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  1. #1
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    Noisy disc brakes

    I am new to 29ers and disc brakes so I apologize if this is a dumb question. Are disc brakes normally loud? I have a Jamis exile with Avid Elixir 3 hydraulic brakes and they seem to squeal louder than I would have thought. Is this normal or is there some adjustment that can be done to minimize the noise? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

  2. #2
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    It depends on the sound you're hearing. Some sound, by some brakes, is normal. That said, if the caliper is misaligned a brake can go from very little sound to a high pitched squeal.

  3. #3
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    Agree with above. Could be squeeling due to misalignment. Could also be from pad contamination.
    I would loosen up your caliper bolts, then squeeze your brake lever and re-tighten. This will align the calier/pads evenly on your disc.
    If the squeeling continue's, I would take the pads out, give a quick shot of brake cleaner, scuff wiith some emery paper and then re-install. Don't spray the cleaer while on bike/still in caliper. Brake cleaner is not exactly paint friendly.
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  4. #4
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    When you begin reading about Avid Elixirs in the Brake section you will see this is common -- and unacceptable to must. The best fix is to replace them with XT or SLX brakes 2012-3.

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    Cool. Kind of bummed it's common, but glad mine aren't just bad. They stop the bike, just a little embarrassing at times. Thanks to everyone for the help.

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    Had the same problem...

    My Rip9 has Elixir 5s on it. Was running into the same problem. Especially noisy when hot or dusty. Downright loud when both. Cleaned many times with only temporary improvement.
    Switched to organic pads and quiet as a mouse now. The elixirs come with a semi-metallic pad that has a harder longer lasing compound. There is an optional organic pad that is softer and quieter. I also like the feel of the organic pads better. Organic won't last as long but it's a small price to pay. I should get a whole season out of mine though. Try this before investing the big bucks in new brakes. I think you'll like the results.

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    Awesome advice. I'm looking for some right now. Any $$$ savings is good, but saving that much is great. Thanks a bunch.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    When you begin reading about Avid Elixirs in the Brake section you will see this is common -- and unacceptable to must. The best fix is to replace them with XT or SLX brakes 2012-3.
    +1 Had Elixir 5 brakes on my bike for about a year, came with my bike. Since then the Trek store has replaced the rotors and pads to the new updated versions which did nothing to cure the squeals. They told everything under the sun; I didn't break them in correctly, I don't ride hard enough, I don't ride "real" trails, I must have got oil on the rotors, etc. Just a bunch of excuses for a sub-par product.

    Last month I bought a pair of 2012 XT brakes and rotors. I've rode 4 different trails since then from the most gnarly we have in Ohio to the flat stuff here around Columbus, not a squeal out of them yet.

  9. #9
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    Awesome. I'll look into that upgrade down the road, for now I'll give the twenty dollar pads a shot, can't get much worse than they already are.

  10. #10
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    Elixir 3? Sorry man, and good luck. I didn't want rip some guy off by selling them when I got XTR brakes, so mine sit in a drawer. Try bleeding, aligning the caliper body, and cleaning the rotors-but again, good luck.

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  11. #11
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    I didn't feel like replacing my Elixer 5s and the constant squeaking, even when not braking, was impossible to stand. I did some research and found a trick to put Squeak No More at the auto parts store on the pads. They use it on car brakes. Put it on, let it dry and rode like normal. That was 4 months ago and not a squeak since. I actually found it on some Avid threads.

  12. #12
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    I had the problem with my Elixers and switched to Scrub brand pads and they've been perfect.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    When you begin reading about Avid Elixirs in the Brake section you will see this is common -- and unacceptable to must. The best fix is to replace them with XT or SLX brakes 2012-3.
    Yeah Avid brakes are screamers. I have the Shimano XT's and they can't be heard and stopping power is way better! Best brakes for the money right now!

  14. #14
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    Cleaning the disc sometimes helps. Readjusting them sometimes helps, and going with organic pads helps.

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    I have avid X0's and they are a constant maintenance item for me to keep them quiet. I really want to replace them with the XT's but it's hard to justify that expense with them pretty much brand new. They squeal, turkey gobble, warble, scream, whatever you want to call it. I'm not impressed.

  16. #16
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    The only thing good about Elixir brakes is that they will scare away bears on the trail and provide ample warning to trail runners that you are coming!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by XterraMike View Post
    The only thing good about Elixir brakes is that they will scare away bears on the trail and provide ample warning to trail runners that you are coming!
    So true!!

