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In a previous question I asked about compatibility of drop bar shifters with mountain bike derailleurs. Now I'm curious about drop bar hydraulic brake lever compatibility to mountain bike hydraulic brakes. Is that something that can be made to work?

For example, if I got a bike with SRAM "Level" hydraulic discs, will SRAM integrated drop bar shifters/brake levers work with them?

I know the gear shifting will work as long as the levers and derailleurs are all 1:1 (SRAM's "Exact Actuation"). Is the same true of hydraulic brakes?

If that can be made to work, please provide an example SRAM drop bar lever that would work with those brakes.

Thanks.

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  • Road mechanical discs need road levers (short pull). Mountain mechanical discs need v-brake levers (long pull). You really shouldn't interchange them without an appropriate travel agent (for the same reasons as their cable operated rim brake counterparts). – Batman Feb 28 '17 at 2:58
  • @Batman Thanks! I thought mechanical road and MTB disc brakes used the same pull ratio and were therefore interoperable. I've removed that statement from my question. However, my main question here was about hydraulic road/MTB brake compatibility. Any thoughts on that? – SSilk Feb 28 '17 at 16:55
  • No idea about SRAM. I believe the question for Shimano was also asked at some point, but I don't remember if there was a confirmed answer or not. – Batman Feb 28 '17 at 17:00
  • I don't have an answer (I got here because I have the same question), but I think the key question is whether the master and slave pistons are setup to be compatible (size/vol). From the research I've done, I think the answer is sometimes "yes" but often "no". The few MTB caliper dimensions I've seen are smaller than the 19/18mm (F/R) piston dimensions for the SRAM road calipers (but I've also seen a lot of variation across the models). This resource may prove useful for comparing to MTB cylinder sizes: docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/… – Hans L Dec 3 '19 at 2:19
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I was very interested in this question, because I have a set of Apex road brakes (levers & calipers) mismatched with one flat mount and one post mount. As noone has provided a satisfactory answer, I thought I'd do it myself.

For my new frame, I need post mount brakes, but the HRD calipers are rather hard to find and expensive. Also I have a set of Avid Juicy 3 brakes sitting around, one fine, the other seized.

At a glance, and without taking any measurements, the Juicy caliper looks very similar to the Apex Post Mount caliper with a very similar size and shape body, similar pad area and very similar piston diameter, so I hooked up the front of the bike with the standard Apex setup and the rear of the bike with the Juicy caliper. The brakes feel similar to each other at the lever, enough to say there's no difference. The Juicy caliper works very nicely though does provide a little extra braking power. In my opinion, the SRAM road disc brakes are a bit weak, so this is welcome. I doubt there will be longer term problems but I will update with how things go as the (new) pads wear down.

juicy 3 caliper apex lever

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  • Do you have a source for your last assertion? Because the way I remember it they had an entire section of their website devoted to exact actuation and which road/mtb component were compatible (most of them for 10 speed). – Andy P Oct 16 '20 at 14:07
  • Andy, only the SRAM sales rep visiting the shop in 2009. It's possible that he was completely ignorant. However, they do use different terminology (1:1, Exact Actuation, ESP....etc) for various series of components to obfuscate compatibility. – JoeK Oct 16 '20 at 14:49
  • @JoeK I also remember reading copy written by SRAM bragging about MTB and Road interoperability back when DoubleTap was new on scene. – Paul H Oct 16 '20 at 15:17
  • I have removed the statement as it's deemed false – JoeK Oct 20 '20 at 19:36
  • @JoeK Any update on how you hydraulic drop bar lever/ MTB brake caliper setup has held up in the intervening 10 months? Thanks. – SSilk Jul 1 at 21:18

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