Early last year, Starbike offered me an opportunity to test a set of older generation EE cycleworks brake¬†calipers. From what I've read about them, I could hardly turn down the opportunity. These brakes promise both functionality and light weight, and are regarded in some circles as the perfect brake.
How light is light? Well these brakes came in at 158g without pads on my kitchen scales. That's almost half the weight of Shimano Dura-Ace, so these brakes are definitely in the featherweight category.
Setting up these brakes takes a little more effort than a typical Shimano brake, but is much easier than SRAM's Aerolink design. To be fair, I tried installing the brakes without consulting any instructions, so perhaps they would be on par with Shimano if I knew what I was doing initially. Setting up the second brake was certainly much easier than the first (and almost pain free). What tripped me up the first time was centring and while it is straightforward and intuitive, it requires more attention than a Shimano caliper. On this particular generation, the centring screws were tool free, which was convenient.
Changing brake pads is a hybrid between Shimano and Campy. To be more precise, it would be like using a Shimano caliper, but with the fixing bolt replaced by a fixing grove. This makes removing pads slightly harder, but tool free. I change my brake pads a fair bit when I switch between my carbon race wheels and my alloy training wheels and I've found that Shimano's fixing bolt to be the easiest system. However, these EE brakes were easy enough to use once you got the hang of it.
The cable routing is again different to Shimano/Campy/SRAM. If you've already cut your housing to length for a 'traditional' brake you may find it a little short for the EE brake. If your housing is long enough though (or you're starting with a new cable like I was) I think you will find the cabling of the EE brakes to be the neatest on the market.
Once I had the brakes installed my first impression was just how well they worked. I didn't notice any loss of braking power or modulation on my first ride, and the braking feel was simply excellent. I felt in control of how much brake I was applying to my wheels, even though I had just fitted them to my bike. This feeling of control remained throughout the test period. However, I started to notice a very slight drop off in power compared to my Shimano brake calipers on steep descents. It's about on par with a Campy brake so it's certainly more than acceptable but the Shimano system does seem to have an outright edge.
Overall, I was super impressed by these brakes. They performed just as well as any good rim brake, but at almost half the weight of Dura Ace. The setup is easy once you know what you're doing and the aesthetic should tie in with any modern bike.
Now, before we conclude, there is one point I should add. These brakes are a boutique item, and they're priced as such. They very much fit into the 'best brakes money can buy' category, rather than the 'best brakes for the money'. If you're considering buying these brakes, know that they live up to their reputation, and I doubt you'd be disappointed by them. However, if you find it hard to justify the price tag, know that you can get brakes that perform just as well (stock Shimano and Campy brakes) for a lot less, but at a weight penalty.