  18. #18
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    I've had 2 pairs of Elixir CRs, a pair of Elixir Rs and a pair of Elixir 5s over the past 4 or 5 years, and not one of them has been noisy or a problem to adjust or maintain - go figure
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cutthroat View Post
    I've had 2 pairs of Elixir CRs, a pair of Elixir Rs and a pair of Elixir 5s over the past 4 or 5 years, and not one of them has been noisy or a problem to adjust or maintain - go figure
    Which ones have been you favorite?

  20. #20
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    Probably the 5s. The pad contact adjuster on the CRs never really gets used once set up. Though the carbon lever feels nice. I think a lot of the noise issues come from improper set up initially, but some frames just seem to resonate weirdly.
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  21. #21
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    Avid is a really popular oem brake and as a result there are more troubles recognized because more people ride them. Both Shimano and avid have had problems right out of the box. Still, I favor Shimano. Love my truvativ/Sram drivetrain, but yeahhh those elixirs in my drawer are toast. I know some people love avid and hate Shimano, so if the shoe fits, wear it. But if I had to make a recommendation between the two, Shimano.

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  22. #22
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    I had elixir cr's on my Santa Cruz SL, never had a problem. A friend got a sc tall boy this summer that came with juicy 5's, total junk. Avid replaced them with 7's complete with new rotors, and while they will stop him, you can here him from a mile away.
    We were in Durango to check out the Pro Cycling Challenge, and decided to check out my fav bike shop, 2nd Ave Sports. We walked in and he went to the repair counter and randomly asked, do all avid brakes suck ? The 3 bike techs on duty all laughed while nodding their heads yes, and said that about 70% of their brake repairs were issues with avid brakes. You would think avid would have brakes down by now. He has since ordered xt !
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  23. #23
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    I have Avid CR on my bike. No problems, as long I spray alcohol on cotton ball and clean both sides of Avid rotors. Works great for me.

  24. #24
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    I found that switching my front skewer lever to the opposite side made mine quieter. Go figure...
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  25. #25
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    On many disc brake systems, when aligning the brake caliper, you might find that in the last 1/4 turn when tightening the caliper mount bolts, that the caliper starts to move as you clamp down the bolt. I've found this happens with Avid brakes as well as others. Pay really close attention the gap between your pads and rotor while tightening it down; the gaps between each pad and its respective rotor face should remain even - parallel with the rotor. If the caliper moves a bit under the last torque on the wrench, you might need to counter this movement by setting the caliper up off centered, so that it moves into the idea position as you tighten the bolts.
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  26. #26
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    I guess you can call me a Elixer non-lover. They do all the things I do not like. They squeal, they are a real pain in the backside to bleed(and they need it more often than Shimano's). They are also a pain to align(always trying to get the gap on both sides of the rotor even, always dropping the little dished washers and they always roll into the deepest darkest corner of the workshop)
    It seems as if Avid sells these for a real bargain to big bike companies. Every second new bike on the market has these.
    That is why I like my XT's and XTR's. They just work. No honking, no periodic bleeding, no issue to align them. Just bolt them on and go.

  27. #27
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    I replaced my Elixir 3's with Shimano XT last week.

    It's on a 2012 bike that I bought in the spring. No more squealing...

    I ordered Shimano XT shifters, XTR front and rear ders and a XT 2x10 crank as well.

    Nothing SRAM/Avid goes on any of my bikes any more.

    I wonder if they will lose market share in the future when buyers pass by bikes with Avid brakes.

  28. #28
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    I've been getting PO'd lately about Specialized's shift to the SRAM/Avid machine. However, my SRAM 2x10 X7 drivetrain is still flawless. I looked at this post because my Avid Elixir R SL (I guess it's a Spec. one off based on the X7 but looks like X1 components to me) is noisy but only in the rear. My front's are doing fine and I definitely use them more. The rears scream bloody murder on aggressive stops. They aren't "squeaking"; they sound like two files rubbing. I'm about to pull the rear and see what the pad to rotor contact looks like. I've adjusted the front once due to poor setup from the LBS but maybe the rear is the same. I'm not blaming Avid yet.

  29. #29
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    Actually, from looking at the pads real quick you can see the problem. Look at the inward pad. It's way far gone compared to the outward. This is an issue of initial setup. I have found that the local bike shop is usually either in a hurry or doesn't know what they are doing. This is a low-mileage bike.

    My fault for not knowing to look though.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by cutthroat View Post
    I've had 2 pairs of Elixir CRs, a pair of Elixir Rs and a pair of Elixir 5s over the past 4 or 5 years, and not one of them has been noisy or a problem to adjust or maintain - go figure
    My 2012 Kona has Elixer 3's on it,no noise what so ever,I can nose wheelie the bike at speed if desired,they work fine for not top dollar brakes.
    I wouldnt mind trying some XT's or XTR's to see what all the fuss is about.

