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  1. #1
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    Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail

    Which is better for a Specialized enduro 29er (rotors: 200mm F/180mm R)?

    I read that the X9 trail has a 4 piston caliper. Is that makes it better/more poweful than the Shimano XT?

    Thx, Mo.

  2. #2
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    You can't go wrong with the XT's, they are an awesome brake. Have not used the X9 so not so sure about them.

  3. #3
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    I'm curious to hear some first hand elixir trail feedback. I haven't been able to find much out there. I'll be watching this one closely.

  4. #4
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    from personal experience shimano brakes are a whole lot better than any of the avid brakes. ask any bike mechanic. after having problems with my elixirs fading (and overheating, and vibrating, and being incredibly noisy to the point that i was embarrassed-and yes i cleaned the rotors with isopropyl alcohol and lightly sanded the surface of the pads and rotors...alot) i finally went in to have them tuned up by a mechanic who told me he wouldnt even work on my elixir brakes because then he has to stand by them as a good and safe product. he then pulled out two new high end bikes (one of them his own) that he was assembling but had taken off the avid brakes to put on shimanos. he says frequently customers will buy a bike from him and have their elixir brakes taken off before they even take the bike home. since upgrading to shimano slx brakes with ice tech rotors (basically the same as xt, but cost less and have "slx" painted on rather than "xt" laser etched. also the caliper on an slx is held shut with a cotter pin whereas the xt uses a screw) i have had zero problems with vibration, overheating, noise, fading, modulation, etc. the ice tech rotors are significantly stronger than the basic one piece rotors also.

    now having that said, when i used to live in minnesota i had no problems at all with elixirs. same with the short time i spent in ohio. it wasnt until moving to colorado and doing 2,000 ft decents that i started having serious and dangerous problems with elixirs, the fading. in the midwest i had some noise with the elixirs but nothing too bad.

    after using both brakes i wont buy a bike with elixir brakes. i know the pros ride elixirs with no problems, but they also have professional mechanics that will switch out the whole set with a brand new one as often as needed. for the rest of us, shimano brakes give a MUCH better bang for the buck. as far as shifting goes, they are pretty comparable and i couldnt say one brand is better than the other.

  5. #5
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    and also, is "more powerful" even a good thing when talking about brakes (in 2013)? with a 200mm front rotor you could go flying feet over head with even a low end hydraulic disc brake. not saying the rotor size is wrong, i think 200 is good. im just saying dont get sold on a "more powerful" caliper when power isnt even a problem. the problems are brake fading/overheating and shimano is one step closer to eliminating that with the ice tech rotors. also, i think their lever is a lot easier to grasp with one finger giving you more fingers to control the rest of the bike.

  6. #6
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    I have the XT's and a set of XO Trails. The more time I spend on the XO Trails, the less I think XT's are the end all be all. I prefer the feel of the Avid lever to the Shimano. Plus, Avid ditched the CPS washer system which was my least favorite part of Avid. While both the Shimano and XT are great brakes, none of my pad contact adjustments seem to do much on my Shimano's. Even after a warranty claim on it. I was able to get the XO Trails feeling spot on within minutes.

    When bleeding I trust my bleeds on the Avid brakes. I've never had a bad bleed using the Avid procedure. Although, I've watched mechanics skip steps and wind up with bad bleeds and talk about how bad Avid is. That said, the Shimano bleed is WAY simpler and a huge time saver... except I've had to repeat it several times on occasion to get the brake to feel good. Also when the Shimano pads are done the brakes really feel weird at the lever, even though there is plenty of pad left (I've run Avid pads to the spring in races before and never noticed a performance loss).

  7. #7
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    sounds like the xo trails may be just as good. go with whichever lever you prefer, because they are different. however, if you decide on the xt's i would really put some thought into getting slx (with ice tech rotors) instead. i cant notice a difference at all. same pads, cables, lever, you pick the rotors....they work just as well!

  8. #8
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    SLX doesn't have the same lever as the XT, XT has tool-free adjustment if I remember right and there was something else it had that the SLX didn't, in regards to the lever.
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  9. #9
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    SLX = XT - free stroke adjustment and the texture on the lever where your finger goes.

