It feels like the SRAM CODE brakes have been on the market in their current form for an eternity, yet they are hardly found on E-Mountainbikes. Now SRAM have responded by launching the revised CODE brakes. Over the past few weeks we’ve put this latest iteration through the wringer to see if it’s purely undergone a facelift or if the rehashing runs deeper and leads to better braking.
So, what’s new on the SRAM CODE?
Almost everything is new on this model. The only exception is that SRAM are still relying on the same sintered brake pads (same as Guide RE). Compared to their predecessor, the all-new SRAM CODE brakes have been revised from the fundamentals and up, seeing the CODE adopt many of the technological cues found on the current SRAM Guide models. Right now, the new CODE welcomes the Bleeding Edge adaptor to simplify bleeding, the Heat Shield technology to maintain a more consistent temperature and improve braking reliability, plus the SwingLink lever for better modulation.
The new CODE features over-sized brake pistons, which measure 15 and 16 mm in diameter (for comparison, the Guide relies on 13 and 14 mm diameter pistons). The idea behind the different sizes of the piston pairs is in the pursuit of even better modulation. To increase the overall performance and consistency, there’s now 30% more brake fluid than in the Guide brakes, which contributes to what SRAM state is a 15% boost to braking performance.
The all-new SRAM CODE brakes are being launched in two versions. The top-end RSC model, which retails at € 270, features SRAM’s ultra-precise SwingLinkTM technology and both Reach Adjustment and Contact Point Adjust. For € 170, the CODE R forgoes both the Contact Point Adjust and the SwingLink lever technology, but still sports the same braking performance and valued Reach Adjust.
The SRAM CODE RSC on the trail
Equipped with the new SRAM CODE brakes, we’ve already raked up more than 50,000 metres of descending, tackling the filthiness of a German winter, long mountainous descents in South Tyrol and dusty Tuscan trails. The braking performance continually impressed us, and with a 200 mm rotor at the front, we consistently felt in control with sufficient braking power. Fading – once a contentious subject – was satisfyingly off-topic, seeing a solid performance down even on the longest, steepest downhills. At the rear, we’d definitely recommend investing in a 200 mm rotor if you’re a heavy rider. The 180 mm model coped well with our tester, who weighed around 90 kg, but it wasn’t quite as a masterful as the front brake with the bigger rotor.
When it comes to braking power and consistency, we didn’t notice any significant differences to the SRAM Guide RE (the Guide lever and the former CODE calipers). When compared directly, the CODE lacks some of the power of the Shimano Saint and MAGURA MT7 brakes. However, the CODE’s biggest draw comes with its pretty masterful modulation and crowd-pleasing ergonomics of the brake lever. Our main criticism with the CODE has to lie with the frequency of the unwanted brake squeal, which couldn’t be hushed even after multiple adjustment attempts and switching wheels around with the original sintered brake pads. Opting for organic compound brake pads could be the solution here.
Our thoughts on the SRAM CODE RSC
The new SRAM CODE RSC brakes deliver a high performance with consistency and reliability. But if you’re prioritizing brake power, then you’d be wise to keep looking on the market. Yet, you can expect any alternatives to come at a cost; the SRAM CODE relies on high-tech technologies that are not your everyday fare, leveraging a high level of modulation, employing a great formula for the ergonomics of the brake lever and including clever features like the Bleeding Edge adaptor. Having seen the Guide RE on many recent E-MTBs, we are confident that the CODE will be a regular spec in the future – we’re looking forward!
For more information head to SRAM.com
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Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer