The SRAM MAVEN Ultimate is the newest brake in the entire test field. It looks like a CODE on steroids but uses mineral oil rather than DOT fluid. According to the American manufacturer, it delivers a brutal amount of braking power on the trail. But is it still easy to control? To find out, we pitted the MAVEN against 13 other MTB brakes.

Learn more about this comparison test: The best MTB disc brakes – 14 MTB brakes in comparison

SRAM MAVEN Ultimate | Four pistons | Mineral oil | organic pads | 710 g (Set without rotor) | € 720 (Set without rotor) | Manufacturer’s website

The SRAM MAVEN has long been seen around as a prototype for downhill bikes. The production model is just as huge as the old prototypes: it looks incredibly solid and relies on four big bolts on the calliper to provide additional stiffness. The lever unit, on the other hand, looks a lot like a CODE, though after a few sessions at the gym. The pads are bigger too and are shaped differently from the CODE. The MAVEN comes standard with organic pads, which is meant to ensure a smoother character. Unfortunately, the pads can’t be removed from the top of the calliper, meaning that you’ll have to remove the wheel to change them. According to SRAM, the MAVEN is so powerful that they provide decent deceleration even with small 180 mm rotors. That said, many forks aren’t compatible with smaller 180 mm discs anymore, including SRAM’s in-house RockShox ZEB and BOXXER, ​​which were both developed for the same intended use as the MAVEN.

The levers are secured to the handlebars with SRAM’s Matchmaker clamp, which is a little finecky to use and makes it easy to drop the retaining screw during installation. On the other hand, the one-bolt system is quick and easy to use, while the Matchmaker system allows you to secure the shifter and dropper remote directly to the brake lever, ensuring a clean cockpit. Like with the CODE Stealth, the lever unit is positioned very close to the handlebar, whereby the brake line leaves the lever at a different angle, meaning that it doesn’t run as close to the handlebars and therefore rattles a lot less on the trail – a very welcome update!

Retailing at € 720, the Ultimate variant we tested is the most expensive model in the MAVEN range, and relies on titanium hardware to keep the weight down. Despite the fancy titanium parts, it’s still the heaviest brake in the entire test field, tipping the scales at 710 g. The entry-level MAVEN Bronze model costs € 440, which puts it on a par with the CODE Bronze. The SRAM MAVEN Ultimate has inherited many familiar features from the CODE, including the tool-free lever reach adjustment and SwingLink technology, which was designed to minimise deadband and improve modulation. The MAVEN also inherited the external bite point adjustment from the CODE, which makes much more sense on a powerhouse like the MAVEN, as its bite point is already at the outermost point and therefore very direct. Our test crew found out that the MAVEN is far more predictable with the bite point turned further in. To achieve the snappiest bite point possible, SRAM recommend pushing the pads back into the calliper after bleeding, then pulling the brake lever until the pads touch the brake pad spacer.

Like with all SRAM brakes, bleeding the MAVEN Ultimate is done with two syringes, one on the lever and one on the calliper. While this isn’t the most practical method, SRAM’s Bleeding Edge port allows you to easily open and close the bleed port using the syringe while bleeding the brake, preventing unwanted spillage. However, since the MAVEN uses mineral oil, you’ll need a fresh pair of syringes to prevent the mineral oil from mixing with DOT residues. Unlike DOT brake fluid, mineral oil isn’t too harmful to the skin, though you should always remove the pads for bleeding to avoid contamination

The SRAM MAVEN Ultimate looks incredibly beefy.

SRAM MAVEN Ultimate on test

Needless to say, we were extremely curious to see if SRAM’s “brutal braking power” claim was confirmed by our lab data. However, in our lab tests, the MAVEN “only” managed to secure third place after Trickstuff and Hope. But how does it perform on the trail?

The lever reach adjustment is just as intuitive and effective as with the CODE, ensuring a wide adjustment range and thus allowing you to find the sweet spot, regardless of whether you like your levers to be positioned very close to the handlebars or all the way out. When gravity takes over, you quickly realise that SRAM’s promise isn’t just a bold claim. The MAVEN pack a punch, no matter how steep, long or fast the trail. You never have to worry about not being able to decelerate and arm pump is a thing of the past. However, the best thing about the MAVEN is that the brutal power is paired with SRAM’s familiar, smooth brake feel, with a slight resistance at the beginning of the lever stroke, a rather soft bite point and excellent modulation. It was an exciting, hard fought battle, but in the end the MAVEN had to surrender to the Hayes Dominion T4, albeit by a very small margin.

Our conclusions about the SRAM MAVEN Ultimate

The SRAM MAVEN Ultimate is a powerhouse, both in terms of looks and performance. However, the brute power is combined with excellent modulation. Provided you bleed it well, SRAM’s first top-tier mineral oil brake impresses on every trail, delivering the same excellent brake feeling as its predecessor while at the same time taking braking torque to a whole new level. An excellent choice for SRAM lovers who want even more power.


  • Tremendous braking power
  • Good modulation
  • Excellent compatibility


  • Looks massive
  • Requires accurate bleeding
  • Heaviest in the entire test field

For more info, visit

Find the overview of this comparison test here: The best MTB disc brakes – 14 MTB brakes in comparison

All brakes in test:
Formula Cura 4 | Hayes Dominion T4 | Hope Tech 4 V4 | MAGURA MT5 Pro | MAGURA MT7 | Shimano SLX | Shimano XT | Shimano XTR | SRAM CODE Bronze Stealth | SRAM CODE Ultimate Stealth | SRAM MAVEN Ultimate | Trickstuff MAXIMA | TRP DH-R EVO | TRP Trail EVO |

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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker