High levels of performance at an impressive price

The Clarks CRS C4 brakes provide great value, combining high-end looks and performance at an incredible price point.

The four-piston caliper has more than a passing resemblance to that found on the HOPE TECH 4 V4, while the lever takes on a Trickstuff aesthetic.

For the money, Clarks also includes aluminium six-bolt floating rotors and size adaptors to help you fit the brakes to your bike.

Clarks CRS 4 details

The lever is mounted via a serrated pinch clamp that digs into the handlebar, securing it to the bar.

The simple design of the clamp presented no compatibility issues with SRAM or Shimano gear shifters, though the clamp caused more scratches than other mountain bike brakes when fitting them to the bike.

The blade of the lever features a dimpled edge and upturned ends that give the brake a secure lever pull and offer high levels of grip, especially when riding without MTB brakes.

The CSR C4s features a large gnarled thumb screw on the lever body that also has an inner Allen key for a more precise setting. However, I didn’t use this feature because I found the tool-free adjust to be adequate.

Adjusting the lever's reach is a simple task and the brakes should be easy to use whatever your hand size.

The CNC’d lever body wore easily though, with the black anodised coating revealing sparkles of aluminium after only a couple of rides.

Installing the rotors on my bike posed some issues. The supplied size adaptors caused interference with the bolts used to tighten the brake onto the frame mounts, resulting in me borrowing a bolt with a narrower external diameter – during this process, I also punched the rotor on two occasions.

The CSR C4s use mineral oil for their hydraulic fluid, and similarly to some larger Shimano brakes, the proprietary pads feature a heat sink, vented design.

The brakes use a semi-metallic pad and are interchangeable with similarly square Shimano pads.

In testing, I set up the brake with a 203mm rotor on the front and a 160mm rotor on the rear.

The six-bolt aluminium floating rotors, while not the most refined, are an amazing feature on a brake at this price point.

Floating rotors reduce warping because only the outside of the rotor experiences heat expansion. The rotor's inner can also be made from a lighter material, which can increase the unsprung mass ratio.

Clarks CRS 4 performance

The bedding in process for the brakes passed relatively quickly, with the CRS C4s getting up to power after a few hard stops.

The factory bleed feels good, and while there isn’t a huge amount of initial bite, the brakes seem exponentially powerful through the lever's stroke, feeling more akin to SRAM's G2 brakes than the bitey Shimano XT M8120 four-pistons.

I found it easy to actuate the brakes' maximum power, making them easy to use on longer descents, where hand pump can develop when squeezing yourself to a halt.

The Clarks brakes are by no means the most powerful out there. However, they have enough bite to ensure you feel confident on all types of trails, while providing high degrees of modulation even after being purposely roasted on a fire-road descent.

I took the brakes down some long descents and they managed heat build-up well, with the feel remaining consistent throughout runs on long downhill trails.

My one complaint would be the initial rub on the rotor when riding the bike for the first minute or so, before disappearing after a couple of actions.

This would happen at the start of the first few rides, but subsided after three or four outings.

Clarks CRS 4 bottom line

The Clarks CRS C4 provides impressive value for money, with a pair of brakes and rotors priced less than a single brake from other brands.

Having an affinity for the more progressive feel from the likes of SRAM, these brakes impressed me when out on the trails and I was never wanting for more power.

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