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  1. #1
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    Avid Elixir Brakes - enough reason not to buy a bike?

    I test rode a bike I liked quite a lot - the trance x1 29er. Then I looked at the reviews online, and apparently its Avid Elixir Brakes
    are a weak point, and issues frequently come up with them (unbearable squealing being the least of them).

    So, then I decided to look at other bikes in the 3k price range -- and tons of them (rocky mountain and specialized) have the same types of brakes and the same types of problems. I don't want to pay 3k and have issues of any kind.

    WTF is up with selling a bike for 3k with known brake issues?!?! this seems totally unacceptable.

  2. #2
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    Avid Elixir Brakes - enough reason not to buy a bike?

    That is the commonly specced brake at that price range, unfortunate yes, but it's true. You usually don't see XT and nicer brakes till the 4k and up range. Now while I hate those brakes, and it would be much better if it came with SLX brakes, it is not enough reason not to buy a bike in my opinion. Do you like the rest of the spec? Do you feel it's up to par with the price? If so, buy the bike and upgrade to XT ( my personal favorite brake and in my opinion the best for the money) or something else in the future. Or see if the shop will swap out the elixirs for something better for a slight up charge. Shops are usually willing to work with you on stuff like that.


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  3. #3
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    Yeah, swapping out through the shop will probably work. or you could always just run them until you actually have a problem. I have avids on a lot of bikes and they work well. that being said, the new xt's are very nice and theirs always time to upgrade later.

  4. #4
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    Re: Avid Elixir Brakes - enough reason not to buy a bike?

    Don't let the brakes ruin your decision. Even xt and xtr can squeal and howl if not alligned to the rotor correctly. I have a set of 'probem' elixer cr from 3 years ago that works perfect with no noise a all. My new xtrs howl if I don't adjust them to the rotor right..

    Bottom line, 9 times out of 10, it is set up, not the equipment.


    Problem in quotes for sarcasm. Elixers are fine...
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  5. #5
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    just swap 'em out. either at time of sale or after. nbd. they are more problematic than shimanos in general. set-up is key but shimanos are imo much easier to deal with in terms of set-up and maintenance.

  6. #6
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    I run Elixirs on a couple of bikes with no problems. I agree. Setup is usually the problem (but I have had some brakes I just could not "set up" correctly). Just make certain they are set up as accurately as possible, burn them in well, and you likely will have no or few problems. And complete final installation yourself. Learn how if you do not know how. I do not trust any bike shop to take the time that I do in installing brakes.

    As suggested, if you do not want to try them out, your dealer may be willing switch to something else (for a little bit more $ of course).

  7. #7
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    what model? elixir CR are the top elixir, and those really are some awesome brakes. Once you know youre way around 'em you have limitless adjustment options

    they get a bad wrap 'cause they can be a pain to service and can squeal. the people that have had issues are the most vocal

    i have a set of elixir CR and a set of zees. the new shimano model years brakes are awesome, but elixirs are still a nice set of brakes.

  8. #8
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    Re: Avid Elixir Brakes - enough reason not to buy a bike?

    Even some elixer 5s on a remedy 8 were fantastic. Held up to lift service just fine.
    http://Theclydeblog.org Big guy cycling product tester

  9. #9
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    I ride a 2010 X1 with Elixir R brakes, and they are some of the best brakes I've ever used. They don't squeal at all, haven't needed to be bled in two seasons, and have crazy amount of stopping power.

    Don't let the brakes sway you, as already stated it's normally the setup.

  10. #10
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    You can always swap them out if they are problematic. Let your own experience decide instead of the "everything sucks" people

    I run Juicy 7, Elixir CR, two sets of Elixir 5's and a set of BB7's. All of them work fine (one set of Elixir 5's and the Juicy 7's are louder than the others but all of them stop quite well). Sure water splashed on them causes turkey gobbling for a few minutes when brakes are applied (I've heard some XT's and XTR's scream like spring lambs at the slaughter house too!).

  11. #11
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    For the squealing (if present) swapping to organic pads can make it go away all together. I much prefer how they feel too.

  12. #12
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    I'm not a big fan of my Elixir CR's on my Enduro, but they are not even close to being enough of an issue to make me re-consider the purchase of my bike. Like someone mentioned, bad reviews are a fairly unrepresentative number of the population out there -- a large percentage of people with problems will complain, but a small percentage without problems will bother to give good reviews. 4 of us in my riding group have Elixirs of some model or another. 3 of us are less than satisfied, the other has no issues at all. But the truth is, mine work fine, have plenty of power, and do their job just fine 90% of the time. On resort days after a couple hot runs down steep DH tracks, the rear will start to howl like crazy, and sometimes toward the end of a long descent they will make a little noise. The bleeding process also isn't the easiest. So I don't love them, and I would trade them for some XTs or something like that, but overall they do their job (albeit with a little extra noise!). But they have not made me regret the purchase of my bike at all.
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  13. #13
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    I just bought a Trance X1. I love the bike, but immediately swapped the brakes for XT setup with IceTech rotors. Well worth the $350. I also found some great deals on XT shifters, front and rear derailleur. I think the bike is spot on now. It shifts perfect and stops on a dime.

