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Review: Paul Component Klamper mechanical disc brake is rock solid, stops strong

Paul Klamper review of US-made mechanical disc brakes
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Paul Klamper review of US-made mechanical disc brakes

When Paul Component’s Klamper disc brake caliper debuted, it looked big and clunky. I supposed it had appeal to Paul fans who wanted to match everything up, but I preferred the streamlined aesthetics and dual pull of the TRP Spyre. But sometimes, function overcomes form, and having ridden the Klampers for two days of #PaulCamp around their California headquarters, my mind has been expanded. There’s a reason they’re so big, and it’s a good one…

Paul Klamper review of US-made mechanical disc brakes

Riding alongside Paul himself,  I remarked that I couldn’t feel any pad movement. Normally, and this even happens with high end hydraulic brakes from a major brand, there’s noticeable pad movement. At a stop, if I grab the brakes and rock the bike back and forth, there’s wheel movement. It’s only a couple degrees, but at the outside of the tire’s circumference, that adds up to a centimeter or more of rotation.

Does that matter? Maybe not for normal riding, but it’s annoying, and for brakes that cost a lot of money and are designed to stop with precision, it shouldn’t be acceptable. And that seems to be Paul’s opinion, too.

Paul Klamper review of US-made mechanical disc brakes
The original prototype on left, handmade by Paul in his private workshop, alongside more polished working samples from his team.

Paul remarked “We worked really hard on that, to get the tolerances very tight.” And it shows. There’s literally no movement when trying to rock the bike back and forth. The slots the pads nestle into have just enough room to allow uninhibited lateral movement, but leave nothing for fore/aft slack.

Paul Klamper review of US-made mechanical disc brakes

Paul Klamper review of US-made mechanical disc brakes

The reason the Klamper’s are so big is because they wanted to make the calipers extremely rigid. That’s why they didn’t end up with a dual pull design that would move both pads inward toward the rotor. They did consider it, and even tried to figure out how, but Paul told me the end result would be caliper body parts that were too thin and flexible to offer appropriate stopping power.

Paul Klamper review of US-made mechanical disc brakes

To make the best of it, they did build in dual pad adjustments, letting you dial in starting pad position for both sides, which makes set up much, much easier. And the barrel adjuster on the cable helps fine tune it further. They offer two versions, one each for short pull and long pull brake levers, and if you’re not sure which you need, just check with them before ordering. There’s also color options, like the new limited edition Blue shown here.

Paul Klamper review of US-made mechanical disc brakes

All of these features (except, perhaps, the colors) add up to a very impressive brake caliper. Paul’s attention to details and unwillingness to compromise function for form mean the brakes work far better than any single-pull mechanical caliper I’ve ever ridden. And, honestly, they give the TRP HyRD mech-to-hydro calipers a serious run for their money while being a lot easier to set up. And I should state that the form isn’t really bad…it’s just big, particularly for a road bike…and it’s growing on me. But I’d take them any day based purely on their performance.

I didn’t get them on my own scale as they were already attached to my demo bike, but claimed weight is 211g per wheel, without cables. Price is $184 per wheel, available in black, silver and, for a while, blue, with the option of orange adjustment dials or black/silver to match the caliper body.

Oh, and they are working on a flat mount version, but it’ll likely be 2018 before that goes on sale.

PaulComp.com

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Tim
Tim
5 years ago

Which levers and cables did you use with the brakes?

SurlyWill
SurlyWill
5 years ago

Cool, a heavier, more expensive BB7 😉

Chader
Chader
5 years ago
Reply to  SurlyWill

I tend to agree. Other than bling, I fail to see what substantial improvement these really offer.

ChrisL
ChrisL
5 years ago
Reply to  Chader

That’s because somethings need to be ridden to understand the difference. I’ve ridden BB7 and Paul brakes. Pretty noticeable difference.

lop
lop
5 years ago
Reply to  ChrisL

(deleted)

Bob D.
5 years ago
Reply to  Chader

These are built out of better materials and to better tolerances than a BB7. The difference is definitely noticeable, especially when you’re making adjustments.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  SurlyWill

I haven’t ridden these, but the article did explain some things that are different about these brakes- no slop in the pads, and a stiffer than standard caliper. Not having ridden them, I can’t say if the stiffness is so much better than that of BB7s that it really is noticeable, but if it’s true, then they could be worth buying for some people.

