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Impressions? Thoughts?
Irrationally exuberant review: it's as if Jesus himself is braking my bike. With each lever pull his fingers grab the rim and modulate it divinely.

Practically observed: another cyclist I ride with frequently noticed that how I corner and descend changed appreciably. Come in hot, brake later, and carry more way more speed with confidence.

It's because there's no wire inside a cable actuating a lever, spring, and pad -- it's hydraulic fluid. Same thing when your brake your car with your toe, through a shoe. A little tap, some more to stop, or full pressure.

Hydro-R is for performance road bikes, like an upgrade, for touring, and riding lots of miles. It's not better or worse than disc, it feels the same in the hand and is for bikes with rim brakes; especially upgrading one like I did.

The marketing challenge is SRAM threw consumers a curveball who have been expecting hydro discs. But you can't put discs on a fav road upgrade I've done in terms of improving a ride.

+Anglo Phony does that look like a commuting bike to you? It's a road bike that was upgraded to Hydro-R 22. 
+Anglo Phony if your frame of reference is commuting then of course. Into and expect performance, than this is a significant milestone in bike development, in how they handle and perform.
Hydro does work better than cable and wires, you can't ignore basic mechanics or an innovation that's been in motorsports and MTB for decades. It's the modulation and immediate feel.

Also: I'm reviewing this kit, the marketing and pr is up to SRAM. It's not new either, ask anyone who owned Maguras back in the day, they loved 'em.

Hydro-Disc is in too. 
You are correct that the pad rim interface has not changed. The dynamics are in the hydro v cable. 
I'm more interested in how you took that picture!
+DL Byron your experience mirrors everyone else I've talked to about the SRAM Hydraulic rim brakes. Really, the biggest improvements in performance are in control and consistency- and when using carbon rims this is a HUGE improvement. The extra control compared to cables makes up for a lot of the loss of feel one experiences with carbon rims. 
Now that braking performance is on par with other vehicles we need to shift the discussion to technique. I've heard a few incidents about people riding their brakes down long hills- and this can have negative effects on both rim and disc brakes. When road brakes were "meh" it really wasn't a big deal but now we can convert a whole lot of kinetic energy into heat energy. 
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