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Review: Rever MCX1 Dual Piston Mechanical Disc Brakes

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Disc brake systems for cyclocross and gravel bikes are becoming the norm de rigeur these days. While two of the big three component manufacturers offer full hydraulic brake systems for road levers, there are those who don’t need or want the added expense of such a system, or prefer the simplicity of a cable-operated mechanical disc brake system.

Single actuation mechanical brakes have been around for a while, where one pad moves and the other remains fixed. More recently, two mechanical systems offering movement in both pads have come to the fore, including the one we’ve reviewed – the Rever MCX1 dual piston mechanical brake system. Be sure to check out our first impressions including system weights and other highlights. Then ride past the break for the long term review…

ReverMCX1BrakeReview2015-2

As alluded to in Tyler’s first impressions of the system, the packaging comes loaded with cables, housings, bolts, adapters and disc rotors – all you need is a set of decent cable cutters and a couple of allen keys.

Installation

The Rever MCX1 brakes were installed onto my trusty disc-brake gravel rig, equipped with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 drivetrain and mechanical brake levers. Previously, my rig was fitted with TRP’s Spyre brakes – the other dual piston mechanical disc brake system on the market – so I was keen to see how the Rever MCX1’s compared.

Thankfully, I had compressionless brake housings already installed which saved me from trashing a perfectly good set of housings. I did however install new brake cables as supplied by Rever.

ReverMCX1BrakeReview2015-3

Unlike Tyler in his initial impressions, I had no issues with wheelset spokes striking the MCX1 caliper themselves, but this may be dependent on your chosen wheelset. For the record, I was rolling with American Classic’s venerable Hurricane disc brake wheelset.

ReverMCX1BrakeReview2015-9

Installation was fairly straight forward, including the time required to position the calipers so there was no pad to rotor contact when the brakes weren’t actuated. Out of the box, the calipers are configured with the on-board pad adjusters dialed all the way out.

Unfortunately, I ran into the same issue Tyler mentioned in his first impressions of the system; an annoying amount of “free stroke” or “hyperspace”, as I prefer to call it. Loosely defined, this is the vague 5 – 7mm of travel in a brake lever before pads begin to actuate and move towards the brake rotor. Alternatively, this “free stroke” is akin to improper setup with a mechanical road caliper rim brake if you’ve not pulled all of the slack from the cable.

ReverMCX1BrakeReview2015-7

Ordinarily this would be a simple fix – pull the cable taut with a third-hand tool or other creative method, and lock down the fixing bolt onto the cable. I took care of that but some “free stroke” still persisted.

ReverMCX1BrakeReview2015-10

Thankfully, our earlier article made reference to the not-mentioned-in-the-manual spring tension bolt that resides on the back side of the caliper lever arm. Turning this bolt in the appropriate direction removed all slack from the cable, and gave me the snappy brake lever feeling I was looking for.

Performance

To test the Rever MCX1 brakes appropriately, I rode them with a combination of rotors including Rever, Hope Floating and TRP. Additionally, I swapped pads several times alternating between the stock semi-metallic pads to organic pads. Rever is on the ball by making their pads compatible with Shimano’s G-Type (XT / XTR).

ReverMCX1BrakeReview2015-4

If it weren’t for one issue, it was difficult to determine a marked difference in braking performance when comparing the Rever MCX1 directly to the TRP Spyre brake. The issue? No matter how I the adjusted pads in proximity to the brake rotor – both pads simultaneously using the barrel adjuster on the MCX1 caliper itself, or alignment of each individual pad using the 3mm allen key adjustment – there was more lever stroke than I liked to achieve the same level of braking power on the MCX1 brake versus the TRP Spyre – in other words, more power seemed to come towards the end of the brake lever stroke with the MCX1.

Some cyclists may like their brake levers to have a reasonable amount of travel before they feel the braking power really come into effect, disc or rim brake. However, I prefer my brakes to feel tight, so I can gently dab them with a minimum of lever movement, scrubbing off microscopic amounts of speed. Consequently, my preference is for mechanical disc brakes to be adjusted so the pads are as close as possible to the rotors but without touching. The Revers were also adjusted in this manner.

To further confirm I wasn’t going around the bend, I substituted the Rever MCX1 brake on the rear of my test bike for a TRP Spyre brake.

ReverMCX1BrakeReview2015-6

This confirmed my suspicions. Same brake lever, same rotors, same pads, but the Rever MCX1 required more lever travel to reach the equivalent perceived power of the TRP Spyre brake. In no way did I bottom out the brake lever with the Rever brake, but the overall feel wasn’t to my liking.