    It sucks to have to swap parts out on a new bike but I'm still in it cheaper than an X0. There is an LBS here in GA selling the Trance 29erX1 for $2199 new....Thats a great deal!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kennyboy404 View Post
    I just bought a Trance X1. I love the bike, but immediately swapped the brakes for XT setup with IceTech rotors. Well worth the $350. I also found some great deals on XT shifters, front and rear derailleur. I think the bike is spot on now. It shifts perfect and stops on a dime.

    It sucks to have to swap parts out on a new bike but I'm still in it cheaper than an X0. There is an LBS here in GA selling the Trance 29erX1 for $2199 new....Thats a great deal!

    You got the x1 29er I assume? I'm thinking of just getting the trance x1 26 inch version which seems to have better components than the 29, or the trance x0 29er...for 3500.

  15. #15
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    I did get the 29erX1. I see the 26in comes with SLX and XT components, which are better than the Sram X7/X9 and avid elixir 3 brakes. So if you can snag one under $3K, you are getting a good bike.

    Or you could hold off a few months and get a 27.5in Trance....

  16. #16
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    Don't get caught up in all the Shimano fan-boy talk on MTBR... Avid Elixirs work just fine for 95% of the people using them.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by smmokan View Post
    Don't get caught up in all the Shimano fan-boy talk on MTBR... Avid Elixirs work just fine for 95% of the people using them.
    Steve is right, just go in and buy whatever they have at your LBS. For 95% of you, you wont know the difference.

  18. #18
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    I ride Elixir3 on my Transition TransAM 29. I love how they stop, yes the front squeals a bit....but in my opinion that's just one more thing to keep the bears away. Bleeding is not an issue either, though some have had problems. It went fine for me, first time bleeding ever.
    When I upgrade mine, it'll most likely be Shimano brakes, but that won't be any time soon. Asking about Avid breaks on MTBR is like asking "How do you guys vote, Democrat or Republican?" on a gun forum. Just sayin.
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  19. #19
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    My elixir CRs are no way as bad as MTBR leads you to believe.

    I prefer my shimanos, but they work fine. I prefer organic pads for improved feel.
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  20. #20
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    I've had more bad luck than good with Avids (use Hope and Formula now), but I agree with getting the bike and seeing how they work for you.
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  21. #21
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    I've been running a set of Avid Elixir 1's for 1.5 years. They started to brake a little soft and felt a little spongey so I changed the pads and bled them for the first time about a month ago. Other than that I am very happy with my bottom end Avid Elixirs...

  22. #22
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    The LBS might be able to swap them out, giving you the cost as difference. Mine did that for me, but in regards to a seatpost upgrade to a Reverb.

    My bike came with Elixir 5s that shortly after getting it started producing the god awful turkey howling and shaking so bad I could feel it in the bike. Multiple trips to the LBS to no avail. Got lucky with Blue Sky having the then brand new XT's on sale and I quickly jumped on it. I doubt I'd go Elixirs again, maybe the Code's but I don't need DH brakes for trail riding.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by DukeNeverwinter View Post
    Don't let the brakes ruin your decision. Even xt and xtr can squeal and howl if not alligned to the rotor correctly. I have a set of 'probem' elixer cr from 3 years ago that works perfect with no noise a all. My new xtrs howl if I don't adjust them to the rotor right..

    Bottom line, 9 times out of 10, it is set up, not the equipment.


    Problem in quotes for sarcasm. Elixers are fine...
    Avid is the only brake manufacturer where I've seen the turkey-warble problem consistently. This isn't squeal or howl, it's resonant vibration that is caused by the caliper weight/design and propagates through the frame, eventually causing a loss of control due to the parts moving so badly.

    The elixirs are pretty bad as disc brakes go, still, disc brakes are simple mechanical devices and relatively easy to service usually. I wouldn't decide against a bike because of a couple components, but if it's a lot of components I may move on. Some new specializeds are coming with formula brakes instead of the lower level elixirs. I just got mine a few weeks back and there were one-piece caliper formulas on there, so I was happy to not end up with another bike with elixirs (I have one, not a fan of the brakes on that bike either).
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  24. #24
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    Don't allow the brakes to be a deciding factor. If you like the bike, then get it. Ride it a couple of times with the stock kit. What's the worst that could happen? You like everything but the brakes? swap them out and problem solved. Also, dont always fully trust internet reviews...

