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  1. #1
    human dehumidifier
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    Long term success rebuilding Elixir brakes?

    I've got a set of Elixir CR brakes that have been great for the past 2 seasons but have turned to junk on me this year. Both brakes drag, and seem to be activating by themselves while I'm JRA. All at once they'll start honking like I'm dragging the brake, then I can snap the levers a few times and it'll stop for a while, but it eventually repeats. I found a sticky piston in both calipers, and was able to get that worked out with a little cleaning and a lot of patience. But, while doing that I noticed that messing with the lever reach adjustment is altering the pad spacing (not predictably) so I think I'm having master cylinder problems too. Which makes sense with the problem I'm having while JRA.

    I haven't bled them, but the lever is always firm so I don't think they need bled. I also did the trick of letting a little fluid out from the lever bleed screw in case they're over full, and some did come out, but it didn't help anything.

    I'm thinking about rebuilding them, but at the same time I'm wondering if anyone has had luck with that process, and if so, how long was it before the problem came back? If I can rebuild them and get another couple seasons out of them I'll do it, but if chances are slim of that working, I'd rather not throw good money after bad. I don't mind spending money, but a hate wasting it. So, I'd appreciate hearing your experiences rebuilding Elixir calipers and master cylinders, good and bad.

    Thanks
    I may or may not be laughing at you.

  2. #2
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    I've had great success in extending the life of the brakes after "rebuilds". Simple to do and cheaper than buying new brakes especially if you have the time. The rebuild isn't tough and nor is the bleeding. Just takes time and patience.

  3. #3
    human dehumidifier
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    I looked up the part numbers and the caliper kits (11.5015.031.000) are cheap at $9 each, the lever kits (11.5015.064.020) not quite so cheap at $27 each. Still, total with shipping is less than one wheel's worth of new brakes. Of course that assumes I don't find a mess inside once I take it all apart, requiring additional parts.

    I would try the calipers first, but if that doesn't work then I've got to go through the refill and bleed procedure again to rebuild the levers so it makes sense to do it all at once.
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  4. #4
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    Tough call, I would tend to go with the take it apart once and do the work one time. However, the engineer in me says start at the caliper to isolate the problem. I mean the goal is to get the bike working but the learning potential here is big as if the problem ever occurs again, this could save you $$ down the road when acquiring parts.

  5. #5
    human dehumidifier
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmats View Post
    Tough call, I would tend to go with the take it apart once and do the work one time. However, the engineer in me says start at the caliper to isolate the problem. I mean the goal is to get the bike working but the learning potential here is big as if the problem ever occurs again, this could save you $$ down the road when acquiring parts.
    Yeah there's $50 difference between just rebuilding the calipers and doing the levers too. But at the same time, a total rebuild is probably due anyway, since this is the 3rd season for them.

    FWIW this is exactly the scenario I think of when I say anything about hydraulics being overcomplicated for a bicycle, because I can't isolate the problem like I could with BB-7s.
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  6. #6
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    I hear you, that's certainly the simplicity of a mechanical (BB7's). Though I have to say mechanical/hydraulics, either one, still so much better than the V-brakes or even cantilever days. I remember doing my mountain bike trips to CO years back and servicing my and riding buddy's brakes after every ride. Sanding pads and rims, cleaning and re-aligning pads something I certainly do not miss. Ah, the good 'ol days.

  7. #7
    human dehumidifier
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    I never had much problem with V-brakes, just keep them clean and don't wear the pads out and all was well. I was forever fiddling with cantilevers though, never could get enough brake action out of those to satisfy myself.
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  8. #8
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    Yes, the V's were a big improvement but weren't so good going through the mud and junk. They did fade from time to time and the pads did wear out pretty quick. I like the simplicity though. Definitely an improvement over the cantilevers. Once I went with disk though, never went back. Early/mid 90's Hayes on m Psycle Werks.

  9. #9
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    There is probably a thread somewhere here on this but I noticed that at some point the Avid master cylinder (lever) pistons just start sticking. I don't know if the fluid swells the plastic piston, or if absorbed water in the brake fluid swells the plastic piston. The initial symptom is dragging that can be confused with a sticking caliper piston. Finally the lever will develop slop because the piston is not returning all the way and the brakes drag like the lever is pulled. At that point you have to rebuild the lever master cylinder. I rebuilt one a few weeks ago that was dragging so bad I couldn't roll the bike forward. I had to drive the piston out of the lever bore with a small drill it was so tight. Once rebuilt everything worked fine. In a pinch I drove one lever piston out and chucked it in a drill and spun while turning the diameter down with the edge of a razor blade. I figured it was a long shot but it worked perfectly. The only hard part of rebuilding the lever is getting the snap ring out without damaging it. Likewise a stuck caliper piston can be hard to remove, even with air pressure sometimes. There is probably an Avid tool for pulling the caliper pistons because there is a small groove on the inside that looks like it would work with and expanding tool. On my bike I just learned to rebuild everything because the parts are cheap. Also if you learn to bleed the brakes you are pretty much self sufficient at that point. You can find inexpensive bleed kits for a little over $20 and several good videos show you how to bleed Avid brakes. I did this because some bike shops don't have time to rebuild brakes. To make money they have to swap out complete brake assemblies to save time. At least that is what they told me.

  10. #10
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    Gosh, my Elixir CR brakes is two years now and the rear have started dragging as well.
    I just replaced the disks with new ones, but no better.
    Is it a bad idea to use my already installed Ashima Ultralight 185mm disks with new XT brakes? Or do I need to buy new Shimano disks as well?

  11. #11
    human dehumidifier
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowprogress View Post
    There is probably a thread somewhere here on this but I noticed that at some point the Avid master cylinder (lever) pistons just start sticking. I don't know if the fluid swells the plastic piston, or if absorbed water in the brake fluid swells the plastic piston. The initial symptom is dragging that can be confused with a sticking caliper piston. Finally the lever will develop slop because the piston is not returning all the way and the brakes drag like the lever is pulled. At that point you have to rebuild the lever master cylinder.
    Well, you pretty much described my situation. I thought I'd seen a thread like that too but figured I was just misremembering. My levers haven't gotten to the point they don't return yet but as I posted earlier, they seem to activate themselves JRA. Sure seems like a full rebuild is the way to go based on your experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by slowprogress View Post
    I drove one lever piston out and chucked it in a drill and spun while turning the diameter down with the edge of a razor blade.
    The service kit I priced comes with a piston so I won't have to backyard engineer a lathe like you did, and one of the first things I did was to buy a bleed kit so I should be ready to go once I order the parts. FWIW, parts included are: 1) MC bleed screw with o-ring, 1) internal reservoir bladder with piston extension, 1) piston with o-ring and guide, 1) pushrod with pivot assembly, piston coupler, spring, and retention clip, 2) lever pivot bushings, 1) pivot pin set screw

    The caliper kit is all O-rings and seals except the e-clip for the pad pin.
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  12. #12
    human dehumidifier
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    Quote Originally Posted by kave View Post
    Gosh, my Elixir CR brakes is two years now and the rear have started dragging as well.
    I just replaced the disks with new ones, but no better.
    Is it a bad idea to use my already installed Ashima Ultralight 185mm disks with new XT brakes? Or do I need to buy new Shimano disks as well?
    The rotors should work. Could they be warped? There are threads in the brake forum discussing use of Shimano brakes on non-Shimano rotors. Good luck.
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  13. #13
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    Yes, I agree with the comments above always use the service kits because they are complete and reasonably priced. Keep a spare kit on hand if you don't have a local shop that stocks them. Turning a part was a last resort because parts weren't on hand. Regarding rotor swaps it pretty much boils down the thickness and diameter. Not sure who has the secret decoder ring for the different thicknesses. My Formula rotors are 2.0 mm thick. My Avid rotors are 1.75 mm thick. It would be a good idea to only use rotors that are the same thickness the manufacturer designed the caliper for. Here is one link talking about thicknesses from various manufacturers.
    Rotor Thickness Request

  14. #14
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    I searched but this thread was most relevant I found.

