Trickstuff Direttissima Disc Brakes

Vital Rating:
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Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Tested: Trickstuff Direttissima
As trick as it gets.
Rating:
Vital Review
DirA

In the world of costly bike parts, Trickstuff has always had a special aura around it. Unapologetically dedicated to building the finest brakes money can buy, this German company makes a premium product and charges a pretty penny for it. We wanted to look past the sticker shock to find out if they also deliver value for money – keep reading to find out how we’ve been getting along with the Direttissima.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Incredibly well-made product
  • Smooth action
  • Great ergonomics
  • Very powerful
  • Great modulation
  • Consistent, dependable performance
  • Quality and durability
  • The lever perch does not play well with every other control out there
  • Very high price

Trickstuff Direttissima Highlights

  • 4 stainless steel pistons (14/17 mm diameter)
  • 9 mm diameter lever piston
  • Runs on Bionol brake fluid
  • Brake lever material: Aluminum
  • Lever blade rotates on ball bearings
  • Brake pads compatible with Shimano XT/Hope Tech 4 E4
  • Colors: Black, Silver
  • Brake Hose: Kevlar black5
  • Tool-free reach adjust
  • Weight: 520 grams/set (without rotors)
  • MSRP from: €1100 EUR

Initial Impressions

Let’s start with an update regarding availability, as Trickstuff brakes have been notoriously difficult to actually lay your hands on over the past few years. Trickstuff was acquired by DT Swiss in 2022, and although it continues to run as a separate company, it has already been able to benefit from synergies with the mothership and they are quoting far better lead times and availability these days. They have a network of specifically trained dealers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, Andorra, and Portugal who sell their brakes, as well as an exclusive agreement with online retailer bike-components.de. Additionally, they are working on expanding distribution in other parts of the world (details not provided at present). To be closer to their customers, shorten delivery times, and avoid customs duties, they have also expanded their service centers to the DT Swiss facilities in Switzerland, France, Taiwan and the US.

OK then, onto the ownership experience! After you part with a not insignificant amount of your money and take delivery of the goods, things start off on the right foot. The Direttissimas show up in a nice little wooden box, luxuriously presented on a bed of wood shavings. If you have ordered any accessories (bleed kit, adapters, etc) they may be in the box too.

A first inspection of the brakes points to a meticulously crafted product. The machining is top notch, and the finish is extremely detailed. The brakes are made from 7075 alloy, which has been finely polished and anodized, including the internal surfaces. All the edges are round and smooth, and everything feels very solid from the get-go.

The real trick to making a good brake is of course not related to aesthetics, and Trickstuff left no stone unturned in their question for power and modulation. The lever blade rotates on ball bearings, two for the main lever point and two for the “progressive toggle joint” linkage that serves to shape the leverage curve throughout the lever blade stroke. The main piston uses a special polymer that is said to be very resistant to pressure changes, and offer good sliding properties. A single knob allows for reach adjustment – there’s a good, wide range available.

On the caliper side, Trickstuff uses stainless steel pistons that have been precisely machined and polished to reduce the amount of friction as they move inside the caliper. This promotes better modulation and the precise rollback of the pistons when you release the brakes. The caliper itself was designed to offer maximum stiffness, and Trickstuff uses a Kevlar-reinforced hose to further boost the overall system stiffness as well. The brakes run on Bionol, a brake fluid derived from vegetable oil. Bionol is more environmentally friendly than both mineral and DOT oils, and also has a higher boiling point than either of those two more common options. Note that if you can’t get hold of Bionol for some reason, the Direttissimas will run on regular mineral oil too.

To mount the brakes on the bike, Trickstuff produces a number of adapters, all of which are fairly minimalistic and elegant in their design. The brake mount adapters are super light and about as small as they can get, and the same is true of the handlebar clamps. There is an extra perch on the lever body to make sure the lever won’t flex on the handlebar when you pull hard on the brakes. You can get adapters that are compatible with either SRAM’s MatchMaker or Shimano’s iSpec systems, to clean up your cockpit if you so wish. We tested using Trickstuff’s own brake pads and rotor, but the Direttissima caliper will take Shimano XT or Hope Tech 4 E4 pads as well.

On The Trail

Installing the Direttissimas was fairly easy, if you’re used to installing hydraulic brakes it should not be a problem. We received a bleed kit with our brakes, which came in handy since we had to cut the lines to get them to the right length. Trickstuff supply hoses with reusable fittings – simply unscrew the fitting from the hose, cut the hose to length, the screw the fitting back on again. No more fiddling about with one-time use barbs and olives. As for the bleed port, it is situated at the very edge of the oil reservoir, which means you need to orient the lever at 90 degrees for the port to sit at the highest point for the bleed. Trickstuff includes a convenient, re-usable ziptie with the bleed kit which made this part easy to manage. The bleed process is the same as other brakes that use the dual-syringe method, basically pushing fluid back and forth through the system until any and all air bubbles have been removed. We got very good results from our first bleed, by following the steps precisely.

