SRAM's excellent Guide brake gets a revamp. Enter the new SRAM G2...
Goodbye Guide, hello G2. SRAM have a new trail disc brake. We’ve tested the SRAM G2 Ultimate and it has alloy rotors, ‘Power pads’ and improved consistency.
SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brake need to know
- SRAM’s trail brake revamped
- Stiffer caliper
- New pad compound claims to offer more bite
- Alloy rotors save rotating/unsprung weight
- Improvements aim to increase consistency
- Two versions: G2 Ultimate and G2 RSC
- Prices: G2 Ultimate £265, G2 RSC £170
- Power pads: £23
What’s the story?
SRAM’s Guide brake has been our favourite four-piston trail brake for some time now. It won our group test this year in SRAM Guide RE trim and has consistently performed well on countless test bikes over the last few years. The new second generation G2 aims to build on that solid reputation, and although it looks almost identical to the old brake, SRAM assures us that it is has been reworked from top to tail.
Starting at the caliper end, although it closely resembles the old Guide and shares the same pad shape and hose connections, the G2 unit is completely new. The biggest advance, according to SRAM, is in stiffness. Although still two-piece and bolted, changes to the forging means they should resist flexing under extreme pressure better than the old caliper, which should result in a firmer, more solid lever feel.
The pad gap has also increased thanks to some changes to the machining around the pistons, which helps achieve a drag-free set-up, and the G2 is said to retain that gap as the pad wears, keeping lever feel more consistent.
What about the lever?
At the Ultimate end of the range, the lever is basically unchanged, save for slightly different machining around the master cylinder. The cheaper RSC version gets different pivot and bushing to reduce lever slop – the Ultimate retains its sealed bearing design and carbon blade.
A new hose, two-piece alloy spider rotors and a fresh pad compound round out the changes. The hose uses a smooth, matte, outer finish and is said to be “less prone to holding a shape”. So, it shouldn’t stay twisted or bent if you’re swapping from bike to bike. Lighter, alloy CLX rotors weigh in at 121g (180mm), providing a useful saving in both rotating weight and unsprung weight. Compared to a steel 180mm rotor they’re around 30-40g lighter.
Perhaps the biggest news is the new pad compound. Being the same shape as the Guide pad means you can run this in your generation 1 caliper. The Power organic compound (with steel backing plate) is designed to offer improved bite and less tail-off during sustained braking. It’s identifiable by a grey backing plate.
The new G2 Ultimate still looks like a Guide, it still feels like a Guide and it still stops like a Guide, but it does all of those things slightly better. Don’t expect an earth-shattering leap in performance – remember the Guide was already an excellent trail brake – but there are subtle improvements that can be felt in direct comparison with the old model.
The lever feels like it has a stronger return spring. Which it doesn’t. So we reckon this must be a result of the improvements to the piston area. There’s a really nice light (once you’ve got past the initial breakaway of the Swinglink cam) light action from the broad, comfortable lever blades. Resistance builds gradually at your fingertips as you pull harder, communicating perfectly the pressure being exerted at the caliper. This means modulation is superbly intuitive and natural.
Power comes in softly but immediately from the new pad compound. It’s like a mobster flashing his piece in a bar. It lets you know the brake means business without having to get aggro. You can brake less and leave it later because you can trust the bike will slow down from the moment the pads hit the rotor.
We haven’t used the new pads in rain yet, but in muddy conditions the lever feel remained absolutely static.
Finally, it’s a small detail, but the old Guide reach adjustment always felt graunchy and unpleasant to use. The new one is crisp and snappy.
Look out for a full review when we’ve spent some more time on them.
Actual weights for SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brake
- Rotor (180mm): 121g
- Lever/Caliper/Hose front: 272g
- Lever/Caliper/Hose rear: 294g
- Matchmaker: 26g