SRAM Level brakes vs. Shimano brakes- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    SRAM Level brakes vs. Shimano brakes

    Have any of you used the new SRAM Level brakes yet? If so, how did you like them?

    I'm getting a new bike that comes with the Level Ultimate brakes. I also have a set of the previous-generation XTR Trail brakes that I recently took off another bike. I've always like the Shimano brakes, but the few reviews I've found for the Level brakes were mostly good. I was wondering whether I should just swap the Level brakes for my XTR brakes and sell them, or should I try them for awhile and then decide. They would obviously be worth more as new take-off brakes than used.

  2. #2
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    I heavily prefer the ergonomics of the Sram Guides over any Shimano Servowave brake so I'd give the new Level a try.

  3. #3
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    All brakes get good reviews when they are new, it's after a few months when you have reliability data that you get a better picture. So you are taking a risk with the level. Sram brakes historically had more issues than Shimano, so that is your only data point now.
    My preference is mineral oil, so if I was in your shoes, I would swap and sell the new brakes as new.
    Last edited by CrozCountry; 05-28-2016 at 12:41 PM.

  4. #4
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    Good point. Happened to me. After 1 1/2 years my left Guide started suffering from the sticky lever syndrome. Everyone told don't keep the Avids but I wouldn't listen and even upgraded the stock Guide R to RSC. I still love them like I did the first time I touched them, even though it has now developed more in a love&hate relationship.

  5. #5
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    I don't like Servo Wave levers either, too abrupt. FWIW, the XTR Race levers do not have servo wave.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    I don't like Servo Wave levers either, too abrupt. FWIW, the XTR Race levers do not have servo wave.
    It's a surprisingly comforting feature on the Deore/SLX lines for bigger riders, as there is plenty of power on offer despite the reasonable price point those brake systems appear at - but modulation only occurs in a really narrow lever travel/pressure band which is too small to consistently hit from full speed. I can't go straight to full threshold braking effort like I can with the SRAMs, but there's always some stopping power in reserve provided I can get the tires to hook up.
    I did get to see a set of Level Ultimates at the LBS yesterday - they're seriously gorgeous units, and look aimed squarely at the XTR-Race brakes, but probably with OEM prices low enough to see those (or the RSC's) become a de-facto standard on high end complete XC bikes.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    I don't like Servo Wave levers either, too abrupt. FWIW, the XTR Race levers do not have servo wave.
    Did you try organic pads? They tame the abruptness. Servo wave is about lever force instead of lever travel, like many high end brakes. The abruptness is mostly from the bite of the metal pads IMO.

  8. #8
    I Tried Them ALL... SuperModerator
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    I've had great experience with Mineral Oil systems: 2005 Magura Marta SL got its very first bleed in 2011. It went through six sets of pads. My XTR M988 is following the same reliability path as the old Maguras too.
    "This is a male-dominated forum... there will be lots of Testosterone sword-shaming here" ~ Kenfucius

  9. #9
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    Exactamundo. I'm with you on the Mineral Oil as well, just not as caustic and nasty and if you leave it sitting for a bit isn't so fussy on absorbing water. Shimano's work, they work well, they are about as trouble free as it comes and fo course they're mineral oil, which for me is a big plus.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrozCountry View Post
    All brakes get good reviews when they are new, it's after a few months when you have reliability data that you get a better picture. So you are taking a risk with the level. Sram brakes historically had more issues than Shimano, so that is your only data point now.
    My preference is mineral oil, so if I was in your shoes, I would swap and sell the new brakes as new.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
    You're doing mtbr wrong, you're supposed to get increasingly offended by the implications that you're doing ANYTHING wrong.

  10. #10
    Rigid in Evergreen
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    Can anyone report on how their Level brakes are doing so far? I'm interested in picking up a set of the TL's for my 29'er hardtail, but even reviews / impressions of the TLM's and Ultimates are still few and far between.

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