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  1. #1
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    2011 S-Works Epic XX Brakes- Feedback wanted

    I've been riding my new 2011 S-Works Epic for a couple months now and (as expected) this is the best riding bike I have ever ridden. Before I bought the bike, I looked over the spec's. to see what I thought that I needed to change. I couldn't come up with anything that absolutely needed to be changed immediately (besides cutting down the bars).
    After only a couple rides I noticed that my brakes felt a bit "gritty" like there was sand or something between the pads and that their stopping power was reduced. They also started squeaking. None of which I expected from a $10,000 purchase. I took my bike back to the shop for a slight tune-up because my bottom bracket was making a creaking noise, and the tech asked me what was up with my brakes. He said they felt horrible.
    Has anybody else with this bike had any similar issues?
    I was at a race last weekend and noticed a guy with the same bike who was running the new XTR brakes. I asked him about the change and he said that he was having similar issues, so he swapped brakes and his new XTR brakes have been flawless and work much better than the Avid/XX that came on the bike.
    I ran XTR discs on my previous bike and never had any issues with them. What do you guys think? Are the stock brakes crap, or is it just me? Has anybody else had a creaking noise coming from the bottom bracket area? The LBS said that with the new BB-30, there is nothing to tighten. If that's the case, where is the noise coming from?

  2. #2
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    I've run XTR and now XX brakes. XTR have good stopping power, but IME modulation isn't the best, and the lever feel is poor. They are also pretty heavy, but were very reliable. They don't handle heat as well as brakes that use DOT fluid but, as they use oil instead, don't require an annual brakes bleed. Having said that, it takes me 10 minutes to bleed a brake with the right equipment.

    I replaced the XTR with Juicy Ultimate's, and now with XX.

    XX has been a very good upgrade, better modulation than the Ultimate's and better lever feel. I certainly won't be going back. The Elixir is a better design than the Juicy. Period.

    Your problem description is a bit vague for me to offer much assistance. A "gritty" feel could be a lever issue or a pad issue. The obvious "gritty" feel is when you have no pads left and you are braking steel on steel!

    Pull out the pads and check them for wear, make sure they are wearing evenly, and clean them. While the pads are out check the lever movement to ensure that it is smooth. You will need to move the pistons back out once you put the pads back in. I use a large flat screwdriver or the closed end of a box wrench for this.

    Let us know how you get on.

    Also, worth saying, but you have a top bike and top equipment. But just because you have spent the $'s, doesn't mean that you don't have to spend the time and $'s on maintenance. In fact, for the top-end kit, even more so as each component has made trade-off's in weight for longevity. Gradually, over the years, I have discovered that I am the best bike mechanic because I care for my bike, and nothing that you have to do on a bike is difficult. I still have a good relationship with the local LBS and ensure that they do the mandated Spec warranty maintenance - but I do everything else.

  3. #3
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    Keep the XX brkes until the new Magura MT8's come out this Spring and then replace the XX brakes!
    ...and proud member of the anti-sock puppet desolation

  4. #4
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    SRAM XX brakes may be super expensive but they're still Avid brakes. They have exactly the same issues as the other Avid brakes - if you get them wet brake squeal is unavoidable. If the caliper and brake rotor aren't carefully aligned that will exaggerate any brake squeal issues also.

    If you've glazed or contaminated the pads that would make the brakes feel bad. Have you tried taking the brake pads out, sanding the braking surface down and then bedding the pads in again with repeated hard stops?

    It's worth washing dirt off the brake rotors with clean water after any muddy or wet rides too so that they're clean for the next time. Brake rotors also benefit from being trued periodically to keep them running straight.

    Creaking on a full suspension bike could be lots of things. The main things to start looking at on an Epic for creaking would be the bottom bracket, the suspension pivot bearings and the seatpost. If you've been riding a lot in bad weather during the winter then the suspension pivot bearings don't last.

  5. #5
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    I also have the same creaking noise but it comes form the seat post, xx brakes will be replaced for formula r1, rd and shifters are now xtr

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304
    SRAM XX brakes may be super expensive but they're still Avid brakes. They have exactly the same issues as the other Avid brakes - if you get them wet brake squeal is unavoidable. If the caliper and brake rotor aren't carefully aligned that will exaggerate any brake squeal issues also.
    Disagree about the brake squeal IME. It's a bit like saying all Brembo car brakes squeal when wet. Some do and some don't. Squeal is not a function of design, as it is of pad composition, and rotor surface. For example, I put a set of AP Racing brakes on a sports coupe (sadly departed) and chased squeal for some time. Dropped a line to the friendly folks at AP Racing and they recommended a softer set of pads, less high temp (colder). Sure enough squeal disappeared. Accusing AP Racing of not knowing how to design brakes is a bit like saying that bears don't defecate in the woods...

