The Omega brake is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. In the last installment of this story, I showed off the SLS plastic prototypes of the Omega brake and informed you that the working alumium protos were on the way. Well, they are here, and they're fantastic.
I'm not going to talk too much about the brake itself, since it's still in development. And there won't be too many pictures involved in this article ... but there will be a LOT more to come very soon. I set up the first set of Omega brakes on a Cervelo P3. The brakes fit, both front and rear, as you can see. There won't be any fitment issues on a P3, and most any bike you want to slap these on. Obviously every bike's hardware is different though, so I can't speak to the whole universe of possibilities.
What I will tell you is about brake strength testing. There are two standards a brake manufacturer has to comply with to sell brakes - there's the CPSC standards in the United States, and CEN standards in Europe. The latter set are far more rigorous, so those are the ones I've been focusing on in-house. Once I know I can pass those, then I'll send the brakes to a lab for certification under both sets.
Basically, the brake aced the CEN tests with flying colors. The testing involves braking from a given speed, and getting it to come to rest within a certain distance. There are several tests, in both dry and wet conditions using both brakes or just the rear. I started with the actual testing conditions, which were dead easy to meet. I progressively made things more and more difficult. The limiting factor to this progression wasn't brake strength, but how brave I was. That is, I never ran out of power, I just got a little scared of stopping too quickly. In the end, I was going from 20mph to 0mph in about 13 feet. That's WAY more than even the strict CEN test requires.
So the short story is, the Omega is more than good to go in terms of strength. It'll stop your bike with room to spare. It also felt really good to me - I liked the characteristics of the power curve, although that's subjective. But I can say, objectively, that it's a strong brake. Of course, I'm going to make things as easy as possible, which means stocking the Omega with a very high-quality pad.
The P3 Test Mule
I put the Omega prototypes on a tried-and-true Cervelo P3, but it wouldn't be TriRig if I didn't do something special. You'll notice I installed custom cable stops on the top tube for cleaner cable management, instead of using the regular down tube stops.
For testing out the Omega, I wanted to put it on one of the most well-known bikes out there. A ride that was easy to wrench, and utterly reliable. That would let me tease out the finer points of the brake without worrying about the performance of the ride. So naturally, I turned to the Cervelo P3. Nearly a decade after its release, the P3 is still one of the finest machines around, and a great match with the Omega.
One thing to note about Cervelo's forks is that they are pretty much the narrowest on the market. It's a great test for the Omega, because if it fits within the profile of a Cervelo fork, it will hide from the wind on pretty much any bike. As you can see, the Omega does pretty dang well. However, part of the shape refinement I'm working on involves narrowing the brake even further, to ensure it doesn't catch any free air. So save any criticism about the shape until you've seen the final form.
The brake works as both a front and a rear, and the only thing you have to change is the main bolt, which is a standard M6 with a 10mm head. The Omega will come with two of them, so you can use it as a front OR rear on most bikes. In the event you have a weird fork that's extra thin or extra thick, you can find replacement bolts at any hardware store for just a few cents. The brake is incredibly simple to set up and use, despite its ultra sleek appearance.
Next up, I'm going to cover two of the most important issues regarding this brake: the pads it comes with, and how it's actually being developed using wind tunnel data.