Paleo Velo
5 years ago

Hard to justify when XT hydros are so cheap, at least when talking about bikes without drop bars.

ascarlarkinyar
5 years ago
Reply to  Paleo Velo

Because snow and salt destroys pistons very quickly. And for those of us that ride in third world countries, cable brakes are a must.

Eric E. Strava
Eric E. Strava
5 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

You should re-examine your maintenance procedures if you are really eating thru caliper pistons. Or do you run your pads down to the backing plate on a regular basis?

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

If snow and salt can destroy the pistons of mechanical brakes, then presumably they can destroy the pistons of hydraulic brakes, too.

Dylan
Dylan
5 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Hydros rely on a piston seal keeping the fluid in, so if the piston is pitted or seal damaged then this could cause them to fail. Cable brake calipers don’t use a piston in the same sense, but whatever mechanics are used to drive the pad would presumably not work well if corroded by salt or gummed with grit. Snow is just water, so that doesn’t destroy hydraulic brake pistons – I ride in the wet often, and blast my brake calipers with a pressure washer to clean the mud off afterwards. Perhaps salt does damage them under some circumstances, but I’ve not seen it happen despite riding my bike on the beach on many occasions. I do always hose it with fresh water afterwards of course, so lack of maintenance could be the culprit.

Dylan
Dylan
5 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

I always hear this argument that riding in third world countries or extended touring leads to a requirement for cable discs, and I’ve never heard an answer that stacks up. I had Hayes HFX Mag hydros that never got bled between when I bought the bike in 2003, and when I gave it away in 2015. I had some Avid juicy 3 hydros that only needed bleeding once (after I accidentally pulled on the lever while the wheel was out, and popped the piston out) between 2006 and 2013. The Shimano XT 765 on my commuter had to be bled when I got them second hand in 2013 (previous owner swapped the levers over and messed up the bleed), but not since then. And the XT M785 on my current full suspension bike have not needed bleeding since I got the bike in December 2013. In all the MTB riding I have done, I have never seen a hydraulic line damaged. But although I only know two MTB guys that used to run cable discs (one BB7, one cheap Hayes), both of them had issues with the cables getting gummed up with grit and rapid pad wear and frequent maintenance requirements that led to them replacing their setup with hydros (whereupon followed years of trouble free operation).
Before drop bar hydro levers existed cable discs made some sense, or in the MTB world a decade ago when hydros were still expensive, but now?

Motarded450
Motarded450
5 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

If you live in a 3rd world country why on earth would you give up a few months pay checks to buy Pauls mechanical discs when you can get some affordable Tektro’s

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  Motarded450

Tektro mechanical discs have a pretty bad reputation. For one thing, their lever arm is quite long and flexy and the pads have a lot of play.

Heymaker
3 years ago
Reply to  Motarded450

What an ignorant comment about salaries; just as there are poor people in developed countries so there are loaded dudes in 3rd world countries…

Dylan
Dylan
5 years ago
Reply to  Paleo Velo

Yep, shimano XT M8000 go for nearly $100 less per end INCLUDING the levers – US$89.99 on Wiggle at the moment.
Even if you need drop bar levers, a complete set of front and rear Shimano RS685 or RS785 (Di2) calipers and levers is US$500.
Not to mention the hydraulics being about 100g lighter per end (once you factor in the much heavier housing and cable required).

As for the play in the brake pads when rocking the bike back and forth, who are you, Vittorio Brumotti? Unless you’re riding trials, even if it were a real thing, what possible difference could this make?

I guess sometimes only blue will do.

iperov
iperov
5 years ago

Hayes MX4/5 still best mechanical brake.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  iperov

Have you ridden both?

lop
lop
5 years ago
Reply to  Tim

So I can’t speak to the Hayex MX4/5 specifically, but I have ridden the Pauls and the Hayes CX, and I can state without equivocation that the Hayes CX outperform the Pauls in every possible way.

lop
lop
5 years ago
Reply to  lop

I should add, obviously, that these experiences were with road levels.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  lop

Can you explain in what way(s) the Hayes were better? Weight, lever feel, braking power, adjustability, reliability…? Did you ride both brakes on the same bike with the same levers, cables, tires, etc. in the same riding conditions?

