SRAM MTB Code RSC Brakes 2018 Mountain Bike Review

SRAM MTB Code RSC Brakes 2018

Reviews / Brakes

SRAM MTB 166,909

At A Glance

The name may have been around for years, but this time Code sees a revision that loses the Avid label and joins the SRAM family officially. Having been a downhill brake of choice for many years the powerful stoppers had a strong following but needed an update.

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Some riders had started experimenting with the popular Guide lever and adding a Code calliper, this combined the lever feel they wanted with more stopping force. This combination now exists as the Guide RE, a brake marketed towards ebikes, but great in its own right.

The Code still has the 4 pot caliper, but gets a redesigned lever based around the Guide, which is a little larger to pack more punch. Available as either the 'R' or 'RSC' the R stands for reach adjust and the S and C for Swinglink and Contact adjustment. The Swinglink is an extra cam that moves the pads with less lever throw, and the Contact adjustment dials in the point at which the pads hit the disc.

On The Trail

Set up for the Codes is easy, and especially if you have other SRAM parts on your handlebars as they all fit together neatly on the same clamps. If you have non SRAM parts then sharing clamps is harder but possible with some aftermarket purchases, or you can double up on clamps.

Swapping levers is also a doddle, as the levers can be flipped easily to accommodate the British and their weird preference for a left-hand rear brake. Bolting calipers on again is straightforward, and if bleeding is needed for internal routing, the SRAM syringes offer a clean and simple process of removing any unwanted air.

Having spent plenty of time on the top end Guide brakes I did wonder whether more power is really necessary. As it turns out it may not be needed, but it's certainly fun to have that much power at the end of your fingertips. The Codes can very much be thought of as a Guide brake that has spent too much time in the gym. It is both bigger and stronger but crucially has not lost the sensitivity of touch that the Guides offered.

These are some of the most powerful brakes I have used, giving exceptional stopping ability, enough to eject even the heaviest riders out the front door if they are not careful. Despite the power, they offer a level of control that allows you to dance on the edge of disaster, balancing deceleration needs without locking wheels.

Taking cues from the Guides again, the Codes look sleek and futuristic, blacked out with minimal branding, squeezing downhill performance into a package that would not look out of place on a trail bike.

DOT oil is used rather than mineral oil that could be an issue for some who prefer mineral oil. The other issue for many could be the price, which certainly puts them up the top end of budgets, but they are available in the 'R' version which knocks a huge chunk off the price.


Delivering power and poise in equal measure, these are a seriously classy set of brakes. Effortlessly powerful but with a sensitive side too, they probably have more power than you'll ever need, but for downhill, enduro or ebikes, these are superb.

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This review was in Issue 52 of IMB.

For more information visit SRAM MTB


By Ewen Turner
Ewen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.

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