    They both have tool free reach adjust.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by madsedan View Post
    SLX doesn't have the same lever as the XT, XT has tool-free adjustment if I remember right and there was something else it had that the SLX didn't, in regards to the lever.
    My SLX levers, and all other new SLX levers ive seen, have the same tool free adjustment as the XT. The difference in the lever itself is that on SLX the logo is painted on, and on XT it is etched in. Also I believe the XT fluid chamber connected to the lever is chrome coated (possibly aluminum material) and the slx is more of a grey/silver plastic.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Training-Wheels View Post
    from personal experience shimano brakes are a whole lot better than any of the avid brakes. ask any bike mechanic. after having problems with my elixirs fading (and overheating, and vibrating, and being incredibly noisy to the point that i was embarrassed-and yes i cleaned the rotors with isopropyl alcohol and lightly sanded the surface of the pads and rotors...alot) i finally went in to have them tuned up by a mechanic who told me he wouldnt even work on my elixir brakes because then he has to stand by them as a good and safe product. he then pulled out two new high end bikes (one of them his own) that he was assembling but had taken off the avid brakes to put on shimanos. he says frequently customers will buy a bike from him and have their elixir brakes taken off before they even take the bike home. since upgrading to shimano slx brakes with ice tech rotors (basically the same as xt, but cost less and have "slx" painted on rather than "xt" laser etched. also the caliper on an slx is held shut with a cotter pin whereas the xt uses a screw) i have had zero problems with vibration, overheating, noise, fading, modulation, etc. the ice tech rotors are significantly stronger than the basic one piece rotors also.

    now having that said, when i used to live in minnesota i had no problems at all with elixirs. same with the short time i spent in ohio. it wasnt until moving to colorado and doing 2,000 ft decents that i started having serious and dangerous problems with elixirs, the fading. in the midwest i had some noise with the elixirs but nothing too bad.

    after using both brakes i wont buy a bike with elixir brakes. i know the pros ride elixirs with no problems, but they also have professional mechanics that will switch out the whole set with a brand new one as often as needed. for the rest of us, shimano brakes give a MUCH better bang for the buck. as far as shifting goes, they are pretty comparable and i couldnt say one brand is better than the other.
    Why in the hell would you respond to this post when youve never used the x9 trails???? you sound like a total dumbass to me lolol...giving advice about stuff you know nothing about? To the original poster...X9 trails have a little less raw stopping power than the XTS...I have both pairs on two different bikes. The x9 trails have way more modulation and are much better for riding the brakes. XTs are all about tapping the brakes with little modulation. Both are really good brakes. At the end of the day they are so close it boils down to preference. One thing to look at is which bleed process youd prefer. I like my avids better. X9 trails redeemed avid. The guy whose talking about the trouble of servicing them is referencing the older years of x9s.

  12. #12
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    I just received a set of Elixir 9 trails as a warranty replacement for Elixir CRs, these are by far the most impressive brakes i have used, Shimano,Avid, or otherwise. The contact point adjust and the lever adjust work exactly as they should, they have a huge range of adjustment allowing for a perfect setting without much screwing around. I had to shorten both lines and bleeding was painless as well. The feeling at the lever is exceptional, they are so positive and firm it's amazing. I can finally have Avid brakes that match the performance of their shifting. The Deore XTs on my HT will be replaced by the Trail 9s as soon as possible.

  13. #13
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    To update on my post from a while back, I'm now about 2 months+ in on the XO Trails and still am really impressed. Going back and forth between these and the XT's I'm starting to see some of the short comings in the XT's that I've ignored for the last two years. For instance - The pads rattling around on the XT's, the pad wiggling around in the caliper allowing for a "clunk" whenever I brake and making me think I have a loose headset, non functioning pad contact adjustment. The only downside I've found to the XO/X9 Trails so far is that it uses a unique pad that isn't always readily available. Not a deal breaker if you always keep a spare set or so on hand.

  14. #14
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    After riding an Enduro with X0 trails, followed by a Stumpjumper FSR with Formula T1's, I loved the 4 pot calipers of the X0 trails.

    That being said, the XT's are pretty good as well, but a 4 pot brake will usually out perform a 2 pot brake.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by frdfandc View Post
    After riding an Enduro with X0 trails, followed by a Stumpjumper FSR with Formula T1's, I loved the 4 pot calipers of the X0 trails.

    That being said, the XT's are pretty good as well, but a 4 pot brake will usually out perform a 2 pot brake.
    Having used both, currently with X0 Trail on my RIP 9, I can say with confidence that XT is far and away better. Better bite, more power, less fade, no gobble, and easier to set up. Maybe the X0 beats the XT in modulation, but not by much.

