SRAM vs Shimano hyd. brakes for gravel bike

Especially for light weight issues concerning cyclocross / touring bikes & parts.

Moderator: Moderator Team

bpe
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2006 12:10 am

by bpe

I apoligize if this has been discussed before. I am doing my 1st gravel bike build and am trying to decide between SRAM AXS etap or Shimano GRX 815. In talking with my mtb friends, they warned me about issues with SRAM hydraulic brakes (the feel, need for frequent bleeding, and squealing) compared to Shimano hydraulic brakes. Seems like the trend is to buy a SRAM equipped bike and then swap to Shimano brakes. Scott even does this as a stock build on their high mountain bikes!

Does this issue carry over to the road/gravel groupsets? I would otherwise prefer the 12 speed wireless SRAM, but not if I'm subjecting myself to headaches with the brakes. Nobody knows when the mythical Shimano semi-wireless 12 speed will come out.

Any advice would be appreciated. This is an expensive decision, and I don't want to screw it up!

Thanks in advance.

Brian

by Weenie


bikewithnoname
Posts: 1525
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:29 pm
Location: Paris

by bikewithnoname

I'd be interested in this too. My experience with MTB over the last 20+ years is that SRAM/AVID brakes are indeed awful.

As for 12spd Shimano, the's a thread in the Road forum with over 200 pages, the answer is no one knows for sure, but maybe the summer, maybe next year
"We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities." Oscar Wilde
Pegoretti, Parlee, Donhou, Various others

Omiar
Posts: 312
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:20 pm

by Omiar

AXS stuff seems to be okay. All roadies I know who have them, are ok with them. The old problems where XX brakes were on/off and the level pull was very odd is history. Just avoid Sram Apex and the non AXS Force. I've seen loads of problems with them, since they are usually on the cheap(er) bikes that sell the most.

I would personally say the ergonomics of Shimano is much better, but that's personal. I would just use one brand between the bikes you have. I know that SRAM stuff has higher rate of RMA cases and I've seen AXS derailleurs with loose internal parts but that is just statistics.
Cannondale SystemSix R8070
Wilier Jena GRX
Scott Scale 935 build project
Sold:
Scott Foil Disc R8070
Scott Foil R6770
Scott Spark RC900 LTD M8000
Scott Scale 35

sigma
Posts: 371
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:12 am

by sigma

bpe wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 1:49 am
I apoligize if this has been discussed before. I am doing my 1st gravel bike build and am trying to decide between SRAM AXS etap or Shimano GRX 815. In talking with my mtb friends, they warned me about issues with SRAM hydraulic brakes (the feel, need for frequent bleeding, and squealing) compared to Shimano hydraulic brakes. Seems like the trend is to buy a SRAM equipped bike and then swap to Shimano brakes. Scott even does this as a stock build on their high mountain bikes!

Does this issue carry over to the road/gravel groupsets? I would otherwise prefer the 12 speed wireless SRAM, but not if I'm subjecting myself to headaches with the brakes. Nobody knows when the mythical Shimano semi-wireless 12 speed will come out.

Any advice would be appreciated. This is an expensive decision, and I don't want to screw it up!

Thanks in advance.

Brian
12 speed Shimano road is available for order on some builds with deliveries this summer (late June / Early July). So it's coming but broad availability will be very limited most likely for the year. I would not expect GRX level 12 speed for some time after that. With regard to your question, I have no experience on 12 speed AXS road, but I have 11 speed Etap on an S works Tarmac and I have multiple builds with Dura ace di2 and GRX di2 now. In short, the brakes n the 11 speed etap are awful - I have changed the front caliper to Hope but there are still multiple issues and SRAM basically stopped supporting the group a couple of years post issuance in favor of AXS. There is probably little translation from etap to AXS, but I am reluctant to go with SRAM because of this experience (I was a huge fan of the red 10 speed mechanical etc..). I would not over think the wireless / wired aspect too much. When I build the bike, it's one and done and probably results in an hour of extra work to deal with wired versus wireless.
S-works Tarmac SL6
S-Works Venge
Factor VAM 02 disc
Trek Domane 2016 SLR
Open U.P. gravel 2016
Factor One rim v2
Factor LS in progress
Cannondale Black Inc Scalpel 2017

sfo423
Posts: 683
Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:12 pm
Location: San Francisco

by sfo423

Plus plus.

eTap Red hydro on road bike and GRX hydro manual on gravel. No comparison; Shimano is so much better its not close. eTap Red brakes are crap.


sigma wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 3:49 pm
bpe wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 1:49 am
I apoligize if this has been discussed before. I am doing my 1st gravel bike build and am trying to decide between SRAM AXS etap or Shimano GRX 815. In talking with my mtb friends, they warned me about issues with SRAM hydraulic brakes (the feel, need for frequent bleeding, and squealing) compared to Shimano hydraulic brakes. Seems like the trend is to buy a SRAM equipped bike and then swap to Shimano brakes. Scott even does this as a stock build on their high mountain bikes!

