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Uncategorized > 2010 Season Kit Review: Avid Code Disc Brakes


SUMMARY: I have found the Avid Codes to be a frustrating brake, they perform fantastically when they work but several failures, including one dangerously sudden one have meant I have lost confidence in these brakes and won’t be purchasing further Avid brakes.  I just wish I hadn’t just bought a pair of Elixirs cheap from Merlin!

AVID CODE’s are the freeride or downhill brake offering from AVID. Introduced in 2007 they have seen various updates since then but they still use 4 pistons housed in a two piece caliper, designed to increase stiffness and power. The lever features a two-piece blade with a spring loaded cam breakaway which should mean it will disconnect from the internals of the lever and prevent damage. There is also a pad adjuster located on lever body which allows you to change the distance the pads sit from the disc and thus how far you need to pull the lever before you start braking.

I’ve been running both 2007 and 2008 AVID CODE’s for almost two years now on both my XC and DH bikes. So how are they doing? Well to make it fair I will split the review into PERFORMANCE and RELIABILITY.

This is quite a long and involved review! To summarise, the Performance is great, when they work. The Reliability is a problem and I have had both catastrophic, dangerous failures and annoying, non-threatening failures! I have contacted various people in Avid to ask their opinion on this matter and nobody has responded to my e-mails so I am posting the review as is.


The performance of the code brakes is fantastic, when they work. I ride long steep DH runs of up to 1000m’s and my big bike is about 42lbs so the brakes have a lot to do. The braking is consistent and powerful with easy single finger braking and little change in the feel or biting point as the brakes heat up. This consistency inspires confidence and I found myself braking later and later for the corners as I got used to the brakes. There is a knack to changing the pads but it’s nowhere near as hard as some people would have you believe, you just need to make sure to wind the pad adjuster all the way out and reset the pistons before you insert the pads.

The bleeding is something that needs to be looked at as well. My brakes came well bled from the shops but a lot of them didn’t. This is a continuing theme and I’ll go into it a bit more in my Elixr review which is coming up.


So, onto the downside of these brakes.  I have had two failures in these brakes. The first was potentially the most serious. I was riding DH and was catapulted over the bars completely unexpectedly while braking hard for a corner. I knew something had gone wrong and suspected a broken fork but it turned out that my back brake had failed completely. On examination it turns out that the lever is connected to the piston by a short rod that is held in place by a snap-ring located in the caliper body. This snap-ring had moved and let the rod escape meaning that the lever didn’t move the piston at all. When I checked my other 2007 brake, the snap-ring was also loose and, I believe, could have moved at any time. The 2008 brakes were fine. Further investigation revealed the cause was that the piston in the lever body wasn’t moving back fully after releasing the brake which appeared to increase the likelihood of the connecting rod becoming detached, the reason for this isn’t clear but it was the case on both 2007 brakes. Shortly after this I had the same problem with the piston not returning on my 2008 brakes, resulting in the lever not moving back out from the bars. A change of the brake fluid fixed this problem so I assume it was due to dirt in the fluid.

The second failure was more annoying than dangerous. I ran out of pads while I was deep in the mountains. When I went to change the pads I found it impossible. I was tearing what hair I have left out trying to move the pistons back enough to get the pads in but couldn’t do it. It turns out that the travel adjust knob was just turning and not adjusting anything, the mechanism must have broken in the lever body. This makes the brakes virtually useless for me. The only way I could change the pads was to open the bleed nipple and allow some fluid to escape on the trail, and then push the piston back. Now, as the pad wears I have to re-bleed the brakes to change the pad contact point! It’s not a great solution I have to say.

So, in summary, my AVID CODE’s have had a hard life. I’m a mountain bike guide and ride a lot. I ride through the winters no matter what the weather and put in lots of miles in very technical terrain. The brakes performance is fantastic; I can find no fault with that, when they work. The issue for me is the reliability. The sudden failure scares me, I have contacted AVID to see if this is a known issue with the 2007 model or if there might be something the matter with my set but despite contacting several people they have declined to even answer my e-mails. The failure of the pad adjustment is very frustrating and effectively renders the brake unusable which is unacceptable for a 2year old brake I believe, regardless of how much it gets used.

+ Powerful.

+ Great feel.

– Reliability is an issue with potentially dangerous failures.

– Poor support when Avid don’t respond to several attempts at contact. Contrast with Straitline who couldn’t be more helpful.

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