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  1. #1
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    Avid Elixer 5 issues. Keep or Punt.

    So here is my problem. I know it isn't an uncommon problem, but I would like to get others opinion on the direction I should go.

    I have Avid Elixer 5's which came with my bike, they have worked pretty well for 18 months. They ***** and moan (rub and gobble), but they have worked. Now the front pads needed to be changed, so I did but the rotor won't fit back in the caliper with the new pads. The front has been a bit soft, but once they warm up they are pretty good. The rear has gotten too firm, but once they warm up they soften up a bit. This doesn't make sense to me at all, but this is what happens.

    I don't like how tight the pad/rotor tolerance is on the Elixers. The brakes change during a ride which is irritating.

    So here is where I stand

    I can bleed to brakes and try to get them working correctly again. I would have to purchase a bleed kit. Should I buy an avid bleed kit or one of the cheaper ones on ebay?
    I can replace the brakes with BB7's for a more simplistic braking system. I like the ease of adjustment and the ability to fix these anywhere. Can I use my rotors for these? Which brake levers are best?
    I can replace the brakes with Shimano XT hydros.

    I ride in North Georgia/Tennessee and don't think that the performance of the BB7's would be a problem.

    Would appreciate any feedback.

  2. #2
    Chamois Dropper
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    You probably need to push the pistons back into the caliper bores as they come out over time to compensate for worn pads. The new pads are thicker. IMO, these brakes are not worth sinking too much $ into, but if they work, run 'em. I replaced my gobbling elixir 3s (after spending a bunch of money to try to shut them up) with XTs and have been very happy.
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  3. #3
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    You need to reset the calipers for a pad change. Just take a plastic tire lever with the pads out and push in on the caliper to reset it. This needs to be done to every brake when you get new pads.
    I have Had 2 sets of elixir 5 brakes and I hate them. They are the worst. I put xt's on my am bike and they are awesome. You will have to get ice tech rotors too so it's not cheap but worth it. I still have elixir 5 brakes on my hardtail and they suck just like my last set. Don't buy anything with a avid label on it as far as I'm concerned.

  4. #4
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    Thanks guys. I did reset the calipers. I also pried on them with a huge screw driver. They moved out, but not enough. I wanted to ride so i used one new pad and one old one. It rubbed a bit, but seemed ok. When I finished my ride last night the front brake was dragging so bad that it wouldn't do a full revolution.

    So you guys wouldn't sink more money into a poor system. That is kind of what I was thinking, why waste the money on something that is going to continue giving me problems.

    So two votes for ditching the elixirs and going to XT hydros.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackblack View Post
    Thanks guys. I did reset the calipers. I also pried on them with a huge screw driver. They moved out, but not enough. I wanted to ride so i used one new pad and one old one. It rubbed a bit, but seemed ok. When I finished my ride last night the front brake was dragging so bad that it wouldn't do a full revolution.

    So you guys wouldn't sink more money into a poor system. That is kind of what I was thinking, why waste the money on something that is going to continue giving me problems.

    So two votes for ditching the elixirs and going to XT hydros.
    I run Elixir 5's currently--no gobbble for 18 month, good bite, nice stopping power. I just had the same problem as you, soft-ish lever feel and pads would not let rotor in. Used the prying trick, but the system needed a bleed to correct the problem (pistons wouldn't retract far enough.) The bleed worked, but after a couple of muddy rides the squishy level feel is back.
    Just ordered a set of XT's from Performance for $130 per.

    Barry
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  6. #6
    I did it all for the kudo
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    Punt

  7. #7
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    Hydros should be fully bled once per year, as in all of the fluid replaced. You can expect performance to suffer the longer you use old fluid since it will absorb water and cause issues like sticky pistons.

    I would assume that your current brakes need the pistons cleaned. Lots of posts here on how to do this, but you essentially extend the pistons, clean them with alcohol, lube them with brake fluid, push them back into their bores, and repeat until they move freely.

