Bleeding Avid Elixir X0 Brakes, the steps they forgot to mention
I know, to fix Avid brakes replace them with Shimano. Probably the best answer, but for those looking for a few tips to dramatically improve the brakes you already have here is what I've come up with. My two main problems were completely mushy brakes and no ability to adjust reach. I had to have the reach adjuster set completely out and even then the brake lever was hitting my other fingers before the brakes would engage.
Basically follow the bleed procedure in the Avid manual or videos, plus:
1) Every procedure should be done with the caliper or lever so air will exit the port. A couple examples;
- If the rear caliper is mounted on the bike, put the bike in a stand so the banjo fitting is at the top and lean the bike so air goes toward the banjo fitting when pushing fluid through the hose
- then lay the bike on it's side so the caliper port points up when applying vacuum/pressure with the syringe to remove air
- for the lever, if you have a reach adjuster close it ALL the way, then do whatever it takes to make sure the port points up. Loosen the clamp and turn the lever or even remove the lever and hold it when transferring fluid from the caliper.
2) When bleeding the lever, take it off the handlebar and make sure the bleed port points up and angled so any air trapped in the lever will make it way to the port. Avid says just point the port up, but I have found this totally insufficient. You need to remove the lever at this stage. Tap on the lever and the lever body to make sure any air moves to the port. First time I did this I was amazed at the size of the bubbles that came out.
3) remove the syringes, put the pads back in and wheels back on and squeeze the lever so the brakes engage the rotor
4) This is the important one to get your reach adjustment back. Put the syringe you were using on the caliper (the one you prepared by removing all the air from) back on the lever. With the lever removed from the handlebar apply a little pressure to the syringe as you hold on to the syringe and reach adjuster and rotate the lever so the reach adjuster is all the way back to fully open (the direction of the arrow). Remove the syringe and that's it.
After adding these steps most of the mush is gone. Not quite as nice as Shimano, but well within being acceptable and safe. I also have the ability to adjust the reach completely and I only need a couple clicks to get the levers exactly where I want them. I hope this helps and it works well for other people going crazy with these brakes. Let me know if there is anything I can clear up, I'm wrote this for someone that knows the basic procedure already, not someone starting at zero.
Last edited by smithcreek; 08-06-2013 at 10:27 AM.
Bike to the Bone...
Thanks, I just replaced my Elixir for some Maguras, but if I go back then I'll follow your tips, have a great day and thanks for the post.
I must be the luckiest cyclist on the planet. I have XO's and have had great performance since day one. I've bled them twice as part of routine fluid replacement, and they still perform really well. Shimano stuff feels like an on/off switch to me. Your tips will probably help some folks. I've never gone to the extreme you have, but again......I must be lucky.
I feel this way too. I tell people I must have gotten a set of lemons.
Originally Posted by ghettocop
I know a bunch of people that have never touched their Avid brakes and are completely happy with them. I'm no Avid hater, but I would say there is an element of luck. I think if you get a set that are not bled properly at the factory it is very difficult to improve them using only the instructions they provide, and very easy to make them worse than when you started. I think this is especially true when you have to pull the line off the lever to change the length of the brake like I did on one set.
I have two sets. Both sets started off "not right" from the factory. One set came on a fully built bike, the other I bought a la carte. Both sets were kind of mushy and I had to have the reach adjuster all the way in or at most a click or two from all the way or else I did not have room to squeeze the levers. On top of that they were very inconsistent. One minute the lever was firm and engaged where I set it, the next it was complete mush and the levers almost hit the bars. I'm sure I made them worse by trying to bleed them multiple times using the exact steps Avid published. With the extra steps I added all the problems are gone. I've been riding one set for several months now, so I'm confident in the fix and overall, very happy with the brakes.
Last edited by smithcreek; 08-09-2013 at 11:09 AM.
Bike to the Bone...
I also feel that there are a lot of Elixir out there, so the chance of people reporting problems is higher on this one than on other which have a smaller user base.
I don't really like them, but they're ok if bleed correctly...
So what you refer to as the reach adjust is really the pad contact adjust, correct (the adjuster whre the hose meets the master cylinder)? I agree with your technique if that is the case. Also, if you set the lever spacing up for 1 finger braking like Avid recomends, then the lever will not hit your other fingers (not that it should make it that close to the bar anyhow). Nice write up.
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