Shutt Velo Rapide Pro Performance Jersey and Bibshorts, they’re back baby!

That’s one hell of a well priced bundle!

It’s all about the sequels nowadays. And the remakes and the re-imaginings. There’s just nothing new. Old stuff keeps getting dragged up and brought back. Some of it is successful, some of it is not. There’s nothing new under the sun. But sometimes it’s good to see something that you fondly remember make a triumphant return.

Shutt Velo Rapide are back. I hope you noticed that they went away. But it’s great to welcome them back because it’s great to see them back and doing what they always did so well, produce thoughtful, well designed kit that just worked. I remember my first Shutt VR long sleeve signature jersey, a quite lovely thing. I’d still have it if I wasn’t quite so much a kit tart who’s always selling stuff on to fund the purchase of new stuff. Good news for buyers mind as my kit is always mint.

This week I’ve been testing the Pro Performance Jersey and Bibs, one of the first out of the blocks of Shutt’s new range. Since receiving it they’ve gone a bit mad with new things such as jackets, gilets, base layers etc. I can’t wait to see what else they get into the new range. It’s bloody good to have them back.

Shutt Velo Rapide Pro Performance Jersey

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Let’s start off by saying it’s red, really red. There’s nothing worse than half arsed red in my book, being a proud welshman, so this really ticks all the boxes.

The retail price is £89.00 which is pretty damn good for a “pro level” jersey in my book. Obviously you get a discount if you buy it as part of the bundle I linked to at the start of this piece. In terms of sizing this is a matter of pick your usual size for a pro fit or the size up for a slightly more forgiving fit. So, in my case, at roughly 39-40 chest, I’m actually wearing the XL. I could almost certainly get away with the large and get a bit more aero with it but I’m quite happy with the size that I tested as being that bit more relaxed. It’s a properly good fit with no unsightly bulging in the tummy area despite me sizing up.

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The main body of the jersey is a smooth feeling lycra while the back is a meshy affair. And in terms of venting and performance it works really well. I took it out on some nice hill climbing sessions and never once got hot in it. Indeed this might turn out to be one of my go to choices for the Marmotte 2017. It fits the bill of a hot weather jersey nicely.

I’ve always liked Shutt’s unique colour branding and, as you’ll see below, this jersey co-ordinates very nicely with the matching bibshorts. The arm grippers are nicely sized in my view, not too tight. If you’re blessed with a larger bicep, ideal. If you have a skinner one then a bit looser but a lot of that can be taken care of with getting the right size.

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Round the front you have the usual rubber gripper to hold the waist in place and a nice big rubber band affair for the sleeves. You’ll note that the stitching is excellent and that this is once again a very high quality garment from Shutt.

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Round the back and that pocket detailing provides the Shutt branding together with reinforcement for the rather deep pockets. This is actually quite a long jersey overall and that’s reflected in the pockets. You can see just how meshy the mesh section is and that helps with the cooling.

It’s impressive. Nicely form fitted and works well. In terms of durability there’s nothing that suggests I should worry and I reckon it will still look as good as new in years to come. It’s one of those jerseys that makes you forget that you’re wearing it. With the heatwave apparently about to hit then it might well be a good go to hot weather jersey. Luckily I’m off to France, sadly it looks like I cannot squeeze the bike onto the bus. Boo.

Value wise I reckon the price is well justified. It has the pro level feel of that premium manufacturer who sell a pro team range. Indeed it reminds me a lot of a Rapha top. With a few more details and a much more reasonable price. If you want the pro aero look do go for your normal size though. Not only are Shutt back but they go straight to the top of the class.

Shutt Pro Bib Shorts

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Like the jersey the retail price is once again £89.00 and that’s a pretty good price for something pitched at being premium/pro level. Once again I was supplied with the XL. Unlike the jersey while I might be able to size down here I don’t think that I would. They’re a properly good fit with great leg grippers and well sized with no awkward wrinkling.

There are a few points. These are one of those new fangled longer leg bibs coming to just above the knee (I’m not that tall mind). They’re not the longest I’ve tried but if you like a longer leg they are spot on. The mesh section comes quite a way up the belly rather than the low cut approach of the current Assos range. It’s pretty similar in height to the Redwhite bibs actually. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it, I prefer that. I prefer the security of it and I don’t believe that you are made any warmer by having that bit more material. Sometimes the old ways are the best. But much depends on your preferences.

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Once again there’s some nice detailing going on from the Shutt colour stripe to a pocket for your race radio at the rear.

