Video: SRAM preview revised 2015 hydraulic discs

One step closer for SRAM’s redesigned Hydro-R disc brakes

by David Arthur   June 2, 2014  

SRAM Red 22 Hydro groupset - discs

SRAM's hydraulic road disc brake recall has been well documented on road.cc, the US company issuing a steady stream of updates since the initial recall notice at the end of the last year. They have just released a video detailing some of the changes they have made to the brakes, and outlining their vision for disc brakes on road bikes.

It's clear from this video that SRAM reckon hydraulic disc brakes are a performance improvement for road bikes, saying, "If you believe in better performance, you should believe in hydraulic road brakes."

Of course, SRAM are going to say that, they've got a new hydraulic road disc groupset to sell, but a majority of road cyclists seem to remain unconvinced they're needed at all on road bikes, if comments on any article to do with disc brakes on road.cc is anything to go by.

Now it looks like the Hydro-R disc brakes, which have had design revisions since first launched, are finally on their way, SRAM telling us recently that they started shipping at the end of April. It’s been almost six months since they were first recalled.

As well as solving the issue that caused them to fail in the first place, prompting the recall of 18,000 units, they have taken this opportunity to make some design improvements.

They'll feature the new lever body design we highlighted recently, with a more ergonomic shape. The shifter paddle, SRAM's DoubleTap, is smaller for more finger clearance. Internal gubbins have been updated including easier bleeding, revised master cylinder and a high capacity bladder.

SRAM will have four groupset with hydraulic disc and rim brake options for 2015.

13 user comments

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This month's Tour magazine in Germany tested Shimano's hydraulic road discs vs caliper brakes with aluminium and carbon rims. They loaded the bike to 105kg total weight including rider and bike and sent them on a hilly course. The times were pretty much the same for both types of brakes but:
- the carbon rims melted after a single stop from 60km/h. Not recommended in the mountains.
- the discs melted and deformed after the final 70km/h stop, and the aluminium oozed out from between the steel surfaces of the Shimano disc.
- only the aluminium rims survived the test.
The magazine concludes that 160mm discs are not big enough for a heavy rider on an alpine course and that road discs need some more work.
So, if you don't really need good brakes, they are fine- featherweight professionals or commuter bikes- but for other uses, think about whether discs are the right brakes- in their current state of development.
PS: I also ride a mountain bike with discs and have done for a decade. With their modulation to prevent wheels locking, and the power to stop if you need to, I'd never go back to rims. But I think I'll wait a year or two before getting discs on any road bike that I'll go climbing on.

posted by clayfit [28 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 12:25

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clayfit wrote:
This month's Tour magazine in Germany tested Shimano's hydraulic road discs vs caliper brakes with aluminium and carbon rims. They loaded the bike to 105kg total weight including rider and bike and sent them on a hilly course. The times were pretty much the same for both types of brakes but:
- the discs melted and deformed after the final 70km/h stop, and the aluminium oozed out from between the steel surfaces of the Shimano disc.
- only the aluminium rims survived the test.

Saw this a while back in a German magazine, I have also seen similar in CTC mag??? where a tandem got the discs to melt. Also seem to remember hearing of a few cases on MTBs in the alps.

The solution is of course use steel rotors and not the alu/steel that are being pushed. They do weigh more though!

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posted by mrmo [1178 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 13:17

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Why do they need to issue videos saying what's in the brakes if they've been shipping them since end of April? Surely people should have been riding them for a month.
So annoyed, was big SRAM Red fan, had them on 5 of my bikes. Had this recalled and sent back end of last year, I'd still be without a bike! Glad I've managed to get refund & upgraded (I mean that) to the Di2 Shimano version (& it cost less!). Not even a hint of compensation either, just the promise of getting the MY2015 brakes. Shame, SRAM have lost a good customer

posted by Pantster [11 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 14:43

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The durability issues is something that they will have to work out for sure. The fact that it lasted longer than the carbon clincher is not a bad start (it would be good to know which carbon clincher they tested). I won't be an early adopter but I have a feeling that I will eventually be riding with discs on my road bike.

posted by Jacob [38 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 17:43

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clayfit wrote:
This month's Tour magazine in Germany tested Shimano's hydraulic road discs vs caliper brakes with aluminium and carbon rims.
- the carbon rims melted after a single stop from 60km/h. Not recommended in the mountains.
- the discs melted and deformed after the final 70km/h stop, and the aluminium oozed out from between the steel surfaces of the Shimano disc.
- only the aluminium rims survived the test.

What a shame they didn't test normal all steel rotors (i.e. non-aluminium sandwich Shimano ones), or ones like the Avid HSX's pictured that use a steel rotor on a aluminium carrier to save a bit of weight, that's a real missed opportunity.

Effectively all they have done is highlight an issue with Shimano's rotors rather than an identify an issue with disc brakes in general.

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tom_w's picture

posted by tom_w [105 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 18:24

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Simply put capiler brakes work very well are simple, easy and cheap maintain yourself. When I go for a bike ride 90% of my braking is stopping or slowing for junction, round abouts and therefore not heavy braking. The only time you need to brake hard is if you are in trouble. So in this circumstance disc brakes would be no advantage.

