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…
It’s subtle, but these just seem a bit more upscale looking than the original version launched in 2013.
The bleed port is a bit more refined looking, too, but position for it and the reservoir cap (below) are the same.
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.
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.
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.