Swiss Stop Catalyst Pro Disc Rotor
The Swiss Stop Catalyst Pro Disc Rotor is arguably their “everyman” model, designed to cope in all conditions, with superior braking and durability. It's not the lightest, so racers and others with bikes on strict calorie-controlled diets are arguably better served by its race sibling. Otherwise, I’m pleased to report ours have lived up to their hype and will be staying put for the foreseeable.
Pros: Rigid, precisely machined, durable, superior braking in all conditions, choice of six bolt, or centre lock mounts.
Cons: Not the lightest, doesn’t include lockrings.
The Catalyst Pro are a two-piece design, universal in the sense they’re available in 140, 160, 180, 203 and 220mm sizes. Therefore, catering for everything from road, mountain, gravel and cyclo cross to downhill and e-bikes. The 140 and 160mm versions are also UCI approved (UCI compliant models must not have any 90-degree edges).
They’re also available in six bolt, or centre lock versions. Swiss Stop also offer an aftermarket adaptor, so should suit most setups. Thickness is apparently diameter specific, 1.8mm in this instance and the braking surface made from SUS stainless steel. Notice the small divots? These mean it’s easy to spot when they’re worn to a pensionable state. An aluminium alloy spider is employed for optimal stiffness.
Ursula and my fixed gear winter/trainer both run TRP SPYRE SLC rotors. The former commanded by Tektro RL340 levers; Cane Creek V Brake Levers for the fixed. I’d previously run TRP. Shimano and Clarkes rotors with reasonable results. At 70 kilos and with a compassionate riding style, I don’t overly tax components but the best I’ve returned from a rotor is 9 months.
This includes winter and I’ve worn budget models wafer thin within eight weeks, when it’s been particularly harsh, and I’ve not been as diligent as I might on the inspection front. The fixed runs a Shutter Precision SL9 hub dynamo, Ursula alternates between Shimano Alfine and Shutter Precision SD8 . The Catalyst Pro slid effortlessly, and securely to both. No less than I'd expect, but reassuring, nonetheless - I have had a few patterns “fit where they touch”, meaning alignment was frustratingly tricky, not to mention time-consuming.
Both callipers had fresh pads, so I stuck with them.
As I hinted in my opening paragraph, they’ve delivered in spades. On my first 5am “shakedown” ride, I experienced some minor rub and a bit of squeal on a few longer descents. Easily addressed by snugging the System EX Security Skewer SYSTEM EX SECURITY SKEWERS | cycling-not-racing (sevendaycyclist.com) a little tighter and a deft tweak of the Spyre SLC caliper.
Otherwise, the standard bedding-in technique-a few long hills and progressive lever engagements, coupled with some early seasons’ grime sorted this nicely. Silence and progressive breaking thereafter. Things were swifter, smoother still with Ursula, given the pads were packet fresh, which affirms the belief you should replace pads and rotors at the same time. I was also quite quick to tackle dirt roads and bridlepaths, thus helping accelerate the process.
Bedded in, progressive, silent braking was consistent, regardless of how dry, or indeed boggy things got. Tethering my Yak homage trailer to Ursula and tackling some bigger descents inspired confidence - even with 20 odd kilos en tow. Not that a well-honed cantilever has induced short soiling experiences in similar contexts, let alone the recent disc upgrade. However, the performance differential was most palpable when alternating between a budget model and the Catalyst Pro.
Sure, grabbing a handful of lever brought us up nicely but I could feel the budget rotor twisting under load. Not blancmange like but in those same contexts, the Catalyst Pro was palpably stiffer, which made everything feel that bit sharper, dare I say more dependable.
This song remained unchanged when riding solo and indulging in early season mixed terrain fun. It had been unseasonably wintry-plenty of snow showers, heavy rain and when horses had ploughed the paths, boggy. No squeal, or similarly unsettling noise. Similarly, they have also displaced heat very effectively, with no hint of expansion, rub, or fade-even when the mercury’s become more spring-like.
7 weeks and 700 miles down the line, the rotors look in rude heath and there’s no signs of scoring, or similar nastiness, which bodes well, since Ursula and my fixed gear winter/trainer rack up big miles in all weathers, year-round. I’ve heard some cyclo crossers report theirs were still sharp despite a seasons’ hard racing. Anecdotally, they reckoned the Catalyst Pro were good for another season before being pensioned off. Obviously, regular pad inspection and replacement/similarly good housekeeping practices will extend, or indeed, shorten their lifespan.
There’s no getting away from the fact £56.99 is a fair chunk of change, so they’d be something I’d be inclined to pair with a higher end, maybe hydraulic system. Tandems, trikes and cargo bikes being less obvious but good candidates. There’s been some debate about lockrings and the lack thereof. For me, not a deal-breaker - I simply re-used some. Distractions aside, TRP Spyre rotors retail at £40 apiece. Shimano Ultegra weigh in at £49.99, which is closer to the Catalyst Pro somewhat. Then, of course, there’s Hope Road CL Disc Rotor comes in at £65 apiece and save 19g.
Factoring everything into the equation, the Swiss Stop Catalyst Pro disc rotors are an excellent upgrade and represent decent value. Particularly for gravel, touring, tandem and other bikes that lug bigger loads-especially year-round.