SRAM outline hydraulic disc brake redesign

Updated: Photos of SRAM's updated hydraulic disc brakes + video

by David Arthur   May 19, 2014  

Following the recall of its entire stock of Red and S700 hydraulic disc brake sets, numbering some 19,000 units in total, SRAM has this week outlined some design changes that will be seen on the replacement disc brakes when they are finally made available, which should be anytime soon. And thanks to Bikerumour for bringing the video produced by US bicycle shop Art's Cyclery to our attention, we now have some photos of what it'll look like.

The main change, and this will please a lot of people, is an all-new lever body design. SRAM says it has refined “the ergonomic shape of our HydroR shifter body, allowing for improved hand wrap, more comfort, and ultimately better control.” Reading between the lines, we would imagine they’ve worked hard to better package the fluid reservoir and shift mechanics inside a smaller hood.

The shift lever paddle integral to SRAM’s DoubleTap shifting design has been updated with a reshaped paddle. They have removed some material toso shed a bit of weight and apparently provide better finger clearance which it reckons is “something to consider in colder ‘cross season temps when thicker gloves are required.” We assume they're talking about clear with the brake lever.


Other changes include a master cylinder redesign which it says “improves performance and consistency, especially in extreme temperatures,” and a new high capacity bladder which is the “primary fluid compensating device for pad wear, and we have improved its ability to do its job through its improved compliance and ability to evacuate the reservoir.”

They’ve also designed a new bleed port which will probably make bleeding the system easier, and a new caliper spring is the last of the changes. 

When will the updated disc brakes see the light of day? Good question, the last indication of a release date from SRAM was for May, but we've yet to see any signs of this. SRAM, to be fair, have been providing regular updates on the recall, with president Stan Day himself fronting several videos. It's clear they've been working hard on not only fixing the problem that caused the complete recall, but also taken this opportunity to amend the design. 

Here's the video posted by Art's Cyclery.

More news when we get it. 

15 user comments

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Sounds like they have made the most out of a bad situation. I wasn't affected by the recall but would be pretty pleased to get a new improved system back. After having read the article on the new wireless shifting system, it looks like SRAM are stepping things up.

posted by Jacob [38 posts]
16th May 2014 - 15:08

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Nice bit of burying bad news by SRAM there - hide the reminder of their massive recall with an orchestrated leak about a wireless groupset.

posted by giobox [275 posts]
16th May 2014 - 16:23

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I'm patiently waiting to get my S700's back. My shop is saying they will probably have them next week.
It will be interesting to try out the changes SRAM made. My brakes worked perfectly fine before the recall so we'll see how they made them better.

posted by DLemke [2 posts]
17th May 2014 - 5:36

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Typical SRAM product development strategy. Release the Mk1 with built-in flaws onto the unsuspecting public, followed-up by a "must have Mk2" 18 months later. Meanwhile early adopters will have extensively tested the product for free. These poor in vivo lab rats will be offered a most generous 10 pct discount on an upgrade valid within 14 days of the re-launch. Sometimes the strategy backfires, as when Mk1 is down-engineered to unacceptably low safety standards. Caveat emptor. Why still bother with SRAM?

The entropy of the universe increases constantly. Carpe diem.

posted by noether [51 posts]
17th May 2014 - 6:09

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The entropy of the universe increases constantly. Carpe diem.

posted by noether [51 posts]
17th May 2014 - 6:11

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SRAM in danger of going the way Of Microsoft.

A marketing company that makes things that sound great but don't work properly in specific details.

"Product development by our customers"

Really, though?

posted by workhard [378 posts]
19th May 2014 - 12:03

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I have been a SRAM (mechanical) user since switching from Campag in 2008. I have a variety of bikes with Rival, Force and Red. I like SRAM's ergonomics. So maybe I am biased, but ....

I don't understand the depth of vitriol directed at SRAM in the comments above. I'd understand if any of those posters had just purchase a disc equipped bike and had that bike rendered unrideable by the recall, but I don't imagine this is the case.

SRAM bought choice and innovation to a market that was a (mostly) cosy duopoly. They seem to have made a mistake with their hydros (kinda surprising given they own Avid) but they appear to have tried hard to prevent their mistake affecting too many people. And from memory the only people affected were 'cross riders competing in sub-zero temperatures, for the vast majority of users in the vast majority of cases (like DLemke), they worked "perfectly".

posted by surly_by_name [142 posts]
19th May 2014 - 12:49

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So was the recall only on the disc brake system or was the hydro rim system affected too?

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posted by bikeandy61 [389 posts]
19th May 2014 - 12:49

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found this information interesting:

"new high capacity bladder which is the “primary fluid compensating device for pad wear, and we have improved its ability to do its job through its improved compliance and ability to evacuate the reservoir.”

same situation is going on in their new "Guide" mountain bike disc brake range.

their older disc brake range, the Elixir has always suffered from a lack of brake fluid volume in the system, meaning that even 1/2 worn brake pads would cause the system to work very poorly, with excess brake lever pull and unbalanced caliper pistons.

