Designed for e-bikes, great for all bikes.
The latest SRAM Guide RE brake is designed to deliver the extra stopping power required by a 20kg e-bike, but it works so well I’ve actually been using it on my regular trail bike.
What makes the RE suitable for non e-bike use is the fact it gets a powerful four-piston caliper — derived from the DH-orientated Code brake — paired with a regular Guide lever. This mix-and-match formula brings the outright power of a pure downhill brake, but at a much lower cost and weight.
SRAM chose the more basic Guide R lever (without the SwingLink cam, that increases modulation) for its durability, function and price. The logic is that e-bikes cover miles extremely quickly, and use components very intensely, so there’s less to go wrong with the simpler lever design, and you get a firmer feel that bites early in the stroke and gets straight down to business.
The RE offers an immediate leap in power over a standard Guide, with a real snappiness and solidity at the lever allied to extra clamping force at the rotor. With more stopping power at your fingertips, I never once needed to yank on the lever for more juice, even on the longest descents. This performance makes a pretty compelling argument for e-bikes, but also for long travel 29ers or riders who regularly seek out long, fast descents.
The extra clout can make the RE feel a little ‘grabby’, meaning it’s harder to keep the back wheel from locking in the wet. This is partly due to the fact that it is designed for maximum power and lifespan, and ships with metal sintered pads — changing to the organic compound will soften the edge a touch if that’s what you seek. Alternatively, plumbing in an RSC lever, with the Swinglink cam, might achieve more modulation and a slightly less on/off action.
Although SRAM didn’t develop the RE for regular trail bikes, but since it costs the same as the cheapest Guide brake, only adds 35g, and packs Code levels of power, I’m totally sold on it for regular trail use, especially if you’re a heavy or more aggressive rider.
With a bigger four-piston caliper there’s extra stopping power, yet it’s cheap and not much heavier than a normal Guide, so we’ve also been bolting it to our regular rides. RE essentially pairs a powerful 4-piston Code DH caliper with a lighter Guide lever and is a proven modification SRAM’s gravity riders have been employing for years.
There’s an immediate leap up in power over a standard Guide, with a real snappiness and solidity at the lever and extra clamping force at the rotor. With this increased stopping power at your fingertips, there’s no need to ever yank the lever, even on the longest descents. The power is easier to handle than Shimano’s Saint too, which is the only other brake that feels as muscular. This performance makes a pretty compelling argument for long travel 29-ers or hard-charging enduro riders that require more rabid rotor bite.
The Guide RE isn’t really designed for trail bikes but since it costs the same as the cheapest Guide R brake, only adds 35g in weight, is rock-solid reliable and packs Code power levels, it’s our test winder regardless of intended application.
Since SRAM rebranded its brake line, we’ve been really impressed with the overall performance, serviceability and reliability. Naturally, the Guide brakes sync flawlessly with other SRAM controls if your bike has them, and the lever shape and sweep has always been a favourite here at MBR. Both SRAM Guide models impressed, so your choice will be between the less adjustable, hard-biting RE version with the big, DH-rated caliper, or the smooth, more modulated and perfectly controllable RSC that’s lighter but £50 more cash. For us though the e-bike version is an outright bargain and with more than enough stopping power for any wannabe enduro champion, we’re just giving it the nod here.