SRAM Level TLM brake review£159.00

TLM's cross country stopper

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The TLM has been designed for cross-country and light trail use and scores straight away by using SRAM’s MatchMaker clamp (also found on the cheaper TL), which syncs with its shifters and RockShox Reverb remote levers.

The single-piece ‘Monoblock’ twin-piston caliper saves the 227g TLM 14g over the TL’s two-piece bolted version. It also adds SRAM’s latest end-of-the-line fluid port placement for fast, easy bleeding.

The couple of sets we’ve ridden so far have been totally reliable, and consistent modulation from the ‘Heat Shield’-protected caliper compares well with other brands’ XC brakes too.

Pad wear seems faster than with the longer Guide pads
Pad wear seems faster than with the longer Guide pads

Unless you’re desperate to save 30g, comparison with SRAM’s own Guide brakes isn’t as favourable. The ‘DirectLink’ connection between lever blade and master cylinder means a longer throw before the pad contacts the rotor than with the cam-assisted ‘SwingLink’ of the Guide RS and it’s even more obvious compared to the adjustable-contact-point Guide RSC.

The feel isn’t as firm or richly modulated either, and power is a claimed 12 percent lower so you may have to use a larger, heavier rotor. Pad wear also seems faster than with the longer Guide pads. You’ll need to factor rotors (SRAM’s Centerline discs cost around £35 / US$44) into the price too.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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