Review: SRAM DB8 Brakes

Long service intervals and overall simplicity are the name of the game with the new SRAM DB8 brakes.

review of the sram db8 brakes by myles kelsey in cape town south africa as published on bike network
It’s a cast aluminum body with ‘stamped’ lever construction.


Contrasting other brakes in the SRAM lineup, the new DB8 runs on mineral oil as opposed to DOT brake fluid. This is said to dramatically improve service intervals. While there are small design changes to account for the operating characteristics of mineral oil, the DB8’s look very similar to the existing CODE brakes and use the same pads.

review of the sram db8 brakes by myles kelsey in cape town south africa as published on bike network
The caliper construction is through a forged aluminum process.

SRAM DB8 Brakes

– 4-piston design for MTB or eMTB
– Mineral Oil
– Tooled Reach Adjust
– Organic Pads
– Compatible with all SRAM rotors
– Ambidextrous lever design
– Approx R2800 per wheel

It’s a four-piston caliper, supplied with Organic Pads and rotor compatibilty includes the brand’s Centerline or thicker HS2 option. The levers are ambidextrous (left or right compatible), have a tooled reach adjust and are Matchmaker compatible – so clean cockpits are on! The big kicker with the DB8 brakes is pricing; retail is around half that of the range topping CODE RSC brakes.

Why mineral oil? Basically you can leave the brakes for long periods of time and their working condition / feel is not going to change. Mineral oil brakes are ideal for riders who might not ride their bikes for a bit but when they jump back on, want everything to feel dialed. SRAM does however admit that DOT fluid brakes do offer slightly better braking performance (although it’s very marginal) and they’ll stick with that setup for their top-tier racer orientated options. It is also better for the planet.

Ride Impressions

I have SRAM brakes on all but one of my personal bikes and am pretty familiar with their feel and stopping characteristics. The lever feel of the DB8 is almost identical to that of the CODE brakes and not very different from the more ‘XC’ orientated G2 line from SRAM. On the trails, the ‘bite’ moment is easy to identify and the DB8 offers the same great modulation as the richer, CODE brakes. Scrubbing or controlling speed without locking up, is easy.

review of the sram db8 brakes by myles kelsey in cape town south africa as published on bike network
The ergonomics seem identical to the CODE line. Raw stopping power is a little less – if you are a numbers person I’d say its about 10% less bite.

They do not have the same outright stopping power as the CODE lines but the difference is tiny. That might only be an issue on the steepest of trails – I’m talking Morzine kind of riding – however for the majority of riding done in South Africa there is more than enough stopping brawn with the DB8. Even for the hardest of ‘Chargers!’

Considering the pricing and promise of low-maintenance, the DB8 is a no-brainer option I’d highly recommend to Trail, Enduro or eMTB riders.

| WORDS: Myles Kelsey | IMAGES: Dylan Lamb |

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