In terms of cockpit set-up, the extra perch on the base of the Direttissima lever can end up getting in the way of certain other controls, depending on what you run. We didn’t receive any MatchMaker adapters so we had to install our AXS pod and dropper post lever using stand-alone clamps (we were even missing the discrete AXS pod clamp as you can see in the shots below). We got it all to work but it’s probably smart to order the relevant MatchMaker/iSpec clamps instead, if relevant. The Direttissimas only feature a lever reach adjustment, no bite point adjustment, but we were still able to find a really good spot that we felt comfortable with right away. Once again, we’ll point out just how well made these brakes are. Every surface is smooth and consistent, and the levers feel fantastic under the fingers.

On the trail, the first thing we noticed was the very direct feel of the bite point as it engages. Likely due to a combination of timing port characteristics and the very stiff hose that Trickstuff uses, you can really feel when the pads engage the rotors. It’s not grabby, just very distinct. Over the course of testing (about 4 months now), the bite point has never wandered nor have we noted any change in braking power. The general lever feel is very light, on par with Hope Tech 4 and Hayes Dominion. Trickstuff uses 4 bearings per lever blade (2 for the main pivot, 2 for the piston rod joint), the result is a very smooth and precise lever feel. Needless to say, there is absolutely no sloppiness in the system whatsoever.

As you squeeze the lever, the power builds up in a very convincing manner. The Direttissima uses a 9 mm piston in the lever, coupled with a caliper pistons of 14 and 17 mm, which gives a very high hydraulic leverage ratio. The lever itself employs a “progressive toggle joint”, which also increases the mechanical leverage ratio as you get deeper into the stroke. The result is a brake that never runs out of power, but without any initial grabbiness. It is very easy to get used to, and it has become second nature for this tester over the course of this review. It compares quite directly to aforementioned Hope Tech 4 in terms of overall power, with the Hope having a slightly softer/spongier overall lever feel. The new SRAM Maven also delivers similar power, possibly even a bit more, but with a distinctly firmer lever feel at the beginning of the stroke (due to a much harder lever blade spring).

We’ve been running the Trickstuff standard rotors and “power” pads for this test, both have been consistently excellent. The rotors have stayed true, and we’ve gotten good life out of the pads as well. Braking consistency on longer runs has been great. We have not had any pads rubbing, and neither of the calipers have developed any sticky pistons so far, testament to the great build quality and the attention to detail in the machining/finish.

Things That Could Be Improved

We have to start this section by mentioning the price. Trickstuff brakes are significantly more expensive than most other brakes on the market, but the real question is whether or not they deliver value for money. In terms of the overall product, yes, the finish is exquisite and the quality of the workmanship shines through in the performance and reliability. One of our favorite brakes at the moment, the Hope Tech 4, delivers very similar power and a very nicely finished product as well, for about half the cost of the Trickstuffs. Whether or not you feel that the overall build quality of the Trickstuff is worth the premium, is essentially up to you. We can’t say we found it to perform twice as well, of course not, but it has provided a great experience overall and the performance on the trail is pretty much faultless.

One small detail to nitpick is the lever perch, which takes up quite a bit of space on your handlebars. This problem can be resolved in many cases by running the appropriate MatchMaker/iSpec adapters from Trickstuff.

Long Term Durability

We’ve been running the Direttissimas for 4 months now, without noticing any kind of performance degradation whatsoever. The bite point has been very precise and consistent, the pistons still move freely and in unison, the rotors have stayed true, and the finish has remained excellent. We’d be very surprised if these brakes didn’t go the distance, and then some. Trickstuff provides rebuild parts in case anything should go wrong, and their growing service network makes it easier and easier for them to provide quick service if need be. We know that the company stands behind its products, and with them now being part of the DT Swiss family of companies as well, riders can feel even more confident in the long-term viability of their not insignificant investment.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Brakes are getting better all the time, and the competition is definitely heating up – pun fully intended. Trickstuff makes some of the “trickest” brakes around, and we’ve found that they do indeed live up to the hype. The performance is great, the power is up there with the best, and so is the light lever feel. Add to that excellent consistency and reliability, and you’re looking at a brake that should find itself at the top of the list for anybody looking to treat themselves to something a bit special.

More information at: www.trickstuff.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 51 // Years Riding MTB: 19 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Tal Rozow (action) and Johan Hjord

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Specifications

Product
Trickstuff Direttissima Disc Brakes
Riding Type
Dirt Jump / Slopestyle
Downhill
Freeride / Bike Park
Trail
Lever Material
Aluminum
Mount Style
Post mount
Rotor Sizes
140mm, 160mm, 180mm, 203mm
Rotor Mounting
6-bolt
Fluid Type
Bionol
Colors
Black or Silver
Weight
1 lb 2.3 oz (520 g)
Miscellaneous
Weight for full set, without rotor and adapter
Four piston caliper
Toolfree reach adjust
No bite point adjustment
Updated 1 bolt handlebar clamp
Gear lever interfaces for SRAM, Shimano I-Spec 1 and I-Spec 2
Price
N/A
More Info

​Base price: €1100 per set.

Trickstuff website

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Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
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International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
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