SRAM Red hydraulic rim brakes show up in the wild

So far, we’ve seen plenty of SRAM’s Red hydraulic disc brakes in the wild, but almost forgot that a rim brake version was in the works, too.

This pic comes from CyclingTip’s Instagram stream, with a hat tip to Simon for the heads up. No details, just this collage, but if you recall from their original quasi-announcement and subsequent leak, the calipers should be good for the wider Zipp Firecrest rims (24.62mm at the brake track for the new 202) and 28C tires. Of course, the “summer 2012” availability has blown past, so we’re guessing late spring or early summer 2013.

Looks wise, it seems like a pretty straightforward design. The hoods and levers look the same as those we’ve seen on the disc brake equipped bikes, with the fluid pushing a small piston to close the calipers. It’s a far more traditional design than Magura’s RT6TT brakes, with nice rounded sections and a fairly narrow profile compared to the lever arms and cable clamps required for mechanical brakes. They’re a little dark, but appear to be a single pivot design with an adjuster barrel with inline quick release lever that looks very similar to the current mechanical Red brakes. If our assumption is correct, we’re thinking the additional power of a hydraulic system negates the need for a dual pivot caliper, which could save some weight.


  1. yesplease on

    So what is the benefit for a Hydro-Rim brake? It seems that the rim to pad interface is what is the problem, hence the disc movement. Sure you can squeeze harder but at the rim will it be worth it?

  2. maddogeco on

    The death of cables on bikes cant come fast enough. Just need a racing spec internal hub and carbon belt system and we are on the way to maintenance free* bikes

  3. wallymann on

    cable-free performance bikes? never happen!

    just look at motorcycles. the technology exists, and the end-product is called a scooter.

    although computer assisted shifting and throttle-by-wire is well proven, performance racing motorcycles have cables and chains that require regular maintenance. with racing bicycles being even more sensitive to any weight penalty or efficiency losses, they’ll use cables and chains for a loooooong time to come.

  4. Speedy on

    The advantage is that your rim IS the rotor, and heat dissipation is much much better, as your “rotor” is much much larger. I think this is a great way to go for road bikes. Discs are great for cross however.

  5. Ventruck on

    Speedy: the whole point of discs is that they’re less prone to contamination and if damaged, the wheel (well, rim) isn’t compromised. Becomes a bigger deal when we’re talking about carbon rims and rain.

    Hydraulic rim brakes are really just a premium. No point in more braking power as it’s really not hard for most to force the rear wheel to lift. Modulation issues with the current performance rim brakes really shouldn’t exist unless you’re really that incompetent at handling a bicycle. Cable maintenance shouldn’t be an issue you really live in constant foul conditions.

  6. Marc on

    I’m in. The idea of bringing hydraulic modulation to older (and well loved frames/forks/wheelsets) appeals to me. It may be an intermediate step, but I’d like to keep my current frame on the road for a while longer…

  7. PDXFixed on

    You’re all forgetting about one of the major benefits of a hydraulic system: you’re free to route the hoses with as many sharp bends and crazy directional changes as you want without no detrimental effect on the system. Keeping hoses aero and tucked out of the way is much easier with hydraulics.

  8. Stratosfear on

    I imagine that once Sram comes out with electronic shifting the hydraulic reservoir will be much more neatly packaged within their shifter bodies.

  9. wang on

    this is exactly where the road brake market needs to go. get rid of the disc brakes. too many issues with fade on long descents on little pieces of metal. braking force is greater on rims anyways, and now you get the modulation of hydraulic brakes, and a bigger braking surface to cool down on. don’t necessarily need to worry about heating up hydraulic fluid either. the only risk now is blowing up tubes, but many people don’t put descents in like the pros.

  10. Fisho on

    Wang “too many issues with fade on long descents on little pieces of metal.”

    I love people quoting that one article of that one guy with that experimental disc brake setup who crashed.

  11. tt on

    “The advantage is that your rim IS the rotor, and heat dissipation is much much better, as your “rotor” is much much larger. I think this is a great way to go for road bikes. Discs are great for cross however.”

    very much true! agree!!

  12. bc on

    Wow, talk about the answer to a question no one asked. Single-pivot Campagnolo brakes from thirty years ago have enough stopping power to send you flying end-over-end, and since then, brakes have only got more powerful. Maybe I just don’t have enough mountain descents in my life, but I can’t think of who actually needs this.

