As we reported at the weekend, Mark Cavendish rolled out onto stage 1 of the Tour de France with SRAM’s Red Hydraulic Road Rim (HRR) brakes. He’s the first rider to use them in any World Tour race. Apparently, after testing riding them before the race, Cav was insistent on running the new brakes in the Tour, although we don't know if any of that is marketing spin.
We very often see brand new equipment ridden at the Tour. Cavendish wouldn't want to leave anything to chance, as much as SRAM might have been insistent on seeing their latest products get into the TdF spotlight. You might think that it's odd that Cav didn't decide to test them in a smaller race before the Tour, so clearly he had the confidence to take them into the biggest race on the calendar.
One of the key performance advantages to consider about hydraulic rim brakes (and disc brakes for that matter) is that you need less force at the lever. You can pull the lever with one finger, with less effort, and produce the desired stopping power. There’s a lot to be said for extra confidence in the stopping ability of your brakes, and we’re sure Cav appreciated them in the first big pileup of the race on stage 1.
SRAM are introducing both hydraulic rim brakes and hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes into their line up for 2014. The hydraulic disc brakes provide more power but they’re not race-legal. The hydraulic rim brakes sit somewhere between standard cable-operated rim brakes and SRAM’s hydraulic disc brakes in terms of power and modulation. Mat was out at the launch earlier this year and you can read about how he got on with the new brakes here.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.