I’ve never paid much attention to road bike brakes. If they stop in a reasonable distance, are easy to center on the rim and don’t grab or squeal, they’re fine with me.
Most modern brakes meet these requirements. I’ve used Campy Chorus and Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace. When I needed to feather them for a corner or stop fast in an emergency, they worked like they were supposed to.
So I wasn’t overly excited about trying Sampson Stratics carbon brakes. I assumed they were just another questionable example of putting carbon anywhere possible on a bike.
But the maker, Eric Sampson, is a wellspring of bike and component design ideas, even though his contributions to the industry are often overlooked. His bikes, for example, are great performers at a fair price. I figured that his Stratics brakes should perform well, too, so I took him up on his offer to try them.
Uncle Al Ardizone at my local shop, Cascade Bicycles in Montrose, Colorado, mounted the brakes on my Litespeed Vortex. Setup was easy, the Unc reports. He weighed them on his shop gram scale and they tilted the beam within a few grams of the advertised weight. They were lighter than the 10-year-old Dura-Ace brakes they replaced by 40 grams each.
Dry or Wet
I used the brakes on my normal training routes a few times and then rode 26 hours during a week of coaching at the PAC Tour Training Camps in Arizona. They worked flawlessly even in a torrential rain and hail storm. The pads seemed to grip as well in the wet as in dry conditions. The only problem was the usual embedded grit from the rainy roads. I dug out the tiny shards of gravel with a knife after that ride so they wouldn’t score my rims.
Otherwise, I couldn’t tell the difference in performance between the Stratics and the D-A brakes they replaced. Stopping power seemed the same and so did the ability to feather the brakes on descents without having the pads grab. Pad wear was imperceptible for the 30-hour duration of the test.
Function aside, the Stratics are beautiful brakes. The carbon weave lies under the surface and creates a mesmerizing pattern in the sunlight. I needed to resist the temptation to stare down at the front brake’s beauty as I rode.
If you want to add some carbon to your bike at a relatively reasonable $189 price, coupled with fine performance, the 310-gram Stratics brakes are a great place to start.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.