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Reviews > Long Term Review: Avid Elixir CR Disc Brakes

Long Term Review: Avid Elixir CR Disc Brakes

As many of you will remember I really hated my Avid Code disc brakes. I felt that they were unsuitable for serious mountain biking duties. I wrote to senior management in Avid several times before publishing my unfavourable review, however they declined to answer any of my (very polite) mails, despite the fact I was […]
As many of you will remember I really hated my Avid Code disc brakes. I felt that they were unsuitable for serious mountain biking duties. I wrote to senior management in Avid several times before publishing my unfavourable review, however they declined to answer any of my (very polite) mails, despite the fact I was writing the article for Bike Rumor. So, what on earth was I doing buying the new Avid Elixir CR disc brakes? And have I come to regret that decision?   + Powerful. + Reliable. + Adjustable, so long as you like the levers close to the bars. + Easy to change brake pads… why was it so hard before Avid? – Bite point adjuster is fiddly to use. – Difficult to bleed, and requires the poorly designed and expensive Avid Bleed Kit. – Mine arrived poorly bled. Summary The Avid Elixir CR disc brakes have seriously moved the game on, compared to the very poor Avid Codes. They are powerful, reliable and the bite point adjuster, although fiddly, lets me set the brakes up how I like, although, f you don’t like the levers close to the bars then you might struggle with the set-up. Bleeding is fiddly and requires the Avid Bleed kit which is overpriced and poorly designed.   First things first. Why did I buy the Avid Elixir’s CR’s? Well that was a purely financial decision, MerlinCycles had a very good deal on them and I felt that if I bought them and they were as rubbish as the Avid Code brakes were I could sell them, here in Spain, without much of a loss. The brakes that I really wanted were the Shimano XT or Saints but they were significantly more expensive, so I took my chance with the Avid Elixirs despite serious reservations. The Testing I think that the type of mountain biking I am doing is very hard on disc brakes. I ride rough, technical trails, in the Pyrenees and Basque mountains, most days, with long, steep descents. When I am guiding I often ride at the back of the group, meaning I’m on the brakes a lot. When I am at the front of the group I use the brakes less but am braking hard in sections. We also have a big mix of conditions here in Spain with everything from thick dust to sticky mud. I have used my Avid Elixir CR’s on my Cove Hustler but now they are on my Cove GSpot  and, although I only weight 82kg, I ride with a heavy pack for guiding so the brakes have a fair bit of weight to stop! Brake Performance The Elixir brakes have serious stopping power, I am running them with 203mm rotors front and back but even so the bite is incredibly good. One finger braking is always more than enough and performance is consistent, even on very long (1hr plus) descents. At no point have I ever had brake fade or pump and at no point have I ever wanted more power. In this respect they are equal to the Avid Code brakes I have used before. Modulation is something people discuss a lot in disc brake reviews, meaning (I think) how the brakes feel; are they “on/off” or is it easy to gently apply power. With the Elixirs the feel is really nice, they are hugely powerful but it’s easy to apply that power, meaning I seldom find myself locking either wheel unintentionally. The lever is shaped just right and sets up easily for single finger braking with either SRAM or Shimano shifters. Just don’t get the Avid matchmakers, they are poor beyond words. Reliability The Elixir CR’s have needed bled several times. The first time was after about 1 ride, and I thought “here we go”, however after a few bleeds they settled down and the intervals between bleeds increased. Now they haven’t needed bleeding for several months. Bleeding is tricky, it definitely isn’t guaranteed that you will get a good bleed the first time…. something highlighted by the fact that Avid can’t deliver the brakes properly bled! Other than that the brakes have performed faultlessly for 15 months. You will also need the Avid Bleed kit, which is expensive and I found that after a few uses the hoses and syringes were affected by the brake fluid and were useless. I find that my brake pads last well, and the big improvement is how easy they are to change… why did Avid make it so hard with their previous models? Adjustablility I like to have my brake levers very close to my bars, so the adjustability of the Avid Elixir CR’s is very important to me. I can set the bite point pretty accurately and, although I find it needs re-adjusting frequently, this means I can have the brakes how I like them. I think you might find it difficult if you run the brakes with the levers further from the bars because, as the pads reach the end of their life, the adjustment isn’t enough to move the bite point out from the bars. This could be changed by adjusting how you bleed the brakes, however not using the standard bleed blocks however I have never tried this. The red bite point adjuster on the brake lever body is really fiddly to use, you need to hold the hose and rotate the adjuster and it is a fiddly, two-handed job. Really badly thought out if you ask me.

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