    Here's my experience

    This was the one weak point I was worrying about when I bought my Bandit, it came with Elixir 9s. From the day I bought it I said I would change the brakes because they had bad reviews.

    A couple of weeks after I placed the order came her maiden voyage, shortly after that came a two-week-long bike trip on Moab and Western Colorado. To this day (coincidentally, she'll be exactly one year old tomorrow) I have yet to hear the squeaking. I have ridden in various conditions (wet, dry, muddy, dusty) and still havent heard the slightest hint of a squeak from them..

    I do like the feel and stopping power of the Elixirs, its more than enough for me and my set has never let me down or annoyed me in any way. Stopped thinking about changing them a long while ago.. Again, try them, if you dont like them swap them out for a different set and problem solved.

    Although I confess I still want to try a set of Shimano brakes, the reviews and experience from close friends seem to be solid.

    Hope this helps.

  25. #25
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    Re: Avid Elixir Brakes - enough reason not to buy a bike?

    . Buy it, but some slx brakes with rotors $200-300 and sell the take offs

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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmojorising8 View Post
    I test rode a bike I liked quite a lot - the trance x1 29er. Then I looked at the reviews online, and apparently its Avid Elixir Brakes
    are a weak point, and issues frequently come up with them (unbearable squealing being the least of them).

    So, then I decided to look at other bikes in the 3k price range -- and tons of them (rocky mountain and specialized) have the same types of brakes and the same types of problems. I don't want to pay 3k and have issues of any kind.

    WTF is up with selling a bike for 3k with known brake issues?!?! this seems totally unacceptable.
    only problems I see with off the showroom bike brakes with bikes under 3k are the cheap tektro

    I have Avid Elixier 1's on 2 of my bikes now, Never have had a problem. the bikes stop when I want them to.. my Trek has SLX rear and a XT (lever) front. I like the way adjust over the Avid's.
    Nothing wrong with Avid's. Some have had problems others have not. I have not.
    Too Many .

  27. #27
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    I sold a bike that had XTs on it and bought one with Elixer 5s. The Elixers aren't bad but I like the Shimanos so much more. I just got rid of the Avids and bought a new set of XTs. The Elixers will work and be fine allowing you to ride the hell out of your bike, I just like the power and feel of the XTs so much more. If you've never ridden the XTs, then the Elixers will be just fine.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by KThaxton View Post
    For the squealing (if present) swapping to organic pads can make it go away all together. I much prefer how they feel too.
    Thanks for the suggestion- organic pads disintegrate too quickly for me.

  29. #29
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    whoah...popular topic! Thanks for the replies! I think i'm going to find a bike with shimano components for slightly above 3k. If i'm not getting good components for 3k, then I might as well spend 2k or less and not get good components.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmojorising8 View Post
    whoah...popular topic! Thanks for the replies! I think i'm going to find a bike with shimano components for slightly above 3k. If i'm not getting good components for 3k, then I might as well spend 2k or less and not get good components.
    Well, if you really like the bike, you're making a mountain out of a molehill IMO worrying about the brakes. Odds are they will be great, there is a chance they will be completely functional but slightly annoying. But good luck!
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  31. #31
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    I bought a bike that came with Elixir 7's a year ago. At first the brakes were great. Plenty of power, no noise. They went downhill pretty fast though. I told my friends, who also have various elixirs, in fact I have 4 friends with elixir R or elixir 7s. They all said that is very strange and their brakes are fine. So I rode their bikes. All of them have brake issues.

    So yes, as one person above said, 95% of people won't know the difference. But for people who pay attention, they require a lot of maintenance to function consistently.

  32. #32
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    Some like Avid's, everyone loves XT's that I've met on the trail.

  33. #33
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    Avid Elixir Brakes - enough reason not to buy a bike?

    Quote Originally Posted by clydecrash View Post
    I run Elixirs on a couple of bikes with no problems. I agree. Setup is usually the problem (but I have had some brakes I just could not "set up" correctly). Just make certain they are set up as accurately as possible, burn them in well, and you likely will have no or few problems. And complete final installation yourself. Learn how if you do not know how. I do not trust any bike shop to take the time that I do in installing brakes.
    ^^^ This. I have the same bike and I bed the brakes per SRAM's instructions. The stock rears are fine but I had to replace pads on the front because they squealed. I replaced the pads with the Serfas equivalents on Jensonusa.com and they are very quiet (and cheap). My experience with Elixir brakes are good
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  34. #34
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    If you are buying the bike brand spanking new off the show room floor, don't even worry about squeaky brakes. Most bike shops comes with a year or life time service upon purchase.

  35. #35
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    Avids seem to get a bad rap. I think it is due to improper bleed. XTs are great, but so are my properly bled Avids.