  16. #16
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    and dont forget about price. an SLX setup with ice-tech rotors will save money and work just as well as XT. some go ice tech rotor in the back and regular rotor in the front to save even more money.


    and i have used x9 trails and xo's...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Training-Wheels View Post
    and dont forget about price. an SLX setup with ice-tech rotors will save money and work just as well as XT. some go ice tech rotor in the back and regular rotor in the front to save even more money.


    and i have used x9 trails and xo's...
    It's clear you are referencing the old X9s in your post. It's also clear that you aren't referencing the new ones in regards to the bleed process. It's just annoying someone like you has one bad experience or hears from a friend how loud avids are and then goes to a form to spit a bunch of non-sense. You do avid no favors. Stop acting like you know about shit to look cool or because you have a strange need to feel informative.

  18. #18
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    Wow, somebody is so mad....better stop reading the forum.

    OP, I would choose xt over any avid brakes. Or maybe zee brakes if you want more power.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by inter View Post
    Wow, somebody is so mad....better stop reading the forum.

    OP, I would choose xt over any avid brakes. Or maybe zee brakes if you want more power.
    I was hoping to shoo away the retards. Obviously no such luck. Probably another person who has never used the X9 trails, but preach xt. It's great to see such a well informed community!

  20. #20
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    Re: Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail

    Shimano brakes are great and if you want no fuss brakes get them, they won't let you down in the slightest. However, if you want better lever feel (imo) at the expense of needing to tinker with them a bit then get the 9 or 7 trails. I just put a set of the 7 trails on my trek stache and they work great but I like the feel of avid levers so I guess I'm biased. So in summary, in my opinion Shimano are more user friendly/less maintenence but avid has the better feel.
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  21. #21
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    Avid prejudice still going strong. They fill different niches, IMO.

    Personally, I'd go for Shimano in cases where I valued reliable and consistent performance and I'd go with Avid if I was trying to keep my bike relatively light, with relatively lighter stopping duties in mind. For riding in the dry and bike park stuff, or trails I'm quite familiar with, I would be happy on Avid, but if I were riding down lengthy descents that go 1000s of ft for over miles, or perhaps in wet/slop, in unfamiliar areas with more raw tech sections where I need to slow down just to determine my line, the Shimano would be my go to. Since I mostly do SoCal trail riding (typically dry and not too raw/gnarly), and lines are typically pretty well ridden by traffic, I'd totally pick the X9 trails, mainly because they weigh over 100g less than the Shimano and offer good power to match an AM bike. There's a few places I've ridden where I wish I had Shimano's IceTech stuff, but I know a lighter bike in general is more fun.

    It's a pretty close call. Go with whatever costs less, whichever has a nicer lever feel, whichever matches your bike, whichever is easier to maintain (new pads, bleeds, etc.), and other personal preference and convenience factors. I already have an Avid bleed kit that I'm familiar with, so that's another reason why I'm not prejudiced against it. I often just run whatever brakes come on my bike, but in the case of XT, I was shocked when I found that the lever, hose, and caliper (no rotor) weighed as much as an Avid set with rotor (Shimano's about 1/2 lb heavier for F&R). As far as modulation goes, I find it's a relative thing--brakes that suit your weight, your bike's weight and traction (tires/susp setup), and rotor size affect the amount of modulation and braking control you have.
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  22. #22
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    4 piston avids... Twice as many pistons to get sticky and end up out of balance.

    Seriously though, SRAM hasn't told anybody one thing about engineering changes that make these new brakes easier to live with than their prior junk. Given enough time I'm confident people will be crying about them.

    I had various avids for years before getting the current xts. Game changer is about all I can say. No ongoing adjustments, always centered over the rotors, never any rub. The best lever I've ever felt is the icing on the cake.

  23. #23
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    I'm going to sound like a Shimano fanboy, but my SLX and XT brakes are just about perfect.

    They're:

    1. Powerful
    2. Quiet (even in the wet)
    3. Consistent
    4. Good lever feel
    5. Easy to bleed
    6. Easy to set up

    You'd be hard pressed to give me a reason to switch to anything else. I dealt with noisy Avids for a long time. Had some Hayes brakes that were generally unpleasant to deal with. Haven't owned any Hope brakes on account of how expensive they are (though I hear they rock).
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  24. #24
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    Thanks guys for all your replies. I'v learned a lot from reading them.