The bibs are a traditional lightweight mesh rather than anything overly fancy but, yet again, they just work. I’ve questioned the need for a high tech approach in my Redwhite review and repeat that here. Indeed, I’ll repeat it on my forthcoming Redwhite “the bibs” review. The traditional mesh approach isn’t broken. It works particularly well. I do think, on balance, that I prefer it to all this laser cut shenanigans. Basically these are particularly comfy.

The lycra is great quality and made by Miti. The seams are all flatlocked and there’s no irritation. In common with the Chapeau and Lusso shorts I’ve tested this year the front section is constructed from a “groinal” panel in addition to the leg panels. I say this simply as a matter of design and can’t say that I’ve noted that any one method of construction is any better than any other.

The leg grippers are great, soft and keep everything where they need to be. They’re particularly well sized and just fit really well. That they match each other and the jersey is a great touch and, unlike some other combos, there’s no reason why you could only wear the jersey or shorts with each other due to that design.

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Of course you came here to read all about the pad. And it’s a great one.

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There’s not an awful lot of information here other than it’s a custom multi density foam and gel pad. But it’s a good one. There was a bit of settling during the first 10 miles of my mountain climbing day but once bedded in it was a lovely thing to sit on. A few hundred miles later and it’s great. Everything sits where it should and it moulds well to your rear.

I’ve been lucky this year to test some really great bibshorts. And these are yet another pair that you really should have on your list. £89 is a damn good price for pro performance at, arguably, premium entry level cost. If you get the bundle you’re essentially looking at each item for £80 which is even better. I look forward to seeing what else Shutt add to their range in the coming months particularly in winter wear where they’ve really excelled at producing great value kit in the past. Welcome back Shutt Velo Rapide, we missed you.

 

Crime and Punishment 3: what the hell just happened?

Are you outraged yet?

You should be. But first I refer you to my previous articles on this subject. Read Crime and Punishment : Chapter 1 followed by Crime and Punishment: part 2. You will need a good few minutes. You’ll need to understand the quite limited charging regime we have in relation to cycling cases and how the Court system’s hands are tied by our existing sentencing guidelines (where they are even available).

Let’s put the above case into some context. It’s a case of careless driving where an experienced cyclist was left unable to care for himself. It’s a wholly unacceptable state of affairs. Hey, but, on the flip side,  don’t worry, cyclists get fined as well. Wow. I mean, I’ve cautioned against outrage before haven’t I. But you must be outraged at that comparison. And, I have to say, so am I. But how did we get here? To understand that we have to look at the offences and sentences available to the Courts. Is this a failure of the Judge and/or Court system? A failing of justice? Or has justice just got itself comparatively arse backwards.

Oh, and there’s this one as well. Properly epic. No one was hurt in the making of this one. But the capacity for harm was great. Practically off the scale really. A short ban and a small fine followed.

I’ve talked about rationalisation before. I hope that I’ve been able to show that most cases are treated within the guidelines of what the Court has available to them. That they might breach some theory of natural justice is a separate point. Sometimes we have to be careful to ascertain what type of justice has failed. The theory of it? Or actual justice. In this third part of crime and punishment there might be some of both. So, let’s start at the beginning.

In the piece I led with above, Rod Bartley, an experienced cyclist, was hit by a tractor and left with life changing injuries. His family are, quite naturally, aghast at the sentence he received. They are right to be because it simply should not be the case that such actions, however transient and fleeting, are punished less harshly than other more trivial incidents. Bear in mind that it’s not much worse than a middling sentence for speeding. One of the critical issues of our legal system is that it sets out clear guidelines as to what should be taken into account when sentencing certain offences but, in relation to some, the outcome is broadly irrelevant. You could write a thesis on that, and I might well do in due course, but there are good arguments that the outcome shouldn’t set the entry point to the offence but the actions which led to it should. Of course, in some offences such as causing death by, the outcome defines the offence. In Rod Bartley’s case it might appear that the legal system is relatively unconcerned at the outcome.

The offence the tractor driver was charged with was careless driving or what we once knew as driving without due care and attention. There’s a pretty big clue in the title here of what type of offence this is. It’s one which isn’t about danger per se, it’s about taking your mind off the task at hand, forgetting about your responsibility for a moment. And from that notion you realise that this is going to be an uphill struggle. To demonstrate careless driving the Court has to be satisfied that the driving fell below the standard of a competent and careful driver. It’s a test which is not actually that hard to satisfy and that’s why it’s often preferred to a dangerous driving charge. And in determining what is to be expected of a competent and careful driver, the prosecutor must take into account not only the circumstances of which the driver could be expected to be aware, but also any circumstances shown to have been within the driver’s knowledge.

