SRAM Red Hydraulic Disc Brakes On Deck, Shimano Not Far Behind?

SRAM Red Hydraulic disc brakes seen at races throughout USA

At this point, SRAM’s not even trying to hide their Red hydraulic disc brakes. We spoke with their PR manager Michael Zellman and, while he wouldn’t give us a firm date for launch, we get the impression it’s soon enough but after the current season is over. The photo above was captured by Competitive Cyclist, likely at the same event our other spy shot came from.

Elsewhere in the US, they’ve been spotted under other riders (pics after the break). Zellman told us they’re not really being races per se, but more like field tested. Semantics aside, they must be getting close if so many riders are on course with them and they’re not doing anything to hide it.

Which brings us to Shimano. Our friend Nicole at Bicycle Retailer & Industry News is over at Taichung Bike Week and overheard that Shimano’s fast forwarding their own road bike hydraulic disc brake development efforts. She reports that several product managers attending the show admitted they’ve already ridden and tested the system.

Formula, meanwhile, is free of their exclusive arrangement with Colnago as of March 1, and has reportedly been fielding plenty of requests from OE partners. Given the growing use of electronic drivetrains, it’s not a stretch to imagine Formula and others being able to gain a foothold in the road market, similar to how they do with mountain bikes. Sure, Shimano and SRAM may still get the majority of OE spec, but with a plug-and-play electronic drivetrain, there’s not much to stop riders from cherry picking the brake system they want when it comes time to upgrade.

Big thanks to Nicole/BRAIN for sharing the news with us! Now, check out those pics…

SRAM Red Hydraulic disc brakes seen at races throughout USA

This photo (cropped two different ways) shows the SRAM Red hydraulic brakes with a slightly blurred caliper that at least shows the small form factor. Pic from LegendaryRandy’s Flickr photostream.

SRAM Red Hydraulic disc brakes seen at races throughout USA

Comments

Chris - 11/16/12 - 7:24pm

enve disc rims (29er rims no rim brake track??) + CK R45 disc hubs = me on these like a fat kid on a cupcake…

MulletRacer - 11/16/12 - 7:30pm

Hopefully the brakes wont suck. I do like the look of the ergonomics though.

G... - 11/16/12 - 7:37pm

MulletRacer, my mtb Avid’s suck, can’t see why they will apply any more quality thought into their road stuff…. they’ve been at the mtb discs for a lot longer and still have a hard time getting them right!

Yeahaaa!!!_ - 11/16/12 - 7:42pm

Agreed, all the Avid brakes ive used or tried were not that great. Shimano on the other hand rock!

EthanM - 11/16/12 - 7:46pm

‘SRAM is not trying to hide their red hydraulic brakes’ maybe because it would take an airline hanger to hide those. they stick out like, and coincidentally look like, a sore thumb.

bin judgin' - 11/16/12 - 9:35pm

turkeys gobble during cross season!

dale - 11/16/12 - 9:47pm

wow those are some tall jonathans

Tropt - 11/16/12 - 9:53pm

I sure do like my Avid Shorty Ultimate’s.

Canucklehead - 11/16/12 - 10:14pm

Any idea what the weight difference would be between the BB7 and a hydraulic version would be?

JimmyZ - 11/16/12 - 10:18pm

the master cylinder probably won’t deform the hood so much in future versions. It’s a good thing that it took until now to get hydraulics for drop bars. remember mtb disc brakes with a separate reservoir mounted on the handlebar? this doesn’t look so kludgy as those did.

JohanS - 11/16/12 - 11:09pm

Those are are terrible! I’ll happily wait for Shimano to do it right.

carl - 11/16/12 - 11:16pm

Despite its unique, and unappealing “look”, it’s an amazing bit of packaging. There’s a lot of stuff going on in that lever….

EthanM - 11/16/12 - 11:34pm

@EthanM:
Terrific, and well-phrased, comment–made me laugh out loud! +1 : )

The Goats - 11/17/12 - 12:01am

We are such a vain lot when it comes to looks… It might turn out that the extra height to the lever results in a more comfortable and confidence inspiring grip. Will be interested to see.

