Does SRAM deliver?

New SRAM Maven brakes

SRAM is currently the undisputed technology leader in MTB drivetrains. When it comes to brakes, the Americans have been less convincing so far. With the new MAVEN stoppers, can SRAM finally gain the favor of the scene?

SRAM Maven Brake
Bold aesthetics, new moniker. SRAM deliberately emphasizes that the Maven brake is a complete ground-up redesign.

SRAM, alongside Shimano, is one of the most influential suppliers in the mountain biking industry. No other company shapes the scene with their products quite like the Americans. They brought the 1×12 drivetrain into the mainstream and have impressively proven with their Transmission drivetrains that they are currently setting the pace in technical development against all competitors.

With all these laurels that the Yanks have been able to hang on their drivetrain achievements, the shadow cast on other areas of the company is all the more apparent. The topic of brakes is a highly emotional one in the bike scene and so far, SRAM hasn’t completely won over the community in this department. While their shifting systems are uniformly praised, and in our opinion rightfully so, their reputation in the braking department lags somewhat behind.

Too maintenance-intensive and not enough braking power. These are the common criticisms associated with SRAM brakes. However, this view is quite general and superficial. Systems like the SRAM Code or even the DB series, from our experience, have ample power to handle even the toughest downhill demands. SRAM is aware of this market perception in the brake segment and is now trying to capitalize on the momentum with an entirely new flagship brake system. Could the new Maven brake system be SRAM’s breakthrough in the world of stoppers?

SRAM Brakes
The saddle, with its massive appearance, creates a clear distinction from all other SRAM brakes.
SRAM Guide Brake
The beefy construction of the brake caliper promises excellent fade resistance for reliable stopping power.

The New SRAM Maven Brake Explained

  • Brake Fluid: The new Maven operates with mineral oil instead of the DOT brake fluid that SRAM typically uses.
  • Pistons: The Maven always comes with four pistons per caliper. Two of these have an 18-mm diameter, two have a 19.5-mm diameter.
  • Lever: The brake lever, according to SRAM, has a similar feel to that of all SRAM brakes and is available in a Stealth edition.
  • Saddle: The robust construction and four bolts connecting the saddle halves instead of two, ensure a high thermal mass, which, according to SRAM, results in an extremely steadfast brake.
  • Weight: SRAM lists the rear brake with a 180mm rotor at 362 grams for their top-of-the-line version.
  • Price: The top model is available for €360 (per piece, without rotors). The Maven Bronze brakes (rear + front) have an MSRP of €440, excluding rotors.

SRAM promises: Maven has 50% more braking power than the Code

The promise that the new Maven brakes with 50% more bite than SRAM’s Code brake is a bold claim. This is geared towards dethroning stalwarts like Magura MT5 or MT7 from their unofficial perch atop the braking power hierarchy. It’s claimed that you save 32% of the hand force at the lever compared to the Code, to achieve the same stopping power. This could be the braking force everyone has been waiting for, and it also offers the option to run smaller rotors for improved modulation. We’re eager to hit the trails for a first hands-on test.

Jesse Mellamed
Rocking a big grin, Jesse Melamed is one of the speediest riders on the Enduro World Series circuit and has already taken the new Maven for a spin.
SRAM Maven
Brake pads on the new Maven are inserted from below and secured with a retaining pin.
SRAM Maven
Four bolts trump two. SRAM doubles down on security for the connection between the brake halves,

No DOT, no Hustle

While Magura, Shimano, Formula, and Trickstuff have long been using mineral oil, SRAM clung to DOT brake fluid until recently. However, the characteristic of DOT to absorb water/moisture from the air into the brake fluid necessitated short maintenance intervals for the brakes. With the switch to mineral oil, SRAM is meeting the demands of many mechanics. The Americans themselves comment on this move in their press release as follows:

In our testing, it was determined that mineral oil delivers the best performance (surpassing DOT fluid variants) and requires less maintenance at the same time. Every braking option we provide has been engineered to utilize the brake fluid and seals that ensure peak braking power. For Maven, this choice has translated to mineral oil.

SRAM

SRAM Maverick
SRAM's promise is bold. We're eagerly awaiting our first test ride.

Our Take on the New SRAM Maven Brake

The SRAM Maven, being a fundamental new construction, has the opportunity to win over the mountain biking community. SRAM’s engineers have implemented everything that many riders have been demanding. The excitement doesn’t only revolve around whether the new Maven will deliver on its promised performance values and truly be as low-maintenance as promised over time. We’re also eager to see how SRAM will apply these new technologies to other brake platforms, such as the Level or Guide.

About the author

Ludwig

... has spent more than 100,000 kilometers in the saddle of over 1000 different mountain bikes. The essence of many hours on the trail: Mountain bikes are awesome when they match your personal preferences! With this realization, he founded bike-test.com to assist cyclists in finding their very own dream bike.

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