SRAM G2 Ultimate brake review

SRAM’s trail anchor gets a complete overhaul for more consistent and powerful braking, but is it the best option?

SRAM G2 Ultimate
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Bike Perfect Verdict

Already excellent, user-friendly trail brake gets more precise and predictable control


  • +

    Crisp lever feel

  • +

    Consistent performance

  • +

    Simple fitting and maintenance


  • -

    High price

  • -

    Codes offer significantly more power for a little weight penalty

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SRAM’s G2 brakes feel and look a lot like its proven Guide units but an entirely new caliper and detail changes throughout the design improve already excellent feel on the trail. 


SRAM has always set the standard for easy installation and the G2’s ambidextrous levers bolt straight into the existing ‘Matchmaker’ synced shifter mount system. Leak-free connectors mean cutting pipes to thread through frames or get rid of excess length can often be done bleed free. If you do have to flush the system then the ‘bleeding edge’ circuit makes complete bubble removal blissfully easy and SRAM’s screw-in syringes are particularly nice to use. New hoses are even designed to reduce weird kinks and twists as you screw things into place so the installation is likely to look neater.

The cup-and-cone CPS angle adjuster washers that used to make setting up SRAM brakes a jaw clenching juggling act have been quietly forgotten and more consistent pad pullback makes scuff less likely when setting up. In short, you won’t find an easier brake to install on your bike.


SRAM brakes have always felt good (at least when new) under the fingers thanks to a close-to-bar pivot point. G2 improves on that with new bushings on the ‘cheaper’ RSC levers so there’s less slop and rattle from the forged alloy blades over time. Ultimate’s still get cartridge bearing pivots and carbon blades for a silky feel and warm winter fingers. Either way, the bite point adjuster dial feels crisper and clickier on G2 and the return feels faster and lighter thanks to improved piston seals at the caliper end. The caliper is all-new too. It’s still two pieces bolted together but it’s stiffer for a boost-in bite and the existing resin and sintered pad options have been joined by a new resin ‘Power’ pad.

Together SRAM says this adds up to a seven per cent power increase to keep it in line with ever-faster trail bike speeds. The most noticeable difference though is a crisper, better communicated feel all round, keeping heart rate reasonable even in the sketchiest, slipperiest, turn in or wipe out moments. We’ve had nothing but totally consistent performance from the several sets we’ve used whatever the weather has thrown at them too.

SRAM G2 Ultimate

The new G2 caliper is stiffer for better bite and an increase in power (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)


G2 has taken an already excellent benchmark trail brake and made it slightly better all the way through from stress-free installation to traction communication and braking control in the most mental moments. They stay that way whatever the weather or length of the descent too, making them a genuine fit or forget brake.

They are expensive though - particularly if you opt for the 15g lighter carbon and Ti trim Ultimate option. They also face serious competition from SRAM’s own Code brake which offers significantly more power for even more relaxed control and doesn’t weigh much more either. 

Tech Specs

  • Weight: Ultimate 225g, RSC 250g 
  • Rotor options: 160, 180, 200, 220mm 
  • Pad options: Resin, Power Resin, Sintered 
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven has been working on Bike Perfect since its launch in 2019. He started writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. He’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and he reviews MTBs over on YouTube.

Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg