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  1. #1
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    Hydraulic Brakes Problems

    Considered posting this in the "Beginners Corner" so if this is to basic of a question, feel free to bump it...

    I picked up my first Hydraulic Brake bike a few months ago, and was never told "don't put hydraulic brake bikes upside down." I suppose this should be fairly obvious, but coming from a BMX background, that was what i was used to doing, and never thought twice about it. So now, my rear brakes are incredibly soft, and i have to pull the lever all the way to the bars to get even some stopping power. There must be air in there, right?

    So i took it to my LBS where i purchased the bike, and the guy asked how i stored the bike, i told him upside down in my apartment, he seemed to know with that exactly what the issue was, and took my bike to the service department and instructed me to come back in a few hours as they have to bleed my rear brake line. So i come back, and they give me the bike and say "All good!"

    However, the problem still existed, so when i approached the guy who did the work he said "well, we bled the brakes, and this is just how they are, As the hoses get used, they stretch." He also said they topped off the reservoir.

    My question is, is what the mechanic said about the hose stretch true, and would this keep my brakes spongy? Or did they not really bleed my brakes? They didn't charge me anything because i get "free tune ups" but bleeding brakes seems like something that may not be covered, and i feel like they just didn't feel like working on it, and sent me on my way.

    Lastly, if the guys weren't messing with me, is there anything i can do? I already adjusted the lever so it is as far from the bars as possible since i have large hands (this was done before having this issue).

    Brakes are Avid Elixer 5's.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    First of all I'm a senior mechanic at an lbs with 17 years of shop experience.
    The elixir 5 does not have a reservoir. The elixir brakes use taper bore technology in lieu of a reservoir. So that claim with the ridiculous hose stretch claim point to either incompetence or downright deception. The hose stretch line is complete BS; however, avid brakes are a bit troublesome to bleed for the marginal/mediocre mechanic. You need to follow a specific procedure to get it right. It is possible to get that brake to function correctly, contrary to popular opinion.
    Find a new lbs if possible.
    Or, give the lying mechanic this link:
    Technical Tuesday: How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes - Pinkbike
    2014 Tallboy 2

  3. #3
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    Find a new mechanic

    What I've done in the past is angle the bike so there's an entirely upward path for the hose from the caliper to the lever. Hold down the lever for 30 or so seconds, pump it a bit, hold it again, bounce the bike on the rear wheel while holding the lever, repeat, etc. This has stiffened up levers, for me at least, with Shimano hydraulics.

  4. #4
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    Thank you MLK John and JSILVA

  5. #5
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    used to happen with my Avids if they had air in the system. would work fine but if i put the bike upside down for a bit, the lever would go all the way to the bar. if i put the bike right side up and pumped the brakes 10-15 times, it would get better. that said, that was a very temporary solution. bleeding them correctly is the only thing that would actually work. doesnt sound like he bled them to me....

  6. #6
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    mlx and jsilva hit it on the money. This dude is clueless on Elixirs. He probably didn't even attempt to bleed the caliper.

  7. #7
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    The "mechanic" that you took it to does not have a basic understanding of hydraulic brakes period. Hydraulic brake lines do not stretch. Doesnt matter what brand/model of brake it is.

    Take it to a different shop and get them bled.

    Better yet, read up on how to bleed them yourself - bleed techniques are very similar and once you learn the theory doing it on one, it will transfer onto others easily.

  8. #8
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    Thank you guys. The video that mix john posted is perfect. The reason i wanted to go with the bike shop is they made it sound like these first few things they would cover for free, so figured i might as well try for it.

    Any recommendations on what kit to get? I am seeing this Epic kit, any good? Like i said, Avid Elixer 5's.

    Thanks again for the responses!

  9. #9
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    If you can swing for the pricier version, they work much better, but you can get it done with the cheaper version too.

    Avid Professional Bleed Kit > Accessories > Tools > Bleed Kits | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop

    Avid Disc Brake Bleed Kit > Accessories > Tools > Bleed Kits | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    2014 Tallboy 2

  10. #10
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    both of those kits are, in my opinion, overpriced. You only really need the two syringes and the fluid. This you can get on ebay for $20.
    2008 Trek Fuel EX 8

  11. #11
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    Thank you all again for your help. I ended up getting the Avid Bleed Kit ($50) at another LBS. I was successful after my second attempt, and the brakes are working as good as new.

    1 question- How would i know if they are over filled?

  12. #12
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    I'm not really sure how you can overfill the elixirs tbh, unless the calipers were messed up and the pistons were seized and didn't return maybe?

  13. #13
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    an overfilled system may not allow you to retract the pistons enough to get a new set of pads in.
    2008 Trek Fuel EX 8

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