Rim Brakes STILL Rule

Today I want to take you through a deep dive on one of our most popular products: the Omega One Aero Brake.

But first, we need to first talk about the elephant in the room. Disc brakes … vs Rim brakes. A few years ago, a few large companies made this big push to force everyone onto disc brakes, whether they wanted it or not. They wanted you to believe that disc brakes are the future.

Yet a LOT of people, especially those of us who are really data-oriented, found that our “old” rim braking frames were in fact faster, lighter, and more reliable in the world of triathlon. Now don’t get me wrong, disc brakes have a place. But in the world of triathlon, they aren’t ideal.

Let’s briefly address some of the myths or arguments related to the disc vs rim debate.

First is braking power: “aren’t disc brakes stronger than rim brakes?” NO. The problem is that at the time of this transition, there were a lot of poorly-designed aero brakes being asked to grip an all-carbon rim, so the “comparison” was unfair at best, if not outright rigged. If you pick a strong rim brake, give it good pads, and ask it to grip an alloy braking track, there’s no appreciable difference in either power or modulation compared to discs. In my experience, properly-designed carbon rims with the right pads could do just fine as well, but for maximum power (especially in mixed weather) alloy is the top of the line. That’s … why disc brake rotors are metal and not carbon.

So that leads us to question number two: “well, if I have to use alloy brake tracks for optimal power on rim brakes, now won’t they be heavier than disc brakes, or less aerodynamic?” No and no. On the weight side, an alloy rim will be heavier than an all-carbon rim, but we aren’t just comparing rims, we’re comparing complete systems. Disc brake setups require larger hubs, the rotor itself, and significantly more spokes to withstand the torque. Once you compare complete systems, disc brakes are HUNDREDS OF GRAMS heavier. And for the same reason, the aerodynamic comparison isn’t even close. Again, disc brakes require more spokes, beefier hubs, and the rotor. And these things are exposed to the wind. The spokes are the worst offender, and there’s no way to hide those. Even if you try to mitigate the brake, hub, and rotor with clever fairings, etc, you’re still adding frontal are that just wasn’t there before. 

And then we get maybe the most interesting argument: well, if we remove the rim brake, can we potentially design frames so much faster that they offset those losses? Well, I’m a guy who designs bike frames for a living, and there’s nothing about the TriRig Omni that was in any way hampered by the presence of the rim brake. Looking around at the wider industry, I’d say no one else has cracked that nut either. There are vanishingly few examples of radical bike design where the absence of a rim brake made any appreciable difference. In fact I can only think of three: the very radical Ku bike is one, and the triple-column designs of the Specialized Shiv Disc and the Cadex tri are the others. It’s not clear that any of these are in fact faster than the best bikes out there. Not one company has demonstrated or even claimed a substantial aerodynamic benefit from switching to disc brakes.  

That leads us, of course, to Omega One. This brake is the culmination of over a decade of aerodynamic brake design, from our original early prototypes, through several generations of production brakes, and now, finally, perfected. We’ve always made fast brakes, which hide within the frontal profile of your bike’s fork and head tube, adding zero frontal area to the system. But with Omega One, we’ve reached a new threshold, with advanced aerodynamic shaping that actually makes the bike FASTER than if you didn’t have any brake on it at all. Let me say that again: adding Omega One to your bike’s frame makes it MORE AERODYNAMIC than if you didn’t have any brake on at all. We designed it this way with computational fluid dynamics in the computer, we’ve validated it in the wind tunnel on multiple frames, and independent third parties like Jim Manton of ERO Sports have corroborated our findings in tests with real-world athletes doing their own aero testing.

But more than just a pretty face, Omega One is STRONG. It’s as strong as any brake we’ve ever tested, absolutely shattering the ISO standard for braking power. And that starts with the mechanical formula we’ve refined for over a decade. With Omega One, we have maximized everything that provides stopping power - including the leverage from the arms, the stiffness of each component, and the total cable pull - while also refining the modulation of that power, using careful shaping on the cable Wedge such that you gently transition from high-pull to linear-pull throughout the brake lever’s throw.

To make Omega One, we took a brand new approach compared to its predecessors. First, we took the mechanical mechanical specifications and put them in the computer as reference points or sketches inside our basic 3D model. From there, we wrapped all of those points in the smallest possible physical shape, while simultaneously honing it into a cohesive aerodynamic form. And finally, we took that form and carved out each subcomponent from it. This is actually backwards from how we designed all other generations of Omega brakes. For the earlier brakes, we would start with nothing, and build each part up until it created our final form. But for Omega One, we start with the final form and chop it up into its pieces. This was the first product we designed using this “final form first” method, but it wasn’t the last. Sigma One was designed with the same approach, and we have some other things in the works where this method was ideal as well.

So what do we have at the end of the day? Simply put: the strongest, best-modulating, most aerodynamic brake on the market, that will outperform absolutely any disc brake out there, while offering the easiest installation and adjustment.

No need to get a syringe, bleed kit, and rubber gloves to install a rim brake. No need to deal with the dreaded disc-brake-rub from the impossibly-small tolerance stack problems. If you want a closer brake grab, just adjust these set screws on the side of the brake arms, you can make each one as close or as far as you like. Got an old frame with TRP canti stud mounts? No problem, Omega One comes with the adapter to use it there. Getting ready to travel? Just pop out the wedge and everything comes free.

In short, Omega One is our idea of the perfect triathlon brake. It does everything you need, without adding unnecessary bulk or drag. Ask anyone who’s used our brakes over the past decade, and they’ll tell you it’s one of the best upgrades they ever made.

At TriRig, we design products optimized to their function. That's why we still make rim brakes and frames, because they're the right tool for the job.