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  1. #1
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    Upgrading Elixer 5s. SLX or XT?

    I got a Specialized Enduro a few months ago, and after riding some downhill twice a week since I've noticed that the brakes don't offer up quite the stopping power I had hoped.

    I've read great things about Shimano brakes, and not so much about Avid. My Elixers are already seeming like they need to be bled(levers nearly touching my knuckles). So I figure I should upgrade now while they're still in good shape and I can hopefully sell them for a fair amount.

    blueskycycling.com seems to have some great pricing. But I need to decide between SLX and XT. I've read that they're nearly similar and are both really good brakes. So what's the difference? And what's the difference between M666 and M675? I'll be going Ice Tech for sure though.

    I've never installed brakes before, and I plan on buying a bleed kit. Is the process pretty easy to learn? Any tips or things I should know about before hand?

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
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    You mention that you're riding some downhill twice a week, with that in mind I'd suggest option 3: spend an extra $10 per brake and step up to the Shimano Zee. This gives you even more braking power than the SLX or XT, and better control & modulation of that power as well. And it gives you the dimpled brake levers from the XTR & Saint brakes, which I find to be better shaped & more comfortable than the XT levers.

    BlueSkyCycling.com - Shimano Zee M640 IceTech Disc Brake w/ Adapter

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the recommendation. I hadn't considered those.

    Is the Zee more of a DH/FR line? Although I've been riding a flowy downhill trail a lot, I still like to climb and go on lengthy rides. Are the Zee brakes heavier?

  4. #4
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    The Zee is a DH brake, but it's only 40 grams heavier than the XT for each brake so that's only 80 grams for a complete front & rear set of brakes. A dedicated gram-counter or XC racer might notice the added weight but I doubt anyone else really will. On the other hand, everyone will clearly feel the added power & control of the Zee brakes.

    To me it's well worth it. It's a tiny bit of extra weight which you almost certainly won't notice, but in return you get a lot more performance, more power, more control, more of everything that is good. I run a Saint front/Zee rear on my XC bike, they give me the confidence to go faster and more importantly, have more fun. And yes they've saved my butt on quite a few occasions when I got in over my head.

  5. #5
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    I can't comment on the Saint or Zee, but I'm liking the XT brakes a lot since I swapped out my Avid Elixr 7s on my Stumpy at the start of the year. I have done a few big downhills with them this season, with none of the problems that the Avids gave me. They're much grabbier than the Avids. Much more predictable. No problems with overheating or failing on big descents.

    Installation was generally easy. If you get the pre-bled setups, it's mostly a bolt-on process. I didn't shorten the hoses on mine, but if you need to, this thread should help:

    Shortening Shimano XT hoses
    Justin
    Salt Lake City
    2012 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29
    2006 Specialized Allez Expert Double

  6. #6
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    How about Zee front and SLX rear? You only really need the power on the front brake, putting an SLX on the back might be all you need and more cost effective, although a little less visually appealing.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by lew242 View Post
    How about Zee front and SLX rear?
    It's possible, but IMO it's not worth the cost savings. I had a Saint front matched up with an XT rear for a couple weeks before I upgraded the rear to a Zee. The XT gave me all the power I needed on the rear but it didn't have the same control as the Zee. And the lever doesn't feel as nice.

    I think that all of Shimano's brakes are pretty sweet, everything from the entry level M445 to the flagship XTR and Saints works well. But to me, the Saint and Zee are the standout brakes in their lineup and I can't say enough good things about them.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the help guys!

    I'm definitely considering the Zees now. My bike has a 200mm front rotor now, but on Blue Sky's site it shows they have 180mm. Is that going to be a problem? I'll have to get the Ice Tech rotors separately and the 200mm on a different site, but is there something about the brake caliper itself that is 180mm? Or will it work just fine with the 20mm rotor? And what about 180 for the rear?

    Thanks again for the help guys, I really appreciate it.

  9. #9
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    Shouldn't be a problem. The calipers are all the same, they just come with different adapters depending on which option you choose on the Blue Sky site. The Zee calipers are standard post mount brakes so it should be a pretty straightforward swap with your Avids.

  10. #10
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    Cool thanks. I was wondering if it was the post style mount I'd need. They don't have the 200mm rotors on their site, so I'll have to get them elsewhere. So if I select a 180 mm caliper and get a 200mm rotor, will they work together without needing another desperate adapter?

    I read in another thread that Blue Sky sells OEM brakes that are have already been pre-bled and sized. Not sure if that's true. But is 800mm for front and 1400mm for rear pretty universal sizes? My Enduro is a Large and I'd just want to make sure they were long enough before ordering.

    And lastly(So many questions! I'm sorry), since they're pre-bled, is installation as simple as just mounting the levers, installing the caliper and rotor and aligning them?

  11. #11
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    You should have no problems using the existing adapters from your Avid brakes. As for hose lengths, the Blue Sky site says that their Zee brakes are indeed 800mm front and 1400mm rear. Cut a couple pieces of string to those lengths and run them along your bike to see if they'll reach, if they do you're good and all you need to do is swap the levers & calipers. If not, you're going to have to order a new rear hose, an extra set of fittings, and a bleed kit; swap the old rear hose to the front, cut it to length, then put the new longer hose on the back and bleed both brakes.

  12. #12
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    I have XT's on my Superfly 100 Pro and love them. MAJOR upgrade over the Elixir 1 setup I had on my GT Sensor 9r Elite.

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