In our last posting we talked about the fantastic Shimano XT M775 Trail brakes. If you are in the market for something different than Shimano’s but demand great performance, tons of power on tap and a reasonable price tag, the Avid Elixir 9 Trail brakes might just be right up your alley.
These aren’t the Avid’s that you used to know. Avid / SRAM has come a long way in the last few years with there brake technology. The Elixir 9 Trail’s are a great example of how far they’ve come, these brakes are affordable, offer amazing power, and great feel at the levers. These brakes are designed for the massively popular Enduro scene, and as such have to offer competitive weight, fantastic feel, and power to stop on a dime. These do that in spades. Like our Shimano XT’s from the last posting you can pick these fantastic brakes for around $200 USD with some shopping around.
So lets get into it!
With a giant reservoir at the lever, and a massive 4 piston caliper, power should be the least of the worries with these brakes and they certainly deliver on that aspect! Grab hold of the lever and you will stop, doesn’t matter the speed, doesn’t matter if it’s wet or dry, you will STOP.
With all that power, you’d think that these brakes have the subtly of a light switch. That is where all the work Avid and Sram has done is evident with these brakes. The Elixir 9 Trails have a great feel at the lever and offer actual modulation, meaning you can gently scrub speed with out locking up your wheels. This is not something that Avids are traditionally known for and it is a very welcome surprise!
Adjustments / Features:
So far we have a brake that offers great power and good modulation. What else do these brakes offer to set them apart from the other brakes out there? These Avid’s offer a pad contact point adjustment which will adjust the point in which your pads contact your rotors, in turn changing how your levers feel. in addition to changing the pad contact point, these brakes also offer the ability to change the position of your levers, which is a very important aspect of getting your cockpit to feel right.
The last feature isn’t one that is very obvious, until you need to bleed your brakes that is. Avid changed the inline brake hardware on the new Elixirs, no longer do you need to break our bench vices, vice grips or hammers to drive in brake fittings. Now the barbed ferrules are quite easy to install and offer a quick and easy method for changing length of your lines.
Real World Performance:
I’ve had the chance to ride these brakes in a few different conditions, which really show the versatility of a brake system. In chunky, rocky, steep technical terrain the modulation and sheer power these brakes offer is outstanding. In this type of terrain these brakes offer instant power, precise lever feel and give the confidence you need to be able to ride in this type of terrain.
In a fast and flowy trail environment where momentum is key the Avid’s performed excellently as well. Scrubbing off a little bit of speed to keep control but not losing your momentum is a common occurrence and the Elixir 9’s were more than up to that task. The Elixirs also had more than enough immediate power to stop me in a blink of an eye in the event of a needed “emergency” stop. The Avid’s also showed no evidence of brake fade over long distance braking situations.
On the trail these brakes impress. They were a bolt on upgrade that improved the handling and confidence on the bike. They don’t have a “weakness” per se, but there is one calling card of Avid’s that is almost universally known as the “turkey warble”, meaning that once your pads or rotors are wet, Avid’s provide a noise that is not unlike a turkey mating call. These Elixir 9’s give you that same exact call.
For our money, we’re getting a 4 piston brake that is a fairly light weight set up, we’re getting tons of power and great modulation at a price that won’t break the bank. In that respect these brakes pass all the marks with flying colors, once set up they will rival any brake system in this price range for pure performance. The one detail that always catches me out with Avid brakes is the dreaded turkey warble, it’s still here, it was greatly reduced but it does rear its head. If that is not a big deal for you then these brakes will provide you a package that will be hard to beat.