"For those who value subtlety over absolute stopping power." Reader review by Mark Bonnes.
The SRAM Guide RS disc brake has a 4-piston caliper and SRAM’s SwingLink lever technology that aims to gives more positive pad contact.
Reader review by Mark Bonnes | XC/enduro/trail/gravity rider
SRAM Guide RS disc brake reader review
What rotor size?
200/180mm and also 180/160mm
How long have you had it?
Tell us about the features. Lever reach, bite point adjust, ease of pad replacement etc.
Lever Reach adjustment, pads easy to change, 4 piston calipers, brake levers integrate with SRAM shifters and Rockshox Reverb remote lever.
How easy is it to bleed?
Not quite as easy as Shimano brakes, but much easier than SRAM/Avid’s of old. The correct SRAM Bleeding edge tool does make it markedly easier.
How powerful is the disc brake?
Not the most powerful, but very predictable. They’re effective, but there’s many more brakes on the market with greater outright stopping power. Definitely a brake for those who value subtlety over and above absolute stopping power.
How much feel and modulation does the disc brake offer?
Superb modulation and feel. In fact, too much for some… They can feel spongy to those not used to them, and even with a fresh bleed a strong index finger can pull a fully wound out lever in to the bar! But for the discerning rider, that’s precisely the point. It was Pirelli who famously used the slogan “Power is nothing without control” to market their tyres decades ago. SRAM seem to have applied that approach very faithfully to these brakes!
Ergonomics. How does the brake lever feel and function?
I’ve always been picky over lever shape, preferring a nice organic shape (such as Shimano levers through the years) over edgier and less refined shapes (such as Hope). The SRAM Guide RS lever shape is quite simply the best I’ve used! For single finger braking, they are peerless in my opinion. For twin finger braking (who does that anymore?!?!) the lever pivot position is perhaps a little too close to the bars, meaning the lever does have a more pronounced arc than some through its travel. But push them inboard, and use only your index finger, and they’re bang on the money. The lever reach adjust has a useful range. I have suffered one lever that over the length of a ride would adjust itself so that the lever came right into the bars. A phonecall to SRAM tech centre and some threadlock on the adjuster threads later, and it hasn’t misbehaved since. They’re also a huge step up compared to SRAM’s own Guide R brake (which loses the swinglink and has a much cheaper lever blade) in both feel and performance, for relatively little extra cash.
What sort of riding does this disc brake work best in? XC racing, trail riding, enduro, downhill etc.
This is a superb general trail riding brake and a great brake for the smoother Enduro racers. Though fairly lightweight for a 4 piston brake, it’s definitely too heavy for a competitive XC race bike, and they simply don’t offer the same “stick in the spokes” level of deceleration that the likes of a Shimano Saint or SRAM’s own Code brakes do for the DH racer.
Reliability. How well has the disc brake stood up to use? How frequently does it require bleeding? etc.
Considering the damage that was done to the Avid/SRAM brand by the Elixir models, the Guide series really needed to be a massive step up in terms of reliability. The Guides haven’t disappointed! Sure, the Guide R is, relatively speaking, less reliable and doesn’t perform as well (their ubiquity as an OEM fitment on so many bikes is perhaps their downfall!), but the Guide RS may as well be a totally different brake! I’ve run these brakes on both full sus and hardtails for a couple of years now, and after initial fitting, they’ve not required a bleed since. As long as you replace the pads before they’re totally worn out, you shouldn’t need to bleed yours very often either.
They're not quite perfect (those wanting bite point adjust too would do well to seek out the RSC model) and they're not for everyone (some people just like grabby brakes, and the Elixir did an enormous amount of damage to the brand for many people), but for the general trail bike rider and the smoother Enduro racers they are right up there in terms of performance. Rating: 9/10