redesigned 2015 SRAM Hydro R hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes

The fine folks over at Art’s Cyclery had a visit from their SRAM tech rep and shared their first look at the completely redesigned 2015 SRAM Hydro-R hydraulic brakes and levers.

Not only are the brake lever’s internals changed to fix the leaking issue that forced the recall, but the caliper gets a performance tweak and the overall hood and shifter shapes are further refined. Starting with the exterior, the protuberance created by the master cylinder actually grows a bit taller, but the edges on it and the rest of the hood get softer and rounder. The shift lever becomes just a bit shallower, accentuating the height and giving the whole thing a very tall, slender facade. But we can’t judge a book by the cover, it’s what’s inside that counts…

redesigned 2015 SRAM Hydro R hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes

It’s subtle, but these just seem a bit more upscale looking than the original version launched in 2013.

redesigned 2015 SRAM Hydro R hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes

The bleed port is a bit more refined looking, too, but position for it and the reservoir cap (below) are the same.

redesigned 2015 SRAM Hydro R hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes

Behind that cap are the functional improvements. The problem with the first iteration, as was explained to us when the recall was first announced, was twofold – piston bore was machined in a very slight ovalized shape, and the seals would stiffen up in the cold to the point where they were malleable enough to make up for that out-of-round shape. Thus, the normally closed system that pushes oil to the calipers to close the pads onto the rotor was no longer closed, so the brakes lost power when temps dropped below freezing. They also reshaped the reservoir’s expansion bladder and changed the material, doing away with the butyl rubber to reduce the likelihood of air permeating the system.

To remedy this, Kevin at Art’s Cyclery is reporting that a new machining process was developed to create the master cylinder’s piston and the composite piston bore. They also changed the seal materials and have tested all of it extensively in a wide range of temperatures and pressures.

redesigned 2015 SRAM Hydro R hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes

The shift paddle gets a slightly reduced footprint, which should improve handlebar clearance, particularly if you have to dial in the reach for smaller hands.

redesigned 2015 SRAM Hydro R hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes

Word is the changes to the lever allowed for increased piston movement at the caliper, which could mean better retraction for more rotor clearance. To further refine brake feel, they gave the pads lighter return springs, which makes the levers a bit easier to pull.

Considering the magnitude of the changes and the fact that they had to not only run back through design but push all of it through testing and production, it’s pretty amazing they’re meeting their mid-May release goal. Art’s is stating product hits their Indianapolis distribution center today (Friday) and should be getting in their shop shortly thereafter.

We’ve reached out to SRAM for official comment and will update as we hear back. Huge thanks to Art’s Cyclery for sharing this with us!


  1. My astute e-engineering assessment, performed via pictures on the internet, is that these suck.

    Surely the next 25 posters will agree.

  2. I hope customers got thier replacements before Art’s starts retailing them…thought the customers who were out thier brakes were going to be taken care of first.

  3. im on the list for replacement and they told my LBS near-end-of-may (before they said mid april like everyone knows)

    i would think they should already be shipping them if thats the case so i dont hold my breath. early-mid june sounds likely as well 😐

  4. lol yay, let’s get these just before the electronic levers come out. These guys just release stuff constantly, overlapping elements of the groups, etc. It’s annoying to consumers. They need to hire a strategy person to help them with this mess.

  5. Just love all the clever negativity! At any rate, mine arrived at the LBS yesterday. I thought the original version was fantastic and the reach adjustment and other changes described here will only make them better for my use. And as I have no interest in electronic shifting I just enjoy the heck out of a Red 22 Volagi and Shimano 9000 Cervelo S2.

  6. @mike hare. Shimano 11 spd mechanical/hydro brakes will be out relatively soon. ST-RS685, with new and refined caliper, due out august. I’m sold

  7. SRAM disc brakes, this time SRAM promises they work, like double cross my heart and triple scouts honor they work, no they know they said that last time, and that other time, but this time they really mean it.

  8. Why is it that 99% of the time people are disliking whatever the new products being released are? This generation might suck. Might also be the best thing to hit the market. Are you even going to buy these? I have yet to be disappointed with any SRAM product. I do hope to be able to run these in the semi near future.

  9. DOT fluid should be banned from bicycles as it is, but SRAM really could have less problems with a mineral system. Bike sized components aren’t durable enough for the harshness of DOT fluid, and it’s unnecessary to need the fluid to be able to cope with the same temperatures all manor of motor vehicles produce.

  10. “Considering the magnitude of the changes and the fact that they had to not only run back through design but push all of it through testing and production, it’s pretty amazing they’re meeting their mid-May release goal.”


    It’s like you don’t even read your own website….

    I hope and long for a time when websites like bikerumor will actually report. Currently there are no balls left in the industry. Seems like you bow down for the advertising dollars and cut and paste ad copy directly from the manufacturers.

