SRAM Level TL
The Level series sit in place of the old Elixir brakes in SRAM’s hierarchy, offering “Heavyweight performance in a lightweight package”. Always being one for a challenge, I fitted them straight onto my Cotic Rocket, knowing they had some serious descending ahead of them. I was supplied with regular 180mm rotors, so on these went as well. Split clamps make fitting easy, and the lever pairs with the SRAM shifter to keep the cockpit clean and tidy. Reach adjustment is done with a tiny allen key, something that makes it across the range. Through the test I’ve not had to adjust the reach on the fly, so a lack of tool-free adjustment hasn’t been an issue. Bleeding uses SRAM’s system which is super easy if you have the kit and work methodically. It lacks the simplicity of the Shimano “bucket in the top and squirt it in” approach but it does work flawlessly.
Out on the trail they offer a decent mix of power and modulation both front and rear, even on the smaller rotors. I would usually opt to run a 200mm on the front, even on my trail bike, as a lot of my “trail” riding involves using trail centres to link downhill tracks. Through the test I’ve kept the 180mm rotors on, and generally been pretty happy. The really long, steep descents of Finale Ligure really tested them, but after a week of 1000s of metres of descending a day they are still running clean and true, and delivering enough power through all but the longest of descents. As a more XC focused brake this was really impressive, and for day to day trail riding they will fit the bill nicely.
At an RRP of £92 they are reasonable value, but a bit of shopping around shows them coming in for nearer £60 plus rotors making them a great option, especially at under 400g per brake.
SRAM XO1 Drivetrain
SRAM’s XO1 is up near the top of the heirachy, and I’ve been running the 11 speed trail option. There are 10 and 7 speed gravity focused options that make use of the technology on display here. The shifter uses the matchmaker mount to fit perfectly on the lever. Once on the ergonomics are great, the controls have an instant pick-up and a relatively short stroke, meaning you can rattle up the gears really quickly and hitting a climb heading back to the big ring you can get three gears in a single thumb push.
Shifter – 91g – £123
The XO1 mech uses a set of linkages to maintain the distance between the upper jockey-wheel when using the XO1 cassette, which delivers a really slick feeling set of changes, and the round-about cable routing makes for an efficient system. I’ve had no issues with the clutch, which is still holding tension nicely. The bearings in the jockey wheels have held up to a winter of abuse, and other than a few scuffs from careless riding she’s still sweet.
Mech – 252g – £210
The XO1 cassette pairs with the mech wonderfully, XD fitting is brilliant, and the 10-42 range is plenty paired with a 32T out the front, giving both hill-grinder and flat out gears. The teeth are starting to lose a bit of their anodising, but are holding their shape perfectly and I’m looking forward to many, many more miles from them. And yes, I’ve swapped that frayed old cable now!
Cassette – 275g – £304
Against the odds, and despite over 1000km of riding the chain is still good to go!
XX1 Chain – £44
The price is, to say the least, spendy, especially when you consider how vulnerable a mech is, and I refuse to jinx myself by talking about this! If you are after a top performing drivetrain that you can fix without a laptop, the XO1 is for you.