Scrub Components Working on Alchemy Lightweight Mechanical Disc Brake Calipers

scrub components alchemy mechanical disc brake for cyclocross road bikes and mountain bikes

Scrub Components is working on a top secret project called Alchemy, and it’s an all-new, lightweight mechanical disc brake caliper.

Mechanical caliper? Yep, it’s somewhat of a forgotten category with hydraulic stoppers getting so small and light – lighter in many instances than cable actuated versions. So, the question is why?

Scrub’s owner Chris LaCasce thinks there’s a market for a high end offering, and we’d agree. With more cyclocross bikes coming disc equipped and road bikes with rotors on the horizon, there’s likely going to be a big market for people upgrading just the frames and moving their existing group and parts over, or those that start out small (like with the Crux we just reviewed) and then upgrade parts as their budget allows. With the UCI’s change of heart, it gave Scrub enough of a market to jump in.

“Our goals were to create a design that allows both pads to move, similar to a hydraulic, and we just wanted to do something that looked different and was lighter than what you can currently get. And we wanted to do it with Scrub style!”

Chris says they’ve been working on these for about nine months, and the goal is to have a cyclocross specific model available in time for this year’s race season. August is the target, but it’s not firm.

“One of the design challenges was the two sided movement,” he said. “There’s a reason why nobody does it. We’ve gone through four or five complete design changes, but I think we’ve come up with a pretty slick way to do it. And it still meets our criteria of being sleek and lightweight.”

The initial product will be ‘cross specific because it’s a cautious way to bring it out. It could be that the same model eventually gets approved for road after they’ve done more testing on it…or there’ll be a completely new model. Same for a mountain bike version.

“Things are definitely coming together. We’ll be able to follow up this post in a relatively timely manner with more details.”

Comments

WV Cycling - 05/07/12 - 8:25pm

I would also LOVE to see a matchmaker compatible mechanical brake lever for MTB. I love my BB7′s (somewhat guilty feeling)

E. Mizzle - 05/07/12 - 9:44pm

What a waste of time! I wonder if they will make me some super light rod pull brakes for next year?

Chaz - 05/07/12 - 11:22pm

Great, all we need now are some drum brakes for racing.

BrownTravis - 05/08/12 - 9:08am

haters gonna hate.
can’t wait to see this brake. there are TONS of people without hydraulic levers that would use a set of lightweight mechanicals as a BB5/BB7 upgrade…or just an upgrade from junky old canti’s.

DS - 05/08/12 - 9:56am

This may be a great brake for road bikes until the industry figures out how to deal with heat build up in hydraulic discs on the road. The biggest problem with hydraulics on the road is overheating and boiling the brake fluid leaving you with no brakes. Cable actuated discs may not be as powerful, but they don’t have any brake fluid to overheat. You make still warp the rotors from overheating, but you will still have brakes.

Greg - 05/08/12 - 10:24am

Properly designed hydraulic brakes don’t fail by boiling their working fluid.

Cables are always going to be heavier than the equivalent length of hose and hydraulic fluid, so a lightweight caliper is nice but it’s also starting at a disadvantage weight-wise. If you want a properly stiff structure that can put enough force on the pads to work well, there’s only so much weight you
can remove.

IRD did a mechanical brake with dual sided actuation several years ago.. If you’re chasing weight, im not sure if it’s worth the additional complication?

Jim - 05/08/12 - 10:36am

The biggest benefits of BB7s (beyond affordability) is ease of set up and reliability. I’d be among the first in line for a system that offered those attributes AND reduced weight. Judging by the number of relatively high-end mountain bikes out there running Avid mechanicals, guessing it’d be a long line

BBB - 05/08/12 - 11:37am

As an avid fan (ho, ho, ho ;-) of BB7s I can’t really see a problem with a fixed pad design. Engineers may not like it but it works perfectly fine and it’ll be always lighter than two moving pistons.

Nevertheless it’s nice to see someone working on mechanical brakes regardless of what some opinionated and brainwashed (with a hydraulic fluid) folks seems to think about it.

I hope that one day the guys from… Hope will come up with something similar.

P.S. As for the weight of cables you can always use Nokon or Alligator casing with Powercordz inners.

Barburuksi - 05/08/12 - 1:14pm

One of the best advantages of hydros on a cross bike will be a completely sealed system with no cables to worry about gumming up. Interesting idea, but I have a feeling being that they are made my scrub, will prolly cost just as much as a nice, light hydro caliper anyway. I just don’t see the advantage.

Chris@Scrub - 05/08/12 - 9:41pm

WV, thanks for the input! You can bet if we put together a MTB version of the Alchemy it will be a complete system including a lever so your idea is certainly worth keeping in mind! Don’t be guilty, I think there are lots of us out there who are just afraid to admit it…

RV - 05/10/12 - 2:37pm

This is great news. The bb7 road calipers have been the only decent option for a long time for drop bars. No idea why avid has been dragging their feet on an upgraded version. I’m all for more options. If scrub can make them as bulletproof as bb7s, while keeping the price reasonable, they should sell like hot cakes.

brian - 05/12/12 - 9:37pm

The haters don’t get it. A mechanical brake will allow you to use existing brifters versus what are surely going to be much more expensive hydraulic brifters. Looking forward to seeing the final products.

JON - 05/14/12 - 5:15am

Do it right and the trials guys will be into it too. We love bb5/7s and a lighter option is only a good thing!

T.Best - 05/28/13 - 6:01pm

Ugh! Yes indeed, haters don’t get it. This brake will pick up where mechanical discs leave off.. I think these will provide more power, better modulation, a lot less maintenance, and be a very affordable option (compared to buying a hydraulic road shifter / brake setup). I’m running BB7s on my cross bike, which happens to be treated like an all-mountain trail bike, and am confident disc brakes will become the industry standard for road & cross. For those of us who already have a road group and are trying to switch over to disc (yes, of course the frame/wheels must first be compatible), the Alchemy will no doubt be the hot ticket. I can’t wait. Such a design has been a long time coming.

I will not comment on overheating a hydraulic brake system on a road bike.. lol.

Can’t think of a better company out there to take this project on. Keep us posted, Chris!

-Terry

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