SRAM has new mountain bike brakes, and they’re not from Avid. After years of hit or miss performance from the Elixirs, SRAM is introducing an entirely new braking platform called the Guide. The move from Avid to SRAM is labeled as a chance for a clean slate and change in design philosophy. The result is an all new DOT Fluid hydraulic disc brake that they claim is packed with the best technology and solutions to a powerful, durable, light weight brake. Called Swinglink and TPC Plus™ (not to be confused with Manitou’s TPC +), the new technologies combined with a piggyback reservoir instead of the Taperbore look like a good start for worry free braking.

Squeeze the lever for more on the new brakes…

SRAM_MTB_GUIDE_RSC_Lever_Front_Silver_Med SRAM_MTB_GUIDE_RSC_Lever_Front_Black_Med

Broken down into the R, the RS, and the RSC for models, like other SRAM/Avid brakes in the past the higher end brakes carry more letters and more features. In this case R stands for Reach Adjust, S is for Swinglink, and C is for Contact Point Adjust. While only offered on two brakes, Swinglink is the real talking point as it is a new cam system that provides more positive pad engagement with less deadband (which sounds similar to Shimano’s Servowave). The system uses a special cam shape so that the pads move quickly towards the rotor, but once they get there, it’s more than just on/off. Swinglink is said to modulate the power providing the perfect blend of power and precision. We haven’t tried the brakes yet, so we can’t vouch for Swinglink’s effectiveness.

After Swinglink, the next new technology stuffed into the lever is TPC Plus. SRAM’s new TPC (Timing Port Closure) system replaces the Taperbore system and uses a series of durable seals with an “ultra smooth” cylinder bore finish for performance. TPC Plus controls the opening from the master cylinder bore, and the new Piggyback Reservoir which allows for ambidextrous brake placement, and will probably mean easier bleeds. The new Pure bladder should also help as well, with a new shape that is designed to help regulate and reduce air bubbles. It’s designed to help eliminate air from the lever, and push only fluid through the lines.

Guide RSC brakes have the addition of a Contact point adjustment which is housed in the body of the brake lever. By spinning the dial users can adjust the brake throw to be short or long, depending on preference. Tool free Reach adjust is available on all three Guide models via the small adjuster knob on the brake lever pivot.


  • Weight: 375 Grams
  • Contact Point Adjust
  • Tool-free Reach Adjust
  • MatchMaker X Compatible
  • Lever Pivot Bearings
  • Guide caliper
  • Colors: Polished Silver Ano or Black Ano
  • MSRP: $199 / € 177


  • SwingLink
  • Pure Bladder
  • TPC Plus

SRAM_MTB_GUIDE_RS_Lever_Quarter_Black_Med SRAM_MTB_GUIDE_R_Lever_Quarter_Black_Med


  • Weight: 380 Grams
  • Tool-free Reach Adjust
  • MatchMaker X Compatible
  • Guide caliper
  • Colors: Black
  • MSRP: $149 / € 132


  • SwingLink
  • Pure Bladder
  • TPC Plus


  • Weight: 375 Grams
  • Tool-free Reach Adjust
  • MatchMaker X Compatible
  • Guide caliper
  • Colors: Black
  • MSRP: $129 / € 115


  • DirectLink™
  • Pure Bladder™
  • TPC Plus™



SRAM_MTB_GUIDE_Caliper_Front_Silver_Med SRAM_MTB_GUIDE_Caliper_Front_Black_Med

All of the new brakes are equipped with the new Guide caliper which is a dual diameter quad piston design. The 14 and 16mm piston design is said to provide loads more useable power at only a 4g weight penalty over an XC caliper. The caliper will be paired with the new Centerline rotor which promises quiet performance by keeping the center of friction consistent throughout rotation. This should mean less vibration, and maybe (?) the elimination of turkey gobble, or chatter.

Rotors will be offered in 140, 160, 180, and 200mm sizes in one piece, 6 bolt only. SRAM Guide brakes will be available in June, 2014.


  1. Looks like some big changes went down, will the guide be brake redemption? I dig the look of that rotor and the lever. If they work well and don’t have the old avid issues, I’ll give em a shot.