TRP’s Spyre mechanical brake satisfies my personal demands – but the Rever MCX1 brake may suit yours. Feel issue aside, the MCX1’s provided a good amount of power, modulation and control, on par with the TRP Spyre brake, albeit with more lever throw to achieve it.

ReverMCX1BrakeReview2015-5

Compared to equivalent hydraulic  brake systems, MCX1’s are not as powerful, but that comes with the territory. Mechanical disc brakes work in all but the most disgusting of muddy conditions (envisage physical jamming when a caliper is continually caked in mud – as happened to me at 2015 Southern Cross), don’t require fluid or bleeding procedures, or worries about air bubbles in the brake line.

ReverMCX1BrakeReview2015-8

As expected, swapping the brake pads from metallic to organic made a nice difference in initial brake power, but at the expense of a shorter life, particularly in nasty conditions.

Overall, Rever’s MCX1 dual piston mechanical brake is a good buy, provided you’re the type of cyclist who likes their brakes to bring on the power further into the brake lever stroke. The Rever MCX1’s are well priced at $US 149.00 MSRP each, which includes a plethora of hardware to get them working on your bike. Additionally, they compare favorably in weight alongside TRP’s Spyre brake.

Photos and article by Gravel Cyclist.
Jayson O’Mahoney is the Gravel Cyclist: A website about the Gravel Cycling Experience.

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23 Comments
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Hank
Hank
8 years ago

It’s strange that nobody seems to remember the existence of the IRD Dual Banger mechanical dual-piston disc brake, which has been around for over ten years.

Tim
Tim
8 years ago

@Hank- I remember that brake. I think it’s been out of production for a few years, though, because it (judging from MTBR reviews) didn’t work so well. If I am not mistaken, it’s actually a single-piston brake, but the caliper floats and pulling on the brake makes the whole caliper slide inward toward the rotor. So it’s a faux two-piston brake (again, I might be remembering things wrong).

Ray Dundant
Ray Dundant
8 years ago

norm de rigeur … A new Yogism?

Darren
Darren
8 years ago

I think for almost all brakes, lever pull is the issue. I have it with Hydro, and mech disc. Only brakes that I can ever get that really tight feel is my road brakes, that are old school.

carbonfodder
carbonfodder
8 years ago

To get rid of lever pull issues, would adding a problem solvers v-brake mechanical advantage adapter (the roller doo-hickey that lets road Shimano levers pull enough cable on “full height” v-brakes) be a possible solve? Just thinking inside the box.

OFfCourse
OFfCourse
8 years ago

@carbonfodder, I’ve done a similar setup with a V lever on a standard road caliper. The brakes engage faster because you are increasing the pull ratio. The downside is a feeling of lost leverage at the lever making the brakes actually feel less powerful. It would be similar to just shortening the lever for the cable clamp at the caliper. Yes, you are technically moving the anchor point faster due to a shorter radius from the fulcrum, but you’re also giving up leverage. Physics is always cramping our style.

Brian
Brian
8 years ago

How do these compare with the hybrid hydro/mechanical brakes like the TRP Hy/Rd?

JG
JG
8 years ago

These are priced significantly higher than the Spyre. For this money might as well go with the TRP Hy/Rd, which at least has a good hydraulic “feel” (albeit no comparison to full hydro). They are the same price.

Tim
Tim
8 years ago

I am going to stick my neck out and dissent: if you take two brakes, hydro and cable, and they both have equivalent leverage ratios and the cable brake has good cables that don’t stretch much- the cable brake and the hydro are gonna have about the same power. I don’t see any reason why hydros should be automatically more powerful than cable brakes. I’ve ridden hydros and my own BB7s with good cables and wouldn’t swap the brakes I have out for something else.

benzo
benzo
8 years ago

“The Rever MCX1’s are well priced at $US 149.00 MSRP each”: difficult statement to swallow when one can find COMPLETE sets of industry standard Shimano Deore for less than that …

Dylan
Dylan
8 years ago

@benzo, Deore hydros won’t work with a [mechanical] road lever. Otherwise I completely agree, pricing on road discs is silly at the moment compared to where it’s at in the MTB world (e.g the latest M8000 Xt brakes can be had for AU$180 F&R excluding the rotors, but including levers which are obviously not part of this kit) . Give it a few years and prices for full hydro systems will come down, until then don’t bother messing with cable discs.