    Most noise issues can be resolved with careful alignment. This sometimes requires patience and creativity. While it is generally easy to get the caliper centered over the rotor so there is no rub, it's not so easy to see whether the pads are as parallel to the rotor as possible. It also helps to make sure the CPS mounting hardware is clean and slides around freely - it is easy for friction to build up between the washers, preventing proper alignment. I've also occasionally had to bias the positioning of the caliper a bit by pushing it all the way to one side before squeezing the lever to hold it in place.

    Odd as it sounds, I've also solved noise issues on the trail by throwing some dirt on the rotors. The light abrasion removes whatever is fouling the rotor/pad interface.

    Good luck,
    Pete
    I can barely get my mouth around it.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedalphile View Post
    Hydros should be fully bled once per year, as in all of the fluid replaced. You can expect performance to suffer the longer you use old fluid since it will absorb water and cause issues like sticky pistons...
    How does water typically get into the system?

  9. #9
    Eat, Poop, Pedal.
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    punt. My '12 Reign came with Elixer 1's. They will be in the trash as soon as the season is done. Do they work? ..... Sure, kind of. My buddy upgraded the 1's to the 5's and this was a HUGE mistake! Haha.. He HATES the 5's. So i would say overall ditch the Avids.... Go Shimano! Xt, XTR, SAINT.. I'm throwing Saints on my bike. and my buddy is currently trying to sell his 5's to get some XT's.
    2012 Reign.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by treilley View Post
    How does water typically get into the system?
    DOT brake fluid is hydrophilic and will absorb moisture right out of the air. The most likely spot for this to happen is at the piston seals as the pistons extend and retract. Water isn't the only enemy, however. At a year old, brake fluid will usually be discolored with contaminants and these contaminants can damage the system over time.
    I can barely get my mouth around it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackblack View Post
    So here is my problem. I know it isn't an uncommon problem, but I would like to get others opinion on the direction I should go.

    I have Avid Elixer 5's which came with my bike, they have worked pretty well for 18 months. They ***** and moan (rub and gobble), but they have worked. Now the front pads needed to be changed, so I did but the rotor won't fit back in the caliper with the new pads. The front has been a bit soft, but once they warm up they are pretty good. The rear has gotten too firm, but once they warm up they soften up a bit. This doesn't make sense to me at all, but this is what happens.

    I don't like how tight the pad/rotor tolerance is on the Elixers. The brakes change during a ride which is irritating.

    So here is where I stand

    I can bleed to brakes and try to get them working correctly again. I would have to purchase a bleed kit. Should I buy an avid bleed kit or one of the cheaper ones on ebay?
    I can replace the brakes with BB7's for a more simplistic braking system. I like the ease of adjustment and the ability to fix these anywhere. Can I use my rotors for these? Which brake levers are best?
    I can replace the brakes with Shimano XT hydros.

    I ride in North Georgia/Tennessee and don't think that the performance of the BB7's would be a problem.

    Would appreciate any feedback.
    Aloha, you ask a whole bunch of questions so I'll try to answer each (most) of them.

    There's nothing wrong the the Elixer 5's. That said, all brakes will require service or maintenance from time to time. The ultimate question is to define what your time is worth and how much time is being chewed up with your or someone else maintaining your bike and you not being able to ride (and how much $$ you have to budget toward a new set of brakes).

    Start by pushing both front and back pads all the way into the caliper bodies (pistons). Put the wheel back in and then exercise the levers, this should/could fix the change in lever feel. As one of the other posters stated, the pistons slowly move out and need to be moved back in prior to installing new pads.

    Now it could be that the brake fluid needs replacing. This could also be contributing to the change in lever feel when you start riding and things warm up. Brake fluid "absorbs" moisture. This moisture (water) starts off very compressible compared to the fluid. As you start riding, the moisture expands and causes the lever to feel different.

    So to answer that question, get the bleed kit. It's a great tool to have and even if you get rid of the Avid brakes, you'll be able to adapt it to work with other hydraulic brakes. I've used mine on many branded brakes and they have paid for themselves in time and $$.