  2. Hrmmm, I was hoping they would swap to mineral oil – DOT is fine, but the drawbacks are pretty crappy compared to issues with mineral oil. Seems like they’re sticking with DOT just to be different from Shimano.

  3. Wow…really just seems like 10 steps backward into the safest possible design solution. No innovation, just solid tried and true tech. Hope they pull it off, cause if these are as issue prone as the ones of the past they are going to eat it. Bland, boring…meh. Hope they work well.

  4. It’s chunky looking for sure. However performance is king. We will see how well it performs long term. I’ve have Shimano, and a few others fade on steep DH runs and they always come back strong after cooling. However this has not been true of Avid. The caliper pistons would loose lubrication and lock up. Once they over heat, they do not come back the same. Would be good to see the new SRAM branded brakes do better. Wish them success.

  5. I hope they’ve done away with the leak prone two-piece caliper design. Nothing like complete brake failure thirty miles from the trailhead…

  6. I don’t know why they want to eliminate the gobble, that’s a “feature” at this point. “You can hear the quality!”

  7. Hopefully the release of these brakes wont mean doubling the amount of avid brakes i have to call in for warranty…

  8. DOT fluid is a superior hydraulic fluid relative to mineral oil, no question. From a materials handling standpoint, not so much. I personally found that any of the litany of problems with old Elixirs could be solved with careful caliper rebuilds using new seals and generous DOT grease, and lever issues with a complete replacement of the piston. Simple fixes that point to a lack of QC and poor tolerances from mass production. I feel like instead of making a simpler, heavier, bulkier lever, they could have simply fixed their known issues. Now we have a more rudimentary lever and a more complex caliper that will be overkill for most riders.

  9. Another FUNDAMENTALLY flawed design from SRAM.

    Stop making these things ambidextrous. It causes problems with bleeding. I know it is cheaper to tool up but frankly I don’t care. Industries with way more engineering horse power don’t make reservoirs in this orientation for good reason.

    Also, stop making them use dot fluid. Yes it takes a higher temperature but its a pain in the butt for the people shelling out the money for the product.

    There is a very good reason Shimano brakes are preferred by most riders these days. Read the reviews, listen to the podcasts, read the magazines…..almost all prefer Shimano.

  10. lol. This is hilarious.

    ‘Simple problems could be fixed with careful caliper overhauls with lots of DOT grease and fresh seals’.

    I can by the cheapest Shimano BR-M440 for the cost of a caliper rebuild, and it will last me a season of heavy use. It is almost hard to even replace the pads in that brake as they’re $25 and the brake is $70.

    I can also bleed the brake in sub 10, often sub 5 minutes. Branding or not, this may not say Avid, but lets be real with ourselves. It is an Avid brake.

    DOT has pretty much no advantage in a bicycle brake application over Mineral. It is hydrophillic, and it traps air, and eats paint, and awful on skin.

    Why they insist on sticking to old, dying technology is beyond me. Do something innovative, make the brake reliable, easier than a Shimano to bleed, and hell try and shave a gram.

  11. Yeah Jose, we’re on the same program
    But I buy my breaks for $35. And they last for seasons!
    And I bleed them in 2, often sub1 minute(s).
    And DOT has no advantage (other than boil over resistance but who cares about that).

  12. I’m going to unleash my inner weight weenie. XT/SLX’s are way lighter. I don’t feel I need four pistons for XC riding, so i’m hoping for a 2-piston variant that sheds some weight, or is at least WAY cheaper than a set of SLX’s, otherwise I still don’t see a reason to leave Shimano. But i’m not going to completely discount them, and would definitely consider them if I rode AM/”Enduro”.

  13. I stopped reading after “Dot fluid”

    As love is best measured by commitment, I’ll continue to stick to Shimano, who has committed to elegance and mineral oil in equal measure.

  14. I can understand the name change to SRAM.
    After the great success of their road discs….SRAM is the first name I think of when it comes to disc brakes.
    And recalls.
    And re-recalls.

  15. So if these are hitting the market June 2014, that should put the recall replacements in customer’s hands in the “second half” of February 2015?

  16. Servo wave? Check.

    Now switch to mineral oil and add some heat dissipation to rotors and calipers. Then match Zee price, and we could talk.

