Apr 5, 2010
Posted by Chad
Welcome to our review of the Hive REVL brakes. First a little background on our philosophy on brake caliper 'upgrades'. In short, we never got into it. The lightweight brake craze just does not nor will it ever make that much sense to us. I can understand a few applications where it may make a little sense like a strict hill climb bike or just to have something a little different. But when it boils down to it, your brakes are for one thing, stopping you and your bike. So when we would think about upgrades we tended to focus more on durability, stopping power (but not too much stopping power), ease of adjustment and or installation. What we found is that there really was not anything out there that impressed us more than what came stock with the current component groups and mainly Campagnolo and Shimano. So, before the SRAM days we never really found ourselves 'upgrading' brakes at all.
The problem with the other companies in our view was that they were either too hard to install properly, or they came out of adjustment too easily, or they didn't have nice feel or modulation or even that they were TOO strong! So then came along SRAM and don't get us wrong, we really like their components but felt and still feel that the brake calipers are a weak point. We can make them work pretty well and the adjustments are nice but they just don't have the feel that a good Campagnolo or Shimano caliper has. So now all of a sudden we were looking for an alternative to the stock SRAM brakes. There are a few that we have tried and used and while they work fine they are not really all that much lighter.
That leads us to the Hive REVL brakes. We got our first pair a couple months ago and have been using them in all weather conditions and terrain variations since.
As easy as anything from Campagnolo, Shimano or SRAM. Kris swapped out my Chorus calipers and had the REVL's on in less than 10 minutes. We didn't have to swap cables as the arms are close to the same length which was the biggest time saver. The pads are fully adjustable and easy to do so. After set up, you only need a 5mm wrench to center the calipers. The brakes also have the option to use two different cams, one is a 1.4 gain the other 1.3 gain. The 1.3 is the standard for most levers made in the last 10 years or so while the 1.4 is for Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 and Ultegra 6700. You can mix and match if you like and try for a different feel but we stuck with the 1.3 gain cam for our Campagnolo levers. As for weight, they claim 230g for the set and on our scale came in at 235, pretty close. The swap from Campagnolo Chorus took 80g off our bike which by itself is not so amazing, but it adds up. Read about the ride and see if we think that it worth it...
Riding the brakes
Here's the deal, put a blindfold on and ride these and the Campagnolo brakes and perform some stopping drills, you will not feel a difference. This is a good thing and after the first descent they passed the test. We feel that Campagnolo brakes have some of the best modulation out there, maybe not the most overall stopping power, but that's not what we are looking for in a race bike. There is not enough traction in those skinny road tires to stop on a dime anyway so claims that one brake is more powerful than another is akin to some of these new over sized cranks being stiffer than the competition. Sure, that may be true, but really, who out there is actually flexing a Dura-Ace 7800 spindle for example. Same thing with brakes, you can only stop so fast!
So, modulation is awesome, the brakes are as powerful as anything else but what about durability?
We were lucky enough to have the opportunity (yay) to test these in all weather conditions. In fact the first ride was in a torrential downpour with plenty of dirt. We also used them on Aluminum and carbon rims and even got some dry rides in as well. On purpose we didn't clean them to see if the grit and grime would effect the way they stopped. Up to now the answer is no. They worked great in every condition and on every wheel we used. We did have to adjust them a few times at first but is super easy. Again, all that is needed is a 5mm allen wrench and 2 seconds.
In conclusion, we love these brakes. They are light, strong and have great modulation. They are easy to install and work great with all rim types. They are also durable and work well in adverse weather conditions. At $365 they are about the same as a pair of Campagnolo Record calipers, $65 more than SRAM Red and close to $100 less than a pair of Dura-Ace calipers. We recommend these for anyone looking to drop a bit of weight without sacrificing braking performance.
For more information and all the tech you can handle (and to see pictures of clean brakes!) click here and stop by the shop to see in person or to get your own pair...
Thanks for reading!