    BB7's are great brakes, if I had to pick a mechanical, that's the brake. I've installed and used them on several bikes over the years. However, do not think they are maintenance free. Its like people used to tell me about Volkswagen Bugs years ago. They're so easy to work on you can work on them anywhere. I answered back yes, true but I'd rather have a car I didn't have to service out on the road all the time. Anyway, back to the issue here. You will have the ability to adjust a lot of things out on the trail and you will end up doing that as it is just the way those brakes work. The inboard pad is set while the outer pad gets pushed into the rotor and pushes the rotor into the inboard pad. It works, it's simple but it has inherent issues. I'm not saying it is bad in any way, I'm just saying it is the way it is and I think it's a great solution to a problem. Also, no matter how you try, your rear and front brakes will always feel different because of the cable system. Once again, you'll be able to make adjustments all the time out in the field.

    With the BB7's, you can use the same or pretty much any rotor. That's the beauty of the disk brakes. As long as the diameter is the same, you "should" be OK. Very few exceptions here.

    Almost any mechanical brake lever by Shimano (V-Brake) or Avid will work great. I've had great success with other "retro" levers like Real etc. You'd be hard pressed to find a lever that works poorly with them.

    On a side note, I like the BB7 brakes because they use the same large pad that other Avid brakes use.

    Finally, getting to your XT Hydro question. If you can afford them go for it. They have a lot of great features and work great. It is a step up and improvement over the 5's but if you already own the 5's there's nothing wrong with staying with them. Once again, it's a matter of what's your money and time worth.

    I hope I covered most of the ??'s and didn't confuse the issue too much. Good luck with that.

  12. #12
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    Great points all. I think gmat sums it up rather well. Money isn't a huge issue, but I want to use it wisely. I think I am going to invest in the bleed kit and give it a go. If they still suck, I have a bleed kit and can use it for the next set of brakes.

    It sounds like the XT's are the ticket, but I am going to give the 5's one more try. May be back on here before long saying the experiment worked out or didn't.

    Thanks,
    Pete

  13. #13
    I did it all for the kudo
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    I've had Avid Elixers too. There are two distinct noises that they make. One is a screeching pad noise which they all seem to make. The other is a warbling squeal that took me awhile to get rid of, which after weeks of screwing around I found out that Elixers are prone to getting/trapping micro bubbles of air behind the pistons. When this happens you'll know it because it will start to make this type of sound on longer descents when the brakes start getting hot the bubbles will expand causing the piston to vibrate against the rotor.
    To get rid of this create back pressure in the caliper while bleeding by using the syringe that's included with the bleed kit.
    Or just do like I did and get rid of those piece's of sh$t.
    Punt man Punt.

    Hopefully all of this made sense and helps...

  14. #14
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by jackblack View Post

    It sounds like the XT's are the ticket, but I am going to give the 5's one more try. May be back on here before long saying the experiment worked out or didn't.

    Thanks,
    Pete
    Aloha Pete,

    The XT's are at a great price right now. I've seen them for about $100/wheel (minus rotors).

    Good luck with the bleeding. If you were here, I'd also recommend another solution. You come by, we work on the bike together and figure it out. But oh well, if you bought a ticket here, you could have bought all kinds of exotic brake stuff............

  15. #15
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    The short answer. They are Avids. Bleed them and if it doesn't fix it, bleed them again. If prying open the pads did not fix the problem a good proper bleed(or 2) will fix it. Be forewarned, they are a SOB to get all the air out and it will probally take you more than one try.

  16. #16
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    i must be in the minority but i have been more than satisfied with my elixir 5's. all I did was swap out the rear rotor to eliminate the noise issue.
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  17. #17
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    I have Elixir 5's and have had no problems. When I changed the pads the first time I had to drain a little fluid to get the new pads right which is reall easy. Just loosen the fitting on the reservoir on by the break lever, push on the pads and a little fluid will come out then tighten it before you release the pressure.
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