This was a side effect of them slimming down the MC with their "taperbore" design perhaps in an overly aggressive styling exercise with the casualty being oil volume.

They also had major issues with their in-line pad contact adjuster leaking air, and the diaphragm in the master cylinder quickly developing pin hole leaks causing the brake to suck air (not cured by a "brake bleed" as many assumed..).

They moved to Nalgene for the MC which seems to have cured that particular problem, I know it drove many mechanics and customers mad, as you could do a factory perfect bleed and air would get into the brake on the first ride

Avid / SRAM have a long and well documented history of issues with their mountain bike disc brakes since they moved from the old "Juicy" to the newer "Elixir"

I have literally worked on 100s of Avid disc brakes over the years with too many warranty returns to speak about, we would be hear all day.

In their defence, their UK customer service / warranty has been very professional and timely. Many customers had the entire brake system replaced, especially on OE product where 1 brake was faulty and because it was an OE colour, a pair of matching aftermarket brakes would be shipped FOC to the customer

Hopefully with this redesign of their road hydraulics and new mountain bike hydraulic they can put these issues behind them.

posted by hampstead_bandit [130 posts]
19th May 2014 - 13:41

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Let's not mention Avid MTB brakes, mine are currently jammed on At Wits End

Back on topic
Not the nicest looking hoods either IMHO Nerd

Although road bikes and discs seem to have an almost destiny like future!

posted by Super Domestique [1598 posts]
19th May 2014 - 14:51

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surly_by_name wrote:

I don't understand the depth of vitriol directed at SRAM in the comments above. I'd understand if any of those posters had just purchase a disc equipped bike and had that bike rendered unrideable by the recall, but I don't imagine this is the case.


Sram have been making disc brakes for years and the reliability is truly astounding, and not in a good way. To be fair customer service is good, but it needs to be!

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posted by mrmo [1073 posts]
19th May 2014 - 15:27

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Hmmm.... Well, I went for the SRAM Red 'cause I wanted hydraulic discs (2013 Roubaix Disc) and figured they'd be on par with with the Juicys fitted to my mountain bikes (Juicy Carbons on one Juicy Fives on the other).

The Juicys have been stupidly reliable, both sets over ten years old and I am neither slow nor light. Bought the Reds on the back of this performance...

I have been patient and the replacement brakes/levers work fine, really surprised how well given they are cable discs. However, it has been a while! Bike was built up just before the recall so I never got it out the shop. Performance of the Reds in an unknown for me but I'm hoping for a similar experience to the Juicys and if this is the case I'll be well happy and consider it worth the wait.

Let's face it, given the rarity of the fails and the conditions they failed in SRAM might have taken the gamble and hoped they would only get a few back. I have a winter bike so my Ruby wouldn't have been out in the conditions that caused the problem and would probably have ridden the life of the bike without an issue.

I'm not massively happy with the wait, but SRAM did good (ASSUMING!! the new ones will be sorted!).

posted by AndreasHolden [11 posts]
19th May 2014 - 20:22

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I don't understand the vitriol directed at SRAM either. It's not like they deliberately made faulty brakes. The problem wasn't even "theirs", it arose due to a faulty seal, sourced I imagine from some Far East manufacturer.

They've made the best they can out of a bad situation. Frustrating for bike manufacturers (who had specced new models with SRAM) and the (relatively few) aftermarket customers but better that than a lawsuit.

This kind of recall happens fairly frequently with cars - General Motors are currently in the middle of a $1.5bn recall in the US affecting about 4 million cars!

posted by crazy-legs [508 posts]
19th May 2014 - 22:39

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During the same period (ish) both Shimano (CX brakes) and TRP (Spyre) recalled a load of brakes as well. Neither, as far as I can tell, offerered their customers replacements in the meantime.

Yet SRAM continue to get bad press?

posted by bendertherobot [270 posts]
20th May 2014 - 10:25

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I was one of those affected. Got bike built up as they recalled them end of last year (!!). Sent items back as soon as details were out. It then took me ages to get the mechanical interim replacements. By the time I got them SRAM announced that the replacements would be available soon after (second half of April).
This date then slipped to May. Recently they announced a slight delay. We still have no idea exactly when these would be coming. Throughtout all this there was absolutely no mention of compensation, personally I think keeping the mech versions would have been good but no they are going to have to go back. I was without my bike for months.
In the end I got fed up with all the delays and uncertainty, yes they've given updates but no compensatory acknowledgement of the loss of use of your bike. I have managed to secure a full refund on my parts and now have the Shimano Di2 hydraulic system. This is a disappointment as I have been a long time SRAM red customer, I currently have 3 bikes fitted with less than 2 year old SRAM Red. Not their finest hour at all!

posted by Pantster [9 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 21:56

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