March 22, 2012
As well as introducing the SRAM Type 2 rear mech last week in Santa Cruz, SRAM, or more specifically Avid, had something else to show us. So, without further ado…
Introducing X0 Trail Brakes.
Trail riding has progressed. Expectations have changed. Riders want one bike that does it all and demand a brake that keeps up. At just 340 grams, the new X0 Trail was born to climb and engineered to descend. With a 4-piston dual-diameter calliper and innovative lever pivot bearing, it packs more power than any other brake in its class.
Intended use: XC/Trail/AM/DH
Colours: Black Ano & Polished Silver
Rotor Sizes: 140/160/170/180/200mm
Price: £233 per brake
X0 Trail Features
- Sealed Pivot Bearings
- 4-Piston Dual-Diameter Calliper
- Tool-Free Contact Adjust
- Tool-Free Reach Adjust
- Tooled Banjo Adjust
- MatchMaker X Compatible
Tech break down:
There’s quite a bit going on with these brakes that’s new or updated from previous offerings and in some cases there are details that are hidden away that probably deserve to be shouted about just as much as the sexier features. Here’s a bit of a tear down on some of the features in X0 Trail.
Air Trap Bleeding.
Avid got a bit of a bad reputation for being harder to bleed than other brakes. Personally I never found them any better or worse than other brands, but they did seem to need bleeding more often. This was a shame as when bled they offered plenty of bite with a good lever feel. Avid have taken a three pronged approach to helping reduce the need for bleeding and help when you do need to give the brakes some love.
First of all prevention is better than cure. To that end the sealing in the lever has been simplified to a single O-ring. Fewer seals mean less places for air to get in and fewer places for it to hide, as a bonus it should also make servicing easier. The bladder inside the lever has also been improved with a new material that is less likely to air permeation. It’a a little thing but the kind of thing that will make a big difference. Inevitably air will get into the system though, whether that’s from use or from shortening hoses and this is where the air trap comes into play. This does what it says on the marketing literature, it traps air next to the bleed valve on the lever so you don’t get any bubbles hiding and causing spongy braking. “Genius”, you say, but it gets better. That bleed valve has been positioned towards the top of the lever (when the lever is mounted on the bars) so air naturally rises and collects there, again helping to prevent air hiding in the system.
Four Piston Caliper.
Traditionally four piston calipers have been the reserve of DH brakes (the original XT brakes being a notable exception) but these brakes are all about, you guessed it, Trail. Having said that expect to see them appearing on DHers bikes in a bid to save a few grams without sacrificing a whole load of power. We actually spotted the levers on Stevie Smiths Devinci a few weeks ago in this edit (have a look at about 0.23):
More pistons means better heat dissipation and control as Avid can tune the amount of pressure each piston can exert. To that end one set of pistons are 16mm in diameter and the others are 14mm so you can have a controllable first brushing with the rotor and ramp things up to full-on clamping.
Sealed pivot bearings.
These first appeared on Avid’s Code brakes and have trickled down to X0 Trail. Sealed bearings are like Viagra for your brake levers. Previous X0 levers could get a bit of play in the pivot and go a bit floppy, but now they stay solid for longer. How much longer we’ll be interested to see, but Avid are confident you’ll love them long time. I need to escape this innuendo so lets talk about…
Find 160mm rotors offer not enough power but 180mm too much? What you need are 170mm rotors! No, it’s not April the 1st. With more wheel sizes appearing and riders balancing up weight and stopping power having another choice of rotor is not necessarily a bad thing. With the greater power that the X0 Trails offer it’s quite possible to go for a smaller rotor than usual. Obviously a dedicated brake adapter will be available to match up your calliper to the rotor.
Now 100% faster! Maybe. Better looking. Definitely.
Out on the trail:
I sometimes think that the mark of a good brake is that the first couple of rides with them you ride like a beginner; skidding into corners coming to a dead stop after them and generally fighting the bike, all because the brakes are doing too good a job. This is what happened on my first few rides with X0 Trail. This previously happened with new XTs and before that Codes and Saint. The level of power takes some getting used to. The nice thing about the X0 Trails is that the power, once you get used to it, is very controllable once you get past just grabbing the lever in high speed situations. Modulation would be the buzzword to insert about here.
Avids have always had comfortable levers, long enough that you can run them well in board and just use one finger on the ends of the well curved and proportioned lever blades, these are no different. The big difference is the bearings on the lever pivots, they lend a much more solid feel to the lever and inspire confidence in their ability, both to haul you up and to last a few crashes. Don’t discount the reassurance of a solid feeling lever…
All this extra power does come with a weight penalty; a whole 25g over regular X0. Which is not a lot for a whole lot more power, and if you are keen to claw that weight back you could drop your rotors a size, say to 170mm from 180mm, without losing out too much in outright stopping ability.
For most riders the X0 Trails are worth the small weight premium, but I’ll be interested to see how well they hold up over time. I’ve always like Avids power but been frustrated by their reliability, seized pistons being the main culprit, and with more pistons this could be a real headache, but the solid lever does inspire faith that things might have changed, we shall see. For now all I can say is that the X0 Trails are a real contender to Shimano’s IceTech shod XT brakes, which currently hold the out-and-out power crown for trail orientated brakes.
If that’s got you thinking, “that’s all great but I don’t need any more power”, fear not, SRAM are all about options.
X0 weighs in at a lean 315 grams, complete with forged aluminium lever body and calliper, and the legacy of precision and quality necessary to carry the X0 name.
Packing an intuitive design and unmatched feel, X0 gives you the power to lean harder, push further and hit the trail with a one-two punch of performance and control.
Intended use: XC/Trail
Colours: Silver, Red and Black
Price: £196 per brake
- Tool-Free Reach Adjustment
- Tooled Banjo Adjust
- MatchMaker X Compatible
So there you go, choices galore for your stopping needs. Both brakes should be available in May.