    I'm using Avis Elixir 3 for two years now (came with the bike, 2012 Rumblefish). The Elixir 3 is OK but not anything more to mention. It's doing the job but its noisy, needed some adjusments in the past two years and it's not very powerful.

    After the majority of you recommended the XT's, think I'm gonna get these for my next bike instead of the stock Formula C1 (Speciialized Enduro 29er, still waiting for my LBS to get it, he said maybe late October/Novenber).

    Mo.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mo6500 View Post
    Thanks guys for all your replies. I'v learned a lot from reading them.

    I'm using Avis Elixir 3 for two years now (came with the bike, 2012 Rumblefish). The Elixir 3 is OK but not anything more to mention. It's doing the job but its noisy, needed some adjusments in the past two years and it's not very powerful.

    After the majority of you recommended the XT's, think I'm gonna get these for my next bike instead of the stock Formula C1 (Speciialized Enduro 29er, still waiting for my LBS to get it, he said maybe late October/Novenber).

    Mo.

    Or if you want to save a couple of bux, get the SLX's and add the XT Ice-Tech rotors.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by mo6500 View Post
    Thanks guys for all your replies. I'v learned a lot from reading them.

    I'm using Avis Elixir 3 for two years now (came with the bike, 2012 Rumblefish). The Elixir 3 is OK but not anything more to mention. It's doing the job but its noisy, needed some adjusments in the past two years and it's not very powerful.

    After the majority of you recommended the XT's, think I'm gonna get these for my next bike instead of the stock Formula C1 (Speciialized Enduro 29er, still waiting for my LBS to get it, he said maybe late October/Novenber).

    Mo.
    Good decision.

    My previous bike had shimano (xt levers/xtr calipers) brakes and once they were setup and bled properly I just rode them for 4 years with nothing but pad replacements when necessary.

    My new ride came with Avid X9s and these things are horrible by comparison. They look nice and the adjustments seem like good touches, but they are loud and always need adjusting and the damn things fade in and out right when you need them the most. Nothing sucks like having to pump your lever a few times to get your brakes back in the middle of a tech descent. Changed pads, rotors and re-bled them several times - nothing has worked for more than a few rides so far. :-(

  27. #27
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    Are people still reporting problems with Shimano brakes becoming sticky in sub-freezing weather? My brother sold all his Shimano brakes because we ride year-round, and he says he's had problems with his Shimanos when the temperature is below about 20 Fahrenheit.

  28. #28
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    two years old but here is a list of each brake's recorded stopping power and weight. seems like shimano's goal in mind was high power and avid's was low weight. notice their elixir 1 has significantly more recorded power than the xx..

    How We Test Hydraulic Disc Brakes - BikeRadar

  29. #29
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    I knew about the XX being a bit lighter braking than XO and the rest. That's what I was trying to imply with the modulation comment in my previous post. The force is tuned for a better range of modulation, as their XX WC is intended to be on lightweight XC race bikes with endurance athletes on them, likely on top with semi-slick tires that don't have the most braking traction. It let's them more easily find that fine braking point that slows them down, yet doesn't skid. Don't misinterpret that as the result of being lighter weight.
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  30. #30
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    Unfortunately, Avid has an uphill battle because many folks here just see Elixir 9 and not the Trail part. The new brakes are completely redisigned and I would hopa Avid have learned their lesson. I do have the new 9Trails and find them to perform perfectly with plenty of power and great modulation. These new brakes are so improved that Avid recommends them for anything from XC to Free ride. As mentioned they also have excellent adjustments that actually do something with regards to contact adjust and save significant weight over the Shimano model. They are still quite new but I have not read any quality issues that plagued the earlier models. Yes, XT are great reliable brakes BUT do NOT dismiss these new Trail series brakes as they are a significant improvement. Just ask those who have them.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Training-Wheels View Post
    two years old but here is a list of each brake's recorded stopping power and weight. seems like shimano's goal in mind was high power and avid's was low weight. notice their elixir 1 has significantly more recorded power than the xx..

    How We Test Hydraulic Disc Brakes - BikeRadar
    Typically BikeRadar failed to supply any useful info in this test other than listing the comparative weights. Due to differences in hydraulic leverage ratios, using a fixed lever pressure will inevitably show different 'power' outputs. For example, if you tested a BB7 in the mix, where would you set the Speed Dial?

    There's also no info on pads, which have a differing coefficient of friction. I'd expect the Avid XX brakes to have a lower 'output' because pro level stuff usually avoids the overly light and grabby for a more linear and controllable higher lever pressure. The last thing you want at bumpy warp speed is a grabby brake; I just pucker up in that situation.

    Actually, what is surprising is how much consensus there seems to be on lever pressure versus braking output. Automotive standards have a certain pedal pressure for a half G stop - something like 15 lbs +/- X% - which is a nice way of preventing surprises when you pick up a rental car.

    Once you have enough power to lock the wheel, the next question is heat dissipation and that's largely a function of the rotor. If they did a test of rotor temperature rise it would be useful. But they'd probably find that larger and heavier rotors heat up less, and that the aluminum spider types cooled down fastest, and you knew that already.

  32. #32
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    Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail

    So I just got back from a ride on my freshly-bled X0 Trails, and I must say that when bled properly, these are some badass brakes. I loved my XTs and they were far less maintenance, but I think a lot of my efforts with the X0s were thwarted by leaky bleed kits, and I never got a good bleed 'til now. Power was there in spades, and the levers felt solid, modulated well, and not at all mushy nor grabby. The Avid/Shimano lever feel is a preference thing, IMHO, but these felt ideal to me.

    I suppose the issue for me is why they were such a P.I.T.A. to get set up right. My recommendation: if you're building up a new bike, get the XTs. They're cheaper, easier to set up, and more reliable. If you happen to score a deal on an X9/X0 group or a bike with the Trail brakes, you can definitely make them work just as well as the XTs, if you're willing to fuss with them a bit. A couple of non-performance pluses for the Avids, they look cooler, are lighter, and play really, really nicely with other SRAM stuff:

  33. #33
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    Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail

    Quote Originally Posted by scvkurt03 View Post
    So I just got back from a ride on my freshly-bled X0 Trails, and I must say that when bled properly, these are some badass brakes. I loved my XTs and they were far less maintenance, but I think a lot of my efforts with the X0s were thwarted by leaky bleed kits, and I never got a good bleed 'til now. Power was there in spades, and the levers felt solid, modulated well, and not at all mushy nor grabby. The Avid/Shimano lever feel is a preference thing, IMHO, but these felt ideal to me.

    I suppose the issue for me is why they were such a P.I.T.A. to get set up right. My recommendation: if you're building up a new bike, get the XTs. They're cheaper, easier to set up, and more reliable. If you happen to score a deal on an X9/X0 group or a bike with the Trail brakes, you can definitely make them work just as well as the XTs, if you're willing to fuss with them a bit. A couple of non-performance pluses for the Avids, they look cooler, are lighter, and play really, really nicely with other SRAM stuff:
    Well said I agree totally with your comments. I just ditched xt brakes for x0 trails. They take abit to get used to but I'm starting to love them.

  34. #34
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    I have the avid elixir x9 trails on my 2013 stumpjumper fsr comp 29er. They were put on the bike when I bought it from the rental shop (the old brake lever broke, so he put these on). I've ridden the bike twice, down Vail mountain.

    With the rears I experienced no noise or vibrations. I am pretty sure there are organic pads on the bike. There was also no strangeness in terms of fade and other heat-related issues. Given that I rode several miles of pure downhill, I'd say the brakes performed well.

    The fronts were mounted improperly, ultimately causing shudder (you can see my thread in the specialized forum). I used the fronts on my downhill runs, and didn't notice anything wrong. (The shudder was basically gone during and after the runs.) While I am getting close to debugging it, I don't have a conclusive experience (and won't until my hand heals... separate story).

    I really liked the modulation of the brakes. This bike is my first bike since '99, and my first with disc brakes. Prior to coming to the forum, I did not realized that disc brakes can have issues. What this means is I had no bias.

    It's good to see some balance and historical knowledge of the Avid brakes. While I think the complaints against Avid are valid, I also think there is not a lot of info on the performance of the Trails. For the OP, it feels like the Shimanos have less risk associated with them because there is a lot more rider experience posted about them.

