We've had a set of spy shots beamed over from the Whistler lift line that seem to show a SRAM test rider with twin caliper brakes fitted to their downhill bike.
Unfortunately, most of the interesting stuff is hidden by a plastic shell but we can take a few educated guesses about what's going on based on what we can see. The most obvious thing to notice is the hose splitter on both brake lines that is used so that one lever can actuate two separate calipers inside the shell. The calipers use a fitting that's similar to SRAM's Level brakes, with a locking nut to attach the hose to the caliper, rather than the banjo that is used on the Code or G2, but we don't know what the lever is at this time.More calipers, more power?
So why are there two calipers when one does the job just fine for most of us? Well, the most obvious answer would be to increase the power of the brake - twice the calipers, twice the power and twice the heat dissipation.
This isn't the first time we've seen twin calipers on a mountain bike, but traditionally the two calipers have been laid out like a motorbike with each one paired to a separate rotor on opposite sides of the wheel. Those designs didn't catch on in mountain biking though as in reality, riders didn't need that much power at the time.
However, with the increasing speeds and weight brought on by 29" downhill bikes or eMTBs, we've seen an arms race for power in the braking world. 200mm rotors simply don't cut it for a large number of riders anymore and 220mm or even 246mm rotors have been developed in recent years
It could be that SRAM believes two calipers will be better than a larger diameter rotor, but we don't think that's actually what's going on here, and for a number of reasons we don't expect a twin caliper brake to be coming from SRAM in the near future.It's probably a test rig
We think the more important thing to note is the Quarq Qollector rear disc rotor. We've seen this previously on Cecile Ravanel's bike at the 2017 Val di Sole downhill World Cup
but haven't heard much about it since. Four years ago it was being used to measure brake forces, specifically focussing on how much Cecile was dragging her brakes but we've no doubt it could measure other useful metrics.
Having two calipers on the same rotor would allow SRAM to A/B test things like pad wear, modulation, heat dissipation or the performance of two different components. We think it's more likely that we're looking at a brake testing rig that can compare and contrast between setups during a run. Putting both brakes on at the same time allows SRAM to cut out the variables that would change between runs and also save time swapping out parts.
We reached out to SRAM for comment on the photos and they told us they are, "always working on product developments but cannot comment at this time."
What do you think? Is this a clever testing set up or will be all be running four calipers on our bikes in the future?