Are Avid brakes really that bad?

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  • Are Avid brakes really that bad?
  • beas1981

    I’ve recently bought a new bike with Avid Elixir R brakes. They’re not that great but have improved with a bleed. The brakes are a couple of years old and i’m not that impressed so looking for a change.

    I’ve only ever had Avids before (Juicy 3s, Elixir 5s). I quite liked the Elixir 5s. The only time I ever had an issue with them was on downhill tracks in the Alps where they started to fade after a while.

    Avid brakes seem to really get a lot of stick on here and I was wondering if anyone has some useful advice, rather than just “I’d rather have no brakes!” etc etc!!!!

    It’s just that i haven’t got bottomless pockets and there are some bargains on Avids out there – people taking new brakes off new bikes and selling them.

    I don’t care about the cool factor of what brand of brakes I have. If Avid are good value but still decent, I’ll have them. If SLX, XT, Hope really are worth the extra money I’ll pay it..


    Premier Icon Onzadog

    Avid juicy 5s on the wife’s bike are 7 years old and only ever needed pads and bleeding. They’ve only just come off as I treated her to some Hopes.

    I’ve always run Hope and think they’re great. I love that you can get any small part and the control is second to none.

    However, Shimano probably offer best bang for the buck. I’ll keep using hope though. I sell mine about every ten years just to buy new ones.


    They are really, really good in use.

    From experience, they can easily become not good though and there lies there downfall…

    Premier Icon scotroutes

    BB7s are great


    No they aren’t that bad. I’ve had juicy sevens on my bike for a few years and have bled them once before an Alps trip otherwise just routine pad changes. They have had no issues and are perfectly capable IMHO. I’d have Avids again. I reckon the less you mess with them the better they are. Also that little red spacer is pretty essential so don’t lose it!

    I think, based on all I’ve read, that I’ve been lucky though.


    My only gripe is Avid seem to make all the little bolts out of cheese and they’re a pain in the arse to get a perfect bleed on them. Shimano or Hope do both of the above better, so I’d buy one of those instead.

    Nothing wrong with a well set up set of Avids though.


    They’re a pain to get a good bleed on but once you’ve got it right they’re pretty darn good in my experience.

    I think the problem is you can do a poor job of bleeding them and they’ll still feel good for a ride or two then go back to being crap – this leads people to think that they did a good bleed (as they worked for 2 rides) and they NEED bleeding again.

    Yeah, so that was me for a good while and i was going to just sell the bloody things – they’ve been fine for ~3 months now


    Always had Hopes and nothing has ever matched my old E4s for stopping power and modulation. My new bike came with elixirs and fun them ok with different pads and a good bleed. Only used for XC though

    Premier Icon takisawa2

    I like Avids. But thats more because they get sold on cheaply, which is why I have them on a couple of bikes. They always rub though. Not had an issue with bleeding them, if done correctly they are fine, but its the sticking pistons that annoys me, even on the Elixir Cr’s I have now.

    If I was buying a new set of brakes the box would say BB7. 😉

    Premier Icon Teetosugars

    scotroutes – Member
    BB7s are great

    What Druidh Said..

    Premier Icon binners

    Can’t see the issue myself. I’ve got Elixer 5’s on both my bikes. They need the odd bleed, but thats a 5 minute job. They work great


    Not really had any bother with my Elixir Rs.

    Worked fine out of the box and only bled once in 2 years (after a pad change on both ends). Bleeding was straight forward enough (using epic bleed’s kit).

    that said, I found myself wanting for a bit more modulation in the lever (they have a very on/off feel) so I’ve got some Hope M4s for the Heckler I’ll be spannering together in the next week.

    Gonna keep the Elixir’s though, its always nice to have spares 🙂


    I have never had any bother with mine,I must be living on borrowed time.

    I found my Juicy’s and BB-7’s fine (but with a very fiddly pad change), but Elixirs definitely seem to be difficult to bleed and have very inconsistent lever feel. Maybe the rubber internals wear out? or the quality control isn’t great? i don’t know.

    A lever rebuild might sort it, but whilst the brakes are heavily discounted, spares aren’t, so it never seems worthwhile fixing them.

    Never had a problem with lack of power though, better than Hope imo.