  35. #35
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    My bikes came with 2012 Avid Elixirs (CPS washers still).. they took me a few months to finally fix the brake noise and caliper rubbing, but I think I've managed to get them set up right. For the caliper rubbing, I pulled the CPS washers and bolts apart and put a little grease in between the cups of the CPS washers. This has kept the calipers from moving under extreme braking, and now they stay put from ride to ride. For brake noise, I changed out the semi-metallics that came on the bike to organics, and they've been mostly silent, or at least they don't make enough noise to bother me. In general, they stop without making a peep, although I will say the organics don't bite quite as well... but it's a I've only had experience with Shimano brakes on test bike rides, but having from that very limited experience, I'd say I much prefer the lever design and modulation of the Avid's over the Shimanos. Of course, I haven't had to bleed my brakes yet :-) so my opinion may change once that day comes...

  36. #36
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    Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail

    Quote Originally Posted by allthatisman View Post
    Of course, I haven't had to bleed my brakes yet :-) so my opinion may change once that day comes...
    Follow the Avid YouTube video to a T, AND take the time to calibrate your pad gap. It's not on the video but this procedure is IMO a really important step.

    https://www.sram.com/sites/default/f...nt_install.pdf

    In short, after the bleed and before reinstalling the wheel, squeeze your levers until the pads are about one mm apart, then spread them with something that won't damage the pads to the point where you can insert the disc. They should rub if you did it correctly - my wheels would barely spin. Squeeze the lever a few/several times with the wheel installed and the pistons/pads will adjust back out, and you'll have a super firm feel. They may still rub a bit, but it'll go away during your first ride. I do this with my contact adjust all the way in (the direction of the arrow).

    This gets me as close to the Shimano feel as I think the Avids can get, but with the superior (my opinion) modulation feel of the lever that the Avids offer.

  37. #37
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    Call me a XT/XTR fanboy

    Shimano all the way! Avids CAN be setup to perform very well, but it takes time, talent, research, luck, gifts to the bleed gods, and a little of your soul.

    Shimano's (if you do it right) you can play dirty tricks like not bleeding after a line shorten and still have superb brakes.

    Its all personal choice, but if your crunched for time and want to ride more than dicker shimano.

    As to cold weather, it has to be COLD before they start getting a little slow, I have never had them stop working. It has taken single diget temps or hours in the 20-30's before I start to notice much difference.

  38. #38
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    I have the x9 Trail brakes. I had Elixr 1's that came with my bike, and had always sucked. I was complaining about them to my LBS owner, and had him bleed them. He wasn't happy with how they were feeling, so he asked SRAM if they would warranty replace them. Next thing I know, I'm on free x9 trails! Sick!

    Anyways, I'm a Clydesdale and live in Colorado. The switch to the x9 Trail brakes was like going from V Brakes to disk, it was that much of an improvement. As a big dude, it has helped my riding knowing I have all that braking power on tap on a long downhill.

    As someone mentioned earlier, don't listen to people who are confused and talk about the x9's sucking. They are confused and talking about the original ones, not the trail model.

    I've been really impressed with mine, but they are super loud. I haven't had the LBS look at them for that yet, because they still work well. I can't speak about the XT brakes, but my riding buddies who have them really like them. I think either way, you can't go wrong, but I will never ride anything less than a burly 4 piston brake with my 250 lb fat ass rocketing downhill now that I know what they can do.

  39. #39
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    i think it really comes down to personal riding preferences. both brakes are great, i just happen to like more modulation in my lever pull, so.... iam all about the avids. if you like the brake to lock up as soon as you pull the lever,, go with the xt.

  40. #40
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    Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail

    Quote Originally Posted by FastrThanU View Post
    i think it really comes down to personal riding preferences. both brakes are great, i just happen to like more modulation in my lever pull, so.... iam all about the avids. if you like the brake to lock up as soon as you pull the lever,, go with the xt.
    I agree that modulation with the XT requires a feather touch, but I'd be lying if I say I didn't like it when I had them. The thing about the Avids that I'm really diggin' is that it responds to the feather touch and the "oh shit" grab without locking up quite as easily. I was fine with the XT's though. It's all preference.

  41. #41
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    I guess I can't speak to the Trail version of the Avid, but I "had" the CR, Elixir 9 (2 piston), and also XX. The CR has always been good enough. I've always had ok power, but do bleed them every few months. The 9 has been garbagio. No power and squeak like crazy. I've decontaminated the pads, new pads, etc. The XX with the organic pads was garbage. I replaced them with metallic and they are ok. Low power as it's been said, but I think for XC bikes it's about right.

    Having said all that I rented a bike with SLX brakes a few weeks ago with Moab. They blew me away. Power, modulation (I thought they modulated great), and perfect feel the entire time.

