The Truth About Hydraulic Road Brakes
Leverage Ratios, Showroom Feel, and Control - why they do and don’t matter
At SRAM we’ve designed our hydraulic road brakes to deliver great performance and a specific feel. That feel inspires confidence through a predictable leverage ratio that delivers better control, predictable modulation, with less hand effort. We’ve been preaching it for years. It’s ultimately all about control and confidence in all conditions and riding situations, which only thoughtful engineering can deliver. These are really the best reasons to consider road hydraulic brakes.
Hydraulic road brakes are not all the same. When it comes to understanding the differences it is also important to note that there is, and should be, a distinct variation in the feel of mountain and road hydraulics. Not everyone gets it.
What’s unique about SRAM’s Hydraulic Road (HydroR) leverage ratio? Well, rather than re-label our mountain bike brakes, which generally ramp up power quickly, our brakes are developed for the range of stopping conditions on the road, in gravel and in cyclocross. The overwhelming majority of slowing efforts on the road are light touches of the brake, and how we designed that feel into the brake is what makes our brakes better, safer, and smarter. And compared to mechanical rim caliper brakes, all this happens with less hand effort.
Too much power too quickly will break the tire free from the road surface, and that is not good. What is required is modulation rather than pure stopping force. And while SRAM’s brakes deliver incredible power, the key is that our power curve is consistent. And while there’s easily enough power to lock up any wheel, that’s not how hydraulic road brakes should be designed. It’s the amount of braking control we deliver ahead of that point that is the critical difference.
And while first impressions, a squeeze of the hydraulic brake in the showroom, are one way to assess the feel of a hydraulic brake, it requires much more. In fact, a test ride that includes legitimate stopping and descents is really the only way. Pressing the brake pedal of a car in the showroom is never a good measure of how well a car’s brakes work. So why do we trust this method with bikes?
At SRAM we believe in hydraulic brakes, which is why we brought the technology to the road. We hope you will consider hydraulic because they do deliver better performance, but understanding what is truly better about them is the critical part. Not all hydraulic road brakes were created equal. And while our recall was a setback it gave us the opportunity to improve upon all of our innovation and deliver what we believe is the best hydraulic road brake in the world, and the only one specifically designed for the range of conditions in road, cross, and adventure riding.