PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : EE Brakes: Stop Light

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EE Brakes: Stop Light
Aftermarket brakes have been around for a while now but that hasn't meant that the category is anywhere near stale. Several players are in the game, from boutique shops to big production companies from the far east, and while some sacrifice some features for others (weight), all of em are pretty good. These are great...

I was given a sneak peak at EE Cycle Works prototypes brakes a bit more than two years ago and then had a look at the production stoppers in the flesh at 08' Interbike as they sat all perty-like on a slick little Crumpton SL. It was plain to see that these were not the standard Zero Gravity knock offs that a couple other companies have produced, nor were they like just about any other brakes on the market in their design... In fact, rather than being a copy cat, these may have already influenced another brake design on the market.

Yeah King's Headsets are solid kit too...

It takes about two seconds for a geek to realize that while other brakes have struggled to take fairly stock brake shapes and improve on them by cutting metal out, that EE have decided to reinvent the wheel - stopper...

Simply put, normal brakes ask curved pieces to resist flex...

Of course the beefy M5 brakes are not exactly "fairly stock", but the principal is the same...

EE brakes break the curves into straight sections and ask straight sections to do the same thing through a linkage...

And because physics is what it is, the straight sections of the EE brakes drive lever force more directly at where it needs to be applied and wind up being more effective than lots of other brakes while using less material...

How Much Less?
The set I have tips the scales at 165 grams. Pads will get you to an all in weight some place around 195 grams...

Of course there are other brakes in this class... KCNC, Zero G ti, and a couple of knock offs of both these companies measure up in grams (there's also a GSL version of Zero G's Negative G that get in this weight class but they're not in the public's hands yet...) but like bikes frames, there's more to performance than slapping something on the scale.

Set Up "Trouble"?
Some might report that setting up these brakes is "involved" or "tricky" and I guess it would be if your brain doesn't allow you to think beyond what you've done to set up brakes in the past.

Thee EE are actually pretty simple to set up if you simply read the directions... And not that you noticed but the initial set up of these shown at the top of the story was done incorrectly (albeit for the NAHBS show).

The brakes have a bolt that allows vertical adjustment to set the brakes up closer to or further from the wheel.

Before you tighten it down, you simply spin it up or low depending on where your wheels brake track is sitting relative to your wheels.

The arms of the EE are short on purpose because the shorter they are the stiffer they can be. With the rotating mounting bolt you can adjust the whole unit higher or lower and shorten pad height adjustment where people expect it at the block mounting holes.

But with the mounting bolt movement (rotation) there is no less total range of adjustment in the system than anyone else stock or after market set ups. Also note that the washers inside and out can be used to change clearance for skinny and more importantly lately wider rims.

Once you're lined up for block height you simply slide the brake onto the bolt...

Tighten the brake so it is on the bolt but still loose enough to rotate a little and then squeeze the brake lever and tighten the bolt that sits just behind the calipers and you're centered.

Now the brakes themselves stand out, but the bike's not exactly run of the mill... The Serotta Meivici that the brakes were mounted to was actually built up for NAHBS (you've seen pictures of our bike on virtually all the North American Cycling sites) and the brakes were set up temporarily. Taking one look at them I could tell that the cable needed to be adjusted... In fact, the picture at the top of the review is actually set up wrong, where the linkage is too high and the cable not only exits the cable stop at an angle but also touches the linkage.

When these are set up properly your cable will clear the linkage cleanly...

And the cable will exit the adjuster bolt straight out rather than cocked off / rubbing the side of the exit hole.

When the linkage is clear and the cable runs straight out of the hole, the brakes will also be in their "sweet spot" for leverage...

Fastening the cable is simple and secure and the bolt down does very little pinch damage to the cable.

And a quick note to "wind-weenies" (vs weight weenies) is that the cable routing in front and in back brings the brake cable housing directly in front of the head tube and behind the seat cluster instead of standard designs that leave the cable hanging sitting to the side of your bike.

The last thing I needed to do was put some carbon specific pads in place. This may be the one design element of this brake that I hope every other manufacturer in cycling licenses from EE...