We don’t know the facts of this case. What is clear is that the tractor driver turned right across Rod’s path. Not the tractor, the tractor driver. It’s a conscious (or at least subconscious) act of a human being and not the act of a mechanical object. We don’t know much more because we were not there but, anecdotally at least, we know that tractors are large vehicles with occasionally poor sight lines. Flawed road vehicles and they should be driven as such.

What we do know is the sentence. An £80 fine and 6 points. No ban, no community penalty, no prison sentence. Meanwhile, Rod Bartley got a life sentence. From the ban we can extrapolate a view of the seriousness of this offence.  Here are the sentencing guidelines, it can only be tried in the Magistrates Court.

Identify the appropriate starting point Fine Sentence
Momentary lapse of concentration or misjudgement at low speed Band A fine 3-4 points
Loss of control due to speed, mishandling or insufficient attention to road conditions, or carelessly turning right across on-coming traffic Band B fine 5–6 points
Overtaking manoeuvre at speed resulting in collision of vehicles, or driving bordering on the dangerous Band C fine Consider disqualification OR 7 – 9 points

 

And there we are. We know the driver got 6 points so we can extrapolate the circumstances of the offence. This was one where there was insufficient attention, indeed an example is given of carelessly turning right. We can also tell something about the financial circumstances of the offender. A Band B fine provides a range of 75-125% of their weekly income. Essentially a low earner. So, while we didn’t hear or see the trial we can safely assume how the Judge sentenced it.

The above are the starting points. You then move on to consider culpability and harm factors. But, in this scenario, they don’t really mean very much. If the starting point is a momentary lapse then greater culpability or harm don’t really mean very much, another point on the licence. One of the factors indicating greater harm is, as you’d imagine, injury to others. But the nature of that injury is drawn broadly and no extra weight is seemingly given to the extent of it. So if you enter at the mid point a 5 point ban becomes a 6. In fact, given the nature of the guidelines you might as well plead guilty, sit down and don’t bother doing much mitigation, the outcome will be pretty much the same.

If you do decide to speak up then the final step is to consider credit for an early guilty plea (up to a third) and offender mitigation (effectively impact on them, how sorry they are or say that they are etc). In this case the sentence seems clear and, importantly, it seems correct. This was a moment of inattention and the sentence handed down is clearly within the scope of the guidelines.

So, why should we feel outraged? Has justice been done or has it been seen to be done? It’s an interesting one and it begs the question what is justice. I read a lot of comments on various forums about this case and the failure of the CPS, Courts and this (insert expletive) Judge. But there’s no obvious failure here if the evidence did not support a charge of dangerous driving. Indeed, on what we know there’s no failure of justice at all, not in the sense of the current legal regime. But there is clearly a failure of what justice should be and we are right to be outraged. We’ll return to why in a bit but let’s contrast another case.

In the case of the cyclist fined for going through a red light there were no points on a licence. There cannot be because cycling offences do not create licence points. But the “fine” was significant. Depending on which source you read it was £220 plus a victim surcharge and Court costs. That there was no victim is irrelevant, think of it as an admin charge. What’s not clear is how this case got to Court. The fine for running a red is based on a fixed penalty notice and it’s a non endorsable offence. That means that the fine is £50. A ticket is issued and it is paid. It can be challenged or, if it is not paid, it can be enforced. It’s not clear whether this was a case brought on the basis of a fixed penalty notice. It’s possible that it might have been a charge of dangerous or careless cycling, those offences have fines of £2500 and £1000 respectively. It fits but I think that’s unlikely given that the existence of the FPN procedure is well established. What is clear, however you view it, is that an action with a risk of harm was punished more substantially than an action which created actual harm. Even if the case had not gone to Court the fines would have been similar and grossly different in terms of harm.

And then you have the 154 mph motorist. A short ban of 56 days, a reasonably small fine, no points. Why? Well, our currently drafted legislation requires one or the other. If you have points, no ban. If you have a ban, no points. You will all have read cases where people have been jailed for such high speeds so how come this one wasn’t? Well, it all comes back again to the nature of the offence and, rather oddly, it seems that this case was charged as speeding. Yep, not even careless and not approaching dangerous. Just speeding. Speeding at more than twice the national speed limit. In terms of the correct sentence being doled out then, once again, this is correct. The maximum ban for speeding was given. That said the sentencing guidelines only go up to 110mph for speeding offences. For a prison sentence to even be a legal possibility there had to be a charge of dangerous driving because, as we have seen, careless driving doesn’t come close.