    My Ultimate's rarely squealed in the wet. Very rarely. Certainly no more than my XTR's. On the other hand I had a lot of difficulty with the XTR and setting up with the centre lock XTR rotors. They would get a small metallic "rub" in certain conditions. The rotors were true and the clearances were also OK. Having it happen 1 hour into a 5 hour marathon event messes with your mind as you think (wrongly of course) of all your hard effort disappearing to the brakes. To make matters worse, the guy I sold the brakes to had the same issues...

    My experience tallies with yours on the AVID setup though. I couldn't change wheels without setting up the callipers again. However AVID has a superb fixing system that makes this a 2 minute job - whereas with Shimano's you are fiddling with shims.

    IME squeaking can often come from the seat, seatpost, or seat fixing to the post.

    $0.02
    Last edited by skiwi; 01-29-2011 at 05:52 PM.

  7. #7
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    Nope, mine are fine. Had some trouble getting the front not to rub at first but have worked that out too.

    Did you bed the brakes in properly with repeated high speed stops before taking them out for a ride?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by goneskiian
    Nope, mine are fine. Had some trouble getting the front not to rub at first but have worked that out too.

    Did you bed the brakes in properly with repeated high speed stops before taking them out for a ride?
    Nope, I never knew about bedding the brakes with high speed stops. Is it too late to do that now? How did u get the pads not to rub? Mine are rubbing too.

  9. #9
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    Bottom Bracket noise - spesh has a tech bulletin about it, your shop should have known. Tell them to do some reading or find a shop that knows whats up. There is green loctite between the bearing and the frame to eliminate noise, dust gets in there / loctite wears out and the noise becomes apparent. As for the brakes I have alot of experience with the reg XX not the "world cup" they take alot of patience so to say. A good set up and they should be problem free. With that said they did have some seal issues last year and were replacing brakes with that problem, not sure if the world cups have similar issues.

  10. #10
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    Mine were crap out of the box on my 2010 S-Works Stumpjumper 29er.
    It's winter so I've had time to waste while my LBS get's these garbage brakes fixed.
    The latest fault according to SRAM was the stock brake lines are the root of all the problems.
    As soon as the new lines went on the piston in one of the brakes started sticking.AGAIN!!
    Now with a new brake lever they are supposedly ready to go.
    I am waiting now to upgrade the stock front fork to a brain fork for 280.00.
    Wonder how long that'll take to get right.
    My Formula R-1s but this XX stuff to shame.
    Good luck
    LS

  11. #11
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    Rtfm!

    Quote Originally Posted by granget
    Nope, I never knew about bedding the brakes with high speed stops. Is it too late to do that now? How did u get the pads not to rub? Mine are rubbing too.
    Any new brakes, new pads or new rotors need bedding in. Automotive, motorbike or bicycle. To bed in undertake between 10-20 medium speed applications bringing the bike to walking pace. After that undertake about 10 full speed stops bringing the bike to a complete stop.

    After this, set the pads. Undo the tri-centre bolts. Apply the brakes (wait until they have cooled down!) a couple of times and then hold them while you tighten the bolts. Tighten the "upside" bolt first.

    Voila.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiwi
    Disagree about the brake squeal IME. It's a bit like saying all Brembo car brakes squeal when wet. Some do and some don't. Squeal is not a function of design, as it is of pad composition, and rotor surface.
    ...
    My experience tallies with yours on the AVID setup though. I couldn't change wheels without setting up the callipers again. However AVID has a superb fixing system that makes this a 2 minute job - whereas with Shimano's you are fiddling with shims.
    The Avid brakes I had had decent power and nice modulation. They also had the capability to be incredibly frustrating.

    Brake squeal wasn't the real issue for me. I always used the longer lasting (but noisier) metallic pads with my Avid brakes which doesn't help. Noisy brakes can be useful as a warning to numpty walkers that you're coming. They're often oblivious to anything less than the screeching death howl of wet disc brakes. Even then they still don't always notice you...

    The big problem with the Avid brakes was the close pad / rotor clearances, along with repeated sticking piston issues once the brakes were more than a few months old. They weren't easy to live with and I hated living in fear of ever taking the wheels off the bike. It always took me far longer than two minutes to re-align the caliper after taking the wheels off.

    Setting the brake caliper alignment on a Hope Tech X2 brake only needs doing once and takes about 10 seconds. After that you can take the wheels on and off as much as you like without having to re-align the caliper.

    This is a post I wrote about setting up Avid brakes:

    My New S-work Epic impressions

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304
    The Avid brakes I had had decent power and nice modulation. They also had the capability to be incredibly frustrating.

