Saturday, August 18, 2012

SRAM Red-Black Edition Brakeset Review

                                                                      Image courtesy SRAM

“Come On Dave, Gimme a break! OK, one break, comin’ up!”

My sincerest apologies to Mr. David Lee Roth, but I just could not resist that line from the Van Halen song “Unchained” when getting into a story about “brakes.” See, one day I was hanging around the palatial Tweaked Sports lounge (again!), when I got tossed a familiar looking red box. And no, not just any red box, but a SRAM Red box. “Test ‘em out, they’re yours,” chimed Patrick (one half of the dynamic duo, the other being Brian). “Wow,” I proclaimed, “All for me?” The two of them basically told me to put them on, test ‘em out, and give them some feedback. Heck, I can do that. And I did. Here is what I thought.

Upon arriving home I opened the box to spy the coolest looking set of sexy brakes. Based on SRAM's race-proven, skeletonized, Dual-Pivot design, these brakes have cold-forged aluminum arms, alloy pivot bolts, plus centering and spring tension adjustments for maximum effectiveness with minimum weight.

Highlights are:

• Dual-Pivot design increases braking power and enhances progressive feel. Fully adjustable with the  centering and spring tension screws.
• Technology: Skeletonized Dual-Pivot design with convex washers.
• Material: Cold-forged arms, titanium mounting and pivot bolts.
• Pad / Holder: SwissStop Green Compound with adjustable cartridge holder.
• QR: Indexed.
• Weight: 265 grams.
• Carbon-specific set, complete with SwissStop yellow pads, also available.

OK, so how did they work?

The calipers mounted up as straight-forward as any other brake set, however, be mindful of lubricating the mounting bolts if you ever want to the get the brakes off again. I used Park Tools anti-seize compound, torqued everything to spec, secured the cable, and took off to really put them to the test.

Now, the stock brakes on my trusty Trek 2.3 roadie were Shimano BR5600’s, which I upgraded to Dura-Ace pads. They originally worked well with the stock 105 pads, a whole lot better with the Dura-Ace pad upgrade, and have performed admirably when needed, even down Glendora Mountain Road.

I had been riding SRAM S40 wheels as of late, however, for this test, I have been using Mavic Ksyrium SL’s. Both sets of wheels are aluminum brake tracked clinchers, and the differences in my seat-of-the-pants tests have been amazing. Not only do the SRAM brakes look awesome, and the weight savings extremely welcome (BR5600’s weigh 376 grams, 111 grams more!), but the initial bite on the rims, plus the increased modulation, without squealing, or massive performance killing heat build-up, sold me completely. Yes, they are that good, and front and rear lock-ups are very attainable, so attention from your hands is a must.

Would I recommend them to a friend? You bet I would. Bicycles were meant to have component upgrades from time-to-time, and grabbing yourself a set of SRAM Red brakes will give you increased confidence and safety, better performance, and look great, as well.

Retail is $345.99, and the new 2012’s go for $351.00 USD. Now, that is SRAM’s suggested retail, however, the good folks at Tweaked Sports can get ‘em to you for a whole lot less.

Tweaked Sports
1755 S. Valley Center Ave. Suite 117
Glendora, CA 91740
Store Hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, M-F
Tel: 626-827-8733
Fax: 909-305-9798


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