The SRAM Guide R brakes is the latest offering from SRAM, trying to beat the horrendous reputation that they had with their old Avid stoppers. I demoed a bike with them on a while back and my initial impressions were so good that I ended up putting them on my Bird Aeris build.
Nearly a year later, here’s how I’ve found the Guide R brakes.
- Great at stopping
- Pretty good modulation
- Finned brake pads are killer
- Design looks sleek as hell
- Relatively easy to cut down brake cables
- The long brake levers make it hard to position brakes to where I want them
- Above point has also resulted in scratches on my frame from crashes where the bars spin around
- Bleeding them is still not easy as competitor offerings
- My rear brake had the caliper fail after about 500 miles – front brake has been flawless though
SRAM Guide R Review
Right, so those were the quick points on these brakes and it more or less sums up how I feel about them after nearly a year of riding with them. The long and the short of it is that they are great brakes when they are working properly – the modulation is definitely there and you can really feel when the brake starts to bite which makes both slow, controlled braking and quick sharp stops very easy to pull off.
The brakes are also universal, so there’s no need to have to change the hoses over or buy left/right specific brakes if you want to switch around which side your brakes are on – something that’s pretty useful to me as I tend to ride Rear-Right or Euro as the Brits call it.
On the trails I found that these brakes are practically faultless after being bedded in, making setting my speed incredibly easy. The brake lever has good ergonomics as well, so once you have it in the position you want it in you’re pretty well set. Having the knobs on the lever also mean that making trailside adjustments to reach and extension are very easy, although these do slightly ruin the aesthetics of these brakes.
In the workshop however, these brakes are still a nightmare. Bleeding isn’t as bad as it use to be with the Avids, but it still isn’t the simple hassle free process that you get from Shimano brakes. When my rear caliper fucked up it took me hours of faffing around trying to fix it before getting it back into some sort of reasonable working state.
Overall Review on the SRAM Guide R
Buy if you like raw power with plenty of modulation and you know what you’re doing when bleeding or if you’re happy to take it to a shop. For the price you get amazing modulation with easy reach adjustment making them far superior to Shimano Zee brakes, and head and shoulders above a single pot brake like the Shimano XTs.
I think there are worries about reliability which I found with my rear brake failing and combined with the difficulty servicing them. This is the main reason they haven’t got the high rating I think the performance deserves – this aside I’d say the Guide is a solid choice for aggressive riders.