Why wasn’t there? Well, that’s a weird one. It seems he was caught red handed. It seems there was physical evidence of speed. One would imagine there would be witness statements and, conceivably, video evidence of the manner of the driving. But the CPS charge according to the evidence that they have and it’s theoretically possible here that the driving standard was good, that the road was clear, that there was no risk to anyone else, that the standard did not fall below the standard required. Which is, frankly, poppycock. Competent and careful drivers don’t do 154 mph. So it’s baffling as to why a charge of careless driving wasn’t considered. Indeed, the test for dangerous driving, FAR below what is expected of a careful and competent driver, appears to be made out. Also, the nature of the sentence allows us to extrapolate that the Court felt that the driving felt just short of dangerous. How can that possibly be the case? But then the Court can only sentence according to the charge that is laid, not in relation to how the Court thinks the offence should be charged.

And there’s a clear dichotomy in even the CPS’s charging standard where, on the one hand “It is important to remember that the manner of the driving must be seen in the context of the surrounding circumstances in which the driving took place (for example amount of traffic, visibility, weather conditions, excess speed etc) and these unique factors will be relevant in reaching an appropriate charging decision in each case,” but, on the other, “It is not necessary to consider what the driver thought about the possible consequences of his actions: simply whether or not a competent and careful driver would have observed, appreciated and guarded against obvious and material dangers.”

So, even if it were a wholly deserted road bathed in good light with not a soul around it should fall way short of what is safe. Indeed, at 8:55 pm on dark April evening, an hour after sunset, it seems to define what is dangerous. And only that charge would be enough to open up the possibility of a much harsher sentence.

There is talk of an appeal of sentence here. That I am afraid is doomed to fail, it’s the failure on the first charge in the first place that is to blame. But the CPS do good work and there must be a good reason why only speeding was charged. There must be, because everything else is a failure of justice.

Three cases, three similar result, three very different outcomes or, at least, potential ones. Is there any comparison? Well, not really, but what it does show is that there are anomalies out there and that comparing cases on a like for like basis is a futile one. Well, mostly, because, what I’m about to go on and discuss is why it’s time for a change.

In terms of harming cyclists, pedestrians and the operators of motorised vehicles the justice system works well within its defined parameters. But there are two issues, the complete absence of a suitable offence dealing with injured parties and the dubious overlap of sentencing both internally (i.e. motoring offences) and externally (in comparison with other criminal offences).

As I outlined in part 1 of my discussion there are a limited number of motoring offences that determine the nature of the driver’s actions and the harm that they cause to others. At the bottom of the pile was have careless driving and dangerous driving. Both offences are modified where there is a death involved to become a more serious charge. There is also a charge of causing SERIOUS injury by dangerous driving but no mirror charge in relation to careless driving. And there is no charge of causing ANY injury by either careless or dangerous driving. In law we call it a lacuna. Or a gap. You might call it a %^£&%$^£$ disgrace. And that’s a problem. If such an offence had existed in relation to Rod Bartley then it’s certainly the case that we’d have seen a sentence more broadly aligned with actual justice. There are alternatives. So, for example, where an injury is caused in a careless driving case it’s theoretically possible for an assault to be charged. Theoretically but I’ve never seen it happen and proving an assault without intention (for careless driving is an act of omission arguably) is always going to be difficult.

Let’s consider the current sentencing guidelines and how they overlap with each other in relation to each offence. I’ve only referred here to the death by charges and that of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. Bear in mind also, for that serious injury element to succeed, there has to be an injury akin to grievous bodily harm within the meaning of the Offences against the Person Act. Though it will be interesting to consider the thresholds the CPS have used when considering whether to bring such a charge.

Causing Death by Dangerous Driving

Because this is the most serious case it can only be tried/sentenced in the Crown Court.

Nature of Offence Starting Point Sentence Range
Level 1 The most serious offences encompassing driving that involved a deliberate decision to ignore (or a flagrant disregard for) the rules of the road and an apparent disregard for the great danger being caused to others 8 years custory 7-14 years custody
Level 2 Driving that created a substantial risk of danger 5 years custody 4- 7 years custody
Level 3 Driving that created a significant risk of danger [Where the driving is markedly less culpable than for this level, reference should be made to the starting point and range for the most serious level of causing death by careless driving 3 years custody 2-5 years custody

Causing Death by Careless Driving

You’ll note here that not every case will attract custody. This is an offence than can be tried/sentenced in the Magistrates Court or Crown Court depending on its seriousness.

Nature of Offence Starting Point Sentence Range
Careless or inconsiderate driving falling not far short of dangerous driving 15 months custody 36 weeks – 3 years custody
Other cases of careless or inconsiderate driving 36 weeks custody Community order (HIGH)–2 years custody
Careless or inconsiderate driving arising from momentary inattention with no aggravating factors Community order (MEDIUM) Community order (LOW) – Community order (HIGH)

Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving

Creating a table for this one is a bit more difficult. It’s an offence triable either in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court depending on the seriousness of the case. So the maximum sentence in the Magistrates Court is 6 months custody and in the Crown Court 5 years.