    I bought XTR brakes for all the bikes. They were on sale at Pricepoint couple of weeks ago. Put them on my Remedy and holy crap. They are as good as the SLXs were and only a few grams heavier than what I took off the bike. I'm sold.

    I wanted to try the Avid Trails as I love the integration with my lockouts, shifters, etc. But not having that, and having awesome brakes, it's worth it

    -Tom

  42. #42
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    I recently got a 2014 Stumpjumper far 29er comp that came standard with Formula C1 brakes. After two rides they were real spongy with hardly any stopping power and the levers were pulling all the way to the bars. I took the bike back to my LBS and they bled them and supposedly sorted them out. But today when I went to pick the bike up and tested the brakes both leaked from where the reservoir connects the hose. So much so that a squirt of fluid got in the LBS guys eye when I squeezed the lever and he went of to the hospital to have it checked out. This is the second bike that this LBS has had to remove the Formula C1 brakes from and send back to the Specialized dealer here in Cape Town for them to asses and work out if covered by the warranty. Does anyone know if this is a known issue? I must say I'm totally disillusioned wit the C1's. They were not very impressive at all and I they felt detracted from the otherwise super cool ride of the stumpy. Regardless of the warranty claim I think I will put SLX's on the bike. I believe that they are really good brakes for the money and should give mush less trouble.

  43. #43
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    I bought a 2014 stumpjumper as well, and although my formula c1 brakes haven't had to be sent back yet, I agree that they perform poorly. They feel spongy, the pads wear out quickly, and I'm not a fan at all.
    I have a set of XTs that I'll switch over with so that I don't have to put up with them anymore.

  44. #44
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    I've got pretty considerable experience with a lot of the brakes mentioned here, I'll just put in my 2 cents.
    I've ridden the following brakes extensively:
    Juicy 5
    Elixir 5
    XX
    XO trails
    ---------
    XT M785
    XTR M985
    XTR M988
    Zee

    I started years ago with V brakes, and then moved up to the Juicy 5's. They actually worked pretty darn good. Then it was Elixir 5's and the XX's. I actually liked the 5's but they were a bit of a pain to set up with no rub. Never leaked or got spongy. The XX's had the same issues with caliper alignment, and they were weaker than I would have liked.

    Then I bought the XT's. I love these brakes, they always worked great and had tons of power, easy to set up, always silent. I like the lever feel and they look badass. Rode the M988's, and was impressed - they work just like the XT's but they're lighter and just ooze quality and style! These brakes are pimp tight. The 985's were ok, but I prefer the servo-wave feel and they were just kind of lack-luster compared to the 988s. The ZEE have typical shimano quality, but were heavy and SO STRONG!!

    Now I got on board with the XO trails and I had to put these on both of my bikes. I had a set of the 988's I could have used but I just like the XO trails better. They're lighter and stronger, and they just work. Like a champ. No squal, no fade, TONS of power and modulation (I use them on my trail bike with 160/160 and on my AM bike with 180/160). I take good care of my stuff, so that's something to take into account too... If you don't want to take the time to maintain your brakes, go with Shimano because they seem to be a little better for that kind of maintenance philosophy, but IMHO, if you take your life in your hands flying balls out down a mountain, you should really take some initiative in inspecting and maintaining your brakes. Learn to bleed them and make sure they work. Don't squeeze the lever without a rotor or spacer in there. Take the pads out and clean the inside of the caliper with alcohol every now and then. Common sense, but I can't believe the amount of people that don't do this simple stuff and expect their gear to work flawlessly.
    If you can: Bleed and clean your brakes and take the time to properly set them up, Shimano and the new Avid trail brakes are both great options. And when I say bleed, I mean really take the time to carefully bleed the damn things. It's not that hard. For me, I prefer the power, light weight and lever feel of the Avid trails, but I'd be very happy with XT or XTR brakes as well.

  45. #45
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    Amen, the modulation and feedback of the xo trails make the shimanos feel like an on/off switch.
    Hardrock 29er, Niner EMD9, Cannondale F29, Camber Expert, 650b Nickel all gone.
    2014 Giant Anthem 27.5 here.