    I had a 07 Santa Cruz with un-fixable sqeaking/squaking/grabbing/chattering/locking Juicy Avid's. Shop put Hayes on it after fiddling with the Avid's some.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by kf9yr View Post
    I replaced my Elixir 3's with Shimano XT last week.

    It's on a 2012 bike that I bought in the spring. No more squealing...

    I ordered Shimano XT shifters, XTR front and rear ders and a XT 2x10 crank as well.

    Nothing SRAM/Avid goes on any of my bikes any more.

    I wonder if they will lose market share in the future when buyers pass by bikes with Avid brakes.
    Thats odd,the X9 shifting system on my 2012 Kona has yet to do anything I would consider a problem,always shifts,even under a decent load,front is especially quick but the rear is fine. Ive adjusted each end once in about 1000 miles.
    Avid 3 brakes are also fine,I guess Im lucky.

  32. #32
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    My son's new 2012 Stumpjumper Carbon HT with Avid 7s has already developed the front warble/rear howl. New pads quieted the front, for now ... no surprise that Specialized has switched to Magura for 2013 models. I decided to avoid SRAM altogether for my new bike build, in part because I want a shifter/brake that mount together and have decided to go with Shimano XT.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockbasher View Post
    Thats odd,the X9 shifting system on my 2012 Kona has yet to do anything I would consider a problem,always shifts,even under a decent load,front is especially quick but the rear is fine. Ive adjusted each end once in about 1000 miles.
    Avid 3 brakes are also fine,I guess Im lucky.
    My choice:
    Shimano XT for cranks
    SRAM X9 for shifters and rear der
    Shimano XT for brakes
    Shimano XT for front der
    Shimano XT for cassettes
    And Reba for fork

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jfloren View Post
    I decided to avoid SRAM altogether for my new bike build, in part because I want a shifter/brake that mount together and have decided to go with Shimano XT.
    My Jamis has all Shimano X-9 and it's great. Smooth and quick shifting. The brake levers and shifters are grouped together on the bars, so I am not sure you need to go Shimano for that. But the brakes are loud, but after riding a little bit on the trails, I don't really notice them as much as I did riding around the neighborhood. They'll probably work for now, I'll try some cheap, quick fixes and see if they quiet them down before I run out and spend another $200.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entrenador View Post
    On many disc brake systems, when aligning the brake caliper, you might find that in the last 1/4 turn when tightening the caliper mount bolts, that the caliper starts to move as you clamp down the bolt. I've found this happens with Avid brakes as well as others. Pay really close attention the gap between your pads and rotor while tightening it down; the gaps between each pad and its respective rotor face should remain even - parallel with the rotor. If the caliper moves a bit under the last torque on the wrench, you might need to counter this movement by setting the caliper up off centered, so that it moves into the idea position as you tighten the bolts.
    Loosen the caliper bolts (and separate and rotate any little adjuster/washer thingies so they are all loose if you have them). Put a small piece of a playing card between the rotor and the tight pad (or both pads), pull and hold the brake lever firmly, and then tighten the caliper bolts snugly. That usually does it for me.
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  36. #36
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    My four year old XT's are so much better than the Elixer 3's on my new bike that it's ridiculous. Not just the noise, but in every possible way. Avid's are really crappy.

  37. #37
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    I just bought a santa cruz tallboy ltc which came with avid elixir 5 brakes. The rears started to squeal. I might end up getting xt brakes, but wanted to try to fix the elixirs first. I never bedded the brakes so I thought that might be a problem. I sanded the rotor and pad, cleaned with brake cleaner. Reset the calipers and then bedded. This involved stopping (but not a complete stop) from 10-15 mph 15 times, resting and then from 20mph 15 times.

    They arent totally silent but arent terrible either. With hard braking they are quiet, but with light touches then still squeal.

    as others have mentioned they are good to let hikers know you are behind them.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entrenador View Post
    On many disc brake systems, when aligning the brake caliper, you might find that in the last 1/4 turn when tightening the caliper mount bolts, that the caliper starts to move as you clamp down the bolt. I've found this happens with Avid brakes as well as others. Pay really close attention the gap between your pads and rotor while tightening it down; the gaps between each pad and its respective rotor face should remain even - parallel with the rotor. If the caliper moves a bit under the last torque on the wrench, you might need to counter this movement by setting the caliper up off centered, so that it moves into the idea position as you tighten the bolts.
    Great advice!!!! I've been dealing with Aviditis for the last while and my guess is that probably a good proportion of new bikes with Avids aren't set up right when new. Plus, the hard OEM metallic pads then wear the disc all kooky by the time they're done running crooked.