The question that we must ask is whether the full range of sentencing is available. Does the overlap in the charges provide a logical sequence of escalation in relation to sentencing? Is that logical escalation consistent internally or externally?

Let’s take the least serious of the dangerous cases. Level 3 is further expanded in the text to the sentencing guidelines and can include matters such as inappropriate speed, being distracted and failing to have regard to vulnerable road users. The last point is apposite. But, evidentially, such matters have an obvious overlap with careless driving because of the threshold that they occupy. There’s actually a fairly logical progression between the upper tier of careless and the lower tier of dangerous. In effect an act might occupy either of those and be penalised by a custodial penalty of 15 months – 5 years. Below this the matters de-escalate into non custodial penalties.

When we get to causing serious injury by dangerous driving it’s difficult to draw any real conclusion in the absence of sentencing guidelines so we have to look to recent case law for a steer. And the problem with that is that to succeed in the charge the prosecution have to prove dangerous driving AND serious injury. The latter is a matter of fact, the former a matter of evaluation by the Jury.

So in this case we get no sense of it because the Jury acquitted essentially on the dangerous element. We would have got a steer in the case of John Radford but sadly John died and therefore the more serious charge was applied.

Comparisons are quite difficult to draw. There’s no reason why you couldn’t get a community penalty for a death by careless, a fine for careless, a long custodial sentence for a serious injury by dangerous or a short sentence for a death by dangerous depending on the facts of the case and their seriousness. There’s nothing wrong with that as a principle. Much will depend on the standard of the driving and only on conviction will the relevant guidelines be applied. On the face of it, so far, so logical. Though, of course, you could get 6 points for putting someone in a wheelchair or a ban for going at twice the national speed limit. That seems to me to be internally inconsistent within motor vehicle offences.

And, of course, everything falls on how that case is initially investigated and charged. That turns, once again, on the evidence. Consider this little peach which arose at the time of writing. On the face of it, it’s an evidential slam dunk and textbook dangerous. But all it needs is for the driver to claim he was shocked by the water in the eye and inadvertently swerved. It may be that no charges are brought. Even when you think the evidence is clear cut and physical nothing might happen. And it’s at that initial stage that many of the problems with whether the case IS charged and, if so, WHAT charge, begin. Sometimes all the CPS can reasonably do is bring a lesser charge and hope that some justice, if not all justice, is actually served.

One of the real issues in my view is the lack of a charge of causing serious injury by careless driving because, in Rod Bartley’s case it seems, justice would only be interested in his death and not his lack of living. It would be relatively easy to create a new offence, as easy as legislation is. But the problem occurs with where you slot it on the sentencing scale. Or, if you like, is the reason why it hasn’t yet been created because it would require a wholesale review of current sentencing guidelines?

It seems fairly obvious that, for the sake of internal consistency, a sentence for causing serious injury through careless driving should be set at a level below that of the same offence through dangerous driving. And that’s probably where our problems begin. The dangerous charge is 6 months – 5 years. Though, of course, the 6 months is simply a reflection of the maximum sentence available to the Magistrates. They can, however, transfer the case to the Crown Court for sentencing. There seems to be no good reason not to have a custodial range of 6 months to, let’s say, 2 years for such an offence. And, of course, depending on the nature of the driving, other sentences would become available such as a community penalty, suspended sentence etc.

But that it was that easy. You see, that type of sentencing range would then mean that the sentencing range was similar to a level 3 case of causing death by dangerous driving. Is that correct? Is it internally consistent? Does that even matter or should we just let the Court find the right place? Alternatively do we just up the rest to reflect a new lower starting point for this offence.

It may well be that our existing sentencing powers are inadequate and a failure to reflect the nature of the offence. And whilst I don’t necessarily ascribe to the external consistency argument (equating an intentional GBH to a careless injury) there should at least be an examination in relation to parity. So while it looks easy to create a new offence to deal with this sort of thing, the practical reality is that there are effects and sorting out those effects is a not inconsiderable task. But we should try.

