If your criteria for a top stopper are masses of well-controlled, alp or e-bike-proof power, delivered with a deft and consistent feel at an affordable price – and why wouldn’t that be what you want? – then SRAM’s Guide / old Code mash-up is an unlikely, but nevertheless unbeatable, front runner.
The lever is the same as on the Guide R, which means you don’t get the clever, leverage modifying cam of the Guide RS or the adjustable bite point and miniature lever bearings of the Guide RSC. But you do get the same hinged clamp as on SRAM’s upper-class brakes, which makes it easy to fit and means it syncs well with SRAM shifters and RockShox lockouts and dropper levers. There’s also a reach-adjust dial on the blade knuckle.
It’s at the far end of the hose where the ‘E’ part of the anchor algebra is added, in the shape of the original big-block, four-pot Code DH brake. Longs pads make set-up slightly more finicky than with the shorter four-pot callipers of the other Guide brakes, but with sintered pads as standard, bite is seriously impressive whatever the weather or heat conditions you’re dealing with. That makes a proper bedding-in session where you can get used to the power a smart-move, because we’ve almost been launched over the bars testing bikes that were meant to have standard Guide brakes but had been fitted with Guide REs.
Once you know what you’re dealing with, control is predictable, progressive and totally consistent, and we’ve never had a single issue with the multiple sets we’ve used. Despite the look of the calliper, it’s a relatively light brake too. If you buy it on its own – forgoing the very good but very pricey single-piece rotor and clever cup-and-cone mounting kit – it’s a total bargain as well.