SRAM RED eTap Hydro: Gone to the Disc Side
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They’re just tiny, little silver drops on your fork and chain stays. “How can these things stop all 180 pounds of our test rider?” That was our first thought when we saw SRAM’s new disc brakes for its eTap electronic group. Then we thought,”Where are the fins, the cooling scoops? How can these little things manage all that heat?”
Instead of just transplanting the HydroR calipers from mechanical RED disc braking, SRAM created an entirely new braking platform called HydroHC for use with new eTap hydro levers. In fact, HydroR and HydroHC are so different that HydroHC calipers cannot be used with mechanical RED levers and HydroR calipers cannot be used with RED eTap hydro levers.
As with any disc-brake platform it’s all about heat management and SRAM has packed a ton of features into the diminutive calipers to ensure fluid temperatures can be regulated, no matter what the braking load. A look down the barrel of the caliper reveals a gapping cavity in which the pads sit. That creates a huge amount of airflow to pull heat off the pads. Next, a stainless steel shield protects the fluid from all the heat in the caliper and pad, and finally the aluminum piston is insulated with phenolic resin. Phenolic resin is so heat resistant that laboratory countertops are made from it.
RELATED: Check out the build of our 3T Exploro with SRAM eTap hydraulic breaking.
At the RED eTap hydro lever, thanks to the removal of the mechanical guts, SRAM was able to streamline the size and shape of the hood in comparison to the RED mechanical hydro lever. It seems like encyclopedias have been written about the differences between rim and hydraulic brake hoods, but we’re not gonna quibble about millimeters. They look bigger, they feel bigger and they are bigger. Who cares? You’ll get used to them. What counts is what they can do. SRAM has given them reach adjust, and the ability to adjust when the pad contacts the rotor, which creates the ability to truly personalize brake feel.
HydroHC’s power and modulation is delivered over a wider band than HydroR’s, making it easier to send just the right amount of stopping power to the wheel. Like HydroR, Shimano’s disc offerings and now Campagnolo’s exceptional H 11, road disc is already operating at a very high level, but HydroHC, combined with the simplicity of eTap, makes for a very compelling package. Your mechanic will thank you too, with easier set-up and maintenance than SRAM’s other road-disc set-ups. $1,078; 960Grams (includes eTap levers, calipers, rotors, hoses and hardware); sram.com