Less rivaling, more dominating.
The pioneer of road-ready hydraulic disc brake systems, SRAM is confident that taking a set for a spin will leave you wondering how you were ever satisfied with anything less. To be clear, the company will be the first to admit that its first generation of the brakes needed some refinement to be as great as they could be, but all bets are on this new 2015 stuff: leaner, cleaner, and as reliable as any mechanical braking system. The SRAM Rival 22 Hydraulic Disc Brake represents the entry-level price point into the road hydraulic game, but with all the performance of the more expensive systems intact.
To reboot its original road and cyclocross hydraulic braking systems — which were already ahead of their time — SRAM pulled apart every molecule of their anatomy to find room for improvements and make them even better and more reliable. The lever body, housing the reservoir and master cylinder, was reconfigured for more efficient internal spacing while at the same time boosting strength and stiffness, resulting in solid, consistent performance, regardless of braking or weather conditions. The master cylinder piston itself was also completely revamped, receiving an all-new bore design and new seals, after being subjected to thousands upon thousands of testing hours in every temperature and performance setting imaginable. The goal was absolute reliability, and the new system delivers.
SRAM was far from finished with updates, however. The new higher-capacity fluid bladder — the part of the system designed to maintain braking feel and consistency in compensation for pad wear — was also redesigned to improve fluid flow, so your brakes feel as great brand new as they do after a season of racing. On the action-end of the line, the caliper spring was re-engineered for more even pad contact and smoother retraction, translating into a more consistency and control in hand, regardless of riding conditions. Finally, the shift paddles were trimmed slightly to be both lighter and more ergonomic, and cyclocrossers especially will appreciate the new shape that allows for greater clearance when wearing thicker gloves.
As mentioned, the SRAM Rival hydraulic system is the least expensive version currently available, but it still ranks among the best road or cyclocross disc brake systems money can buy, period. Rival utilizes aluminum brake and shift levers, and the same stainless steel hardware found on SRAM Force. The system is fully sealed and easily serviceable, too.
The SRAM Rival 22 Hydraulic Road Disc Brake is sold individually, in either left-hand or right-hand versions, so purchase one of each if you'd like a set. Rotors are not included, but SRAM strongly recommends using its Centerline rotors — 160mm for road applications and 140mm for off-road/cyclocross use. The system weighs 493 grams per wheel, including a 160mm Centerline rotor.
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
If anyone is questioning whether or not to run disc brakes on the road bike, the answer should most clearly be duh, and or hello!
Massive stopping power increase, less hand fatigue on long descents, better heat management, and great lever feel. Shifting performance is great, and the system is easy to bleed.