Goats

HAM - 11/17/12 - 1:19am

There’s better photos of the brakes on that photostream….

Whatever - 11/17/12 - 1:29am

It’s not surprising that the picture show SRAM rider in at least second place. That’s about where they are in road hydros.

Twitch - 11/17/12 - 2:23am

Those horns are way too big- i’ll bet the uci nixes them. Anybody else remember Mavic Mektronics? They had smaller horns and barely made it to market before the uci said no dice.

WG - 11/17/12 - 4:37am

Yeah, you praise Shimano hydros so much but how can you explain SO many of them leaking and coming with deformed seals right out of factory? Their QA&QC is absolute crap. Maybe if you wrote it a year or two ago you would be right but now? Please…

brakey brakerson - 11/17/12 - 8:04am

As if Sram’s product has not seen any issues w/ hydro systems? At least Shimano has fixed their issues w/ initial production runs and once their brakes have been set up properly they work and don’t require a complete system bleed every time you change pads!

WG - 11/17/12 - 8:15am

You must be joking. We’re still selling Shimano hydros and they are just as crappy as first batches.

The thing is that I’m not trying to praise SRAM but rather saying that Shimano have completely failed at desgning their new brakes. On the other hand, none of us knows what Red brakes will actually be like, but everyone seems to already have an opinion about their quality which is obviously absurd.

bc - 11/17/12 - 8:55am

I can promise that I sell more hydro brakes than anyone here, and to say that SRAM and Shimano are on remotely equal footing with in terms of QC is flatly absurd. I have the SRAM warranty department’s number memorized, and I wouldn’t even know how to get in touch with Shimano if I needed to.

I’ve replaced one bad XTR brake out of ALL the current generation of Shimano hydros. As for Avids, I’d say I replace or otherwise service about a quarter of them within one year of purchase.

bc - 11/17/12 - 9:01am

Also, I have spoken with people inside Shimano who confirm that the Di2 hydro lever is real, which doesn’t really seem to be a question anymore. Shimano is keeping mum about it, because the launch of the last generation of Shimano road components (7900, 6700, 5700) was considered, internally, a disaster (and not just because they shifted poorly).

JonDanger FTW - 11/17/12 - 12:35pm

I wonder if these are gonna fall apart in 3-6 months just like the mtb brakes. ShimanoFTW!

WG - 11/17/12 - 12:56pm

@bc – the funny thing is that you are trying to extrapolate your opinion on MTB brakes on road brakes. This simply makes no sense.

When it comes to Shimano hydros, good for you. We’ve had about 30% returns so far.

Tyler - 11/17/12 - 2:27pm

Those are definitely Stan’s rims btw, not enve

Duder - 11/17/12 - 2:30pm

bc – those are wild generalizations to make since you dont know your audience – you claim to have sold more hydros than anyone here? put up a number, and we will compare.

as well, I am one of only about 10 people on the planet that have actually ridden the Sram and Shimano systems. Yes, ridden. Yes, both. Im not sayin, but I will say all the people talking here are talking out of their a**, as not one of you has done anything other than look at some pictures.

Stratosfear - 11/17/12 - 4:46pm

This prototype shows how difficult of packaging issue hydraulics is going to be. Would a really slick light cable system been so bad?

Sevo - 11/17/12 - 4:56pm

Duder-Well said. It’s funny to read these comments made by people who have no clue or just take what some guy on another forum said.

I’ve not had a chance to ride either yet, but I did see the protos on the local gravel trails here there, looking nice and I’m game for trying it.

Chris - 11/18/12 - 7:11am

@Tyler, i know they aint enves, i want enves on my volagi, thats all, once i get hydros from lever, and enves i will be very happy!

Mike Pryde - 11/18/12 - 9:39am

I’ve tried the Shimano MY14 Hydraulic disc brake and its very sweet.
The SRAM system will have to be very good to better the big S.

Rob - 11/18/12 - 11:28am

i am interested in knowing if SRAM is still planning on making the hydraulic rim brake we saw spy fotos of about a year ago? I know this is not really the focus right now, like in the middle of cx-mania, but i think it does appeal to a wide range of customers… those who want a new gruppo, have a non-disc road bike and non-disc wheelset… thoughts?