  17. @Ck – Those weights include rotors. XT = 262g + 115g (RT86) = 377g

    XT MSRP = $139.99, so comparable to the Guide RS @ $149 and 380g

    As for 2 vs 4 pistons, SRAM is claiming only a 4 gram penalty for the 4 piston caliper compared to their 2 piston XC calipers.

  18. These SRAMs will actually be lighter than Shimano….because they won’t be on your bike after the recall.
    But they will send you some BB5s as replacements so you can party like it’s 1999

  19. @Mirwin- There are big differences between these and Juicies: first, they are DOT instead of mineral oil-based; second, the Juicies have a flat rate- you pull 1cm, the pads move 1mm, you pull 2cm, the pads move 2mm (for example), whereas with these, the rate changes- you pull at the beginning, and the pads move a lot and get to the disc quickly, but afterwards the pads move less, but with more power. The Elixirs did the same thing, but they accomplished it through the volume of the master cylinder (“Taperbore”- the MC is bored out not with a constant diameter, but with a taper). Shimano brakes marked Servo-Wave do the same thing, I am not sure how.
    The Guides do it with some kind of rocker (cam), according to the text. It looks like SRAM-Avid away from their theoretically sound but factually flawed Taperbore system and towards something which does the same thing with simpler tech.
    If you can combine these with the newest Shimano Ice-Tech rotors, then you have the ultimate heat resistant disc brake.

  20. SRAM unveils all new brake system, which they double scout’s honour promise totally for realsies is going to work this time. Of course the rest of us recall the slight issue with the road brakes, we also recall the slight ‘eccentricity’ of the Elixirs and some of us even recall Juicys and those lovely moments when bubbles found there way into the reservoir half way down a mountain.
    No rush quire matches the rush of having your lever pull to the bar fifty feet from a switchback, as I recall.

  21. The title to this article is completely wrong.

    How exactly is SRAM leading anything to do with brakes other than recalls?
    Great, they have a new retro-tech hydro brake that reverses all the suckiness of the past 4 years but thats not a “leading” position whatsoever, its apologetic and a scramble.

  22. @Tim

    Juicies are DOT.

    You can’t run ice-tech rotors with anything but the ice-tech pads: the braking surface will delaminate from the aluminum core.

    I don’t like it too much either, but everybody seems to be moving to torx now. I’ve seen new stems, brakes (Magura, not SRAM) and several other parts show up with torx hardware instead of hex. if it gets much worse, I’m going to replace the rest of the bolts on my bike with torx and just carry that (now, however, I just replace the torx bolts with hex ones.)

  23. So when these leak brake fluid and it eats up your pretty new paint don’t say I didn’t tell you. Had so much “scram” FAIL, no way , no day.

  24. do they offer any explanation of how their TPC is different from every other brake’s timing port system? Or is this just a buzz word for a system they got miserably wrong for so many years (taper bore) and now they’re just doing it like everyone else?

  25. SRAM is lucky they have good drivetrains and forks to support their brake business. Because if SRAM brakes were their own company, they would have been bankrupt several times over. The only saps that use them are those stuck with them on an OEM bike and those that are convinced that all things SRAM are good.

    I will not run SRAM hydraulic brakes no matter what the brand. They would have to be significantly better than Shimano for 5 years for me to even consider it. Even then, they would probably just screw it up on the next generation of product.

    In fact, I am getting so sick of SRAM’s ineptitude here I am seriously giving up on their drivetrains too, which I currently run on my bikes. Shimano provides more value and I know they won’t ship shoddy product.

  26. I absolutely love my 2012 Code brakes when they’re working they can’t be beat. I hate that I have to bleed them every couple of months but if you want raw braking power you need 4 piston. I love Shimano’s reliability and easy of maintenance but they just don’t have the raw braking power of SRAMs. No way no how.

    I welcome a design change. I couldn’t get myself to buy the new Trail brakes since they had the same Taper bore crap.

  27. I will say first that this is a huge acknowledgement that they’ve failed as a brake manufacturer, and a huge backpedal, in terms of tech and design. Swinglink is a total rip-off of the Servo-wave from Shimano, which, in my opinion, sucks because the levers on SLX, XT, and XTR Trail feel like light switches. I hope Bike Mag’s online review of these isn’t just paid spam, and the brakes actually do feel amazing. Also, these brakes, from the lever to the rotor to the graphics are aesthetically terrible. Taperbore admittedly has serious problems with trapping air, but at least the lever body is svelte and doesn’t look like a of 7 year-old Juicy.

