An impressive blend of power and control makes SRAM's latest mineral oil brake an arresting experience.

Product Overview

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert Kit


  • • Bags of power
  • • Light action
  • • Superb modulation
  • • Solid lever feel when really going for it
  • • Longer service intervals


  • • Heavy compared to a Code
  • • Ugly caliper
  • • Initial breakaway force at the lever is high


Impressive power and control makes the new Maven Ultimate the best SRAM disc brake we’ve ridden


Price as reviewed:


SRAM’s brand new Maven brake brings new levels of power and control to the range, and a switch to mineral oil brake fluid should mean less maintenance and more consistent performance. Designed for DH bikes, freeride, enduro, and e-bikes, the Maven joins the entry-level DB8 as SRAM’s second model to run mineral oil. After a couple of outings, early impressions are they are among the best disc brakes I’ve ridden.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

Maven’s massive new caliper houses big 18mm and 19.5mm pistons.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brakes need to know

  • 50% more power claimed over the Code
  • 32% less force needed to generate that power (claimed) compared to Code
  • Mineral oil instead of DOT 5 should reduce the amount of bleeds and frequency of oil changes
  • Three levels of brake: Ultimate; Silver; Bronze. With prices starting at £200 per end without rotors

This Maven Ultimate Expert kit comes in the custom red splash anodised finish and includes, four rotors, two sets of organic pads, two sets of sintered metal pads, a bleed kit, rotor bags, and brackets and mounts. To find out more about SRAM’s Maven line-up, read our news story and range overview.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

While the lever looks familiar, it’s basically all-new for Maven.

Design and specifications

While the Maven lever looks very similar to a Code unit, it is in fact completely different from the internals right the way down to the lever blade itself. What is consistent is the shape of the blade and the interface with your fingers, ensuring a familiar feel for any Code user. The lever rotates on a bearing for a smooth, slop-free action, and there’s also reach adjustment, bite point adjustment, and a flip-flop design so you can use it on either side of the bar. Stealth routing is carried over as well, so the hose angles in towards the bar for cleaner cockpit look. Finally, a bespoke SwingLink alters the progression of the lever as it’s pulled, tuning the power through the stroke.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

SRAM’s SwingLink tunes the mechanical transmission ratio, ensuring intuitive and controllable modulation. It does take a lot of force to get the lever moving, however, which could lead to finger fatigue on long descents.

At the business end, SRAM has gone for a chunky caliper design that dwarves the Code. The main reasons for its dimensions are an increase in piston size and a stiffer forged and machined body. Those pistons are 18mm and 19.5mm in diameter, up from 15mm/16mm on the code, which, coupled with changes to the main piston in the lever, adjusts the hydraulic ratio and amplifies the power. Comparing Code and Maven again, SRAM claims that it takes over 15N less force at the lever to generate the same 250N of braking force at the rotor. Or, for the same lever force, Maven will give you over 120N more power.

Clamping the two halves of the caliper together are four substantial bolts, including two right over the pistons. This helps ensure that high lever forces generate more clamping force rather than simply flexing the caliper, giving a more solid lever feel and less power loss.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

Yes, that’s mineral oil in there, hence no protective gloves.

Perhaps the biggest news with Maven is that it uses mineral oil rather than DOT brake fluid. It’s not SRAM’s first rodeo with mineral oil – that was the budget DB8 – but it’s a significant step for a brand long associated with DOT. With a budget brake and a halo brake both running mineral oil, while the Code, Guide, and Level retain DOT, the obvious assumption is that this could mark the start of a controlled phasing out of DOT fluid across the range. One of the principle advantages of the switch is that recommended service intervals double from every year for Code/Guide/Level, to once every two years for Maven and DB8. Because mineral oil doesn’t absorb moisture, it is not as critical to refresh the fluid regularly. SRAM emphasises that it has worked hard to improve such details as sealing to ensure that Maven retains its performance under a wide range of temperatures. Inferring that this is one of the reasons it has stuck with DOT fluid up until now.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

Maven requires specific brake adaptors, and different pad compounds and rotor sizes let you tune the power to your needs.

To tune Maven’s power according to application, terrain, rider weight, and rider style, SRAM recommends optimising both rotor size and pad compound. It’a all about getting the brakes into the right operating temperature window. As such, you want your rotors to have a brown or bronzed discolouration rather than purple (overheating – rotors too small), or unchanged silver (not enough heat – rotors too large). Going up 20mm in rotor size gives an extra 14% mechanical advantage, while the HS2 rotor boasts 7% more power than standard Centreline models according to SRAM.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

From this angle you can really see the substantial forging and heavy-duty bolts holding the caliper together.

There are two pad compounds to choose from; Organic and sintered. Sintered are the most commonly used pads as they work better in wet conditions and are less prone to overheating. Organic pads offer a stronger initial bite, less noise, and take less time to bed-in, working well in dry conditions and cooler temperatures. Maven pads have a larger surface area to Code, and are not interchangeable. They also insert from below, rather than above like most SRAM brakes. So you have to remove the wheels to remove the pads.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

Maven brings an obvious and significant leap in power and feel compared to Code Ultimates.


My initial impressions of Maven were all formed before reading any of SRAM’s claims about power, lever force, and modulation. I say this because everything I think about Maven will sound like a brainwashed propaganda otherwise. The first thing to know about Maven is that it is extremely powerful. Compared directly to the SRAM Code Ultimates I took off my bike, it’s easy to believe they are around 50% more powerful. That’s retaining the same 200mm rotor size front and rear. But the most impressive element of Maven is how little force you need to access that power, and how controllable they are when that power starts to kick in.

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert brake

Power is nothing without control, but Maven has both in spades.

In that sense, they manage to avoid the grabby sensation of a Shimano or TRP brake, but there’s still lots more initial power than any other SRAM brake. So you get confidence from any initial pull, without unsettling the bike’s suspension, your balance, or losing traction. Then you can feather the power in and out as needed with minimal extra force at your fingers. Which should mean less finger fatigue on long descents. In that respect, they have some of the best properties of Magura’s current brakes – a system that really comes into its own on long, steep, alpine descents. Maven’s bite really takes big chunks out of your speed, but I never felt panicked in my braking. And when I did really lean on those comfortable levers, Maven felt appreciably more solid than any brake I’ve tried. No softness, no mush, just pure bite.

Bedding-in did take a couple of runs, and the bleed procedure seemed to need an extra step involving massaging the pistons in and out of the caliper like you would with a piston reset, but once dialled in there has been no change in feel or performance.


It's early days for Maven, and I've only had a couple of rides on them to date, but first impressions are extremely positive. So far they've been admirably consistent, impressively silent, and absolutely rock solid. They're far and away the best SRAM brake I've ever used, a big step-up in performance from Code, and – depending how their longterm performance – possibly a new benchmark for gravity braking.


Weight:362g (claimed, caliper, lever, and hose rear)
Rotors:180mm, 200mm, 220mm