for adjusting the distance of the lever from the handlebar is an optional (14.90 Euro per lever), otherwise you will have to use a 2mm Allen key to find the most suitable position for your hands. The range is huge, covering a lever reach from 47 to 88mm.
Very interesting is the functioning of the master cylinder, because the angle of the piston changes in the lever according to how much the lever itself is compressed, creating what Trickstuff defines as a “progression curve”, similar to how a rear suspension linkage would work. In practice, the more the lever is pressed, the more powerful the brake will become, in an increasingly proportional manner. The reservoir contains 3ml of oil, the largest on the market according to Trickstuff – a feature that helps to maintain power even when the pads are worn and the pistons migrate inward a lot.
The Direttissima is the lightest four-piston brake on the market, tipping our scale at 230 grams (front brake with pads).
Trickstuff has in its range different types of rotors , from HD (heavy duty, under test here) to UL, Ultra Light. All are slightly rounded on the outside to facilitate easy insertion between the pads. Not for this reason they become rotating blades that could cut your finger off, since in any case it remains a flat part. The thickness of the ones being tested is 2.05mm, a little girthier than the most of competitors’ offerings on the market.
203mm front disc detected weight: 194gr.
180mm rear disc detected weight: 154gr.
The mounting of the Direttissima is as easy as it gets, thanks to the connectors that allow you to detach the hoses from their master cylinders without losing a drop of oil. At this point I have never had to bleed them: neither when I mounted them, nor during the six months of testing. The dimensions of the connectors are such that they pass through every hole or cable passage in the frame that I mounted them on.
As for the hoses, here too Trickstuff offers a kevlar option (tested here), or the Goodridge option, famous for being the most robust on the market. It’s worth noting that with the Kevlar front and rear version had the exact same behavior and feel.
Finally the colors: from October 1st, 2019 the Direttissima is available only in black or silver, no longer in the nine previous colors. This is to speed up production, given that at the moment it takes nine months wait between order and delivery.
On the trail
As you may have noticed, I haven’t yet mentioned the price of the Direttissima Trickstuff (you can find it at the end of the article), but a lot of you will already know that it is a very expensive product. As a result, my expectations were very high, and were not disappointed. Even at a standstill, you can see that you have a super stable braking between your fingers, a feeling given by both the massive lever and the braking point, very high in the lever and extremely well defined.
The power is seriously brutal, but controllable. It took me a lap or two to adapt to so much strength and above all to understand how to handle the lever and make use of the progressivity I mentioned above. In fact, once the hands adjust, the power can be dosed very well without accidentally locking the back end up. Exceptional is how the braking point is constant in every situation and regardless of how much the pads are worn. In practice we know that the brake is always “present” and ready, there is no doubt or uncertainty, like a wandering braking point would cause.
On long, steep and demanding descents, where I usually arrive at the end with aching hands and swollen forearms, my fingers are still fresh, though always and only braking with the forefinger. The fading is practically zero, and the distance between the pads and disc is always the same. It is proof that there is no noise of the pads touching the rotors at the end of the descent, as happens for example with Shimano. Speaking of rubbing noises, the Direttissima are by far the quietest and easiest to adjust when the caliper is centered on the disc. Definitely quieter than the competition overall, they are even quieter still in the wet, with only a few squeeks that are put to rest immediately once the disc warms up.
The management of the pad wear is where most brakes tend to fail, even those with excellent performance: the pistons get dirty, come out misaligned / irregular, the stroke of the lever gets longer. With the Direttisima I almost came to metal on metal, and the braking point of the lever was identical to when the pads were new. This is one of the reasons why “they are always present”, which on a psychological level is a boon, because we know that a sliver of pad meat is still enough to stop, without fear of failure.
In short, I have never managed to put them in crisis mode, on the other hand they are the only brake, in my decades of experience in mountain biking, which gave me such confidence as to make the difference that I wanted for riding my Canyon Strive on some of the toughest trails around, or simply to have more fun braking at the last moment or doing nose wheelies. The feeling is that of complete and total control over the bike.
I have already said that I never bled them. However, I studied the bleeding operation that requires two syringes with attachments of different sizes (M4 and M5), so it is worth investing 29.90 Euros to buy the Heinzelmann kit .
To answer the title question, I would say yes, the Direttissima are the best brakes I’ve ever tried. And they should be, at 900 Euros for a pair. Powerful, controlled, silent and with state of the art pad management. If there is a component for which I would be willing to spend an exorbitant amount compared to the competition, it would be this, with the intent of carrying them over from bike to bike throughout the years, given that the manic workmanship determines a robustness that makes them durable over a long span of time.
Price : 450 Euro per brake