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Product Review

SRAM Code RSC Brakes - Long Term Review

Words Tim Coleman
Photos Dave Smith
Date Nov 13, 2017

It’s no secret that the Avid name is slowly being replaced by SRAM. The latest brake to undergo the Avid to SRAM switch is the Code. The new SRAM Code RSC is a direct descendant of the older Avid Code, using the same brake pads. And that’s a good thing, because the original Code is still an excellent brake. The new Code RSC has rather big shoes to fill.


The SRAM RSC lever appears similar to the Guide, but the performance is worlds apart

Off the hop the new SRAM Code RSC comes in any colour you want, as long as that colour is black. The overall architecture remains the same:

  • Large 4-piston caliper with dual diameter pistons (2x 15 mm and 2x 16 mm) 
  • Large lever, with a lever pivot bearing
Sram code RSC Brakes - Long Term Review

Despite looking more streamlined than the original Code, the new version is a whisper heavier. Cold weather riders beware - Code brakes are not yet available with carbon levers. We'll likely see an Ultimate version before long.

Cost remains the same too, with an MSRP of US $244 a brake (the Code R is available for US 154) . But that’s where the similarities end. On the downside the new brake is 30 grams heavier than the older Code, or a 62 gram weight penalty over the smaller Guide RSC brake. But brakes are one place I don’t mind a weight penalty. I’ll gladly take as much brake fluid and metal along on the ride if it means consistently powerful brakes. Aesthetic design follows SRAMs latest brakes, with these looking like a set of Guides that went deep into the cookie jar. New additions to the Code RSC are:

  • SRAM’s Bleeding Edge Fitting
  • Heat Shield
  • Revised reach / contact adjusters

The caliper is much larger than the Guide, or the old Code for that matter. Storing plenty of fluid to keep the brake more consistent through thermal loads

The Bleeding Edge fitting works great, eliminating the pesky small set screw you always lose when you’re bleeding the older brakes. The updated fitting and porting made bleeding these brakes really easy. After trimming the lines, one quick bleed and both brakes have been flawless since. Even though this means acquiring a new bleed fitting, I give this advancement thumbs up for ease of use.


While it's a pain in the butt to get a new bleed fitting, the Bleeding Edge fitting works very well

The Heat Shield is a sheet of stainless steel between the caliper and the brake pads. This is claimed to reduce the thermal path from the brake pad to the caliper taking the edge load of the brake pad to the caliper. Stainless steel is a poor heat conductor, so from an engineering standpoint this addition makes sense. I’d be a liar however if I claimed I boiled the fluid in the older Codes. So while this advancement should perform as advertised, I can’t say if it’s an improvement but coupled with phenolic resin pistons, heat conduction to the fluid in the caliper should be substantially less than the existing Code.


You can see the Heat Shield on the leading edge of the pad pocket

The updated reach and contact adjusters seem to work well. On the old Code the reach adjuster was notorious for seizing in place, and the contact adjuster was delicately located in the event of unintended bike to tree interaction. The new reach adjuster worked flawlessly over the course of the review period. The contact adjuster worked as it should (although I always run my contact adjustments as close to the bar as possible for minimal free stroke) and it's now in a more robust location on the lever.


The Code offers excellent modulation of the brake torque on tap, allowing for precise control of either brake. Picture by Cooper Quinn

Out on the trail Code RSC performance is excellent. The brakes provide ample power, excellent fade resistance, and consistent performance. It seems like all the qualities of the old Code remain. Whew! I found the power extremely easy to modulate, being able to choose the amount of brake torque, even in slippery and wet conditions. Thanks to the ample brake fluid on board I was able to run the brake pads almost to the backing plate without running out of fluid in the lever. One thing that drives me nuts are brakes with an inconsistent bite point. Through a taxing day of the Whistler EWS with 2°C at the top, 25° in the afternoon, rain, mud, dust, 1,300 m vertical stages, red hot rotors, and insane arm pump the Codes proved perfectly consistent. Engaging at the same point all day and offering consistent brake torque. I couldn’t imagine a harsher test, and the Codes were flawless.

Tim Davor

I'll gladly take the minor weight penalty for the Code RSC on my trail bike. Photo by Davor Baros

The only criticism of the SRAM Code RSC is that they’re a bit vocal. It might be a function of this set of brake pads but these are noisier than previous Codes I’ve used. It might be that I’ve got them extremely hot on a number of occasions, and maybe glazed the pads. Once the brakes get hot, if they cool a little, they get a bit noisy on reapplication. Get water on them, and they emit an alarming screech. It’s not pleasant for the short time it occurs, and doesn’t seem affect the brake performance. I’m not convinced this noise is due to the new brake design, but worth mentioning.

tim cooper 2

Sea to Sky. Photo by Cooper Quinn

All in all the new SRAM Code RSC lives up the expectations cast by its older Avid Code father. At a weight penalty of 62 grams over the Guide RSC, and $40 more, these are a no brainer in my view. The entirety of the review period was spent doing long descents up and down the Sea to Sky corridor, and I loved these brakes everywhere. Hot, cold, dry, or wet the Codes were consistent top performers. I’ll run them on all my bikes. These are better than the old Code, fixing the minor issues the old Code had with the reach adjuster. 

From what I've ridden so far, I think the Code RSC is the best of the bunch.

For more on the SRAM Code RSC click here...

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4 years, 6 months ago

Been on Code-R's on my trail bike for the past cpl months. Have been great. Did notice a bit of lever fade one day but nothing outrageous.


4 years, 6 months ago

Solid review. I had some codes a few years back that I was happy with, but I've been a shimano guy since then. I just got some Code Rs on a new complete and right out of the box the front caliper pistons won't recede back into the caliper after I pull the brake. I tried pushing them back in, but every time I squeeze the brake and pinch the rotor, it just stays pinched. Anyone know if this is this a symptom that I need to bleed? Or something else? to be clear it doesn't stay pinched tight, but there's no room for the rotor to turn without rubbing.


4 years, 6 months ago
+1 Tim Coleman

I had the exact same thing with my new front brake. And I did what Tim said, bleed a tiny bit out and it should be fine. That worked for me. 

I’m running by the Code R, but I’ll echo Tim’s thoughts. Consistent excellence. I’ve only had one occasion of in consistent bite point after a long downhill following by riding through several puddles on the flats for a while. 

One last thing. That’s brakes make manualling way easier. 



Tim Coleman
4 years, 6 months ago

It sounds like there could be too much fluid in the system. You can try and bleed a little out (without introducing air) and give em a bleed to check. Does it feel like there is almost no free stroke in the brake lever?


4 years, 6 months ago

I would say they feel normal at the lever.


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