Sleek, lightweight and easy to set up and service
The TLM is the second stringer in SRAM’s new Level disc brake range. It’s designed for cross-country riding, so uses a lighter twin-piston caliper and, according to SRAM, is around 10 per cent less powerful than the trail-specific Guide.
It does, however, use some of the technology developed for that brake, so the company says it’s suitable for lightweight trail duties.
One of the main trickle-down features is the tiny heat shield on the caliper body. This reduces heat transfer from the rotor and pads, and results in reduced fade under constant braking — the sort of thing you’d experience when dragging your brakes on long descents.
The caliper itself is a mono-block design, meaning it’s machined from one piece of aluminium, and it features top-loading brake pads and SRAM’s new Bleeding Edge technology — a plug-in syringe port that really speeds up the whole bleeding process.
The new lever is low profile and much sleeker, and it features reach adjustment that’s tuned with an Allen key rather than a dial. The lever blade is alloy, and the TLM model features a bushing at the main pivot point. It had a smooth action initially, but started creaking after about a dozen rides, and from then on I’ve had to lubricate them regularly.
Out of the box, the Level TLM felt a little soft, but it bedded in instantly. It has an incredibly light action but, like all SRAM brakes, there’s progressive power delivery and plenty of bite.
When checking your speed, or feathering, the TLM feels great, but when you really want to get stopped — when slamming into a rough turn or steep hairpin for instance — it just doesn’t have Guide-level reserves of power, deeper in the stroke.
On some steep chutes I had to work the brake a bit more to slow down — it may only be 10 per cent less powerful according to SRAM, but it feels like more on the trail.
As an XC brake, the Level TLM is sleek, lightweight and easy to set up and service. If you don’t weigh much, you could probably get away with it on a short-travel trail bike, but if you ride more aggressively, I’d recommend the Guide instead, as it’s a lot more capable.