SwissStop's Catalyst Rotors are superb, offering quiet stopping power and very good durability in the tough conditions of cyclo-cross and winter riding.
It says a lot about the silent performance of a test product when you forget that it's on your bike. The SwissStop Catalyst rotors have been silent through what has been an incredibly muddy cyclo-cross season, and when I've taken the CX bike out on the road they've provided plenty of stopping power on steep descents.
Disc brakes, typically, will really let you know if they're a bit dirty. The howl from contamination is really annoying, so finding a setup that deals with mud, sand and water without even a hint of noise is great.
The only time that I could get a squeal from these was after some particularly muddy pre-race practice laps. Washing the bike off between these laps and the race start is always a bit of a rushed job and a bit of soap tends to find its way onto the rotors. It wasn't an issue for long, though – a few sharp squeezes of the brakes in the car park and the noise was gone. And while racing I've had no noise issues at all.
Resisting too much wear from the gritty combination of mud and sand is also pretty important in cyclo-cross. SwissStop has used SUS410 stainless steel for the brake track and it's holding up very well. I can see these rotors easily lasting two race seasons and possibly even stretching to three. That makes the £56.99 investment for each rotor a little easier to stomach.
The 140mm rotors were the perfect size for me. I'm only 63kg and too much stopping power on slick mud is a recipe for locking up. I found the rotors offered good control both when riding CX and when on the road, though I can't say there's a huge performance upgrade from the Shimano Ultegra Ice-Tech rotors that these replaced. If you want to go bigger, there are 160mm, 180mm and 203mm sizes in both Centerlock and 6-bolt fittings, with prices slightly lower for the 6-bolt options.
Heat build-up doesn't seem to be an issue, though winter temperatures and short braking periods of cyclo-cross isn't the best testing ground for this. I've had no brake fade on longer descents while on the road.
Shimano's Ultegra RT800 rotors are a bit cheaper at £49.99, but I've found the SwissStop Catalysts to be quieter and that, with the low wear rate, makes them worth the extra in my book.
My only tiny gripe would be that they don't come with lockrings. That said, you can just reuse your old ones. For me, the lack of noise in wet and muddy conditions, paired with the resistance to wear, makes these a decent performance upgrade for your cyclo-cross bike.
Quiet and robust, an excellent upgrade for your cyclo-cross or winter bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: SwissStop Catalyst Rotors 140mm
Size tested: 140mm, Centerlock
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From SwissStop: "Powerful braking and high durability, available in four sizes for applications including road, cyclocross, cross country, downhill and e-bike."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From SwissStop: "A two-piece design consisting of a 7075-T6 aluminium alloy spider and SUS410 stainless steel brake track was chosen to balance light weight with reliable thermal management and structural performance."
A little higher priced than Shimano's Ultegra rotors (£49.99), but worth it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. They provided good stopping power, loads of control and did it all in silence.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Silence is golden. These are great in grotty conditions.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Performance and durability is excellent, and they're quiet; I'd happily pay the extra over rivals.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.