    Hope definitely win on maintainability though.


    I’m happy bleeding Avids. It was a faff at first but once you know what you’re doing it’s easy(ish). As I said, with my current Elixir Rs I think they are generally used and abused and it’s time for a new set.

    So the general consensus seems to be that once set up right, Elixir’s are as good as the rest. Why all the negative press then eh?

    Premier Icon JoeG

    Why all the negative press then eh?

    My guess is that there are a heck of a lot of them out there, especially as OEM fitted on new bikes. I’ll bet that they have the largest OEM market share, while others like Hope and Magura aren’t common as OEM at all.

    Premier Icon Northwind

    They aren’t terrible, they’re just more likely to give you trouble than most of the competition, and they don’t have enough redeeming features to make that worthwhile.

    Also, bloody stupid tri-align thing! Because what brakes really need, is more components to go wrong and another axis to be squint in.


    ooh some Avid fans on tonight! agree with the 2 above.

    the only real bad thing about them imho (not counting faulty ones) is the pad – rotor gap is just a bit too tight. if you don’t have perfectly true rotors, it’s annoying as hell. or if you ride through mud (which in Britain you probably do). even just changing pads can be a problem.

    you must get just the right amount of fluid in there. it’s easy enough to let some out at the caliper. stuff tissue under port, crack bleed port open, keep one hand on torx key. pull lever gently, a few drips and seal it before letting lever go! spin wheel, repeat 2 or 3 times if necessary.

    every so often they seem to need cleaning out and greasing (i use alcohol, then red rubber grease) at the caliper around piston. then they’re all sweet and buttery.

    so yeah..been using elixirs 4 years on 2 bikes and will probably stick with them now i’ve learnt the quirks. finicky but when set right almost the perfect feel imho. find the association between lever pull and wheel stoppage the most natural of any brake.

    they’re not unreliable – i’ve never had a leak, sudden loss of braking, anything like that.

    heavier riders or anyone who don’t like servicing seem to prefer Shimano!

    I found myself wanting for a bit more modulation in the lever (they have a very on/off feel)

    you want more modulation than elixirs? blimey. most people find them too gradual.

    Premier Icon kiwijohn

    Never had a problem with my Elixir 9s or Juicy 7s before that. Maybe because they’ve never been bled.

    b r

    Try changing a set of Juicy pads when out on a winter ride…


    Never had a problem with any Avid brakes and I’ve had Juicy 5s, Juicy 3s and Elixir 5s (2 sets).

    I’ve never had to bleed any of them (and I can’t understand why you’d need to unless you’ve boiled them or had the circuit open for some reason) and never had problems changing pads.

    Only downer for me is that they can be a bugger to centralise the calipers if you need to remove/refit them for any reason.

    Try changing a set of Juicy pads when out on a winter ride.

    Done it plenty of times:

    Leatherman out

    Remove wheel

    Shove something between the pads to push the pistons back

    grab the tang on the first pad and pull it out

    Grab tang on second pad and pull it out

    Push in new pads by hand

    Replace wheel

    What’s the problem?

    Gottem, hate ’em.

    Had Elixir Rs on one bike and Avid 1s on another. To be fair most of the kit on the bike with the Avid Ones was pisch so they didn’t feel out of place. (There’s a reason Special Blends only cost marginally more than the frame alone)


    When they work they are fine and I found them ok to rebuild and bleed as well.

    Changing the pads is a pain, especially with cold numb fingers by the side of the path but nothing to stress about.

    I don’t remember having the same pad problems with shimano brakes. They just leaked when it got cold so that they squeeled and failed to stop me. I believe later models don’t have this issue anymore.


    I use to hate my juicy 5s with a vengeance, but only because I found pad changing a nightmare.
    However, if you follow BiscuitPowered’s advice above and push the pistons fully out, it’s actually really easy.
    I prefer the control of the juicy vs the on/off of some of the latest Shimano offerings.


    They are OE fitment on the On-One i bought, no problems so far. Always been a Shimano fan but will see how these go, i’m in no hurry to change for the sake of it.

    Premier Icon billyboy

    Yes, they are that bad


    I just don’t get the nasayers on Avid. I suppose as they come OEM on so many bikes there are bound to be more issues than with less popular models.