Will T Smith
Will T Smith
5 years ago
Reply to  lop

I’ve ridden BB7 and Hayes MX4. The BB7 was obviously superior. Combined with SD7 levers, they are great. Always stopped me.

I’ve moved on to Shimano Hydraulics largely to get the Servo Wave and enhanced pad clearance. No more rotor rub.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  Will T Smith

There are V-Brake and short-pull levers that have Servo-Wave. Unfortunately, they are older and kind of hard to find: Shimano LX V-Brake levers, SRAM 9.0SL, Shimano some Shimano canti levers (LX, XT, and XTR) from the early-mid 90’s. They up pad clearance and braking power each by around 40%.

BenGrimm
BenGrimm
5 years ago

How is the braking compared to the Spyre’s?

lop
lop
5 years ago
Reply to  BenGrimm

Far worse, but doesn’t expect negative reviews from people who shelled out multiple hundreds of dollars for an expensive BB7.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  lop

Have you ridden the Spyres? You seem to have ridden every mechanical disc brake there is- and this when mechanical disc brakes are kind of a rare choice. I know I don’t see them that often. I’m not saying you haven’t, it’s just your opinions are quite strong (that’s fine) but you don’t provide backup for them.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  lop

@lop- in this thread, you have trashed products multiple times without offering any factual backup.

lop
lop
5 years ago
Reply to  Tim

What facts are you expecting? It’s the comment section, not a scientific journal. I have Spyres on my road bike, and previously had BB7s on my “gravel” bike, before I switched over to the Hayes CX. I road Klampers at Sea Otter, and in my experience, they weren’t as good as the Hayes or TRP options, and effectively the same as a BB7, only a lot more expensive.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  lop

I’m not asking for a scientific journal write-up, I just want to know how they were worse- power was lacking, adjustability was difficult, they were noisy, etc.

lop
lop
5 years ago
Reply to  Tim

They lacked the bite that I get from my Spyres, which isn’t surprising. I would use the Spyres on both bikes, but one has a dynamo hub, and the Spyre runs into the spokes. The preference for Hayes over BB7/Klamper is due to the ease of adjustability, appearance, quality of hardware, and in the case of the Klamper, price. Pads difference are basically negated, because I usually just buy whatever Kool Stop option fits in that particular brake.

The particular Klampers I rode were mountain, and they were fine, but were not effectively different than a BB7, except for costing triple. And they were demonstrably worse, of course, than even the cheapest Shimano hydraulic disc brake. I haven’t mess with the MTB Spyres, but I have to imagine they work as well as the road brake version does.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  lop

Now I see what you mean. I do think it’s hard to judge one brake over another when the brakes are on different bikes with different housing, cables, tires, etc. and the riding happens in different conditions. If I had the time and money, I would do a shootout between all the mechanical options and see how they all stack up.
Personally, I ride BB7s and am one of the few who strongly prefers them over hydros, even expensive ones. Consistently, people get on my bike and say “wow, I can’t believe how well your brakes work”. They say that my brakes work well not just “for a cable brake” but that they work well, period. I think people generally have forgotten how to properly cut cables and housing, then get poor braking and say it’s because the brakes aren’t hydro. Come to think of it, even when almost all brakes were cable operated, people, even shop mechanics, were bad at cutting cables and housing.
Also, people are terrible at seeing even obvious facts sometimes. I remember a guy who installed V-Brake levers on his cantilever-equipped brake and then said his brakes had gotten much stronger. The opposite was clearly the case- you had to squeeze massively to get the bike to slow down, and the levers were rock hard.

JBikes
JBikes
5 years ago

Who is making the pads and what is their tolerance? (I know PC runs Kool Stops, do they have a specially tight pad carrier width tolerance?)

Also, how does that tight tolerance affect pad changes as things get gunked up, nicked, galled, etc?

curtisinglis
curtisinglis
5 years ago

They work great ,look good and are made in California.

bbb
bbb
5 years ago

Got one for my drop bar commuter (front). It does PERFECTLY what it says on the tin.
Hydraulic brakes aren’t better (or worse) than these. They are just another option with their pros and cons.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  Tyler Benedict

Cool, thanks for the review! I have a thought to run the short pull version with old SLR Plus levers, the ones with the rolling cam inside. Plus good cables and housing as you said.