Does this issue carry over to the road/gravel groupsets? I would otherwise prefer the 12 speed wireless SRAM, but not if I'm subjecting myself to headaches with the brakes. Nobody knows when the mythical Shimano semi-wireless 12 speed will come out.

Any advice would be appreciated. This is an expensive decision, and I don't want to screw it up!

Thanks in advance.

Brian
12 speed Shimano road is available for order on some builds with deliveries this summer (late June / Early July). So it's coming but broad availability will be very limited most likely for the year. I would not expect GRX level 12 speed for some time after that. With regard to your question, I have no experience on 12 speed AXS road, but I have 11 speed Etap on an S works Tarmac and I have multiple builds with Dura ace di2 and GRX di2 now. In short, the brakes n the 11 speed etap are awful - I have changed the front caliper to Hope but there are still multiple issues and SRAM basically stopped supporting the group a couple of years post issuance in favor of AXS. There is probably little translation from etap to AXS, but I am reluctant to go with SRAM because of this experience (I was a huge fan of the red 10 speed mechanical etc..). I would not over think the wireless / wired aspect too much. When I build the bike, it's one and done and probably results in an hour of extra work to deal with wired versus wireless.

OnTheRivet
Posts: 344
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:41 pm

by OnTheRivet

I have been on SRAM mtb brakes for going on 15 years and outside the normal wearing out from use I've never had any of the issues people complain about, at some point you have to consider operator error. I am Currently running Force axs disc brakes on my gravel bike and Ultegra Disc brakes on my road bike. SRAM has better adjustability feel is very different but I switch between the two without an issue. SRAM axs bleed easier (no more toe strap needed), that *f##k* Shimano resevoir setup is lame with the stupid 2mm hex screw that strips. I can recommend both, neither is better, they are just different. As an aside, I have never had disc brakes rub when set up right, never, ever.

jlok
Posts: 1657
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:30 am

by jlok

Not sure why Shimano torque the 2mm hex that tight. It is a test of your tool's precision. I changed from Taiwanese to some Japanese and Germany tools and the hex never strip.
Rikulau V9 DB Custom < BMC TM02 < Litespeed T1sl Disc < Giant Propel Advanced SL Disc 1 < Propel Adv < TCR Adv SL Disc < KTM Revelator Sky < CAAD 12 Disc < Domane S Disc < Alize < CAAD 10

fourfa
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:04 am

by fourfa

Which 2mm? The top of the fluid reservoir in the lever?

(I guess I'm glad I have proper Bondhus allens)

bikewithnoname
Posts: 1525
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:29 pm
Location: Paris

by bikewithnoname

OnTheRivet wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 11:40 pm
I have been on SRAM mtb brakes for going on 15 years and outside the normal wearing out from use I've never had any of the issues people complain about, at some point you have to consider operator error. I am Currently running Force axs disc brakes on my gravel bike and Ultegra Disc brakes on my road bike. SRAM has better adjustability feel is very different but I switch between the two without an issue. SRAM axs bleed easier (no more toe strap needed), that *f##k* Shimano resevoir setup is lame with the stupid 2mm hex screw that strips. I can recommend both, neither is better, they are just different. As an aside, I have never had disc brakes rub when set up right, never, ever.
Agree on the bleeding to a point. When the master cylinder hasn't seized it's easy, but I've have 2 Guide and 1 juicy (old school) master cylinder seize on me (crappy plastic piece wears out). Don't get me started on the sticky pistons!

I guess the old adage of "your mileage may vary" applies
"We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities." Oscar Wilde
Pegoretti, Parlee, Donhou, Various others

MisterNoChain
Posts: 230
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:29 pm
Location: UK

by MisterNoChain

When i bought a new mountainbike with Sram brakes i was a bit sceptical because of their bad name, but i'm very pleased with them. I prefer them over the Shimano's i have on my commuter. Mostly in terms of feel. It's not such a big difference that it would be decisive when choosing a bike.

User avatar
Martin.F
Posts: 793
Joined: Sat May 28, 2005 9:21 pm
Location: Norway, Drammen

by Martin.F

I've had bad experience with Sram (rival, apex, force) brakes on both personal bikes and the ones we sell at my shop(s). Shifting is fantastic - i love the sharp crispy and tactile feel of them, but the brakes are not good. They feel good in the beginning, but once worn a little bit they turn bad fast, and service + wearable replacements doesnt help enough. Almost every brake I've encountered has developed some free-play in the lever, spongyness, poor pistonretraction or all combined. Shimano wins hands down on brake lever feel in my opinion.

