Omega, pt 8: White Paper
article by Nick Salazar, images by Andy Coggan •
Aug 6, 2012 •
You'll notice my big bold claim at the beginning of this article is that the Omega is the fastest production brake. That's because there were two out-of-production brakes that tested faster. But I think they cheated. And I'm going to tell you why.
The information in this section is a bit nuanced, which is why I didn't include the "cheaters" in the opening graph on this page. I want you to really understand what's going on, and I figure if you've read this far, you're not gonna quit now. The two brakes I'm talking about are the Shimano Dura-Ace AX and the original King of Aero, the Hooker SL. You can see the data for those brakes in the white paper. I don't include their charts in the gallery below, because it would be too easy for a casual reader to get an out-of-context impression, and miss the more complete story.
The reason I call them cheaters is that both of these brakes have something in common that no other brake in the test does: they used fixed, non-adjustable pad holders, and more importantly, they use non-standard pads that are much shorter than standard pads. My theory is that because of the nature of our tunnel, they are at an unfair advantage at all yaw angles. Even at zero yaw, those shorty pads give the brake a better overall shape, because with the brake tilted back at the steer tube angle of approximately 73 degrees, they disturb the air before it has a chance to hit the brakes. Longer pad holders stick up farther and higher, causing a greater disturbance.
Supporting my theory is the fact that although they show lower overall drag, both of these brakes have basically the same drag curve as every other brake in the test. That is, they suffer at yaw. Even the mighty Hooker has a drag plot that goes up uniformly with yaw.
On the other hand, maybe they simply are faster. In my opinion, that would be OK. They have a long list of major drawbacks, such that I'd never want to ride either one of them. Neither one is compatible with wide rims. Neither one is available for sale. They're both heavier than the Omega. And the biggest gripe of all - their reputation is that they don't work. They just don't stop your bike very well, in part due to those shorty little pads. The Omega, on the other hand, has excellent stopping power, outstanding modulation, and will keep you safe even on a steep mountain descent. We already have riders using them front and rear on both time trial and road bikes, in group rides and solo efforts. And it's because the Omega just works. I'll never compromise on function or safety just to have a prettier drag chart to show off.
What should you take away from all of this? That's entirely up to you. Hopefully I've illuminated my own perspective a bit. For me, the answer is that the Omega is fast. Very fast. I'm delighted at what we were able to achieve, especially given how well the brake works. We were able to achieve its aerodynamic performance while preserving a very high level of mechanical performance. In fact, we already have customers using Omegas, front and rear, on their road racing bikes during mass-start events. Seeing that kind of confidence in our product is very rewarding, especially in a world where riders have more and more options on what to ride. Bringing the Omega to life has been an incredible journey, and I want to extend a big thank you to those of you who have been following from the beginning. Of course, everyone has their own unique opinion, and I invite you to draw your own conclusions about the data, and about the brake itself. Thanks for reading.