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My Santa Cruz Chameleon came with Level TL brakes, which I'm finding to be a little weak on steep descents. I'm thinking about upgrading the front brake to Guide R or RS so I can get 4 calipers. Is the lever in Guide in front vs Level in back going to feel weird? Is the Swinglink lever in the Guide RS going to feel even weirder compared to the Directlink from the Level in the back?
 

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Yeah, they'll feel a little different but I don't think it'll be problematic. Front and rear braking are different anyway. You can always try it and switch the rear to Guides if you don't like it. I don't have enough experience with Swinglink Guides to have formed an opinion, but I def don't like Shimanos Servo Wave mechanism. IMO, it's responsible for the braking to come on too abruptly and also the frequently varying free-stroke.

Disclaimer. I come from motos with 2 huge rotors and 8 pistons in the front actuated by a right lever and a dinky single rotor with a 1 piston floating caliper in the rear actuated by a right brake pedal. On the DB the disparity is only slightly less.
 

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My Kona Process 153 AL 29'er came with Level T brakes, and like you I found that they were perhaps a bit under-gunned for my weight (~200lbs in riding gear) and riding style living here in the PNW.

The theory of more pistons in the front than the back, is totally valid. Magura does that on their ... MT5 (?) set. The problem as you note, is maybe more swinglink vs directlink levers. I'm sure your brain would adapt to potentially different lever feels though, it just may take a while.

I actually just upgraded to TRP Quadiems (In the same performance neighborhood as the SRAM code). They are on sale at WWC for ~$237 for a full set (front and rear), and if you order something from them, they send a 15% off coupon with the order. So if you order a shifter clamp/matchmaker adapter/whatever before you order the brakes, you can get the pair of brakes for ~$202 including shipping, as long as you're ok with getting the brakes a few days later.

Just throwing another option out there :).
 

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I think they're both 180mm. Are you saying bigger rotors make more of a difference?
The difference in rotor size is almost directly proportional to the increase in power when braking.

Here is a quote from a really good test on enduro-mtb.com.

2. Bigger rotors bring more control

Moving up from 180 mm to 200 mm rotor not only results in an average 18% decrease in deceleration times in our testing, but the brake also requires a lighter touch, minimising arm pump, fatigue and improving modulation. If your brakes are struggling and you are running small rotors, increasing to the next size will improve performance. We recommend a minimum of 200/180 mm for general riding. Aggressive 29er's should look at 200/200 mm, even 220 mm in the future.

Also, 4 piston brakes tend to be at ~ 20-30% more powerful than their 2 piston counterparts (Shimano specifically calls out that their 4 piston XT brakes are 20% more powerful than the 2 piston version). And of course high end 4 piston brakes will be more than 20-30% more powerful than low end 2 piston brakes.

So, 4 piston brakes tend to be "roughly" the same as a step up in brake rotor size. So if you don't already have 200/203mm rotors up front, then try that first, I should have mentioned that the first time, and am glad someone brought it up.

I'm already on 200mm/180mm, and so I opted for more powerful brakes. But on my other bike with 160mm rotors front and rear, I should likely upgrade to larger rotors first, then re-evaluate.
 

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Chameleon's are 180/180.

A 203 rotor won't make up the difference of the poor performance of a Level T brake. I have the same bike and the braking is sometimes downright scary. I can get used to it, but switching between bikes every couple rides, the Level T (SRAM) is hard to get used to when having low lever M615's on the other bike.
 
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