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  1. #1
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    SRAM Level Brakes thoughts

    Hi, I'm currently riding a Jamis D29 with Avid Elixir 1's. The brakes aren't as responsive as they've used to be. I've currently been looking at upgrading to the SRAM Level series. I've considered going with the Level T due to budget constraints. Any thoughts, recommendations, or experience with these brakes? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
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    SRAM Level Brakes thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Awesomecat18 View Post
    Hi, I'm currently riding a Jamis D29 with Avid Elixir 1's. The brakes aren't as responsive as they've used to be. I've currently been looking at upgrading to the SRAM Level series. I've considered going with the Level T due to budget constraints. Any thoughts, recommendations, or experience with these brakes? Any advice is greatly appreciated!
    I have the Level TLM, they work good, they are quite with the centerline rotors, good power. They have lots of lever pull tho, and i find the levers long, i jump on my fatbike with deores and they are short and have tiny pull, but i dont notice until i ride the other... then i find the deores weird till i get use to them.

    I had avid db somethings..... basically elixers and they were terrible and howled in comparison.
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  3. #3
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    ^^^ Yeah. Shimano brakes have a "Servo Wave" mechanism in levers that makes the brakes come on more quickly. Many people like it as it makes the brakes seem more powerful but I find it somewhat too abrupt and more difficult to feather. When they were developing their road hydro systems they found they had to tone it way down because road riders didn't like the abruptness. I'm used to Shimano but still find myself grabbing a bit more brake than I want in sketchy situations. A very experienced friend who is a die-hard Shimano fan got a new bike with Levels and we were going to trade my XTs for his Levels but he wound up liking the Levels. At this point, if I were buying brakes, I get Levels. Levels use DOT vs Shimano's mineral oil. Both have their pros and cons but I've never had issue with DOT.
    What, me worry?

  4. #4
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    SRAM Level Brakes thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    ^^^ Yeah. Shimano brakes have a "Servo Wave" mechanism in levers that makes the brakes come on more quickly. Many people like it as it makes the brakes seem more powerful but I find it somewhat too abrupt and more difficult to feather. When they were developing their road hydro systems they found they had to tone it way down because road riders didn't like the abruptness. I'm used to Shimano but still find myself grabbing a bit more brake than I want in sketchy situations. A very experienced friend who is a die-hard Shimano fan got a new bike with Levels and we were going to trade my XTs for his Levels but he wound up liking the Levels. At this point, if I were buying brakes, I get Levels. Levels use DOT vs Shimano's mineral oil. Both have their pros and cons but I've never had issue with DOT.
    Ive had some longer seat time on my levels. They dont lock up at all, just put new pads in and have one race and ride on them too. Not sure WTF but i test road a bike with xts and they locked up instantly, tooo instantly but i would like a bit more modulation but that power. It really made me realize how crappy they were. I also road a power fly and i think it had under deore brakes with longer levers and these were on par with the levels. So almost top o line sram brakes on par with base model shimanos....

    If anything its making me faster as they dont really slow me down.
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  5. #5
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    I hate the damn things, they're almost as crappy as the Elixirs they replaced. I've now ridden a half dozen bikes with Levels and every single set has been inconsistent and lacking in power. Lever pull is all over the place and resetting the pistons & bleeding doesn't fix anything. On some sets the levers pull nearly to the bars before the pads engage, on others they start braking with a couple mm of lever pull. And they're just weak, at best they might match the bottom end Shimano M395 brakes. SRAM should just shitcan the Levels and only have the BB5/7 and Guide series brakes.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    I hate the damn things, they're almost as crappy as the Elixirs they replaced. I've now ridden a half dozen bikes with Levels and every single set has been inconsistent and lacking in power. Lever pull is all over the place and resetting the pistons & bleeding doesn't fix anything. On some sets the levers pull nearly to the bars before the pads engage, on others they start braking with a couple mm of lever pull. And they're just weak, at best they might match the bottom end Shimano M395 brakes. SRAM should just shitcan the Levels and only have the BB5/7 and Guide series brakes.
    Worst part is i just spent $90 on pads for them. Luckily they fit my sram road brakes. Those ****ers lock up and they are apex....
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  7. #7
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    Ok so whatever reason the little allen bolt that pushes on the piston isnt a reach adjustment. Its like a power adjustment. I backed mine off when i put the new pads on. I tightened it till it stopped and it has the same 1cm away from the grip stop but it has wayyyy more power. Huh. Will see how they work tomorrow.
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  8. #8
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    Levels working fine here. Allen on lever is reach adjustment. It can't significantly affect power as it would either have to change the leverage ratio of the lever or the area of the lever piston, neither of which it can do.
    What, me worry?

  9. #9
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    I have level T on my fat bike and level TLM on my cross country bike. Not many miles on the T but quite a bit on the TLM. Once pads are broke in they've been great. No complaints here. The TLM could be used as trail bike brakes. Plenty of stopping power. Good modulation.


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    i hate the damn things, they're almost as crappy as the elixirs they replaced. I've now ridden a half dozen bikes with levels and every single set has been inconsistent and lacking in power. Lever pull is all over the place and resetting the pistons & bleeding doesn't fix anything. On some sets the levers pull nearly to the bars before the pads engage, on others they start braking with a couple mm of lever pull. And they're just weak, at best they might match the bottom end shimano m395 brakes. sram should just shitcan the levels and guide series brakes and only have the bb7 .
    fify.
    I would advise not taking my advice.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Levels working fine here. Allen on lever is reach adjustment. It can't significantly affect power as it would either have to change the leverage ratio of the lever or the area of the lever piston, neither of which it can do.
    Well mine all the way out vs all the way in dont change in reach at all. But all the way out they suck and wont lock up at all. All the way in they have great modulation and lock up.
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Awesomecat18 View Post
    Any advice is greatly appreciated!
    Shimano SLX, they are cheap and they work
    always mad and usually drunk......