  46. #46
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    XT's aren't even in the same league with Avid Trails...
    XT's are XC brakes, with enough power for smaller rotors.
    I have XTs on my Trek EX with 160mm rotors, and at 240lbs, I'll smoke 'em going down loose over hardpack/rocky descents
    My Trek Slash came stock with Trail 9s, with 200mm/180mm rotors.
    I've since switched to an Enduro Expert(carbon), and brought the Trail 9s with me.
    Running sintered on 200/180mm rotors, they've got the power to allow me total control over my bike on whatever descent I find myself on. They also give me terrific feel and modulation.
    A better comparison to Avid Trail 9s would be XTR Trails.
    Comparing these two will come down to feel, and personal preference of.

  47. #47
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    Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail

    Quote Originally Posted by YoKev View Post
    XT's aren't even in the same league with Avid Trails...
    XT's are XC brakes, with enough power for smaller rotors.
    I have XTs on my Trek EX with 160mm rotors, and at 240lbs, I'll smoke 'em going down loose over hardpack/rocky descents
    My Trek Slash came stock with Trail 9s, with 200mm/180mm rotors.
    I've since switched to an Enduro Expert(carbon), and brought the Trail 9s with me.
    Running sintered on 200/180mm rotors, they've got the power to allow me total control over my bike on whatever descent I find myself on. They also give me terrific feel and modulation.
    A better comparison to Avid Trail 9s would be XTR Trails.
    Comparing these two will come down to feel, and personal preference of.
    You're the first person I've read who thinks XT lack power. My 270lb buddy has never said anything about fade or lack of power. Were you using full ice-tech? Rotors and finned pads?

    I don't quibble that the new 4 lot Avids are good - I love mine.

  48. #48
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    he's only questioning their power because he's 240lbs riding 160mm rotors (and comparing that to 180/200mm rotors) down big descents. i would say xt's with 160mm rotors are xc brakes. xt's with 180/200mm rotors are more trail/all-mountain/downhill brakes….if you like their modulation, which i do.

  49. #49
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    Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail

    Quote Originally Posted by Training-Wheels View Post
    he's only questioning their power because he's 240lbs riding 160mm rotors (and comparing that to 180/200mm rotors) down big descents. i would say xt's with 160mm rotors are xc brakes. xt's with 180/200mm rotors are more trail/all-mountain/downhill brakes….if you like their modulation, which i do.
    I missed that part. 240 and 160mm rotors? Just stupid.

  50. #50
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    don't forget about XT's...

    little brother, M615 Ice Tech rotors & finned SLX, XT, XTR resin pads
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail-dsc01788.jpg  

    Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail-dsc01791.jpg  

    Shimano XT Vs Avid Elixir X9 trail-dsc01469.jpg  

    2014 Nail Trail 29...

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by time229er View Post
    little brother, M615 Ice Tech rotors & finned SLX, XT, XTR resin pads
    What's the diff between those and the XT's? I'd imagine they lack reach and contact adjustment...heavier, too?

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by kragu View Post
    What's the diff between those and the XT's? I'd imagine they lack reach and contact adjustment...heavier, too?
    No contact adjustment, no tool free reach adjustment (needs hex key to adjust reach), no ceramic pistons, and a slightly different caliper design.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastrThanU View Post
    i think it really comes down to personal riding preferences. both brakes are great, i just happen to like more modulation in my lever pull, so.... iam all about the avids. if you like the brake to lock up as soon as you pull the lever,, go with the xt.
    This.
    Outside of the looks and the actual feel of the lever, both Avid and XT have plenty of power, but what I love about my 9Trails(and has been mentioned in numerous reviews by pros and regular Joes) is the modulation! They just nailed the action to power ratio perfectly. I like that there is some action before lock up, this is important to me. There are times when I will be crawling down a rock face on a mountain and locking up means bad things! I need to control my speed as gravity wants to throw me down and the lever action on my Avids is about as good as it gets.
    I'll say one thing about old XTR V brakes, in perfect conditions, they were really good in situations as mentioned. I think because it was direct with the actual rim, you could really feel the brake. This is something that disk brakes try to do but is tricky purely because you are dealing with the disk as opposed to the actual wheel.
    At least this has been my observation. Good thing I still have a set of old XTR Vs on a retro bike for town.Still good brakes.

  54. #54
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    if you really want some good powerful brakes that modulate well, go get some hayes prime comps, they work like a night and day....if you take out the semi metallic pads and throw in the sintered brake pads they would dailed in, i have 7in front and rear avid clean sweeper x rotors....those are the brakes to go after, hayes did an awesome job with the new brakes, no problems since i got them.

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