The not-so-minor details
Avid Elixir 9 Trail Brake
Monza Bicycle Imports
Ease of set-up.
Lots of power.
Noise when wet.
Maybe too much modulation for some.
The Avid Elixir 9 Trail brake is a powerful stopper that’s simple to set-up and has loads of modulation. We’ve had great success with the XO Trail brake (read our review here) and the Elixir 9 Trail has many of the same features in a more wallet-friendly package.
The Elixir 9 is aimed at the all-mountain crowd but it’s no boat anchor – you still get carbon fiber levers (on an aluminium body) to help keep the weight at 350g per end with a 160 mm rotor. At the business end you get a two-piece, four-piston caliper with easy to access pads. Adjustment wise the Elixir 9 has both reach and pad contact adjustments to get your ideal lever feel.
On a maintenance side changing pads is easy and only requires an allen key and maybe some small pliers to remove the split washer on the pad retaining bolt.
Installing the brakes was simple, even with the pain-in-the-arse-ness of internal routing on our test bike. We did have to cut the cables to install, however re-bleeding them was easy, as per these instructions. We matched them with an Avid HS1 180mm rotor on the front and a 160mm on the rear. There was no need for any bed in time as they worked perfectly with super bite straight out of the box. How do some brakes do this, while others seem to take days of riding to come good? Baffling, batman.
Avid market the Elixir 9 Trails feel as having “Deep Stroke Modulation”. Kinky. Away from the marketing and in the real world we found the modulation both good and bad. Good: Avoiding unwanted lock-ups is easy, there’s lots of control and the power comes on more gradually than some other brands of brakes. Bad: Our tester has small hands (enough with the jokes) and we found that if you adjust the levers in too close the lever would pull to the bars before reaching full power. The simple fix was to run the lever reach and contact point adjustment out a little further, ensuring the brakes hit their full power earlier in the lever stroke.
If you’re coming off Shimano brakes the modulation will take some time getting used to as it can feel like you’re lacking power at the same point in the stroke. Brake feel is personal, however, so you may love the more gradual feel of the power of the Elixirs.
The Elixir has both reach and pad contact adjustment, both tool-free. As with the issues noted above, for some it can take a little longer to get that perfect set-up but seeing as it’s so simple it can all be done on the trail. We found a little ongoing fine-tuning was needed to keep the feel entirely consistent, perhaps related to pad wear.
During our test period we noted no issues with the performance of the brakes (once the set-up was corrected) and found them to be very powerful and predictable. The modulation meant we were dragging the brakes a little more than usual but the added heat from this didn’t impact performance. The only slight issue we noted was a slight sense of “pulsing” when they were super hot, or under hard braking. This was only noted infrequently and a change of front rotor and pad seemed to have fixed the issue. Also, embarrassingly, they do get a bit noisy when they get wet (most brakes do).
Overall we think these are great brakes. Their ease of adjustment, power and modulation was top class and they sure got us out of trouble on more than a few occasions. They’re perfect for your all-mountain bike.
SLAY IT. ALL OF IT. Your bike is a highly evolved trail-slaying machine.
Your brakes should be too. The all-new Elixir 9 Trail removes limitations, giving you lightweight XC efficiency combined with monster all-mountain power. With a 4-piston dual-diameter caliper and trail-tuned modulation, this is control and confidence for any off-road situation.