And I think that’s the issue, one which I won’t address at length here, but I might try and database it out in due course. Creating a system of sentencing which properly works from doing 35 in a 30 up to mowing down cyclists while on drugs needs some work. It’s right that some offences are penalised less than others. I’m not necessarily sure that the highest sentencing powers are high enough (though such offences then need to be externally consistent with the types of sentences we see in murder cases). But I’m pretty confident that much of what passes for a moment of inattention isn’t given the gravitas that it deserves. If this was a Health and Safety environment then taking your eye off the ball when operating a multi tonne machine would be quite heavily penalised. That driving is a normal, everyday aspect of human behaviour should not rationalise or excuse any failure to carry out that activity in the proper way. This should not be treated, at the lower end, as some sort of soft civil crime.

So, this is difficult. I’m firmly of the view that the range of driving offences is still too narrow and that the whole thing needs to be looked at in terms of the sentences that society might expect. The thing is that society might not actually want or be happy with the outcome because, well, it could happen to you. I’m also of the view that a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving is necessary because it will provide the cases such as Rod Bartley and Miriam Parker at least SOME sense of justice being served. Sadly, given what our Government have to deal with in relation to Brexit I doubt that the much vaunted review of road traffic offences will be concluded any time soon. That’s no excuse. to perpetuate a system of sentencing which only properly operates where the victim is deprived their life and fails to reflect their quality of life is clearly in need of an overhaul.

Juin Tech R1 Cable Hydraulic Brakes

There’s a disc brake storm coming. Nah, it seems to be passing over now. They’re here and here to stay. Even the UCI shenanigans shows signs of sorting itself out. Normal service is resumed and the disc brake revolution can continue unimpeded. As I alluded to in my previous article if you were thinking about a type of braking and inventing it today you’d go disc. I’m lucky enough to have three bikes. One is rim braked and two are disc. I love the rim brake bike but it’s good to have the discs for the crappy days, the commutes and, of course, cyclocross.

The revolution is still taking time though and it’s a complicated and expensive business. So, you pay your money and you make your choice. Buy a new disc brake bike and you’re likely to find the sub £1k ones equipped with cable operated brakes. Above £1k and you tend to find hydraulics. And the choices available are quite varied. So, at the real budget end you still see your Avid BB5 and BB7 cable operated brakes. Venerable in their day but their day has passed. The real success story over the last few years has been TRP’s move to market domination with their Hy Rd and Spyre brakes. Where complete bikes OEM choice was Avid before you’re far more likely to see TRP now. And that’s a pretty welcome thing because, quite frankly, TRP’s take on the cable operated disc brake is at least an evolution of Avid’s BB7 and, in this writer’s view, pretty much a revolution.

There is little doubt that, despite its infancy, road hydraulic systems are likely to be better than cable operated systems. But even the cheaper Shimano systems are nudging £350. And the new 105 brakes really have been hit with an ugly stick.

One question that’s often posed in relation to these sorts of brakes is why? Well, it’s not a short answer. There are two quite distinct markets I guess, the one where you might buy a bike determined by what brakes it has already fitted to it and the other where you’d like to upgrade the brakes fitted to your existing bike. On ready built bikes it pretty much comes down to hydraulic, cable hydraulic or cable depending, of course, on your budget. As I stated above you are far more likely to come across TRP now. But it’s the upgrade market where this discussion really lies. So, should you upgrade from your Promax Render, Avid BB5 or BB7 etc and, if so, what should you spend. That said, at the end of this article, you might even decide to upgrade your TRP brakes…………..

If you want hydro then there are really only two choices, SRAM and Shimano, and both manufacturer’s offerings will set you back in the region of £350 to start with. And that’s pretty much an entry price that doesn’t take other considerations into account. Most hydro setups are 11 speed (because their shifters are). So if you’re upgrading a 10 speed bike if you want to avoid bodging you’re looking at a new rear mech and cassette at the very least. You’re already into the £400 region. If you’re upgrading 11 speed then it’s not going to cost you quite so much. There’s also the issue of neatness. If you’re running a CX type bike then zip tieing cable outers onto the tubes is the normal approach. But if you’re running a road bike then how do you attach hydro cable outers to normal cable runs in a neat way? Answers on a postcard please. It’s all so complicated.

So, actually, the cable operated brake makes an awful lot of sense as they’re generally cheap, a good upgrade, easy to install, work well and aesthetically acceptable. With that in mind what options are there? The TRP Spyre are a very good cable brake indeed. Plenty of feel, though well short of a hydraulic, and good stopping power. Not without their faults though. They do need care and to ensure that they are kept free of moisture after a long ride. Otherwise the risk is that the caliper section will become a bit gritty and the pad adjusters will get a bit stuck. And that’s a problem when you insert your allen key to wind in the rotors only to find that it gets rounded off. A neat look, but a flawed system. The distributor is pretty good at fixing them though. But it’s not ideal when disc brakes are more likely than not exposed to water a lot. In that respect I find them hard to recommend.