  36. #36
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    Re: Avid Elixir Brakes - enough reason not to buy a bike?

    I look at things this way, any bike I buy there is bound to be something that I want different cause I don't like that part. So I buy the bike and change what I don't like. My current bike and an example of what not to do is my trek marlin 29er ht... $600 bike that i have close to $2k in now, only stock part is the seat post. Not my smartest idea but kept wife off my back cause bike was $600 and she has no clue parts I bought/cost of them.

    If only concern was brakes on my next bike purchase I'd be stoked,lol. Yet to see a stock set of wheels I'm not afraid ill taco if i sat on it unless heavier wheels on lower lvl bikes. Never find a seat, and stem or bar set up on a bike stock I wouldnt change.

    So if I liked the rest of the bike except brakes were of concern, is buy it, ride the hell outta it, when brakes did piss me off if it indeed happened, is replace with something is know and trust.



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  37. #37
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    This may be a little off topic, but from what I've read giant is going to mainly be switching over to 27.5 and the will slowly phase out the 29ers so I'd read this...............
    Giant Debuts Trance 27.5 Models

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    Avids seem to get a bad rap. I think it is due to improper bleed. XTs are great, but so are my properly bled Avids.
    So avid doesn't know how to bleed brakes? Come on, it's dead simple and the same basic idea for 99.99% of brakes out there. It's pretty easy to figure out if it's the bleed by squeezing the lever and feeling the engagement point and if that changes significantly during riding.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by DukeNeverwinter View Post
    Bottom line, 9 times out of 10, it is set up, not the equipment.... Elixers are fine...
    Truer words have rarely been typed here.

  40. #40
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    Buy the bike and sell the brakes to a distant relative that you don't care for very much.

    I hate Avid brakes...It may not deter me from buying a bike but they would be at the top of my list to replace. Shimano's are the shiznit!!!
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

  41. #41
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    ^ Same. Every set of Avid brakes on test rides and demo days have squealed and warbled for me. The ones that came on my StumpJumper would cause the front fork to shake violently.

    I swapped out for Shimano XT brakes and rotors and haven't looked back. Silent, much better brake feel, easy to set up.

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  42. #42
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    Figure your bike price with the cost of changes worked in and then compare to a bike with the Shimano brakes.
    SLX are the same as XT and I like the initial modulation control.
    Bluesky has front for 70 and rear for 90. $160 minus what you sell the Avid take-offs for.

  43. #43
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    I've owned 2 sets of Avid brakes, my old bike had Elixir R's, and my current bike has Elixir 5's. No noise whatsoever, great stopping power, and they are stupidly simple to bleed. Maybe not quite as easy as Shimano brakes, but properly bleeding a brake isn't rocket science. Shimano brakes are awesome, but I have no reason to change what is working fine for me. I say try the Avid brakes and if you don't like them, swap them for something else.

  44. #44
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    for not much more than the extra price of the shimano brakes, I could just get a trance x0, rather than x1, which already has shimano brakes and other upgraded components

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmojorising8 View Post
    for not much more than the extra price of the shimano brakes, I could just get a trance x0, rather than x1, which already has shimano brakes and other upgraded components
    Sometimes you get something in your head you just gotta run with it no matter how many times we say elixir are good...I have definitely done that, myself, and I have rarely been disappointed by following my gut

    But just check blue sky cycling ... They've had some awesome deals on shimano brakes lately that may make it better to sell the elixirs as new take offs

  46. #46
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    go for the X0 then. It'll be a fantastic bike. Are you going to wait and get the new Trance that was just announced in 650b?
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  47. #47
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    Maybe you can arrange for a brake swap directly when you purchase the bike...
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  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by charging_rhinos View Post
    go for the X0 then. It'll be a fantastic bike. Are you going to wait and get the new Trance that was just announced in 650b?
    I'm going to demo a 29er on the trails I ride (rather than just a hill, which is what i've done so far)...if I like it as much as I think I do, I'll get it. If not, than a 26 inch wheel version. I find it hard to believe that 27.5 will be different enough from 26 that it's worth waiting for, and not getting a 26 inch version at the discounts they're on for now.

  49. #49
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    Elixirs just arent that bad. I have 2 bikes with elixir 5 and one with elixir cr. After you put in new pads, you bed them in. Just like the instructions say to do. No warbling, no squealing.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtdawg21892 View Post
    Yeah, swapping out through the shop will probably work. or you could always just run them until you actually have a problem. I have avids on a lot of bikes and they work well. that being said, the new xt's are very nice and theirs always time to upgrade later.
    This was my plan 6000 miles ago, but the 5s have only needed pad replacements, nothing else! They will be replaced with XTR eventually.

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