Nearly 50% more power and a third less force needed compared to Code, says SRAM, while change to mineral brake fluid should mean less maintenance.

There’s a new halo brake in SRAM’s line-up, it’s called Maven and it’s said to be the most powerful brake the brand has ever made. But power is not the only headline; SRAM also claims much less force is needed to generate that power, and the switch to mineral oil has doubled service intervals. We’ve ridden it, and you can read our first ride impressions of SRAM’s Maven Ultimate here, but spoiler alert: it’s one of, if not the, best disc brake we’ve tried.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

The new SRAM Maven Ultimate brake lever has a familiar lever shape but the whole unit is new.

SRAM Maven brakes need to know

  • Claimed 50% more power than the Code
  • 32% less force needed at the lever, says SRAM
  • Increased piston size – up from 15/16mm on Code to 18/19.5mm
  • Four-bolt caliper reduces power loss under extreme pressure
  • Mineral oil brake fluid takes recommended fluid change/bleed from every year, to once every two years
  • Tune power with rotor size and pad compound

Without a doubt, the big news with Maven is that SRAM has moved away from DOT brake fluid. The new brake uses mineral oil, just like the entry-level DB8 brake that we’ve been impressed with on multiple test bikes. It’s a move primarily motivated by improving consistency of the brake over time, so the brakes on a bike left hung on a hook in your garage for six months will work just as well as they did when they were new. As mineral oil doesn’t absorb moisture in the air over time, it doesn’t need to be refreshed or replaced as regularly. And you can leave a container of brake fluid opened for longer without it losing performance. SRAM is at pains to point out that it wasn’t straightforward making the switch, and Maven’s seals have been specially developed to maintain consistent performance under the extreme heat generated on long descents.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

Using mineral oil should mean Maven has less of a drain on your workshop time and brake fluid stocks.

Now SRAM has a brake at the top of its range and the bottom of its range both using mineral oil, and a load of brakes in the middle using DOT. Does Maven signal the beginning of the end for DOT fluid in SRAM brakes? We can’t be sure, but it seems likely that there will be a slow creep in the direction of mineral oil.

Power is the big selling point for Maven, but it’s accessible, controllable power that has really driven the development of this brake. So, while power is up a heady 50% over Code, it’s the 32% less effort that’s perhaps the most impressive stat in the PR. SRAM says it has achieved this by improving the hydraulic ratio, upping the piston sizes, and altering the SwingLink that tunes the leverage force between the lever and the piston. Obviously more power is great, particularly as Maven is designed for e-bikes, downhill bikes, and enduro bikes, but needing to use less effort to access that power is the real game changer, as you use less energy and experience less fatigue, especially on long, steep descents.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

The heavy-duty caliper is locked together with four big bolts.

While the Maven brake lever resembles a Code, and gets Stealth routing for a cleaner cockpit, it is in fact completely new. You still get reach and bite point adjustment, so you can dial-in your lever position and compensate for pad wear easily. It’s the forged aluminium caliper, however, that’s obviously different. Obvious by the fact that it’s huge, and clamped together with four massive bolts. This keeps it much stiffer than other SRAM designs under heavy braking, where otherwise the pistons would try to force the two caliper halves apart. And that means a really solid lever feel and reduced power loss when really hauling on the anchors.

SRAM Maven brake

SRAM’s entry-level Maven Bronze brake lever uses a stamped lever blade, no contact adjustment and a bushing instead of a bearing for the pivot.

To get Maven in the sweet spot of power it’s key to tune the operating temperatures, and to do this (like any brake) SRAM gives you options in terms of rotor sizes, thicknesses, and pad compounds. As such there are 180mm, 200mm, and 220mm rotors in both thicker HS2 style or classic Centreline. Then you can choose between sintered and organic pad compounds, both of which now insert from below rather than above.

SRAM Maven brake

The Maven Silver caliper gets a cheaper finish and steel hardware.

There are three different levels of Maven brake, as well as a limited edition kit that comes in the red, splash anodised finish along with all the rotors, pads and bleed kit you need. This is called Maven Ultimate Expert and it’s priced at £599 ($599/€699). There’s also a Maven Ultimate that comes in a plain black/clear anodised finish and is sold individually without rotors for £320 ($300/€360). Maven Silver comes with a plain black anodised finish and steel hardware instead of titanium, but gets all the adjustment and a bearing lever pivot. Maven Silver costs £285 ($265/€320). And to finish off the range there’s Maven Bronze. This has a stamped lever blade (instead of forged), no contact point adjustment and a bushing for the lever pivot. It costs £200 per end ($185/€220). Claimed weights are 362g for Ultimate (lever and caliper, rear), 371g for Silver, and 369g for Bronze.

SRAM Maven brake

Maven Silver level lever with pivot bearing and Contact Adjustment.

Bleed kits cost cost from £63 for the standard kit, or £111 for the pro kit. Specific Maven post brackets are £25 and brake pads are £27.