  11. I would think they would do something to make these instantly distinguishable from the recalled version, for safety reasons.

    Doesn’t matter to me really. I prefer SRAM shifting and their mechanical brakes are fine, but I would never have their hydraulic brakes on any of my bikes.

  12. Thank god those hefty “pad retention springs” were changed. They really add up to the force needed at the lever. Really.
    Srsly. (moderator- please add an emoticon icon to represent sarcasm here)

    Can someone tell me why Sram is birthing this news via an ad for their shop?

  13. SRAM Brakes: fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    SRAM Shifting/ drive train: I like their drive train for weight, but it is the little things that Shimano does that sets it apart like when you are at the last gear of the cog Shimano shifting has no tension so it is immediately recognizable you cannot shift in that direction anymore. SRAM shifting remains with tension so I often continue to try to shift and it pushes the entire shifter into a new position which I then have to pull back out.

    In addition it is nice that on Xtr you can shift from either your thumb or finger. SRAM can only be shifted by thumb.

  14. Come on SRAM, you made the bump from the master cylinder even taller? It was already stupid tall before. I am still using the replacement mechanical brakes, so looking forward to trying out the updated hydros, but had I know there would have been this much of a problem, I would not have bought the bike I did back in November.

  15. Does Shimano still use the entire lever to shift? I always loved shifting mixed with an inadvertent braking.
    At first I too really disliked the aesthetic of the bull-horn high levers……. I now love them. Really hoped they weren’t going to change them when this rework was done. There is nothing more confidence inspiring than those in your hands bombing a bumpy gravel road at 40. Well…………that and being able to stop. Now maybe we will have both.
    Lets just say I raced my recalled levers today. Liked em to the point I wasn’t willing to give them up for the mechs. Not even in the interim.

  16. im also using the recalling brakes til they get replaced because they’re actually very good and working more careful and dont use them in freezing temps or put myself in situations where braking would be critical – but they brake so damn well. im just hoping the replacement will be as good – or better as they claim.

    as for shimano vs sram shifting i like both. im not sure why there has to be a camp or smth. i like the sram shifting a little better and thus ive srams but really id be just as happy with shimano

  17. Let’s give the customer what they want, SRAM.

    That is, brakes that work flawlessly, shift well and are aesthetically pleasing.

    These levers are not that.

  18. I’m with you muf and pete. Why does a person need to be a total SRAM or Shimano fanboi? I have full Ultregra on my road bike, and Red hydro disc on my CX. Love them both and appreciate the advantages of both. I did switch to Red mechs during the recall period and am suprised at how good they are: massive stopping power, and not-bad modulation. However, I miss the zero-mush feeling that hydros give (no cable strech) and will be keen to go back to the Red hydros in a couple weeks. I do like the extra large hoods on the CX bike and think it’s actually a selling point.

  19. Sram brakes have had a lot of problems, no one will argue that. In the early 2000’s their forks were garbage and everyone I knew, including myself, was riding a Fox or Marzocchi. Where is Marzocchi now? and Fox, the CTD damper is horrible. Fox’s response rather than fixing the problem they charged their customers $100 for a new damper that still sucks. Ride the new Pike, it will blow your mind!

    I got a Sram drivetrain in 2004 when Shimano decided that STI mtb shifters were the way to go… and discontinued their triggers. A few short years later Shimano was back to triggers.

    Every company makes mistakes, the successful ones learn from there mistakes and manufacture products that fit their customers need. Shimano has done that for the most part, but they have had failures too. Sram has done this with Rockshox, and in time they may turn it around with their brakes, we will see.

  20. @glen I have had my Shimano XT brakes freeze below -20 C. The Avid Juicy’s on my winter commuter have never given me any trouble in 3 years of operation. DOT fluid is not a problem on a bicycle. There may be a lot of issues with these SRAM road brakes and I doubt I will ever buy a set, but I will always prefer a brake that runs DOT fluid over mineral oil.

  21. @Some Guy glorious post! Brakes are so tactile, there isn’t any other component that has to both function and communicate so intimately with the rider. If Sram does with their brakes what they did with the XX1 drivetrain, they’ll be able to challenge Shimano. They need to start fresh and from the ground up, maybe acquire a couple of companies who had good ideas but didn’t implement them well (Kettle cycles, Straitline’s levers). They need to make one or two BIG steps not these pitiful incremental improvements which no one cares about.

  22. @Muf – you don’t put yourself in situations where braking is critical hmmmm so you slow down with your feet pressed against the front tyre bmx flatland style?

  23. @muf I’ve had mine on the bike for a week now and they are just great, a noticeable better lever feel, better modulation, quiet…I like them a lot and like you, I thoroughly liked the original.

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.