Rides bikes
Rides bikes
8 years ago

+1 for BB7s. Never let me down.

maddogeco
8 years ago

@tim The Hydros are going to have a little bit fine grain control and a smoother action. But for me is that the hydros will automatically adjusts as the pad wears down

Tim
Tim
8 years ago

@maddogeco- I know what you mean, having automatic pad adjustment is nicer than turning the knobs on a mechanical brake every once in awhile (or after every few long descents, if you live in places where there are lots of them). My question was more about the solid belief that many seem to have that hydros are far more powerful than mechanicals, something which my experience does not confirm and which does not match up with simple physics tells us.

C
C
8 years ago

Good brake, but be careful, the calliper body is so wide I’ve seen it touching spokes!
As for Hy/Rd, well they are a death trap that should have been recalled… because the piston can reach the end of its stroke without the pads biting the rotor.

MD
MD
8 years ago
Reply to  C

Are you saying that if the pads wear somewhat then there comes a point where although there is plenty of pad left, the pistons can’t push the pads against the rotor?

MickMolloy
MickMolloy
8 years ago

I tried these out and they were pure crap! There was way too much lever pull before the brakes even started to bite and when they did bite they were mushy. I tried everything to get them working but in the end had to dump them. Steer clear!

DW
DW
7 years ago

We just set up a new set of these at our shop and were extremely disappointed, The screw securing the lever arm sheared off when attempting to tighten it. Closer inspection with loupe showed off center thread machining leading to threads that cut through the side of the fixing bolt into the hollow center leading to easy bolt failure. This bolt only has a total of two thread wraps on it to grab the caliper body, so I also think they were way too close to a reasonable safety margin in the design. Also, the 3mm pad adjuster hex heads stripped out before they overcame the screw friction to tighten, rendering them useless. Also, as mentioned in the article above, the required lever travel and weak braking was very sub par for a caliper at this price. They look really nice, but suffer from both poor design, and poor manufacturing. We will be submitting a warranty claim in with the manufacturer tomorrow. We do not expect to see this caliper design on the market for long; we predict it will pass into obsolesence in a season unless they do a significant redesign.

Michael A
Michael A
7 years ago

Unsatisfactory product. I spent significant time in setup and couldn’t even get them to feel as good as OEM bottom barrel brakes like Tektro Lyra or BB5. I’ve installed/adjusted hundreds of mechanical brakes.

1) Used provided housing, utter mush, lever pulled to bars even with both pads touching rotor to begin with. Used regular Shimano housing, no improvement. Hopeless lever feel as if trying to match a long-pull brake to a road lever (TRP RRL in this case).
2) Individual 3mm pad adjuster LOOSENS ITSELF after each lever squeeze. Just 4-5 lever pulls and the adjusted pad backed it self up to where it was before you adjusted it.
3) Spring tension adjust screw has nothing to stop it, so if you are frustrated trying to get the brake to behave and turn it a touch too far, it unthreads into the brake and you get to disassemble your new brake and go hunting for it.
4) At best, this brake has production issues. I adjusted both pads to be TIGHT to the rotor just to see what the ever would feel like, still mushy.

It looks good. The packaging is top-shelf, wish the brake was even half as impressive.

mtbboy1993
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael A

3) Soak it with Loctite 243, I got TRP Spyke, I have to do it with them,

mtbboy1993
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael A

2) Soak it with Loctite 243, I got TRP Spyke, I have to reguralyl check it and apply Loctite.

Dangerfreak
Dangerfreak
5 years ago

…has someone found a way to give the 3mm pad adjusters friction enough to stay tight, even after several adjustments?
Maybe some Teflon tape or Nylon thread can be put between the moving parts to achieve this?

Any experiences out there?

Nahum
Nahum
5 years ago

Tengo 4 años en el mtb, siempre tuve problemas con los hidráulicos, ya que soy de Mérida, México. Aquí hay demasiado calor, entonces pille unos Avid BB7 con los mandos speed dial siempre de Avid, lo que logró Sram es fantástico, llevo casi 3 años con ellos y funcionan de maravilla, se ajustan super fácil, tienen una potencia de frenado muy buena y eso que llevo 160 mm en las dos ruedas. No tienen nada que pedirles a unos hidráulicos, para mi los BB7 junto con el BB5 su hermano menor, son los auténticos estándares en frenos mecánicos de disco.

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