    After bleeding all 4 of my avid elixir CRs, one of them I just couldnt get a good bleed (bled it 2x, so I'm 100% sure theres an issue and it wasnt just a slop bleed). I can hear a squishy noise at the lever when Im pumping the syringes during the bleed process and when squeezing the brake, so I assume its a bad seal somewhere in the lever. It winds up feeling super squishy after the bleed.

    Can someone confirm that the master cylinder overhaul kit is probably all I need? Also, is there any directions online (video or pdf?) detailing the procedure. My LBS said they would do it but I know they will add crazy markup to the kit and then still charge labor.

    On the fence about doing this job...I've been doing bleeds for years. How much of a chore is it? Would rather not do it but I think LBS route will cost me at 3 or 4x of just buying the kit for ~$30

    any advice would be most appreciated

  15. #15
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    There are probably more experienced people out there who could chime in but if the lever isn't working right and won't bleed there is pretty good chance the lever rebuild kit will fix it. Most of my experience is with the simpler Juicy 3 brakes but if you keep track of the parts and follow a good manual there is no reason you can't rebuild these yourself. Fortunately it sounds like you already have the tedious bleed process down. I was an auto mechanic for years, so bike repairs are similar and not too intimidating. However, if you aren't real confident in your skills it might be best to let the shop tackle it. The only problem I had was getting the little snap ring loose that holds the internals in the lever cylinder. I have quite a full toolbox, but none of my snap ring pliers worked and the auto parts stores had a pretty poor selection. To me that was the only part that was a pain the first time. If you don't have some small snap ring pliers, I would plan to buy a good set to make that part of the job less painful. Just like automotive master cylinders, the cylinder bore has to be in good shape before you put in a rebuilt kit. If you get inside and find the bore is scratched, or corroded from water absorbed in the fluid, then the kit probably won't help. So there is never a 100% chance the kit will fix it but it is a pretty good chance. Below is one link to a SRAM manual online. There are quite a few other places to look for good exploded views of your specific brake lever. Look through and see if it seems like something you could go the DIY route - good luck ! Also one thing most people don't know is that hot water really cleans up DOT fluid residue. After disassembly, you can rinse parts in hot water and blow dry to get them squeaky clean to inspect all the wear surfaces.

    http://www.ciclocoimbroes.com/docs/A...al_tecnico.pdf

  16. #16
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    slowprogress, thank you very much; that is exactly the kind of feedback i was hoping for.

    well, it wasnt so much an issue of confidence in my ability so much as laziness and the time required to learn and do the job versus just taking it to a shop.

    i have some small internal/external snap ring pliers, i guess ill find out the hard way if they are up to this specific job.

  17. #17
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    just ordered the kit to take the job on myself. doesnt look that bad, really.

    i see your point about the snap rings. i bet mine wont fit down in there either, but the kit was $25 and I think my LBS would charge me $100 all told so still saving $ if i have to buy more tools

    I see you havnt posted much, so thanks again for taking the time to respond to my question!