The TRP Hy Rd are a great brake because they combine simple cable operation with a hydraulic reservoir. So you pull the cable with your existing brake levers, that actuates an arm on the caliper and the arm then squeezes the hydraulic reservoir. Not up there with Shimano SLX or R685 but pretty good. Yet there are still problems. They do self centre but sometimes the lever throw can be a bit alarming. Crucially there’s no real method of adjustment on the Hy Rd other than to move the arm a bit upwards and clamp the cable. That prevents the arm from ever finding its way back. I’m told that this should be avoided but I also know that many people do this to reduce lever throw. Until full road systems find the price level of their MTB brethren cable operated brakes will offer an almost there solution at a fraction of the price. Mostly. The TRP Hy Rd are £200 the pair, more or less. Factor in the cost of your shifters and you’re not far of some R685. Effectively you’re asked to compromise. The outstanding and costly performance of hydraulic or the effective and cheaper performance of the cable operated market.

Enter the Juin Tech R1. Or, the brakes/company you’ve never heard of. After this you will have and you won’t find them easy to forget. Juin Tech are a Taiwanese company who manufacture a lot of braking systems. In the UK they’re distributed by Edge Sports UK. You can find a link to the product page by clicking here.

The first thing you’ll note about the R1 brakes is the price. £149.99. That’s for the pair. For comparison TRP Spyres will cost you £140 (RRP) and Hy Rd £220 (RRP). That’s slightly unfair on the Hy Rd because they are generally discounted but you’d be hard pushed to find UK stock for less than £180 the pair. The R1’s are definitely a bargain therefore and considerably less than shelling out for a full hydraulic system. There are five colours available (black, green, blue, red and grey). I opted for green because they’re a bit different and because I wanted to see how well the anodisation would hold. I doubt there will be any real issues here but will report back from time to time.

In the box you will find:

  • 2 x Hydraulic cable actuated post mount disc calipers, inc pads
  • 2 x Postmount adapters
  • 4 x Postmount bolts & washers – long
  • 4 x Postmount bolts – short
  • 2 x 160mm Stainless Steel Rotors (6 Bolt IS)
  • 12 x torq screws to mount rotors
  • Weight: 142grams per caliper approx

In terms of weight they are spot on and that means that not only are they lighter than the Hy Rd they are also lighter than the Spyres. That’s impressive.

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The presentation is well executed and it’s good to see so many additional items included. I can’t remember getting two sets of bolts in any disc brake set and, though my memory might be shaky, I can’t recall getting rotor bolts either. In terms of installation only post mount adapters are supplied so if you’re running IS mounts you will need to source an IS to post mount adapter. I will assume though, if you are running IS mounts, that situation is already taken care of so it’s simply a matter of using your post mounts with your existing adapters. The rotors are 160mm and 140mm are not recommended.

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These brakes use a Shimano R010 RWD brake pad so sourcing a replacement set of pads is easy. The theory of the brake is pretty straightforward and similar to the TRP Hy Rd. The cable runs  into the barrel adjuster, and is clamped in place at the bolt on the actuating arm. When you pull the brakes the arm squeezes the hydraulic innards and the brakes are applied. In theory the feel should be a little better than cable only but short of full on hydro. But it’s that adjustable screw attached to the actuating arm with marks the Juin Tech out as special and we’ll come back to that in a bit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qn7xlnMWdU

That’s the installation procedure. And it’s very simple indeed. It’s pretty much the standard procedure for all of these things. Keep the mounting bolts slightly loose, thread and tighten the cable, pull the brake to centre and do up the mounting bolts. And that’s where we’d finish with most instructions. But that knob is the killer feature here. It allows you to adjust the pads inwards to get a closer or lesser bite as desired. It was very noticeable to me that the unadjusted position of the pads was better than TRP Hy Rd and, once adjusted, lever throw was considerably reduced. And that’s a big issue because many people have found the long lever throw of the Hy Rd a bit disconcerting. All that is avoided here.

20160728_13343220160728_13344120160728_133715Once on they look great.The observant among you will note that they’ve been (ironically) partnered in this instance with TRP brake levers. They are pretty good levers with a nice feel so it’s a good partnership to test. They’ll be doing a bit of work over this month on the Day One and then, come September, will be swapped over to a CAADX 105 to deal with commuting and cross duties. I will update as we go along but I generally find that a brake that can cope well with the rigors of wet weather commuting will always fare well on the CX course.

So, how well do they work? Well, in a word, brilliant. Easily the best cable operated cable brakes I’ve used. I’ve not tested them down the other side of the Galibier so I cannot possibly vouch for whether they’d boil over during an alpine descent.

