First published in Singletrack Magazine issue 95
The new SRAM Guide brakes were released earlier this year. That they were badged as a SRAM brake and not Avid was an unexpected move but at the same time understandable – after years of inconsistent reliability with Avid brakes, a fresh start wouldn’t be a bad idea.
The Guides are available in three different model options: the R, RS and RSC. Both R and RS models come with a tool-free reach adjust and the RSC model also comes with tool-free contact adjust. All models come with the tried and tested four-piston caliper that was on Avid’s Trail brakes.
The Guide lever has all SRAM’s fresh new technologies: SwingLink™, PURE™ Bladder, and Timing Port Closure. Also new is the Centerline rotor, designed to make the centre of friction consistent throughout the rotation to minimise vibration and better manage disk bloom. This should hopefully get rid of the warbling turkey noise we have come to know when using old Avid rotors…
Fitting the brakes is easy as usual, with SRAM’s Matchmaker system, and set-up of the caliper is straightforward too. Setting your lever reach and getting ergonomics sorted is simple with the tool-free adjustment. One thing I did notice is that when you push the lever forward the reach adjust knob goes very loose, making adjustments easier. The initial feel of the brake is great, you have a really smooth lever pull and then a solid bite when the pads are locked.
In use the Guides really feel powerful, and have good modulation. Riding the RSs I felt comfortable on the bike because of how confidence-inspiring the brakes were. I didn’t go into a corner thinking ‘uh oh, will they bite?’; I could easily modulate my speed going into corners or technical sections, then release and let rip. When I needed the brakes slamming on, once again the Guides didn’t let me down – they were precise and consistent. Once they had locked on, they stayed gripped until you released. The Centerline rotors seemed to be doing a grand job as well and kept the braking silent, which is always lovely.
Unfortunately I did have a few issues; after three or four rides I grabbed my bike as usual and straight away noticed how the brakes just felt different. I was having to pull the lever a lot further back to get to the bite point and both levers felt different in pull. Now you could say well that’s the pads wearing down a little, but when the brakes were about halfway through the ride they then re-gained their original great feel. All a little odd. This did happen a few times but they never didn’t bite or not brake when I wanted. That inconsistency is a bit of a shame for me, although I can accept that it may be due to the initial set-up, which seems a little sensitive.
The Guides have everything a great brake needs: power, great modulation, good looks and they feel really good. I just fear they haven’t escaped the reliability question, which is on everyone’s mind when buying SRAM/Avid brakes. I am keen to try different Guides and see how they fare – I hope I have just been a little unlucky with my test pair.
For me the Guides feel great, are really powerful and have the makings of a fantastic brake. I’m just not sure about them after experiencing a little inconsistency, though.
|Product:||Guide RS Brakeset|
|From:||Fisher Outdoor, fisheroutdoor.com|
|Price:||£115.00 per end excluding rotors|
|Tested:||by Dan for Two months.|