    Another worthless SRAM product.

  13. carl on

    @bc – +1.
    I DO have mountains in my back yard (I live in Colorado) and ride them all the time. My caliper brakes are not an issue in any way……. the small contact patch between tire and road is. Hydraulics won’t help that much, although with better modulation you might be able to approach the limits of adhesion a little safer. Cables will be around for a long time. They’re inexpensive, easily installed (except on internally routed bikes) and easily serviced.

  14. Name required on

    I love new ideas, but current road bike brakes work just fine. And disk brakes on road bikes are going to cause all sorts of problems. Be careful what you wish for- you might get it.

  15. Topmounter on

    I’ve never had trouble with the disc brakes on my 29’er doing long descents on or off pavement here in Colorado, but I have blown out rim sidewalls and broken brake cables w/ cantis and v-brakes back in the day.

    I would like disc brakes on my road bike (better / easier braking for those same long paved descents), but I haven’t quite got my head around having someone weld a rear mount on to my Ti road frame and replacing my perfectly good carbon fork… so the idea of hydro calipers is intriguing (ie better than good, but not best).

  16. Rob on

    I think we’re missing the real reason. It’s nothing to do with hydro being better, it’s pure economics. Why make a new hydro brake/shifter that can only be sold to bike with disc brakes. This way they only have to make one hydro/shifter that will work in a groupo for all bikes. Very smart buisness move and the hydro rim brake is purely just by default of the disc movement.

  17. ChrisC on

    I hope everyone realizes that brake modulation is a function of the amount of force required to stop the wheel, which is itself a function of the location of the force application along the radius of the wheel. It has nothing to do with the method (hydraulic vs cable) by which force is transferred from the brake lever to the wheel.

    By way of example:

    If it takes 200 psi of pressure at the rim to overcome the friction between the tire and the pavement (i.e. – lock up) at a given speed, the rider has a spectrum of pressure from 0-200 in which to operate the brake. A wheel with a 140mm disc brake rotor in the same scenario might require 1000 psi at the rotor to lock the wheel. In the same scenario, the rider now has a spectrum of 0-1000 psi in which to operate the brake.

    The ability to work within this greater greater range of pad pressure is what we call modulation.

    Any benefit to hydraulic rim brakes will be due to a lighter overall system and superior routing options.

  18. Jordan on

    Chris: not necessarily if the cable system applies 200 psi is .5 inch of arm stroke and the hydraulic applies that same force over 1 inch you will have better modulation.

  19. Charango on

    The point of a disc brake setup on a road bike is the ability to build a lighter and more aero wheel. Eliminate the complications of heat disipation and a reinforced brake track and you can create a very lightweight and strong wheel out of carbon. Furthermore, the wheel is lighter at the rim, so rotational mass decreases, creating a more quickly accellerating wheel.

    Carbon clinchers have proven shortcomings. Heat disipation is an issue and requires expensive materials to mitigate. Even so, braking can be sketchy, particularly in the wet. With a disc brake you can have all the benefits of a carbon clincher, but with a lighter rim, better stopping power and (arguably) better aerodynamics.

    I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think that a hydraulic rim brake solves the issue of braking on a carbon clincher in the wet and nobody really complained about brake power with aluminum rims. Basically I don’t see the point of this, and I feel like it is just an intermediate step. I am holding out for the “next real advancement” and I feel pretty good that this ISNT it.

  20. mongo on

    How is that people don’t “get” theseor fail to see “the point”? Have any of you whiners bothered to read the other comments or think of the bigger picture rather than the narrow view of how products relate to you and you alone? These aren’t being offered to supplant cabled brakes. You’d likely be seeing a hell of a bigger push on the marketing side from Sram if that was the case (and they’d be dead wrong if that was their angle). It’s an option to allow various frame builders and TT frames with awful cable routing that renders wired brakes mechanically neutered and generally worthless. They’d probably be pretty solid for trekking bikes too.

  21. generalee on

    if you look even more closely, the hose enters behind the barrel adjuster. it seems the barrel adjustment is there to serve the same purpose it does now, but instead of pushing housing and adjusting cable tension, its used to adjust the distance between the rim and the pad. (see top left pic)


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