SRAM’s Guide RSC brakes aren’t exactly new, but after riding a set for the past couple of months they are definitely worth writing home about. Now supposedly some people out there were unhappy with their Elixir Trail brakes, but I’ve got two pairs and can happily attest that I’ve had no problems with mine. Regardless of those complaints from customers and other media outlets, SRAM had already begun working on a new brake that would say goodbye to their long used TaperBore technology and introduce a bunch of new stuff.
Admittedly, the new brake keeps the exact same four piston caliper found on the Elixir Trails, but at the lever end there is nothing that resembles the old brakes. On top of the fully revised master cylinder, there are a bunch of pretty damn cool new features which, as you guessed it, correspond to the the letters R, S and C. Well not all of them. For starters SRAM have updated the reservoir and luckily for us Kiwis they have kept the brakes’ ability to be easily switched from left to right depending on your preference. The new Pure bladder ensures minimal air bubbles for consistent and dependable braking and the new timing port cup seal adds even more dependability to the brakes.
As far as the letters go, R is for umm… Reach, that one is pretty darn simple really, but it’s worth noting that it’s super easy to adjust when gloved and out on the bike. The S is a new one and that stands for Swing Link, a new cam system that requires less lever throw to push the pads toward the rotor and much, much quicker engagement, there’s no dead area or soft spot, it’s just quick engagement, and unlike some other brakes out there SRAM have managed to keep the awesome modulation, it’s not just a one-off affair. Which leads us to the C, now this is a one-finger dial which does a way better job at putting the pads as close to the disc as you like, and again it’s super easy to adjust when gloved up.
Oh, I almost forgot there’s a new rotor that will make your riding buddies’ (and your own) ears much happier. It’s called the Centerline and it was designed to keep the centre of friction consistent throughout rotation, minimising vibration, offering consistent performance and most importantly to give you a QUIET ride. Got that? Quiet! And you better believe it, that alone would be worth telling you about, ’cause as much as I’ve always loved SRAM brakes, that rotor squeal is sometimes unbearable! But I can tell you it’s pretty much gone, there’s a little squeal as you brake for the first time after a stream crossing but it’s quick and gone and I’m a believer. I’ll be ordering the rotors for my other bike as well as my wife’s!
Three Spoke staffers have made the switch to Guides: Simeon, Rod and myself, and all of us are just blown away at the brakes’ performance and feel. I thought I’d roached the pads and rotors on a super steep 1500 foot descent in Colorado, but back here the brakes are running so perfect. Yup perfect, I haven’t had one problem yet and I’m braking later and seriously riding faster with these bad boys, which occasionally catches me out, like it did yesterday when I let go of the brakes a bit soon and ate shit big time in Belmont. But seriously, this is the brake I didn’t even know I needed. I reckon the best way to describe them is like when your current brakes are brand new and perfect; after almost three months of riding the Guides feel exactly like that. They are just so fricken powerful and predictable and not having to worry about whether your brakes are going to work right is damn reassuring.