Motarded450
Motarded450
5 years ago
Reply to  Tyler Benedict

Based on the level of comments on this topic, a mechanical disc brake shoot out would be awesome. perhaps one for road, one for MTB, with stock oem pads and a test with an aftermarket pad set up like cool stops.
How much of the braking performance is attributed to the pad quality and compound, lever compatibility and cable friction?
Way too many variables at play here folks

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  Motarded450

Agreed, a mechanical brake shootout would be awesome.

GoFunkYoself
GoFunkYoself
5 years ago

Made in America. Cool colors. Funky, with lots of soul, and not mass produced in the sense that Shimano or SRAM/Avid is mass produced. If I could afford these, I’d buy them. There’s something to be said about a guy named Paul and his company manufacturing high-quality parts in California. I love my BB7s, and I love my TRPs–both work great, and the price was right. If I could/when I can afford Paul’s, I’ll make the leap. When I do, I’ll take a dump before my ride to ensure that the weight differential is offset. Good lord. Sometimes the criticism becomes critical for no sake whatsoever…

Bigschill
Bigschill
5 years ago
Reply to  GoFunkYoself

right on bro! Pretty happy with Spyres on my drop bar B+ bike but when I can I’m getting a set of Paul’s.

anon
anon
5 years ago

Do they squeak??

tickle
tickle
5 years ago

The Yokozuna housing made my old BB7’s feel much stronger, still might try these tho I want to stick with mechanical cause I like my cross top levers for riding singletrack.

Thermal curious
Thermal curious
5 years ago

Did Paul mention anything about the larger caliper acting as a heat sink? I’d be curious to see if these possibly dissipate heat from the rotor better than most mech options out there hence maybe feel better after working them hard or on longer descents?

Michael Cleveland
5 years ago

In almost 25 years of mountain biking, the Paul Klampers are easily the best brakes I’ve ever used. They’re super simple to setup, easy to change pads and in my opinion, look better than about 95% of the brakes on the market. I’m a bikepacking freak and it’s great to know that in the really random event that I need to work on my brakes in the middle of nowhere, I can. I have tried the Spyres and I’d even take the BB5’s over the Spyres…. they just didn’t work well on the bike I tried them on.

Rick Harker
5 years ago

Interesting stuff.
Reading Paul’s blogs it’s clear that everything he makes is rock solid in the function and one main thing, reliability. He is proud of the quality that goes into his product and isn’t afraid to show it.
My BB7’s were very good, reliable and just a little tweak of the adjustment barrels occasionally and pad replacement when necessary.
I’ve had issues with TRP HyRd’s and a Spyre that seized after 11 months. The internals are cheap and nasty. The thrust plate was an ordinary pressed steel washer with a tiny thin plastic plate holding the bearings. For those with these brakes my recommendation is to strip them, replace the bearings with stainless and use a waterproof grease. There is no practical seal on these.
When you look at Paul Klampers every part is quality, no compromise.

Richard E Blanton II
3 years ago

I have a Co-Motion Pangea Rohloff with S&S couplers. The bike came with the Spyre. I am heavy and was not happy with the stopping power. I purchased The HY/RD and changed from drop to crazy bars with Paul canti levers. This improved the braking some. The HY/RDs leaked and ate up pads after a little over a year. I purchased the Paul Klampers about two weeks ago. I have the Yokozuna cable housing to the cable stops. The Klampers are quite a bit wider than other calipers. This created a challenge with the cable run on the chain stay. I used non compressionless cable housing and the ferule had to acute of an angle and the friction was to much. I then used some of my Rohloff shift cable housing and a Jagwire lined end cap This solved the friction problem. No squeaking no mush and no play. I don’t believe there is any plastic either. I have my rotors straightened to tir of .3mm

Paul Krupa
Paul Krupa
3 years ago

Thanks for the great article and the comments! You described my problem in the article where the pad and body clearance is too sloppy. On heavy braking on less than smooth payment going downhill, for example, you get the same sensation as when you headset is loose. Not reassuring that you know the problem. I keep thinking whether I remembered to tighten my wheel!
These are Styre brakes on a Surly Midnight Special. You can see the pads move if you lift the wheel while holding the brake and rock it back and forth. I did not have this on my other surly with BB5 brakes. Sounds as if Paul has experienced this problem and addressed it.
Don’t like the boxy look however. Almost a Mad Max look.
I will be trying other pads to see whether they are as sloppy in that dimension.

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