Tektro/ TRP's new RL340 aero levers vs. R200s/ SCR5's

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mander
mander's picture
Tektro/ TRP's new RL340 aero levers vs. R200s/ SCR5's

Illustrated with GIS cuz I don't feel like taking my own photos.

Last month I finally broke my Tektro R200s and was seeking replacements. My LBS said they can no longer get the R200s (maybe they are discontinued?) but let me order some of Tektro's new RL340 levers instead, for $25. That price seems super low for a Canadian lbs. Maybe it was a mistake, or maybe these levers are just that cheap.

Form-wise they are quite different from the R200's knockoff of 10 speed Campy. The hoods of the RL340s come out from your bars' shoulders with significantly more up-swoop than the R200s. if you like a flattish transition from bars to hoods they might not be for you. On classic bend bars like my nudls they swoop unavoidably up. This (on kinked ergo/compact type bars) might be about as flat as you can get them, and it still ain't flat:

The 340s' hood bodies feel way different from R200s too. Up at the front where the lever blade drops down, they are wider and more blocky looking. But in the middle where your hands grip they narrow like an hour glass. A guy on bikeforums posted a handy side by side photo comparison that illustrates this point: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/638015-Tektro-road-brake-levers-R100-R200a-and-R340-R341-size-question?p=12017362&viewfull=1#post12017362 Overall the feel of the hoods is more "oval" and less "blocky" than R200s. They also seem to be a few mm longer. Out on the hoods they feel like they can get me more stretched out than the R200s did.

I am still dicking around with lever positioning on the bars, but i think i can eventually get them to feel ok for seated riding on the hoods. The difficulty right now is that their transition from the bars is weird to negotiate when you're used to setting up levers with the positioning you get from R200's. They feel just great when i stand up to sprint or climb, though. In these situations R200s always seemed to jam my fingers together awkwardly. The RL340s' added length and ovoid shape is roomier and feels nicer.

The aluminum lever blades are quite different from R200s. The internet consensus is basically that they're ugly, but ergonomically they work really well. The R200's lever has a nice little indentation a third of the way down for your first and middle fingers to grip when your hand was on the hoods. The 340s have an even more pronounced indent that just feels pleasant to wrap your hand around. Farther down they flare outwards in a way that makes them really easy to grab from the drops. They are a bit longer than the R200 levers, probably to accommodate the hoods' more swoopy rise. The pull ratios are near-identical as far as I can tell; visually the pivot point and cable end support are the exact same distance apart, but maybe the 340s have more leverage as a result of that greater length.

There is a QR button that's just like campy ergo/ the R200s. As before it's a handy detail if you are running fat tires and need to change a wheel, or if your wheel goes out of true or something else fucks up and your brake pads are rubbing.

Overall these are really well designed and executed levers, especially for the rock bottom price. I don't know if you'd be able to find such a crazy price-performance ratio with any other bike product. Ergonomically the 340s might not be everyone's cup of tea, but as with other contact points it's probably impossible for individuals to know for sure without trying them. So far they are working out great for me on my commute and i am cautiously optimistic about longer distances as i get positioning dialled in.

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 00:30
hiljentaa
hiljentaa's picture

The R200s have been replaced by Tektro with the RL340s, and the R100s have been replaced by the RL341s. The reason I know this? I ordered some R100s from an eBay retailer, and received RL341s. I told the seller what was up, and she said Tektro had replaced the previous models with these new ones.

I took the RL341s out of the box out of curiosity, and checked them out. I didn't care for the shape because, like you stated, they unavoidably point upwards once mounted. That was a deal-breaker for me, but I also just prefer the older Campagnolo hood shape.

I actually do like the lever/blade shape of the 340/341s. I'd love it if Tektro would put that in the R200/R100 hood shape, but that will never happen. Cane Creek is still selling the R200/R100 shaped levers, though they are sold under the model names SCR-5/SCR-5c - but they are pricier than the Tektro-branded versions.

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 02:14
ryker

I'm hoarding one pair of R100s in my parts bin. Looks like I should have another set as insurance.

I know there is the Cane Creek option but the lizard detail is so tacky.

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 10:10
Reasonable Facsimile
Reasonable Facsimile's picture

I really don't like the hood/body shape on the 340s, although it's not as bad as the 520s. If you look on eBay, you can find SOMA/OR8-branded R200A levers reasonably cheap. I know that a lot of people don't like the lizards on the SCR-5s' hoods, but I've found that the Cane Creek levers are usually a bit less sloppy in the pivots for some reason.

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 11:37
Miguel
Miguel's picture

this was a really well thought out review
thank you for that

"Folks want options!"

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 12:11
tarckeemoon
tarckeemoon's picture

That bar taping job. Holy shit.

aerobear wrote:
i want to be gender neutral ruler of the mountain.

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 12:15
hiljentaa
hiljentaa's picture
(Reply to #7)

ryker wrote:
I'm hoarding one pair of R100s in my parts bin. Looks like I should have another set as insurance.

Same here, I need to order another set or two.

Reasonable Facsimile wrote:
If you look on eBay, you can find SOMA/OR8-branded R200A levers reasonably cheap. I know that a lot of people don't like the lizards on the SCR-5s' hoods, but I've found that the Cane Creek levers are usually a bit less sloppy in the pivots for some reason.

Good info, thanks for this. Maybe I'll try a set of the SCR-5Cs this time...

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 13:34
Reasonable Facsimile
Reasonable Facsimile's picture

One other thing, the early 340 levers actually came with R200 blades. I suspect that there was a glut of 200 parts, so they used those until they were gone. The first pair of 340s I tried had the 200 blades, but the next set had the splayed-out shape that's seen in the above photos.

There are a lot of people that really like the 200 levers (bikeforums has a whole thread on them). I wonder how much it would cost to make replacement bushings out of a more robust material, as those parts seem to wear out the quickest (assuming that you don't FUBAR the entire lever).

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 13:59
Patch
Patch's picture

Are these as close to shimano hoods as it comes?

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 14:33
crowding
crowding's picture

How about filing the lever bodies down so they sit more flatrampy?

Did they fix the part about the R200s where the pivot pin keeps wandering back and forth and you wear through the thumb on your glove fiddling it?

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 15:54
Reasonable Facsimile
Reasonable Facsimile's picture
(Reply to #11)

crowding wrote:
How about filing the lever bodies down so they sit more flatrampy?

Did they fix the part about the R200s where the pivot pin keeps wandering back and forth and you wear through the thumb on your glove fiddling it?

It seems to be improved on the 520s, but I think the improvement was accidental, as the body is wider (when means the end of the pivot pin is recessed in the body).

If you file down the body, the hood would probably slop around. I did file the cable port on my 520s, though. The exit path made for kinked housing.

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 17:24
Sneaky Viking
Sneaky Viking's picture

I've really liked the RL340/341s I've put on bikes. I have big hands and the hood feels great for me.

that said, I put the sram 500s on my own bike and holy shit they are so good, almost worth 4x tektro price.

pookie wrote:
you use reasons to justify doing what you want to do.

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 19:53
Reasonable Facsimile
Reasonable Facsimile's picture
Fri, 10/14/2011 - 10:48