Words by: Trevor Mejia
Fresh look and updated internals for the SRAM CODE Stealth Ultimate brakes. Earlier this year in March of 2023, SRAM introduced a number of different products that gained the attention of the mountain bike world! Most notably being their all new T-Type drivetrain, a first of its kind. Something that slipped under the radar a bit however was their newly designed “Stealth” brake lineup. These new levers come close to parallel with the handlebars to create a cleaner “cableless” look while riding, especially when paired with an AXS wireless system. This look is a bit polarizing but when set up correctly it can look clean.
I have been riding the Ultimate version of the Code Stealth brake now for 7 months and in short have been very impressed. These stealth brakes come with “swinglink” technology that gives the lever a firm lever feel with tons of power but with a leverage ratio that gives great modulation and adjustment.
The Ultimate tier brake is their premium offering, coming equipped with a carbon lever blade, bearing pivot, Ti hardware and updated aesthetics. They also have Silver and Bronze trickle down tiers that have similar performance without some of the fancy parts. Silver comes with an alloy lever, stainless hardware and a tool-free contact adjustment dial, while Bronze offers the same but takes away the tool-free contact adjustment dial.
Installing these brakes is like any other mountain bike brake, but getting the cables to look clean on your cockpit can be a bit tricky as it is unlike anything else on the market at the moment. When cutting the line, the rear brake line should be set up so the bars can turn 120 degrees, while the front brake just needs a slight bent in front of the headtube. SRAM also provides stem clips so that the cables can be held in place and not rattle against the handlebars. I have found that one or the other will work fine depending on the rise of your bars and where the cables exit your frame. These brakes also use SRAM’s matchmaker system to mount shifter and dropper post levers and remotes to the same clamp for a clean look.
I’ve linked SRAM’s instructional video on cutting these brake lines as it is important so achieve that clean look they are after
The bleed process uses SRAM’s well engineered bleeding edge technology, and when done properly it is one of the best ways to ensure there is no air in the system. It is one of the quickest and most effective ways to bleed a brake and they have also introduced new fluid circuitry to ensure fluid travels freely and air rises to be purged by the syringe.
It is worth noting that even if your bleed is as good as possible, it is important to make sure that the rotor is in the center of the caliper and that the brake pistons are advancing smoothly and the brake pads are hitting the rotor evenly. This will give you the best brake feel. It is possible to adjust where the pistons are by using a flat head screwdriver against the metal portion of the brake pad to push the pistons in on one side and pull the brake lever to advance the other side. Keep on playing with this technique to get your brakes feeling exactly the way you want them to.
I first installed these bikes on a Yeti SB140 and have also spent some time with the same brakes on a Crestine RS 75/50 E-Bike. Two completely different bikes with much different demands. When I set out to build a bike for myself, I am looking to have the best braking experience possible. This means the strongest brakes and rotor sizes that are appropriate for the style of riding I am doing. These Code Ultimate's have lived up to my expectations and then some. The carbon lever feels extremely light and engaging the brake is effortless. This goes a long way in reducing arm pump and fatigue on long descents. The swinglink leverage ratio in the lever gives a great feel when braking hard and offers modulation when you need to slow down but not lock the tires. The codes come stock with sintered metallic pads which offer the best power when things get really hot or wet. During long descents when the brake does get hot, the lever feels consistent, and is easily adjustable on the fly if things do start to fade a little bit, but they haven’t thus far.
I decided to go with 200 SRAM HS2 rotors front and rear on my SB140. This was a great option for this bike and for the terrain that I ride it on the most. There is always a sharp bite and the brakes never get too hot. There was one instance that I put 220 rotors front and rear on as I was shuttling a steep and long DH track, and it performed as I needed in that environment.
For the E-MTB, Crestlines RS 75/50 weighs over 50lbs stock and it comes stock with a front 220 and rear 200 rotor. I would personally put a 220 on the rear of the bike, it tended to get a bit burnt and discolored from the heavy braking, high heat and weight of the bike. These are brakes that I would recommend to be installed on any e bike as it will give you the best performance possible.
Brakes are one of the most important aspects of a mountain bike. The more consistent a brake is with reliable power, the more control you will have over your vessel. This keeps riding safer and allows more confidence when pushing the limits of your ability. The SRAM Code Ultimate Stealth checks all of these boxes. SRAM has delivered a re-designed version of their old offerings and improved the brake overall. I have been very impressed with these brakes and have not had to re-bleed since first installing.