SRAM’s Hydro-R: a Quick Review

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by Byron on Sep 18, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Hyrdo-R on the Road

Before I get sucked up into the bike industry’s US tradeshow with all the new kit, gear, and shiny bike things, sharing a quick review of Hydro-R. I’ve ridden it for a few months now when asked how is it, my response is

It’s as if Jesus himself is braking my bike. With each lever pull his fingers grab the rim and modulate it divinely.

Am I irrationally exuberant about stopping a bike instead of accelerating with it? Sure, so here’s what @sgluckman said to me

You’re cornering and descending changed appreciably. You’re coming into a corner hotter, brake later, and carry more way more speed with confidence.

Steve and I ride lots of miles together and he noticed the change in riding right away. The reason it changed my riding so much is there’s no wire inside a cable actuating a lever, spring, and pad – it’s hydraulic fluid and instantly responsive. The same thing happens when your brake your car with your toe, through a shoe. A little tap, some more to stop, or full pressure when needed. I was also impressed the first time I rode it this Spring.

Hydro-R is for performance road bikes, for touring, and riding lots of miles. Planning a big European tour and riding the Alps? Then consider this group. For comparison, it’s not better or worse than disc because it’s for rim-brake bikes, like the one hanging in your garage now. The lever and modulation feels mostly the same in the hand and is recommended for upgrading a bike like I did. Because of where we ride in the Seattle, my next new road/cx bike will have discs.

The marketing challenge for Hydro-R (R is for Rim and D for Disc) is SRAM threw consumers a curveball who have been expecting hydro discs. Rim, hydro what? Sure, but you can’t put discs on your fav road bike and it’s the best upgrade I’ve done in terms of improving a ride. It’s like a bike I’ve owned for years, never wanted to part with it, has a new pair of shoes, hair did, refreshed and I fell in love with it all over again.

We’ve also got Hydro-D in on a Cross bike and that review is in progress…

For the retrogrouches, hydro rim brakes are retro, like for 20 years and discussed on Twitter and G+ and a photo of the brakes.

Here’s Hairball’s bike with Maguras

Magura hydraulic rim bikes from about two decades ago

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