  13. #13
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    ^^ x2

    Can't believe the prices on shimano brakes now. And i love the new levers, one piece cast aluminum for the master/reservoir. $150 for a pair, could even splurge for true icetech rotors.

    Truly I haven't ridden new slx m7000 just yet. Just came in today with new rotors. Trail work took up my ride time for today so couldn't bed in and get a fell for them.

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  14. #14
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    I bit the bullet and went dual xts on my bike. I had a 180/160 ice tech already and i got a problem solver for my x1 shifter to direct mount to the brake. Its night an day better.
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  15. #15
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    Lots of people around here are happily riding Level brakes as many new bikes are spec'ed with them. I have a set and they've been great. I have XTs on another bike and they've been fine too.
    What, me worry?

  16. #16
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    Also curious about the Level brakes. Haven't been to impressed with XT brakes as compared with my others, but will bleed again and see what happens...
    MTB scientist guy @ mtbphd.com
    Inventor & founder of BrakeAce

  17. #17
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    Was visting some family and rented a bike with base levels. They worked far better than my TLMs. Way better modulation. Wtf, did my under a year old TLMs need a bleed already?
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  18. #18
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    Perhaps they weren't bled properly in the first place leaving air in the reservoir which can get into the piston/line and cause problems.
    What, me worry?

  19. #19
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    Apparently there was just now a recall for all SRAM Guide and Level brakes produced before 03.07.2017

    SRAM BRAKES / GUIDE & LEVEL SLOW LEVER RETURN
    We are aware that some Guide and Level brakes have not achieved the durability levels SRAM and our customers expect. We designed Guide and Level brakes as best-in-class products that should function flawlessly and feel smooth every time you ride them. Anything less than this is unacceptable.
    There are reports that some brakes can develop a sluggish lever feel over time. The rate of this performance degradation varies based on usage and is increased by heat and humidity. We completed a re-engineering of the master piston and main seal to eliminate the possibility of interference. These design changes began production on July 3, 2017. And we are continually improving our design and manufacturing quality systems to deliver the best product possible.
    If you feel that your properly installed and serviced SRAM brakes are performing poorly, we ask that you please contact your dealer to arrange an evaluation with their local SRAM service center, so that we can get you the appropriate replacement parts and service.
    The entire SRAM family is passionate about riding bikes, and we know that you value your riding time as much as we value ours. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this issue might cause you. All of us at SRAM are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to get your SRAM brakes feeling and working perfectly.
    We are continually improving our design and manufacturing quality systems to deliver the best product possible.
    Thank you for being a SRAM rider.

    Ron Ritzler
    Vice President of product - components

    SRAM.COM

  20. #20
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    apuking,

    Where did you find that quote?
    What, me worry?

  21. #21
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    Yeah my Guide RSC are pretty inconsistent. I need to adjust them out with the pad contact and or reach nearly every ride. I've bled them a number of times and I do not think I have any air in the line. Plus once adjusted for a ride they seem to stay the same or close to it. And the lever return is a bit sluggish. And one reach adjust came apart.

  22. #22
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    Got the info from my colleague.
    Apparently all larger dealers who deal with SRAM got this notification.

    Im sure there will be a press release on it soon.

  23. #23
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    Well, I've got a 2018 Epic HT Comp Carbon coming Thursday. It's got Level TLs on it.
    I'll let ya'll know what I think. I can't say I've been in love with the Guide Rs on my 2017 Carbon Stumpy. Best brakes I've had were cheap Shimanos. Ridiculous stopping power.
    Not getting real warm fuzzies about all the SRAM complaints around here. I've got a lot invested in them, though not by choice.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by apuking View Post
    Apparently there was just now a recall for all SRAM Guide and Level brakes produced before 03.07.2017
    I checked with SRAM and they said there was no recall for Level brakes.

  25. #25
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    They havent been really issuing a recall, just warrantying them

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  26. #26
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    I have Level TL's on my Farley 8EX. I think they excellent. I don't like the abruptness of the servo-wave concept that Shimano uses. With two fingers, I can lock my front wheel, as I found out approaching a tree head-on the other day. My first successful "stoppie".

    I was a little amused at the multistep bleeding process that SRAM imposes. The "stealth-a-majig" concept in kind of cool if you ever have to shorten or change hose, but the TL's can't use the SRAM Bleeding Edge tool.

    I like them so much that I put a pair of them on my son's Framed Minnesota 2.2, replacing the BB5's. He's 6' 4" 225 and those TL's work as well for him as they do for me.

  27. #27
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    My take is this....I am a Shimano guy. I have always preffered their brakes over Sram because they are inexpensive, reliable, and powerful. The SC Tallboy I now ride came with Level brakes. The Levels are bulky, cheap looking, and use DOT. However, they seem to be working pretty good so far. They have really nice modulation and stopping power. I thought they were going to go in the trash right away, and be replaced with Deores......but so far I am liking them.

  28. #28
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    Between the Level and Guide brakes, I prefer the Guides. The Guides seem to have both better power and better modulation with 4 pistons. The Levels seemed a bit weak and also seemed to have worse modulation because I had to pull harder on the levers to get any effective braking force.
    Dirt Merchant Bikes
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