You'll note the little wiggle in the pad holder shape compared to anyone else's holder... It starts narrow but gets wide.

The little nub in the slot stops your Shimano pads from backing out of the blocks.

Simply lift up and pull out your old pads ...

Then push your new pads into at the same angle you took the old ones out and then snap the pad down flat and your done.

The whole thing is over in a flash and doesn't even require the shoe or brake removal... I can do it without tools!

OK maybe that's not a big deal to everyone but for gear junkies, racers or bike testers who are constantly going between carbon and metal wheels, this is far and away the easiest pad handling gig going. I keep separate block and shoe combos for my other brake sets and thought it was easiest just to bolt and unbolt the units in place. The EE set up makes the old "quick way" seem like a massive effort.

Stop Already
Pretty simply, these brakes work without qualification. Some of today's aftermarket brakes offer modulation range simply due to the added flex of the arms with the low weight. That's not a bad thing for some people because a bit more squeeze room before lock up is a good thing.

With EE brakes you have reasonable modulation range but the better arm stiffness and leverage design is what creates this smoothness and range rather than flexi arms. The difference between EE and flexi arm brakes is that you have a smoother transition to far greater power.

They even have a QR that works more simply and securely. Give the blocks a squeeze and take a finger under the QR...

And give it a flip up...

The QR design as well as the brake block are without question better than virtually everyone else's in the light weight game. The QR beats M5's long screw adjuster that I now call an "SR" as quick isn't the right word, it beats the large disc on KCNC, opens easier and further than Zero G's lever and is even easier than TRP's. Nobody is in the ball park on the ease of pad replacement...

All that is well and good but it's in the "under use" department that EE Brakes shine for people wanting very direct power at low weight.

Bear in mind that stiffness isn't just important in clamping force. Brake arms can twist very slightly on some superlight after market brakes as the wheel pushes the arms and pads in the direction that the wheel is spinning when clamping forces are applied. This "twist flex" shows up under braking and gives the same sensations that an uneven rim width / brake track will, in the form of pulsing. Particularly on light carbon rims this twist flex in combination with some of the more "snatchy" feeling brake pad combinations can be pretty bad. The EE arms have virtually none of that.

The EE are also exceptionally smooth squeezing. Lever operation is buttery and you can go with a light or firmer return spring depending on what you might like. The stronger spring provides quick opening brakes as you let off the squeeze and while they do take a VERY slight bit more pull power than the softer spring, it's still smoother than virtually all other brakes.

Dura Ace seem to be the default for braking "strength" standards as stock brakes go and the EE are, without reservation as good as the 7800 brakes are. Honestly I feel they're a rival for 7900. With the weight savings of the EE and the fact that D-Ace brakes are not exactly cheap and their pull ratio mean that they can only be used with the latest model Shimano levers, these don't look like too expensive a proposition.

There are a couple more brand new aftermarket brakes that have just been (or will shortly be) released and are landing here literally tomorrow... But today, these are, I think the best performing aftermarket brakes available. In fact I think they're better performing than Campy and SRAM Red and rival the new Dura Ace strictly on function and when you toss in weight they me be the top of the pile in general (depending on how important weight is to you versus cost).

Cost is relative. I'm not about to tell anyone what a good value is. I think that that is one feature that I have no business applying a point system to... 100 bucks simply is a different amount of money from one person to the next. Heck it was worth it for me to pay to have this set custom anodized for a show bike... (Silver and Black are the stock colors). You're going to pay what you're going to pay. What's important is that you like what you have and more importantly that you simply enjoy your bike.

There are now GREAT brakes at lots of different prices (and a couple new sets looming). But even at the top of the price range I would take a set of the EE brakes. If you offered me a set of AX lightness brakes that normally retail @ $1300 (and I couldn't resell 'em) or a set of M5 that are normally almost $800 for the same $520 dollars (without pads) price of the EE brakes, it would be EE getting my money.

You can buy these at Fairwheel Bikes and or I believe directly from EE Cycle Works. $520 stand alone or add money for some top pad pics...

Have Fun,
Charles Manantan

Thanks for looking. If you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

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