    My system is to hold the brake hard and tighten the leading [rear or down] bolt just wrist tight while watching to see the front doesn't move. Then tighten the front wrist tight and go back to the rear bolt and tighten more. When both are done up snug you can take them up to torque without the calliper shifting. If you just do one bolt all the way it will shift for sure.

    The system is also dependent upon both pistons moving equally; if one sticks you're back to the old single sided mechanical era. So pull the pads and verify that both are moving, which can be hard to see with brand new pads.

    These things are like printers; they sell them for next to nothing but charge big bucks for the ink. Serfas makes an aftermarket pad [Jenson's] which gets good reviews. It's good practice to replace pads when they are worn visibly unevenly rather than taking them down to the last dregs and create other more expensive problems.

    And my Avids now make only the inevitable brushing sounds. I'm not saying they're great brakes, but most of the problems are due to them being sensitive to proper setup which shops often don't know how to or can't be bothered with doing. Just cause some guy in a shop worked on it and it still malfunctions doesn't mean it's the product; and if the same joker puts the new one on crooked you're still not going to be happy.

  39. #39
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    i had only ridden the bike a few times before I realized I didnt bed them properly. It has been a week and I have ridden about 60 miles and the brakes are actually quiet. I get a very quiet turkey warble if I press lightly and I can also get a squeal under light pressure. 99% of the time they make no noise.

    Maybe people arent bedding them properly, not adjusting the calipers properly and then by the time they do do it, the rotor/pads are messed up.

  40. #40
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    my avids pretty much made noise from mile one. elixir, indeed.

    no more metal pads for me.

    this sounds like good advice, too: "Loosen the caliper bolts (and separate and rotate any little adjuster/washer thingies so they are all loose if you have them). Put a small piece of a playing card between the rotor and the tight pad (or both pads), pull and hold the brake lever firmly, and then tighten the caliper bolts snugly. That usually does it for me."

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by XterraMike View Post
    The only thing good about Elixir brakes is that they will scare away bears on the trail and provide ample warning to trail runners that you are coming!
    That is absolutely the funniest thing I have read about avid brakes... I had a set on my rockhopper ltd and the were great for about 10 miles then the warbling howl began and after numerous trips back to the lbs avid switched the 3's for elixirs. All was good for the first ride then the same thing. We changed to organic pads and the problem came back after a few rides. I ended up buying the Shimano xt's with ice rotors and couldn't be happier. My opinion, sell the brakes for scrap at the local recycling company and put that money toward a set of xt's

  42. #42
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    I am new to disc brakes and would like to thank you all for the advice Consider it more than one person you have assisted with the squealing of brakes.

  43. #43
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    Avid Juicy 5's on one bike, BB5 cable brakes on another, 7+ years, a couple thousand miles on each of my bikes, only time I ever hear any noise is when the rotors get wet. I am a little surprised people have so many issues with brakes. Lots of good suggestions in this thread though.

    I have a set of Avid Elixir 7 Carbons going on my new bike, if I have any problems I will try some of the things mentioned here but I think if they are setup properly they will be fine.

  44. #44
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    just installed another new set of pads and bedded them in properly according to avid's instructions.

    so far, so good.

    now if i could just stop breaking front spokes at the nipple...

  45. #45
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    I had elixir 3's on one bike a few years ago and had the typical turkey warbling and the squealing when wet was embarassing. Swapping the pads to an aftermarket set fixed the squealing but not the warbling. A bike I bought last year with elixir 5's still has the warbling but no sqwawking, so I can deal with that. I'm about to pick up my SS from the LBS, the BB5 mechanicals it came with flat out sucked, and after my first ride on it this year I decided I wouldn't ride it again until I replaced them. I dumped some $$ for xt's with ice tech rotors blah blah blah. The owner Tom tells me they're awesome, "the best I've ever ridden", I'm gonna have fun "breakin 'em in" today.

  46. #46
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    What aftermarket pads are you guys replacing them with?

  47. #47
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    Jaxxx,

    I have installed the Avid BB7's on the back and haven't had any issues with them so far. I hope this is helpful.

  48. #48
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    The only problem I have with elixar brakes is their pads. Get something organic to replace them and they are the same as anything else. I am not sure why many people have problems with them but both my XO's (race bike) and x1's (commuter) work fine. Both have been bleed once on install (shortening cables) and have not had problems. I have actually removed a little fluid from both to get a squishier feel in my lever. My mates have XX and XTR brakes on their bikes and both prefer the XX despite the grindy noise you get from the stock pads.

  49. #49
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    I have a brand new Specialized Stumpjumper HT. Had my first trip now, in heavy rain The breaks was extremly noisy, is that normal?. Cant remember my previous bike was like this...

  50. #50
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    Most brakes are noisy when wet.

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