    The big problem with the Avid brakes was the close pad / rotor clearances, along with repeated sticking piston issues once the brakes were more than a few months old. They weren't easy to live with and I hated living in fear of ever taking the wheels off the bike. It always took me far longer than two minutes to re-align the caliper after taking the wheels off.

    Setting the brake caliper alignment on a Hope Tech X2 brake only needs doing once and takes about 10 seconds. After that you can take the wheels on and off as much as you like without having to re-align the caliper.
    A lot of what I read in this thread reinforces my belief that most LBS mechanics don't know sh*t. I once watched while my LBS tried to get my Juicy pads aligned. After 10 minutes without success I showed him how to do it (upstream calliper bolt first while lever still held) - it took 20 seconds.

    I would also note that the Elixir is a different design than the Juicy - and IMO a better one - the master cylinder alignment, lever design & contact pad adjustment are all better. I also must say that Avid have rattled on about lever pivot points for years and it is interesting to see the new XTR dispense of the radial master cylinder and move the pivot point closer. The Avids that I've used (Juicy Ultimate's & XX) certainly are good at 1-finger braking.

    Your note about warped rotors reminds me that you could make some good money being reliably able to straighten out rotors. I spent good money trying to straighten out a set of Hope rotors. Even a machine shop couldn't help. Makes me grumpy to write off $100. I have an idea of a high-speed "grinding wheel" where you mount the rotor using a 6-bolt system, and then a fixed calliper with big pads that you use to brake against the torque of the electric motor. Rotor gets hot. Very hot. And straightens.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by granget
    IAfter only a couple rides I noticed that my brakes felt a bit "gritty" like there was sand or something between the pads and that their stopping power was reduced. They also started squeaking. None of which I expected from a $10,000 purchase. I took my bike back to the shop for a slight tune-up because my bottom bracket was making a creaking noise, and the tech asked me what was up with my brakes. He said they felt horrible.
    Having brakes with bad judder, vibration and howling isn't always easy to fix.

    These threads are a couple of examples:

    loud stumpjumper 29er brakes

    My new Elixir Rs or How to stop the dam howling

    The Juicy brake turkey warble/vibration MEGA THREAD

    It doesn't sound like this set of SRAM XX brakes are quite that bad though. Just a bit gritty?

    Quote Originally Posted by skiwi
    A lot of what I read in this thread reinforces my belief that most LBS mechanics don't know sh*t. I once watched while my LBS tried to get my Juicy pads aligned. After 10 minutes without success I showed him how to do it (upstream calliper bolt first while lever still held) - it took 20 seconds.
    ...
    My experience tallies with yours on the AVID setup though. I couldn't change wheels without setting up the callipers again. However AVID has a superb fixing system that makes this a 2 minute job
    How much pad / rotor clearance have you got on your new brakes?

    If it takes 2 minutes for SRAM XX brakes and 20 seconds for Avid Juicy Ultimate brakes does that mean it's harder to get the SRAM XX brakes aligned?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304
    Having brakes with bad judder, vibration and howling isn't always easy to fix.

    These threads are a couple of examples:

    loud stumpjumper 29er brakes

    My new Elixir Rs or How to stop the dam howling

    The Juicy brake turkey warble/vibration MEGA THREAD

    If it takes 2 minutes for SRAM XX brakes and 20 seconds for Avid Juicy Ultimate brakes does that mean it's harder to get the SRAM XX brakes aligned?
    they are all Avid examples - here is a Hope one

    Hope Tech X2 NOISE/Squealing!!

    Actually the XX's are harder to align because the kind folks are Avid put the mondo thread lok on the Ti bolts. Result they don't loosen easily. ;-)

    Google squealing brakes and you will see that it is a big issue with all disc brakes. Some never have it happen and others can't seem to avoid it. My own theory (formed during my car-nut years) was uneven deposits on the rotors caused by heat and holding the brakes on when the rotors were hot. Could be similar on MTB's. My rule is never, ever keep your brakes applied after a long hot descent.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiwi
    they are all Avid examples - here is a Hope one

    Hope Tech X2 NOISE/Squealing!!
    My Hope Tech X2 brakes (standard Hope pads) squeal when wet until the brakes dry out and get some heat into them. They can be as loud as the Avids were sometimes.

    They're not perfect by any means.

    The strength of the Hope Tech X2 brakes is that they're easy to setup, reliable (so far) and have a relatively large brake rotor - pad gap so that you don't suffer from any brake rotor rub when riding.