  18. #18
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    Good luck let us know how it works out. I just got back into biking about two years ago, so I mostly "lurk and learn", hence the low post count. I try to chime in when I see a subject I have some knowledge on. I really like to work on my bike and gradually becoming self-sufficient fits my style. I guess I was always that way with my cars, so the bike maintenance is just a natural extension.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowprogress View Post
    There are probably more experienced people out there who could chime in but if the lever isn't working right and won't bleed there is pretty good chance the lever rebuild kit will fix it. Most of my experience is with the simpler Juicy 3 brakes but if you keep track of the parts and follow a good manual there is no reason you can't rebuild these yourself. Fortunately it sounds like you already have the tedious bleed process down. I was an auto mechanic for years, so bike repairs are similar and not too intimidating. However, if you aren't real confident in your skills it might be best to let the shop tackle it. The only problem I had was getting the little snap ring loose that holds the internals in the lever cylinder. I have quite a full toolbox, but none of my snap ring pliers worked and the auto parts stores had a pretty poor selection. To me that was the only part that was a pain the first time. If you don't have some small snap ring pliers, I would plan to buy a good set to make that part of the job less painful. Just like automotive master cylinders, the cylinder bore has to be in good shape before you put in a rebuilt kit. If you get inside and find the bore is scratched, or corroded from water absorbed in the fluid, then the kit probably won't help. So there is never a 100% chance the kit will fix it but it is a pretty good chance. Below is one link to a SRAM manual online. There are quite a few other places to look for good exploded views of your specific brake lever. Look through and see if it seems like something you could go the DIY route - good luck ! Also one thing most people don't know is that hot water really cleans up DOT fluid residue. After disassembly, you can rinse parts in hot water and blow dry to get them squeaky clean to inspect all the wear surfaces.

    http://www.ciclocoimbroes.com/docs/A...al_tecnico.pdf
    First post, but I thought I'd chime in... exactly right here. I bought a used bike with some Juicy 7's and I think the bike had not been used for 2 years or so. I thought the problem was the caliper, but traced it back to the lever. I tried to bleed, but could not get fluid past the caliper. The problem was a stuck piston in the lever. There are 2 "difficult" steps in this process. First is the snap ring holding the worm gear-- With needle nose pliers you can rotate and remove the snap ring that holds the worm gear in place. It takes some force. You can bend this thing if you want since the rebuild kit has a new snap ring. The second difficult step is removal of the piston. If you have compressed air-- blow about 100lbs through the MC but you will need to be prepared to catch the freed piston. Do not try to use your hand. I wrapped the MC in a towel and it took several attempts to blow out the stuck piston. It will come out with force when it lets go. Do not try to reuse the stuck piston (i tried, it was f*CKD, buy the internals online or from your dealer). Clean the MC with brake cleaner (auto parts store), dry with compressed air, and reinstall the new piston being sure to lube a bit with new brake fluid. Re-installation of the big snap ring is tricky-- but if you grasp it in the center point with needle nose pliers you can jam it into the MC in the proper position first rotated 90 degrees relative to where it needs to go, then flattening it out as you push it down into position, being careful not to mar up the inside of the MC as you go. It takes force, but it isn't terribly difficult. One point about the SRAM manual-- I found it easier to reinstall the pad adjust before the lever, to make sure it was functioning properly. They say install the lever then the pad adjust on the juicy 7.

  20. #20
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    'course just re-read that your issue is with elixrs so yes, some snap ring pliers would be the best choice. older juicys had a different snap ring.

  21. #21
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    well, i have some snap ring pliers but they werent long and skinny enough

    now I am on the hunt for some long and skinny ones, which I may need to have special ordered as they dont seem to be that common at the hardware shops around

    otherwise, the job was easy and straightforward until I got stuck

  22. #22
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    Oh, bummer. So sorry to hear. Any chance you be close by in Hawaii? I can send you some. I guess I take for granted (sometimes) having access to all those kinds of tools all the time.

  23. #23
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    Thanks Gmats! I ended up finding a really cool tool shop in town that had lots of specialty stuff. They had all sorts of snap ring pliers but none were long and skinny enough. But they did have some long and skinny needle nose pliers with small enough tips to work perfect. Best part is they were only $6

    Admittedly I did a bit of a hasty bleed after the rebuild but its 100% squish sound free and stops the bike so hopefully I'm golden

    Thanks y'all!!

  24. #24
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    Excellent news! Great to hear of success story.

  25. #25
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    Long term success rebuilding Elixir brakes?

    I wouldn't put too much time into old style elixirs. They will fetch a ok price on eBay, and new style ones with the revised bleed port location can be had for not much more. The new ones are much improved.

    Old CRs work fine, but I had to bleed them every six months, which was annoying.

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