Like the MTB guys say. Sram to go, Shimano to stop.

speedylumberjack
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2019 5:54 pm

by speedylumberjack

sfo423 wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 8:49 pm
Plus plus.

eTap Red hydro on road bike and GRX hydro manual on gravel. No comparison; Shimano is so much better its not close. eTap Red brakes are crap.


sigma wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 3:49 pm
bpe wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 1:49 am
I apoligize if this has been discussed before. I am doing my 1st gravel bike build and am trying to decide between SRAM AXS etap or Shimano GRX 815. In talking with my mtb friends, they warned me about issues with SRAM hydraulic brakes (the feel, need for frequent bleeding, and squealing) compared to Shimano hydraulic brakes. Seems like the trend is to buy a SRAM equipped bike and then swap to Shimano brakes. Scott even does this as a stock build on their high mountain bikes!

Does this issue carry over to the road/gravel groupsets? I would otherwise prefer the 12 speed wireless SRAM, but not if I'm subjecting myself to headaches with the brakes. Nobody knows when the mythical Shimano semi-wireless 12 speed will come out.

Any advice would be appreciated. This is an expensive decision, and I don't want to screw it up!

Thanks in advance.

Brian
12 speed Shimano road is available for order on some builds with deliveries this summer (late June / Early July). So it's coming but broad availability will be very limited most likely for the year. I would not expect GRX level 12 speed for some time after that. With regard to your question, I have no experience on 12 speed AXS road, but I have 11 speed Etap on an S works Tarmac and I have multiple builds with Dura ace di2 and GRX di2 now. In short, the brakes n the 11 speed etap are awful - I have changed the front caliper to Hope but there are still multiple issues and SRAM basically stopped supporting the group a couple of years post issuance in favor of AXS. There is probably little translation from etap to AXS, but I am reluctant to go with SRAM because of this experience (I was a huge fan of the red 10 speed mechanical etc..). I would not over think the wireless / wired aspect too much. When I build the bike, it's one and done and probably results in an hour of extra work to deal with wired versus wireless.
I second this opinion completely. Love the ergonomics and braking of GRX Di2, but my SRAM eTap hydros have been a big headache, namely with the piston retraction. I shouldn't have to bleed and adjust my brakes as often as I do on my road bike. Not sure if this is as big of an issue with AXS shifters and brakes but I can't imagine there would be significant improvements in that area. Will definitely be waiting for next generation DA or Ultegra for my next road upgrade.

User avatar
saldegracia
Posts: 409
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2020 12:14 pm
Location: Madrid, Spain

by saldegracia

I used to have SRAM disc brakes on Cannondale Bad Boy from 2007 and they were terrible, always rubbing, pistons stuck, etc...I tried all the maintenance methods I could think of but just could not get them right...they did stop the bike though.

This bad hydro-brake experience made me wait a long time to get another hydro-disc bike but last year I got a gravel bike with Rival groupset. I've done 2500km on that bike since new and have not noticed any brake deterioration or similar and stopping power is good (but I am saying that without any real comparison other than rim brakes). What I don't like about them is that the lever throw is not adjustable (reach is though). I have gotten kind of used to it but for my taste the lever throw is too long...when I brake hard the lever almost touches the bar. I understand that on Force/Red this is adjustable, so I'd definitely get one of the better groupsets if this is important.
Canyon Aeroad, Votec VRC, Fuji Jari Carbon, Sensa Fermo SL, Principia R700, Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra, Ciöcc Singlespeed

rollinslow
Posts: 470
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 2:25 am

by rollinslow

I have GRX di2 hydraulics on my Mosaic GT-1. Not once have I so much have heard the slightest noise from them. No disc rub, no squeeling, nothing, Frankly, its awesome outside of having to baby the disc rotors.
Moots Vamoots RSL (2019)-Dura Ace 9100
Cervelo S1 (2010)-Super Record 12 (viewtopic.php?f=10&t=161577)
Kestrel RT700 (2008)-Dura Ace 9000
Mosaic GT-1 (2020)-GRX Di2

by Weenie


jadedaid
Posts: 62
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:43 pm
Location: NY & EU

by jadedaid

I had Red etap on my road bike, and have ridden DA and Ultegra equipped bikes lately. The Shimano brakes are indeed better. It's not to say the SRAM ones are bad, but I do feel like Shimano has the better braking system.

Lately I've been having issue with the SRAM brakes (after 20k) where the front right piston seems to be sticky. But they were rock solid for 20k and ridden in god awful conditions.
Vamoots RSL Disc - 7.70kg

Post Reply