  17. #17
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    Replacing the Avid XX's

    After riding my 2011 S-works Epic 29er all last season and the beginning of this one, I've decided to replace the XX's with XTR's. I have had constant problems with the XX's which started during the first week of riding. And after rebuilding them again 2 weeks ago at the LBO, only to have them lose fluid and fail again in less than 10 days, I've given up. I am trying to get Specialized to cover the costs or at least help since a $9000 bike should have all components working like a fine watch. I'm not sure how this is going to go at this point. I'm aware of one other owner who bought his bike from the same LBO and has made the same decision to go to XTR's.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdb3i View Post
    After riding my 2011 S-works Epic 29er all last season and the beginning of this one, I've decided to replace the XX's with XTR's. I have had constant problems with the XX's which started during the first week of riding. And after rebuilding them again 2 weeks ago at the LBO, only to have them lose fluid and fail again in less than 10 days, I've given up. I am trying to get Specialized to cover the costs or at least help since a $9000 bike should have all components working like a fine watch. I'm not sure how this is going to go at this point. I'm aware of one other owner who bought his bike from the same LBO and has made the same decision to go to XTR's.
    Just get them to replace with the 2013 XXWC model, which they will do due to the recall from Avid. I've had my replacements for 4 months now and done 500kms on them with no issues - wet or shine.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiwi View Post
    Just get them to replace with the 2013 XXWC model, which they will do due to the recall from Avid. I've had my replacements for 4 months now and done 500kms on them with no issues - wet or shine.
    ditto i had my 2011 s works epic in storage for 10 weeks due to a home remodel when i finally got the bike out the levers went all the way to the bar these were the original brakes and somehow the internals went to hell.

    i'm getting the 2013 warranty replacements this week this is the second set of xx worldcup brakes that i've had to warranty replace.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdb3i View Post
    After riding my 2011 S-works Epic 29er all last season and the beginning of this one, I've decided to replace the XX's with XTR's. I have had constant problems with the XX's which started during the first week of riding. And after rebuilding them again 2 weeks ago at the LBO, only to have them lose fluid and fail again in less than 10 days, I've given up. I am trying to get Specialized to cover the costs or at least help since a $9000 bike should have all components working like a fine watch. I'm not sure how this is going to go at this point. I'm aware of one other owner who bought his bike from the same LBO and has made the same decision to go to XTR's.
    If you're considering the new style Shimano XTR brakes then I'd suggest the M988 XTR Trail brakes. The M985 XTR Race brakes are a little lighter but don't have the servowave cam levers or the finned brake pads. The Shimano RT-86 Ice-Tec rotors work well and are worth using also.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    If you're considering the new style Shimano XTR brakes then I'd suggest the M988 XTR Trail brakes. The M985 XTR Race brakes are a little lighter but don't have the servowave cam levers or the finned brake pads. The Shimano RT-86 Ice-Tec rotors work well and are worth using also.
    The finned pads interest me. Sounds like a good idea, but I wonder how much of the need for it is due to the poor thermal properties of the mineral oil that Shimano uses, rather than a DOT 5.1 fluid...

  22. #22
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    I've been very impressed with how well the Shimano M988 XTR Trail brakes perform overall. One finger braking, confidence inspiring power and a good feel once you're used to them.

    It's difficult to say how much of that is specifically down to the finned pads. I haven't had any brake fade issues using the Shimano finned pads and Ice-Tec rotors on descents so they appear to do what they're claimed to.

    Reliability wise my 10 month old Shimano M988 XTR Trail brakes haven't been totally trouble free though. They've needed bleeding a few times after both the front and rear brake levers went soft together. The front brake had a leaking bleed nipple which needed the o-ring replacing to fix and the silver finish on the right hand brake lever is peeling off and looking quite scruffy now.

  23. #23
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    XTR's

    Thanks for the tip. I was looking at the M985's but will now consider the M988's.
    Does anyone know if there are any tricks to mounting the calipers?

  24. #24
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    There's not much to aligning the calipers with Shimano M988 XTR Trail brakes. Unlike the older Avid brakes you have no CPS washers and a reasonable pad / rotor gap so it's easy to do by eye. With true brake rotors it only takes a few seconds - part tighten the caliper bolts and then push the brake caliper left /right in small increments until it's aligned on the rotor before fully tightening the caliper bolts.

    I'd change the adapters for Shimano post mount ones at the same time as replacing the brakes so that the rotor height is just right also.

  25. #25
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    Just get them to replace with the 2013 XXWC model, which they will do due to the recall from Avid. I've had my replacements for 4 months now and done 500kms on them with no issues - wet or shine.
    What recall? The brakes on my 2011 epic are junk. I've asked the shop about them and according to them there is no recall. However, I keep hearing about people getting them replaced. I'm lucky these things haven't gotten me killed. Is there any written recall info out there?

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