I also have a mountain bike with disc brakes so I know how good they are off road. My new mountain bike has been in the shop for 6 weeks because two sets of shimano XT brakes calipers leaking from the pistons new from the box.

Why can't people see road disc brakes are not required but are just I want it rather I need it. The major bike companies need volume to make it pay so are forcing the market in this direction.

posted by DeanF316 [92 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 19:17

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Shimano would probably argue that should happen in extreme circumstances - the aluminium core pulls heat away from the steel braking surface to reduce brake fade. Bit worrying that it happened at 70km/h, though. That's note a very far-fetched scenario.

Is that article available on-line at all?

Rob

posted by robert.brady [146 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 19:25

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Tom, I don't find that caliper brakes work that great on Carbon rims. I have some Specialized CLX 40 rims and use SwissStop Black Prince pads in Ultegra calipers, but they do not inspire great confidence. To be fair I am a bit crap at descending fast, but much of that is just how long it takes to stop on that setup. If Disc brakes can give me a shorter stopping distance and more confidence then I think I would go for them. Having said that it looks like it will need at least one more season before we have ones that are up to the job.

posted by bradtipp [11 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 20:01

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Wow! Apart from the issue of losing braking capacity, aluminium sandwich rotors melting at 70kph must spew out gobs of molten aluminium in all directions including towards the riders legs! Or am I missing something?

posted by horizontal dropout [152 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 20:14

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Reckon they will be awesome for CX though.

I'd like to read about the "melting rotor" thing but my German isn't up to it. Seems odd that you can squeeze one bit of aluminium (a rim) as hard as another (a rotor) and get the second one to melt without having any effect on the first - maybe stopping distance not the same?

posted by surly_by_name [144 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 20:23

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DeanF316 wrote:
Why can't people see road disc brakes are not required but are just I want it rather I need it.

No particular implementation of brakes is a required implementation - it's merely a matter of their advantages and disadvantages. Hell, let's be honest, you don't even need brakes (or gears) with a fixie and people seem to cope OK.... on the whole.

I've used both on road, and I personally prefer hydraulics discs and primarily for the reasons you also hear repeated in pretty much every review on them : better feel and more consistent braking in varied conditions. Both those reasons should be classed as 'want' rather than 'need', and i'd pay extra for it - but not too much. YMMV. You had issues with your discs, I found them a maintenance delight - such is way of things. Also, rim brakes will be around for more than the foreseeable future i'd imagine, so I wouldn't get too worked up about - i'd prefer the situation where we both have choices.

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posted by fukawitribe [474 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 21:11

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surly_by_name wrote:
Seems odd that you can squeeze one bit of aluminium (a rim) as hard as another (a rotor) and get the second one to melt without having any effect on the first - maybe stopping distance not the same?

If you think about it, it isn't really that odd. 400grams of aluminium in a rim and c100 in a disc.

Then think of surface area to dissipate the heat.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1178 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 22:09

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bradtipp wrote:
Tom, I don't find that caliper brakes work that great on Carbon rims. I have some Specialized CLX 40 rims and use SwissStop Black Prince pads in Ultegra calipers, but they do not inspire great confidence. To be fair I am a bit crap at descending fast, but much of that is just how long it takes to stop on that setup. If Disc brakes can give me a shorter stopping distance and more confidence then I think I would go for them. Having said that it looks like it will need at least one more season before we have ones that are up to the job.

I think you meant that as a reply to Dean rather than to me? I'm pro disc brakes, I'm running mechanicals on my road bike at the moment and will switch them over to hydraulic in September.

The difference in the dry is the modulation, you have so much more 'feel' when braking, especially on loose gravelly surfaces (so pretty much every junction at the bottom of a hill round here). I really like that when I find I've over-cooked it a bit into a downhill corner and need to scrub a lot of speed quickly before turn in. I also find knowing I have a lot of braking control means I'm happier to leave my braking much later.

Mechanical discs don't have massively more braking power in the dry though. My previous 105 brakes with swiss stop pads on aluminium rims probably had about the same amount of ultimate power (at least while my wheels were perfectly true).

The real difference is in the wet, you can basically stop exactly like you would in the dry. I've done over 40mph down from Christmas Common and also Edge Hill in the pouring rain, both of which have fairly tight corners that you need to brake hard before (if you haven't been dragging your brakes before hand) and it is just like braking in the dry, it really is that good.

There are downsides though, mechanical discs are a bit ugly and can be a bit finnicky to set up, and hydraulic discs sacrifice one of the lovely things about road bikes, namely that most things can be bodged at the side of the road to get you home. Still, you have two brakes if the worst comes to the worst!

Biggest disadvantage at the moment though is the weight, but frame weights are dropping (saw a 950g carbon disc frame the other day) and light disc specific wheels are coming. Personally I could never bring myself to spend £2k on wheels (even if I had the £2k!) and then grind one of the main parts of them every time I rode the bike, especially if that part was carbon. I'd be much happier if the bit getting ground was just the rotor that can be replaced for a few quid.

Am I sold on discs or will I switch back? I think on balance for me the benefits outweigh the weight penalty, especially as summer in the UK involves a lot of rain and I adhere to Rule 9!

Ride in Oxford? Come and join the Cowley Road Condors cycling club, Oxford's friendliest cycling club!

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posted by tom_w [105 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 10:10

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