2014 ciamillo negative gsl ultra lightweight brakes for road bikes

Ted Ciamillo’s not forgotten his brakes while developing the Gravitas cranksets, and the new Negative GSL alloy brake calipers are the proof.

He teased us with some of the details when we did our factory tour, but this is our first complete look at the new brakes. They drop about 15g from the prior version in two ways. First, the quick release is now alloy, versus stainless steel. Second, by using new pad holders that are slimmer, which also improves clearance for wider wheels and tires. Claimed weight without pads is just 155g for the pair.

But weight savings isn’t all that’s new…

2014 ciamillo negative gsl ultra lightweight brakes for road bikes

Feel, Modulation and adjustability is also improved. At the pads, several washers of varying thickness are included to help fit them to different rim widths. Basically mix and match, or use none at all, depending on how wide your rims are (wider rims use fewer spacers).

A new colloidal copper film bearing surface for the titanium titanium center bolt helps it roll smoother, which lends a better feel at the lever and improves fine control. Also known as modulation.

Lastly, there’s now a pressfit counter bore on the shoulder of the spring nut (the piece that the center bolt threads into to holds the spring). This prevents the front bolt from being overtightened, which could effectively seize the two arms between the bolt and nut. The benefit is that it lets riders eliminate play in the system over time, a feature not found elsewhere.

Ciamillo told us the effect is that the brakes feel like new longer, and it provides better modulation by reducing static friction as parts wear. Here’s how: Every time you brake, you’re applying force in two directions at the center bolt – sideways from the arms pushing against the wheel and upward from the wheel’s force pulling the brake as a lever. As parts wear, as all parts will, play can develop if the bolt ovalizes and/or the hole wallows out. When things aren’t perfectly round, static friction (the friction that needs to be overcome to start a part moving) increases, meaning it’ll take a bit more effort to start the calipers moving. You might not notice that during initial braking, but trying to modulate in more power once you’re already braking will require more power to overcome the static friction. But, once that static friction is overcome, that additional power will easily overcome normal dynamic friction and clamp the brakes more than intended, which can make them feel grabbier than you’d like. Basically, that’s a loss of modulation. By using the center bolt to keep tolerances tight, you can reduce the likelihood of play developing in the first place, too. The other benefit of keeping things tight is quieter performance. Lest you think it’s just a design to overcome a flawed brake, Ciamillo is talking years of regular use before requiring any real adjustments.

Retail is $369 and they’re now only available directly from Ciamillo.com. Each is handmade in their own factory.

Ciamillo says proper set up is key. The barrel adjuster isn’t intended to be a set up device, the pad spacers are. At proper set up, the cam should be at less than 50% of its stroke when it makes contact with the rims. This leaves plenty of stroke to be used for power and pad wear.


  1. My set of Zero G brakes were quite possibly the biggest let down of any bike purchase I’ve made. They were very expensive (opted for custom colors) took forever to get (I did get custom colors), and the adjustability “through spacers” is completely impractical for anyone who uses multiple wheels. Using campy brake pads makes everything harder to deal with, the cable attachment is permanent and can’t be easily adjusted, you can’t use typical cable cutters without scratching the anodization off because it’s so close, and at the end of the day, it’s a single pivot brake with a fancy actuating mechanism. Using Zipp Tangente pads on Zipp wheels, I never got mine to stop squeeling, but they did stop reliably.

    I will say however that I got good service (despite things taking a long time) and Ted sent me different thickness pad holders to try to solve the problem. I have no gripes with Ciamillo as a company, and applaud trying to rethink solutions to problems, but personally, I just didn’t find the design and function of their brakes to be worth the incredibly high cost. Stick with what matches your group, and you’ll probably be happier.

  2. My NGSL brake set was initially hard to setup, primarily because I skipped to instructions in my rush to get them installed. But three years, two bikes and almost 10,000 km later they have been great.

    In particular, after switching to Campy drivetrain, I find the brakes easier to work with due to the ergo lever QR function.

    I’ve never had any issues.

  3. Like early CNC MTB parts of the 90’s, these are quite cool to look at, but made completely irrelevant by all the advances in the brakes from all the big boys. They do come in colors though, for those who love fashion over function.

  4. Echoing Bill, I’ve never been proud of the way the Ciamillo brakes worked. BUT, I do love the way they look and that they are MUSA. Being spoiled with Dura-Ace brakes makes it tough for anything to compare favorably. With that said, I’ll probably still end up with another pair at some point.

  5. Like early CNC MTB parts of the 90’s, these are quite cool to look at, but made completely irrelevant by all the advances in the brakes from all the big boys. They do come in colors though, for those who choose fashion over function.

