Avid have years of experience with four piston brakes already, their Code downhill/freeride brakes are big, powerful but heavy. We have since seen some riders experimenting with fitting lightweight X0 levers to Code calipers to gain the added power of a four-piston brake without the added beef to your handlebars. So when we heard rumours of a lightweight four-piston brake aimed at trail riders we thought to ourselves ‘that makes good sense’. And here it is, a powerful brake without the weight.
Available in black or shiny chrome, the sleek and minimal pack a punch.
Most brakes out there use two pistons, one on each side of the caliper to push the pad onto the disc rotor. A larger brake pad would increase friction applied to the rotor, but would need more of a push to do so, hence the need for two more pistons. The Trail brake uses a longer brake pad than a standard Elixir or X0 brake for example, and a combination of 16mm and 14mm pistons have been chosen to tune just the right amount of power you get when you squeeze the lever.
The small pistons work to provide a solid force against the rotor.
It’s not only the caliper that differs from other brakes from Avid, the lever also scores a lot of attention from the engineers. Most notably the lever feels solid, smooth and consistent in its action. Two small cartridge bearings are used on the lever pivot in place of bushes (bushings can develop wear and slop) and it uses the new bleed port location indicating Avid’s Air Trap feature which helps the brakes from losing feel and power if air finds its way into the lever body.
Note the two small cartridge bearings on the lever pivot, smooth actuation and no lateral slop are the results. Keep an eye on the bolts though, one of the tiny torx bolts loosened off on us, and we almost lost it on the trail.
All this means a new pad standard is introduced, but we think it’s worth it.
The rotors are now available in 140, 160, 170 (new size), 180 and 200mm sizes to allow fine-tuning of the power on hand to suit your bike and riding style. Also with all the new wheel sizes being thrown into the mix, this is handy. We used a 180 up front and 160 out the back on our Yeti SB66 Carbon test mule.
During testing we found the X0 Trail brakes to be refreshingly effective, and after cutting down the brake lines to fit our test bike perfectly, the lever felt like the most solid feeling Avid brake we have ever felt yet. The power sure was plentiful and we found modulating the right amount of stopping juice with one finger was simply spot on. On the longest runs we did notice some brake fade, but far less than a set of X0 Elixirs, and nothing out of the ordinary.
Adjusting the brakes to suit your hand size and lever position preference takes about thirty seconds via the user-friendly adjustments. We tried running the caliper without the concave and convex washers but as we tightened the caliper onto the bike it would creep out of adjustment and drag again, so, leave them on there they make drag-free adjustment easier.
The pad contact adjuster spins and adjusts like it should, and in conjunction with the reach adjustment, customising the feel is as easy as one, two, three.
SRAM dedicated riders can now fit a brake to their bikes and be confident their Shimano loyal mates can’t pick at, this brake works a treat. Our set weighed in the exact same as a set of X9 Elixirs, so it’s a no-brainer, the weight penalty is not even an issue. Avid certainly are back.
We’ll keep on testing these brakes, and happily so. They have impressed us and reinstated Avid brakes as an option for the non-believers out there.