    I have never had a problem but then I read the manual, watched the online tutorial about bleeding them and have pretty straight rotors.

    Considering I use Superstar pads as well I ought to have suffered several catastrophic brake failures but instead I’ve just got really powerful, reliable brakes.


    Have had Juicy 3s and 7s for years without any problems. Never had to bleed them and changing pads isn’t that bad once you look up how to do it online


    I didn’t find my Avid Elixirs unreliable or bad in use. They aren’t “impossible” to bleed, just harder than Shimano/hope and need an expensive dedicated bleed kit.

    As for Juicy pad replacement, it is much harder than other brakes. Most others use a pretty similar system that works well. The juicy one is just unnecessarily over complicated.


    Best tips for pad changing is to bin the retaining clip altogether and push the pistons back in with the spacer between the old pads before you start.

    I have code 5s on my remedy. Fantastic brake that is really powerful. I can’t see what is so hard about bleeding avids. The syringe kit makes it super easy and much less messy than other systems I’ve used. I bleed about once a year out of routine rather than necessity. I like the fitting system, hold the brake tighten the bolts and forget about it. Never rubs. Never had leaks, stuck pistons, or fade. Nothing not to like other than the bolts are a bit soft and they are a little noisy prior to warming up.

    Also have elixir 3 on my hardtail. Same as above only not as powerful as the code 5.

    Premier Icon bullroar

    I just can’t get on with them and certainly wouldn’t opt to buy a set.

    Had one bike with Juicy 3’s which were fine when freshly bled but would rapidly deteriorate. Invariably the things would need realigning if the wheel was taken out. The pistons would stick. They rubbed and made horrible noises. It became of feature of just about riding trip to do some serious brake service on the Avids at some point, while not evening thinking about other types.

    Bought a Trek Remedy with Elixir R’s at Christmas, the front brake was useless from day 1 with rubs and stuck pistons. I thought here we go again so having a spare SLX I just put that on and had done with it. The rear was fine and worked really well. However, it stayed in the garage for a month without use until about a week ago when I took it to Scotland. Guess what the previously functioning brake was now a mushy mess, lever to the bar no problem and one piston stuck in place. Completely lacking any confidence in it I decided to fit a Deore rather than have to constantly live with yet another rubbish Avid.

    I am not much interested in why they do or don’t work or how easy it is to sort things out, I can’t be arsed. None of the Shimano, Hope, Magura and even Quad brakes I have (or have had) on other bikes present me with none of the problems routinely associated with Avid.

    Premier Icon ibnchris

    Got avid ultimates. Love them for their weight but as said above find the gap a tad tight meaning a slight buckle in your rotor and you’ve got rub. Have just got new XTs on my SS though and have to say I love them. Always wanted Hope but think these are just as good…

    Premier Icon Kona TC

    Having owned Avid, Hope, Formula, Shimano and Hayes brakes, to be honest apart from a slightly different feel and power characteristics, I have found them all much of a much-ness. Pads wear out, pistons stick, metal corrodes, seals leak, hoses get kinked and the oil gets old.

    What I have found is that all brakes whatever make, need to be maintained and set-up properly; if you don’t then funny old thing they don’t work as well as they should.

    As for Avid if you follow the Avid brake set-up video on U-Tube using the brake set-up block you can’t go wrong.


    Avids are pretty good, top end elixirs kept in good nick are actually my fave. My favourite combination of ergonomics, feel and power.

    There are however various issues –

    .The internals get eaten away by the DOT fluid, so as soon as avids have any age, they could do with a complete rebuild, recommended yearly by sramuk
    .If you’re the kind of rider who idea of maintenance is pressure washing or chucking the bike in the shed without a gentle clean to grit rid of anything corrosive, road grit for example, pistons get sticky real easy. Piston seals get eaten from the outside from much, piston seals get eaten from the inside from the DOt fluid and require regular replacement
    .No matter how good someone claims to be at bleeding brakes, im sure may will chime in saying they’re brake bleeding gods, it takes a long time to get a perfect bleed with them. There’s something about the architecture that means that trapped air has a habit of staying trapped.

    So if you’re pretty spanner savvy, dont mind maintenance and the running costs, you’ll be rewarded with real nice brakes.

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