    That being said, I LOVE my XO Trails. They are super light, super strong, have amazing lever feel and modulation, and I’ve only bled them once in two years. I’ve bled enough Avid breaks in the shop to know when a good job is done, but that’s just amazing. The turkey gobble I put up with for a while is now gone after having the good fortune of an upgrade to carbon wheels, so now I mostly buy Avid’s assertion that it’s primarily due to resonance among various components of the bike. I hope this doesn’t spell the complete end of Avid entirely; I think with more patience and better engineers they could stick with Taperbore and provide consistency in performance like I’ve had with my brakes.

  28. Just removed some old Elixirs and replaced them with Hope E4s. The 4-piston E4s are actually lighter than the 2-piston Avids that they replaced, plus I get bite point and reach adjust. These new SRAMs seem to have a lot of the Hope’s features, but in terms of reliability and durability I’ll stick with what I know works (I’ve been using Hope X2s for a long time).

  29. AZBikeFreak: You did not try Zee and Saint. If you need more brake power than that – you are doing it wrong (or use small rotors).

  30. If a baker makes bread but puts up a sign saying butcher…you can call these brakes SRAM but I expect they will still be doughy. Avid or SRAM the words are synonymous for great drive trains and lousy brakes. There are to many good options from other brake makers to risk trying these.

  31. @Padrote- about bolts- yeah, rotor bolts are T25, but I don’t touch rotor bolts- lever bolts do need adjustment from time to time. Sucks everything is going Torx, just another meaningless switch.
    @J-Train- So what if it’s a rip-off of Servo-Wave? I care about whether something works well, not who made it first.
    @Groghunter- thanks, you saved me from buying stuff that could have been dangerous for me. Didn’t know Juicies were DOT. I find hydros interesting, but have always run BB7s.

  32. On the “rip-off of Servo-Wave” comment… yeah, maybe a bit. The idea is the same, but the Guide levers shouldn’t have that “light switch” feel that current Shimano levers have.

    The leverage ratio curve on the Guide levers is smoother than Shimano. The Shimano’s have a “kink” in the curve that these don’t. On paper it should feel better, but obviously people are going to have to try them to see if it carries over to the real world.

  33. Torx is a superior bolt head design. Its lighter, can be made shallower, and is less likely to strip than an Allen.

    The only people that complain about Torx are those who dont own the tools.

  34. @Mindless Yeah, right, I give a completely honest, accurate and fair evaluation, based on my personal experiences, of a company and its new and old prodct, so I must be “drinking the Kool-Aid.” Mindless seems to be the perfect pen name…

  35. Another vote against DOT fluid. Sh*t is nasty, I will NEVER buy another brake that uses it, no matter how well it performs.

  36. This is fantastic news!

    Haters going to hate, but I hope these “improved” brakes don’t suck like the Elixer series did 🙂

  37. @Tim:

    * Juicys use DOT fluid.

    * There are no brakes made that have a flat rate (move the pads 1mm with 1mm of lever pull). They all have a variable rate with very very high mechanical advantage. The mechanical advantage (done through different sized pistons in the master cyclinder and slave cylinder) will start at something like 10:1 and change from there as the lever is pulled.

    * Taperbore did not provide any sort of servowave function. It was simply a way to create a reservoir without having a typical reservoir. Once the master cycling piston seal was past the tapered section (and the timing port) it runs in a straight bore just as any other brake does. This new Guide brake has a mechanical means of increasing pad force as the lever gets pulled in farther. It does it with a cam whereas Shimano’s servowave does it in a slightly different way but still fully mechanical (not hydraulic).

  38. all I know is SRAM generally has a very high hill to climb to get back on my bikes. I have given both their road (Force) and MTB (XX) gear a season long shot and… went back to the other S brand. Not SR Suntour you crazy kids.
    I wish SRAM luck and hope they can come up with real competition for Shimano. Through competition, we the consumer get better stuff. And we all like stuff.

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