6 of the best: disc brake rotors

Disc brakes are everywhere these days, but which rotors are best?

If you're a fan of disc brakes and need to replace a rotor or go bigger to increase mechanical leverage, or indeed smaller to save weight and don’t need the extra braking force, here are six we've tested and rated for you.

Shimano RT86 Ice-Tech

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Shimano RT86 Ice-Tech
Shimano RT86 Ice-Tech

• Price: £40 / $50 / AU$70

The sturdy forged Ice-Tech spider gives great rigidity and durability, while helping to keep weight for a six-bolt 160mm example to 113g.

An alloy mid-layer sandwiched between the braking surface’s outer stainless steel layers reduces pad fade, for instant bite and grip-testingly powerful retardation with no evidence of fade, just a mildly tortured squeak.

Shimano

Braking Disk Wave S3

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Braking Disk Wave S3
Braking Disk Wave S3

• Price: £44

Braking’s unique semi-floating design combines the integrity of fixed rotors with the warping resistance of floating rotors.

Made of 1.75mm competition grade steel, and our 160mm six-bolt example weighs 118g. Performance is impressive from the start, with a firm bite and easily modulated, seemingly limitless power, and they’re superbly consistent and quiet in the wet.

Braking

Hope Floating Disc

BikeRadar score4/5

Hope Floating Disc
Hope Floating Disc

• Price: £40 / $58

These have an aluminium carrier, with six colour options, riveted to a laser-cut, heat-treated stainless steel braking surface to dissipate heat.

The carrier is thin but still rigid, helping a 160mm six-bolt rotor weigh only 102g. A wide braking surface maximises brake compatibility, and with organic RWD pads we found strong initial bite and progressive, powerful stopping.

Hope

SRAM Centerline X

BikeRadar score4/5

SRAM Centerline X
SRAM Centerline X

• Price: £57

SRAM’s Centerlock-fitting 160mm Centerline X weighs 120g, and also comes in a six-bolt fitting.

The design is strong and they remained true. Initial brake bite is tenacious, and from there on you have the easily modulated choice of precise, fuss-free braking, or aggressive, arm-tensing stopping. It’s consistent in all conditions too, but they’re not cheap.

SRAM

Superstar Alpine

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Superstar Alpine
Superstar Alpine

• Price: £30 / Check site for shipping to USA and Australia

The Alpine only comes in a six-bolt fitting, and Superstar says it’s not compatible with Centerlock hubs.

It consists of a 3mm thick 7075 alloy carrier with a 2mm stainless steel braking surface with dimpled, thin alloy inboard fins to shed heat. Our 160mm rotor weighed 124g, and although lacking instant bite, these proved to be powerful performers.

Superstar Components

TRP 2-Piece

BikeRadar score3/5

TRP 2-Piece
TRP 2-Piece

• Price: £35 / $50 / AU$60

These have a beefy alloy centre with a stainless steel braking surface attached by six rivets. They’re the heaviest here, but 127g for a well-priced 6-bolt 160mm rotor isn’t bad. They always stopped predictably with good, but not urgent force. We’ve found other highly perforated designs to howl at times, and these were no different, but it’s not too intrusive.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Robin Wilmott

Tech Writer, Tech Hub, UK,
Robin began road cycling in 1988, and with mountain bikes in their infancy, mixed experimental off-road adventures with club time trials and road races. Cyclocross soon became a winter staple, and has remained his favourite form of competition. Robin has always loved the technical aspect of building and maintaining bikes, and several years working in a good bike shop only amplified that. Ten years as a Forensic Photographer followed, honing his eye for detail in pictures and words. He has shot at the biggest pro events since the '90s, and now he's here, drawing on all those experiences to figure out what makes a bike or component tick.
  • Discipline: Road, cyclocross, time trials
  • Beer of Choice: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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