  6. these “small fish/exotic” things seem to have more negative issues then most things of the same likeness. While so many out there despise the “mainstream” brands and none are perfect there is something to be said about their usefulness, dependability, practicality and being consistent. I tend to stick with the mainstream stuff–as it usually works vs. this nichey/exotic stuff that will most certainly break your bank account and design and function that one is always questioning and fiddle-fu-kin around with……

  7. Funny, my Negative Gravity GSLs stop really well, only come out of alignment when I clamp them with the front wheel holder (get around this by closing the brake with a velcro strap around the brake lever) and don’t squeal at all using the pads that come with ENVE wheels. FWIW I weigh under 150 lbs and had the brakes installed by a shop mechanic (it was his first Ciamillo install and there was a learning curve experience involved). Oh and they are two colours to match my bike perfectly (doesn’t make it any more aero but it looks good).

  8. Hi Bill,

    Maybe there are some things I can offer to alleviate your situation. Firstly, if you find the spacers are impractical for switching between rim widths, there is another option. We make three levels of padholder profile.. standard, low-profile, and super-low-profile. Many of my customers also have different braking surfaces between rims as well as widths. This negates the need to switch out pads as you have the option to load the holders that are the proper profile with the proper compound.

    Regarding the cable attachment… the cable attachment was improved about 5 years ago so you may have an older set. The new cams do not have permanent cable attachment and in fact are the most cable friendly attachment on the market… when released, it is difficult to tell the cable was ever clamped as it is well supported in a cradle milled into the cam.
    The patented cam system is not a single pivot nor a dual pivot design. When setup properly, the Ciamillo cam system optimizes the leverage and travel of the caliper arms through the placement of a lobe on a cam with a separate pivot from the caliper arms. This not only allows an optimized leverage to travel ratio but also creates the most compact caliper design.

    Lastly, things have changed considerably in the rim width arena in the last few years and we I have responded with changes to the calipers. We have a trade-in credit for old calipers. If you are interested in upgrading, I can take back your old set and give you a significant discount on a new set. I want you to be happy with the performance, practicality, and aesthetics of your purchase. Please contact me at 770-364-7933 or tciamillo@gmail.com


  9. See, like I mentioned, service was always good. Ted responded personally to me as he did here.

    Ted, My pair were sold with the bike I had them on, although they were only purchased 2 years ago. I did have two width pad holders, but it was still a bit too much effort to change between race and non-race wheels with them. I was racing weekly, and it was a lot more difficult to swap and realign pad holders than say, loosen four screws, pop out the pads, and twist the barrel a bit for a completely functional setup with the shimano brakes.

    Again, nothing against the idea, I think if perfectly set up they work very well, but for me the reality was swapping wheels constantly, needing simplicity, and the high cost didn’t help. If there is one single thing I could tell you after using them for two years, it would be switch to shimano style pad holders. Even on my campy bike I’ve been using swiss stop pad holders (shimano style). Campy does a ton of things right, their brake pads aren’t one of them.

  10. Ted,
    I’m delighted to see your participation. I emailed you the other day regarding the exact pad holders you just spoke of- are they compatible with the earlier zero-gravity brakesets? No info on the website hat I can find. (I’m running HED Belgium rims and they are far too wide..)

    Thanks in advance!

  11. I find it very cool that Ted is reading feedback on BR, let alone responding to it. Customer service indeed. Ted, have you ever considered Ciamillo entering the world of superlight mechanical road disc brakes? I know you’ve the engineering prowess to pull it off.

  12. stackable spherical washers for his pads=my idea. from weightweenies. youre welcome.
    my other gripes still apply, though. (no bushing material to keep the pivot holes from ovalising, cam dragging on an anodised aluminum surface, extreme lack of throw range, etc).

  13. you people are a bunch of winers? without guys like ted, i cant build 10.5 lbs bikes! the f@cking brakes work great in any set up, even if (deleted). i need this light stuff! you do a great job at getting it out to the public, and take it personally! not to mention the hardship of getting it to market! if you don’t like the equipment companies are making, don’t buy it, and don’t wine! there are some who want it, crave it, and i love it! ted! send me my sh*t! i want, and need more. keep it up freak!


  14. Does anyone with the slightest knowledge of physics think the title of this article is funny? Slowing gravity? Really Bike Rumor?

  15. Well, BJ, gravitational fields do propagate at the speed of light, as do changes in said fields. Being brakes the Negative GSL calipers will allow you to descend more safely than without brakes, thereby taking you deeper into Earth’s gravitational field where the gravitational field propagates at a speed less than that of a gravitational field in a vacuum. So in that respect, gravity is slowed…..er……slower.

  16. So what you really meant to say Tyler was that the brakes will help prevent the conversion of gravatational potential energy to kenetic energy via the creation of thermal energy…

  17. Its been 7 years now that i have these brakes. They are very efficient but now have too much game at the rear.i sent message a while ago to do a servici g and never got a reply. I fi d that pretty annoying. However i see that there is a new model! Now i would like to know if there is a possibility of you taking back the ones i have and i buy the new model. Is a deal possible?

  18. I’ve read that older GSL’s and NG’s are not Powercordz compatible due to something to do with the angle that the cable attaches at. Anyone know if these new Negative GSL’s Powercordz compatible?

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