Project Phil Part 3: Drivetrain and Brakes

Now onto Part 3, firstly I'll start off with the drivetrain.  The drivetrain is mostly unchanged from the Cinelli that I used to have, its a 2010 Campagnolo Athena groupset with carbon fibre cranks.  This was the first year of the new Athena groupset, luckily it's probably one of the better ones.  The later versions of Athena were dumbed down, with Powertorque (as opposed to Ultratorque cranks with the Hirth joint) cranks and the inability to shift to more than one higher gear at a time.  Only the 2010 Athena allows you to shift to up to 5 higher gears with one lever stroke.

There were some minor glitches, such as the cassette not fitting on the hub without a spacer, however this was entirely the fault of the hub.   The only other thing was having to buy a new front derailleur, the one I had previously was a 31.8mm clamp on which didn't suit the 28.6mm steel seat tube of the Genesis.  Campagnolo doesn't make a front derailleur in this clamp on size so I had to use a braze-on with an adaptor, I also added a Token chain catcher as well which is the braze on style which I like.

Apart from that I ended up fitting a SRAM PC-1170 hollow pin chain, apart from KMC, SRAM are the only makers that make 11 speed chains that have quick links.  The official Campagnolo chains require a special tool for peening the chain pin when joining it, personally I like being able to remove the chain for cleaning.


 It's only been recently that road discs have gotten some momentum.  Avid has had their BB7 road caliper on the market for a long time, and there have been a few drop bar bikes with discs, but only in the past year or two have major manufacturers started to offer these.  Even then, these are all cable operated discs.  As of now, only SRAM and Shimano offer hydraulic disc setups for road bikes.  Shimano only with their Di2 Ultegra and Dura Ace groupsets and SRAM with their Red groupset and non-series S-700 parts.

In the past I owned a flat bar road bike with Shimano hydraulic discs which I loved the feel of, I did consider getting the SRAM S-700 calipers and levers, however it would mean basically buying an entire groupset as there was nothing on the market that was Campagnolo compatible.  This meant that I had to stick with cable operated discs if I wanted to stick to a Campagnolo drivetrain.  Campagnolo is likely working on a hydraulic disc groupset but they probably wont be out for a few years.

There is a fair bit of choice for cable operated discs for road bikes, the big advantage of cable discs for road is that they work with all standard road brake levers.  Also cable discs don't require special tools or brake fluid which keeps things simple.  The disadvantages are that they don't have the precision feel or power of hydraulic operated brakes, nor do they self-adjust either.

One of the most popular road cable discs is Avid's BB7, it's been around for a while and there are various other alternatives from Hayes, Shimano and Tektro.  Tektro's premium brand TRP recently released the Spyre range of disc brakes, the thing that sets them apart is that they are the first widely available dual piston caliper.  Normally a single piston caliper has one fixed pad and the other moving, this means that each time the brake is applied the caliper bends the rotor towards the fixed pad and squeezes it to brake.  The Spyre is also quite unique in that it is significantly smaller and lower profile than most other calipers on the market.  I read quite a few positive reviews and decided to go ahead with them.

From the factory the caliper set comes with 160mm rotors, however the Shimano XT dynamo hub only comes with a centrelock fitting not a standard 6-bolt.  As the price of a centrelock to 6-bolt adaptor was about the same price as a whole rotor, I decided to buy a Shimano SM-RT81 Saint/Deore XT rotor instead.  The Spyres come out of the box with a 180mm post mount to IS mount adaptors which made this an easy conversion.

 I do find it odd though that most road bikes that come with discs never really come with rotors larger than 160mm, seeing as that average speeds are higher this makes no sense to me.  The weight penalty is marginal and I don't see any real disadvantages to a larger rotor, which fit the frame perfectly fine by the way.  The rotor itself is of the Ice-tech type, which has thin later of alloy sandwiched inbetween two stainless steel braking surfaces, supposedly this helps with heat dissipation.  I do prefer the centrelock mount to the 6-bolt, it's a lot simpler and it uses the same tool as standard Shimano cassettes.

Installation went through without any major hitches, there was only very minor rubbing on the caliper which was solved with some very minor truing which allowed me to adjust the brake reasonably tight.  Also I didn't realise until I received the frameset that the rear brake requires a full length housing, I had ordered the standard Jagwire Road pro cable set which is much too short and I had to re-order the XL version.  It's generally recommended to use compressionless housing for cable disc brakes, this is different to standard brake housing in that the wire strands run parallel much like gear cable housing instead of in a coil in the conventional type.  To prevent rupturing under heavy braking, compressionless brake housing requires reinforcement, the Jagwire cables use a criss-crossed kevlar jacket, this has the side effect of making the housing less flexible than the conventional type.  You can see the cut section in the picture above.

The only other mild quirk is that the Campagnolo Ergopower levers have slightly smaller openings for cable ends compared to Shimano/Sram cables.  Since the Jagwire cables were meant for Shimano/SRAM the brake and gear ends required a bit of filing to get them to fit properly.  The brake cable ends don't seat properly unless you do this, the gear cable ends will fit however they will get jammed in if you don't file them down a little.  The picture above shows the filed down end fitting snugly inside.

So, after installation I gave them a quick go, break-in happened quite quickly with bite building up quite quickly over a dozen or so hard stops.  They performed quite nicely out of the box, having enough power to flip you over the bars quite easily braking from the hoods, but still able to feather it very lightly to prevent lockup.  I'll have to follow up with a proper review once I get some mileage on it.  That's all for now, thanks for reading!

Continue on for Part 4: Lighting...


  1. Gaah, check your Spyres! A recall was announced today ):

  2. I never knew about chain catchers. Good idea.

  3. Cheers, yep I saw that recall notice. Thankfully nothing happened to me, but I think the issue is quite minor. Hopefully I can get a replacement set quickly!

  4. Hi Mr. Smut,

    I noticed you had to use adaptors for the Spyres - i'm in the process of building up a '16 CdF with Spyres as well. The pack actually had 4 bolts - 2 with blue goop on them and 2 with red - which ones did you use in which context? I think i'm using red from brakes to adaptor, blue from adaptor to frame.