Hayes Stroker Trail // $180 per wheel
Almost as soon as it celebrated the tenth anniversary of the venerable Hayes Mag disc brake, the company went and shut down production. In fact, following on the lackluster El Camino platform, Hayes shut down all production and started fresh with three models of the new Stroker platform: the Ryde, Trail (tested here) and the Carbon.
Unlike previous designs, the Stroker contains a radially mounted master cylinder with a third more fluid than the Mag in less space. The levers have been thoughtfully engineered into one of the most comfortable bends I've ridden. A lever-mounted reach-adjust knob works exactly as it should, and without any tools. Two-piece calipers return with the Stroker and have bigger, insulated pistons with larger pads for a claimed 20 percent increase in stopping power. A brake-lever, line, caliper, mounting hardware and 160-millimeter rotor weighs 385 grams.
A 20 percent increase in power is difficult to discern while skating across rock-strewn singletrack, but get a pair of Strokers in their natural habitat—rock, dirt, mud and steep grade—and the 160 rear/180 front rotor combination I tested provided excellent modulation with plenty of power and very little noise.
Strokers have a lot riding on their success, but with 10 years of experience, the engineers at Hayes have more hydraulic history to build on than any other manufacturer, and I'll venture to say that these are the best brakes Hayes have made—and some of the best I've ridden period.