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SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brakes review

The G2 supersedes SRAM’s well-known Guide, but does it impress on the trail?

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £265.00 RRP | USD $280.00 | EUR €295.00
per brake
SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brakes for mountain bikes

Our review

The G2 Ultimate is far from a poor performer, but there’s better out there for the money if you want plenty of power without the weight
Pros: Good lever feel; easy to integrate cleanly onto the bar
Cons: Top-end stopping power isn’t quite there; overshadowed by SRAN's Code brake
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SRAM’s G2 brake is the updated version of the popular Guide, which has appeared on a huge number of bikes over the years.

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The brand decribes the G2 as a mini-Code – its high-powered DH and enduro brake – with the G2 sitting more towards the trail end of the market (its Level brake is aimed at the XC market).

SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brakes detail

This Ultimate level G2 is the top-end option in the range, so comes with pretty much every bell and whistle available: rainbow-coloured hardwear, lever pivot bearings, and tool-free lever reach and bite point adjustment.

The lever reach adjuster is easy to use, with the lever having a decent range of adjustment. The bite point adjustment wheel isn’t the easiest to use because it’s sunk into the body of the lever, but it’s far from impossible to use – how much impact it has on the bite point seems to vary a little brake to brake.

The lever is held in place by a removable hinged clamp – fitting it to the bar isn’t quite as simple as a fixed hinged clamp (as per on a Shimano brake) because you have to hold the lever, clamp and bolt in place, and then engage the bolt.

It’s far from impossible, though, and having such a versatile clamp means getting the lever in the right place is nice and easy.

SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brakes for mountain bikes
A split clamp makes fitting and adjusting your lever position easy, though it can be a touch fiddly.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

The clamp holds SRAM’s MatchMaker shifter and Reverb dropper clamps for a clean bar, and aftermarket options are available for Shimano shifters and other dropper post levers.

The lever itself is 80mm from lever end to pivot, has a smooth, contoured shape, and is made from carbon. This likely helps a touch with weight, but the combined 610g for front and rear brakes is nothing to write home about.

The hoses are nice and long; I measured mine at 950mm (front) and 1,950mm (rear), meaning the vast majority of bikes will have no hose length issues.

The olive and barb system is great too if you’re shortening hoses. The barb screws into the hose, with a supplied T10 Torx key, and the olive screws onto the barb.

At the caliper end, the four pistons (smaller than those in the Code) push on a broad, long pad, held by a clip-secured threaded pin. SRAM offers several pads: a metallic (sintered) pad for mucky conditions and two organic (resin) versions – one that’s claimed to be quieter and one that is said to have more power. Mine came with the Power Organic pads.

SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brakes for mountain bikes
The ULT version gets bite point and lever reach adjustment.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

The caliper is alloy and is a split design, held together by a pair of oil slick bolts. The hose, which is said to be a bit more flexible than SRAM’s Guide hose, exits the caliper via an adjustable banjo to help hose routing through rear triangles.

The bleed process, using DOT 5.1 fluid, has a fair few steps, and uses SRAM’s Bleeding Edge tool. Official bleed kits are a little pricey, but there are aftermarket options.

Following the process using the official kit was simple and easily resulted in a decent bleed, and I came away impressed with the process.

SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brakes performance

With its smaller caliper and lever body, it’s no surprise that the G2 Ultimate is less powerful than its bigger sibling, the Code. With very similar architecture, in terms of the lever’s Swinglink and dual-sized pistons, it also feels similar under the finger – save for that all-out stopping power.

The lever’s pull is smooth, partly thanks to the use of bearings at the lever pivot, but while some brakes have an incredible light feel, the G2 has a little resistance. It’s not as much as Shimano’s brakes with the Servowave linkage or Hope’s sprung lever, but it is more than brakes from Formula or Magura.

SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brakes for mountain bikes
The G2 caliper has slightly smaller pistons than the Code.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Control of brake power through the lever stroke is good, with a nicely progressive feel right up to the top end. This makes it easy to gently correct speed on faster sections of track or grab a handful when you need to come to a more sudden stop. In this respect, it’s a very neutral feeling brake that gives no surprises.

It doesn’t have the initial bite of the Code, having a much softer initial effect on your deceleration, however, it is grabbier than Formula’s Cura early in its stroke.

SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brakes for mountain bikes
There’s plenty of space to get the top-loaded pads in the caliper.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

At 610g for the pair, the G2 Ultimate sits in the middle of the weight bracket of the brakes I had on test. Unless you’re really counting grams, I’d be tempted to opt for a Code, even on a trail bike. There’s a sub-100g weight penalty, but that’s rewarded with a marked increase in power.

SRAM G2 Ultimate disc brakes bottom line

The G2 is a fine trail brake, with ample power and a lovely feel through the lever. However, it’s overshadowed by its more powerful sibling, which has better stopping power, a slightly more positive feel at the bar and doesn’t weigh that much more.

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I’d happily spec one on the front of a downcountry bike too, but would perhaps stick with a lighter Level on the back. In isolation, the G2 Ultimate is a good brake, but is perhaps underwhelming given how good the Code is.

How we tested

We rounded up 12 powerful hydraulic brakes to find out which are the ultimate speed-scrubbers.

To get to know what it’s like to live with these brakes, we asked the brands to send us their official bleed kit, then trimmed the hoses to our ideal length.

As such, we’ve cut and bled every set we tested to see just how easy they are to maintain. Then we saddled up to see how they performed on the trails.

Overall braking power is important, but so too is the ease with which you’re able to access that power – if you have to squeeze the lever really hard, that’s likely to lead to arm pump. Brake ‘feel’ is another key aspect – it’s subjective, but some people like a really grabby feel, while others prefer the power to progressively build as you squeeze the lever. We also needed to work out just how powerful the brakes are, and how resistant to heat build-up.

So, with the help of both leg power and some electrical assistance, we took them to the top of some of the South West’s steepest slopes and pointed our bikes downhill to see how these 12 stoppers coped.

Note: Weights and prices are for a single brake (caliper, hose and lever, but no rotor or adaptor, unless otherwise stated).

Also on test

  • Clarks M2 Disc Brake
  • Formula Cura disc brakes
  • Hope Tech 3 V4 disc brakes
  • Magura MT Trail SL disc brakes
  • Magura MT5 disc brakes
  • Shimano BL-MT501/MT520 disc brakes
  • Shimano SLX M7120 disc brakes
  • Shimano XTR Trail disc brakes
  • SRAM Code RSC disc brakes
  • Tektro HD-M285 disc brakes
  • TRP Slate T4 Evo disc brakes


Product Specifications


Price br_price, 5, 3, Price, EUR €295.00GBP £265.00USD $280.00
Weight br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 571g – calliper, hose and lever - for front and rear, Array, g
Brand br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Sram


Features br_Features, 11, 0, Features, Pistons: 4
Fluid: DOT 5.1
Weight: 281g (f) 290g (r)
Details: Split and hinged lever clamp; SRAM MatchMaker
Adjustment br_adjustment, 11, 0, Adjustment, Reach (TF), bite point (TF)
Brake type br_brakeType, 11, 0, Brake type, Hydraulic disc