There are a number of standout benefits to the R1’s in my view. The main point is that initial feel and bite. Because of that screw in (and out) adjuster it’s so much easier to get the brakes to feel how you want them to. If you like almost instant on you can dial that in. If you prefer a longer lever throw that’s available too. My personal preference is for the former. Generally that adds the potential complication that you might get pad rubbing because the pads are closer in. Once again the R1’s excelled in that area. There’s simply no ticking or clicking at all.

The other benefit is just the overall feel of the things. They’re still fairly analogue rather than the very crisp digital feel of the R685 hydro’s. But they are very confident performers. There’s no sponginess at all provided you set them up properly, compressionless outers are recommended. They have a very linear progression so there are never any nasty surprises lurking at any point.

My first test was the usual quick spin round the block. It’s very easy to lock the rear wheel if you try. It’s probably possible to lock the front as well given the right surface conditions. It’s debatable whether that is in any way a meaningful method of testing. The point is that it’s possible to do it if you squeeze hard enough and that point goes for many brakes. You don’t have to lock them but it’s good to know there’s enough power to do so. That’s not always necessarily the case with all cable operated brakes particularly when poorly set up. Crucially there’s a good amount of feedback available through the system to keep you in check. In terms of stopping power and adjustment you will want for nothing.

On my usual commute (800ft of climbing each way on a singlespeed!) there was a good opportunity to check downhill braking and performance in traffic etc and they handled it with aplomb. On the way home the rain hammered down and as expected they are  fantastic in the wet. There was a little disc squeal at a few points but that’s something that happens on pretty much every disc brake system I’ve ever used (including the R685). I didn’t need to pull off any emergency stops but the only limiting factor will be the grip between your tyres and the surface.

I’m impressed. I expected them to be good. But they’re outstanding because they work extremely well and because that adjustment system is genius in its simplicity. I will continue to monitor whether it continues to work properly in the mud and grime of CX but I’m sure it will be fine. There’s just no fuss or drama about them, they do what they claim and then some.

Are they as good as the competition? No, they are better. Much will depend on what you mean by that, they are at least as powerful as the Hy Rd and, for me, the better feel and lever throw is the reason I’d recommend them. Are they as good as something like the R685 hydros? They fall short of that in relation to outright power and, inevitably, some feel. But the overall performance isn’t necessarily as far short in terms of being a braking system as you might think. If you have £400 to spare and you want the best braking system then you really should get those. But if you want great braking without fuss then these bad boys will be excellent performers. Let’s face it, you can even buy some spare wheels for CX before you get to the price of the R685. Crucially they are cheaper than even the basic cable non hydro options offered by their competitors are that, for me, makes them a no brainer.

If you want to purchase then you can find the link to all the Juin Tech products on the Edge Sports Website here. To remind you, that’s £140 for both brakes. Just amazing value.

I promised I’d add something at the end about that bike as well, which belongs to a mate of mine. It’s a Genesis Day One SS with a Kona Fork and 32c tyres. It’s a creamy, cosseting ride and a quite lovely thing. I’ve always been a fan and used to own the yellow version and a white Croix de Fer. If you’re in the market for a SS frame (or even an Alfine) it really should be on your list. Thanks to Adrian for the kind lend! Adrian is now continuing the testing of the brakes while I’m on holiday for a few weeks and when I come back they’ll be starting the CX season. Stay tuned.

 Update: They are on my CAADX now. And they continue to impress. I’ve been using them to commute on in the weeks and they are superb in that respect. But I’ve not had the opportunity to test them in their natural habitat of CX. It was certainly not as muddy as it’s been in previous years but that rarely has an effect on the disc brake area anyway. But in writing a retrospective about this week’s CX round where I used them for the first time I realised that there was nothing to write. That’s a plus. They just got on with doing the job of being superb brakes throughout the race. Whether that was emergency braking when others cut in, controlling speed down a tricky off camber muddy descent or scrubbing off speed quickly when I took the line to wide they just did what they say on the tin. Brilliant brakes, bargain price. I’ve had some people ask me to comment on the fact that they’re a closed system. They are and, to that extent, there is no automatic adjustment for wear. But, the thing is, that’s easy to deal with, just dial the pad in. And when the pads are shot, dial them back out when you replace then. It’s that easy. That there might be other problems with that approach, sticky pistons etc, is true. But I’ve just not experienced it in practice. A winter of commuting and CX will be definitive, of course. The thing is, the Spyres didn’t cope with the wet and the TRP started out as having massive lever throw. Will this approach be a better one? Are the disadvantages potentially real or just theoretical. We’ll see. But, at the moment, they are just as described.