ChrisW - 11/18/12 - 1:23pm

I love my BB7 mechanical discs (with Shimano ICE rotors). I can’t see why I would want to deal with hydraulic fluid. BB7s are available right now, are not expensive, and will work with all levers. Why is everyone so desperate for a hydraulic version?

Robo - 11/18/12 - 1:25pm

the march of technology son

retrogrouch - 11/18/12 - 2:43pm

its all about the shiney newness of things we dont really need,(but really want bad)

feedfer - 11/18/12 - 10:21pm

Anyone know anything about the failure mode of mechanical disk brakes on long downhill runs (on the road)? There is no fluid to boil after all.

BTW I like my BB7′s a LOT

Jones - 11/18/12 - 11:06pm

I bet the fuddy dudies at the UCI will be itching to ban these, they have a nice extension on top to grab onto to hold an aero position on the road – remember the Mavic shifters that had to be altered because they could be held like that?

bin judgin' - 11/19/12 - 12:07am

blah blah blah. so many (deleted) arm chair engineers and fools who have no clue. good job you work at mikes bikes and sell elixir 5 equipped brakes twice a week. you are the (deleted) word of reason here apparently.

hydraulic brakes > all other brakes. good day.

alex - 11/19/12 - 9:12am

I think like all the Sram brakes from xx to elixers that they are very bad.
Power, lever feel, reliability these problems still have not been issued with there mtn brakes so i see that these new red road brakes are gonna suck for for the everyday rider and shop mechanics. Oh yea Sram! I will be calling you today about a xx warranty! HA

Matt - 11/19/12 - 8:24pm

The only people I know that like Avid brakes are the guys at my local bike shop because I bring them in every other month.

I have the Avid Juicy Ultimates on my S works and they are so bad, it is like they tried to screw it up. Some days they squeak, some days they don’t. Some days they have no pressure, some days they have lots.

icarus - 11/19/12 - 8:41pm

come on kids… this is what is cool now! 3 years ago a fixie, 2 years ago a cx bike, this year a ti commuter (lmao) next year you can finally get a carbon fiber road bike with disk brakes (have to be hydro otherwise not cool).

GS1 - 11/20/12 - 6:03pm

But thank goodness making snarky, (deleted) comments on Bike Rumor will always be cool!

Ajax - 11/20/12 - 8:47pm

142 x 12mm rear thru axle dropouts… on a road bike. COMING SOON!!!!!

mcl2u2 - 11/28/12 - 3:18pm

@Alex
At least Sram will replace them. Try that with Shimano without a bunch of bs. I admit I’ve seen a lot of Sram quality issues, but they back them up with excellent warranty and service.

Bev-69 - 11/28/12 - 5:53pm

You wont see 142mm on road bikes any time soon I dont think, because of the chainline/chainset compatibility issues. Unless theres a new, wider bottom bracket standard which would affect the Q factor. 142mm works on full sussers because of the longer chainstays and smaller chainring sizes compared to road.

Cor - 12/02/12 - 1:25am

Wow, someone missed the sarcasm on that one.

MaLóL - 12/05/12 - 7:57pm

nice… when is electronic braking coming then? mercedes benz had electronic braking years ago… i would skip hidro just like i skipped 10 speed mtb.

TRUELIGHT - 01/11/13 - 12:23pm

I’m I going to have the opportunity to put sram red hydraulic disc brakes on my bike by late spring, early summer? This question is open to anyone! (this is a RUMOR site) unsubstantiated rumors, your best guess.
At this point anything from anyone? Before I put out for Avid Juicy Ultimate’s. THNKS

Pisspot - 03/04/13 - 8:54pm

Shut the f up and go ride a bike. Sram sucks, no shimano sucks. Be fortunate enough you can afford to have either. Ill ride a damn Walmart special if I had to. I got hit last week on my superx by a car at 35mph. I wish I had coaster brakes at this point. Oh yeah, and the ability to use them. DrAma Queens.

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