Retroshift friction shifters on TRP Hylex hydraulic drop bar road bike disc brakesClick that pic to see it full size you’ll notice something a bit off. It took us a few seconds to fully appreciate the hack.

See it? Yep, that’s the new TRP Hylex hydraulic disc brakes that are intended for singlespeed bikes mated to a Retroshift friction shifter, providing a geared setup and modern brakes for a fraction of what a dedicated SRAM or Shimano system would cost. Especially if you mate it to their BURD rear derailleur.

Nick’s been reviewing the Retroshift and likes it. And those brakes felt really good at Interbike’s outdoor demo.

Retroshift’s founder Adam Clement told us he’s been talking to TRP about it for a while, just been too busy to make it happen. He says it “requires brake lever disassembly, fixturing, drilling, etc.” This prototype’s been a work in progress for a while, with this bike being built up by Sellwood Cycles, and will be raced this weekend. Plans are to make it a stock offering for 2014.


  1. Can’t believe it has taken so long. It was the first thing I thought of when those TRP levers were first shown – mate them with retroshift or bar end shifters.
    I might be one of the first on the shopping list. I’m running Hope V-twin at the moment and no where near 100% happy with them, but not prepared to shell out £600 for SRAM S-700 or even worse having to go electric for Shimano. For *** sakes it’s a commuter / tourer – no one wants electric gears on that type of bike.

  2. Oh BTW, here the truth about this road bike disc brake craze. I’ve been running discs for 3 years on my drop bar commute / touring bike now. SRAM, Shimano and all the early adopters are running headlong into a whole word of painful problems. Overheating discs, glazing pads, pistons not retracting, warped discs. I’m on 180mm icetech discs front, 160mm rear. Still bluing my discs. Exactly the same brand of calipers which work faultlessly on my MTB (hope x2). Road is much much tougher on discs than MTB. Unless of course you live somewhere where you don’t need discs…….
    New pad compounds and serious cooling solutions need to be looked at urgently. I’m hoping the new Freeza discs might help when they eventually hit the shops.
    140mm discs is extremely wishful thinking.

  3. @ Kevin- Thanks for the frank assessment of discs on road bikes. Hopefully any additional solutions which brake makers come up with to solve the overheating issue will re-pollinate MTB disc brake technology.

  4. Like Kevin, I’ve been running disc on my drop bar commute/touring bike for three years and some 2000+ miles in each.

    The Shimano R505 with metallics is many things, but problematic isn’t one of them. I wouldn’t rate them highly for noise, fade resistance, or power either, but that’s another story. My life is all the better for all-weather braking and non-concave rims, and all the brake asks in return is the occasional pad adjustment and replacement when they’re worn.

  5. Oh yeah,
    Obviously there’s a reason I went to discs in the first place. Having to jump off a moving bike on wet descent us one. Concave rims is another. Worrying about my tyres blowing off a third (it has happened twice, but only on 20mm’s). And these are the same reasons I don’t switch back to rims.
    As you can guess the hills round here a serious. How does 1000 feet drop in 1 mile sound? Max 40%. Sram and co should come round to my place for brake testing. Stelvio is a pussycat.

  6. Fred Finder:

    Indeed we do. We’re preparing this bike for a customer as I type this. The photo was taken before everything was done. Thanks for noticing though!

  7. Whatever. Those brakes look huge. Pretty soon we’ll all be stretched out over our front wheels to accommodate the ever increase mass of our brake/shifter brifter things. On the other hand, They are pretty rad. Great hack.

  8. Why the F’ does Adam get all the credit? Every time we turn our backs for 5 minutes it’s ‘Adam this’ and ‘Adam that’. [deleted]
    And while we are ranting… what’s this infatuation with friction shifters? Our shift levers for rear derailleur (only one used for this system pictured) are INDEX [deleted] Realy! We don’t got time to answer all the webmails from peoples asking if we do index!?!? We would RATHER BE DRINKING.

    Hack!? – These are CNC machined parts by skilled humans at ISO certified machine shops. Hacks? Hack a luigi is what I wanna do!

    Oooh! Doorbell, think the gal from the Willamette Week Personals is here – Later!

    The Goats

  9. SellwoodCycles:

    How different are the lever bodies compared to their mechanical counterparts?

    I’m hoping a RL520 body will be close as a dummy right.

  10. Disc brakes with that archaic shifting system, hilarious. That poor bike, might as well put a 5 lb Brooks saddle on that thing and complete it’s humiliation.

  11. @Kevin –

    I have to assume you live somewhere in NZ, UK, or somewhere else outside of the U.S. Nothing in the States (or where 99.9999999%) of people will ride is remotely as steep as you are claiming.

    Either that or you’re purposefully exaggerating your local conditions since a one mile road with ~20% grade (1000ft in 5280ft) would probably be well known, yet the acknowledged “steepest road in the world” is Baldwin Street in Dunedin, NZ and though it approaches that slope, it is barely 1/5 of a mile long…

    Whatever the case, I *SERIOUSLY* doubt that SRAM, Shimano, or TRP are not doing due diligence with regards to disc brake performance. I would expect that you experiences have more to do with the fact that you have been using parts not designed for the rigors of road cycling and, by definition, have not been using a set up designed for your type of bike and style of riding.

    Saying that MTB discs are not good on the road and that therefore road discs need a whole lot of development is like saying that a Land Rover Defender doesn’t handle very well on a racetrack, therefore we need a lot more technological development before there will be safe cars for the road.

  12. Every year about 3000 amateur cyclists ride over that imaginary hill, 1500 during Britain’s hardest sportive, and the other during other sportives. God knows how many others ride it just for the kudos. But I’m fed up of people saying my hills are too steep, rather than their brakes ate rubbish. You don’t get a sticker in car dashboards saying “dont use on steeper than 1in5 ” do you now ?
    Just Google Fred whitton and hard knott pass.
    If disc brakes aren’t designed for steep hills what the **** are they designed for? Flat roads?

  13. And Chris c. Apologies for living in little ole Europe. Where we have……oh all the worlds best bike races and most of the iconic climbs. But what do we know when 99.999999999% of the important cyclists are over there.

  14. Kevin, I’m going to take it for granted that the overwhelming majority of those who ride your possibly mythical knott, do so without 180/160mm discs. Seeing as they seem to make it down, not doubt by not riding their brakes in terror the whole way, perhaps you should simply find a road to ride that is more your speed.

    Since you’re not terribly well informed regarding cars and their function, I’ll let you know a thing or two about them. They most certainly do come with notices in their manuals to to select a low gear for prolonged descents. There are even signs to be found at the side of the road with an identical message to remind drivers. The reason for this is that car brakes are not able to withstand continuous use. Literally everyone (save one) knows this.

    Being from Europe, English will not be your first language. This would explain how you are mistakenly under the impression that Chris said the only riders who matter are in the US. So before you go making snarky remarks to other bikerumorists (bikerumoranians?), you may wish to work on your reading comprehension.

  15. This is a great development.
    Regarding Kevin: My experience is better. I was the first UK rider to win a cyclo-cross on discs, then I broke the world record for cycling 18,000miles around the world – also on discs. 160 rotors were fine on a fully laden touring bike crossing the Alps, Asian volcanoes, the Sierra Navads, the Rockys, and the Pyrenees. Going down the Sonora Pass I remember catching some motorcyclists who’s brakes were melting, but mine were fine.
    I now own a hacked Di2/Magura disc bike which you can find by searching for Xi2 and my name.

What do you think?