Technical Tuesday: How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes

Apr 27, 2010 at 0:07
Apr 27, 2010
by Mike Levy  
 
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For this Installment of Technical Tuesday we have SRAM's own Chuck Perryman from SRAM's Technical University to guide us through bleeding Avid Elixir brakes. Inside you'll find both a How-To video and step by step instructions on working your way through this job.

Read on...

Bleeding your brakes is not something that you should have to do often, but when the time comes it is important to know exactly how to do it correctly. One small mistake can introduce air into the system and mean that you'll have to begin the process all over again at best, or suffer from mushy brakes that could be down on power. With the right technique and tools it can be a relatively quick and simple job that most home mechanics should be able to handle. Below you'll find a great video and step by step instructions on how to bleed your Avid Elixirs correctly. If you do not have the correct tools or are are not confident in your ability to perform this job you should take it to your local bike shop.

Watch the video to learn how to bleed your Avid Elixir brakes:

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Step by Step Avid Elixir Bleed Instructions:
Tools needed: Avid bleed kit (syringes, drip free fittings, DOT fluid, torx tool, bleed block), T25 and T10 torx (included in Avid bleed kit) , 2.5 mm allen key, toe strap or elastic band, rags, water or isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle.


1.The first thing you'll have to do is prepare the syringes. Lubricate both syringe plungers with DOT fluid to create a better seal and make them easier to stroke. Thread Avid drip free bleed fittings onto both and fill one a third full with DOT fluid. If there are any large air bubbles you'll have to push them out of the fluid. Using a shop towel to keep from dripping, hold the syringe upright and depress the plunger until the bubble has exited through the bleed fitting. Now close the clip on the bleed fitting. You are now going to get the last bits of air out of the fluid by degassing it. With the clip still closed and the plunger upright, pull back (out) on the plunger to expand the small air bubbles in the fluid. Be careful not to pull too hard or you'll let air in through the backside of the plunger. Repeat if necessary until little or no air bubbles are present. Remove the large bubble again by opening the clip and pushing it out the top. Close the clip when done.

Degassing the fluid
Degassing the fluid


2. Fill the second syringe only about 1/8 full. Remove the large bubble that is there from filling it, but there is no need to degas the fluid as it won't be introduced into the system. Close the clip when done.

3. If the brake is on your bike remove the wheel and take out the brake pads. Put the caliper thru-bolt,safety clip, and the brake pads in a safe spot where they won't get lost or be exposed to brake fluid. Insert the Avid bleed block in from the top, thick end down. This will keep the pistons from being pushed out as you bleed the brake.

Installing the Avid bleed block
Installing the Avid bleed block

4. Use your T10 torx driver (one comes in the Avid bleed kit, or you can use a separate one) to remove the bleed port screw that is located up at the lever on the bite point adjustment dial. It's small so put it in a safe spot so it doesn't roll away. Making sure that the fluid is pushed right up to the end of the bleed fitting and screw your 1/8 full syringe directly into the bleed port. Now remove the bleed port screw for the caliper (you can find it at the center of the banjo bolt) and install your 1/3 full degassed syringe, making sure that the fluid is pushed up right to the tip of the bleed fitting. You're now ready to start bleeding the brake.

Removing the bleed port screw at the lever
Removing the bleed port screw at the lever

5. Open the bleed clip at the lever first, followed by the one at the caliper. You are now going to bleed the brake line by moving fluid from the caliper syringe up to the lever syringe. While holding the lever syringe upright, push one third of the fluid from the caliper syringe up to the lever. As you do this the lever syringe will being to fill.

Pushing the fluid through the brake line
Pushing the fluid through the brake line

6. Now you are going to bleed the caliper. Use your toe strap or elastic band to pull the brake lever fully to the handlebar. This isolates the caliper from the rest of the system. With the bleed clip open, apply light pressure to the plunger to shrink any air bubbles that are in the system in order to make it easier for them to escape. Now pull back (out) on the plunger to draw out the air bubbles. Again, pull hard enough to extract the bubbles, but not hard enough to break the seal on the plunger. Repeat the process until you are no longer able to pull any bubbles out of the caliper.

Bleeding the caliper
Bleeding the caliper

7. Remove the toe strap or elastic band at the lever, but use your hand to keep holding it closed. Apply pressure to the caliper syringe and at the same time slowly let the brake lever come out. You should feel slight pressure at the lever as you push on the caliper syringe. Take care to release the brake lever slowly (be sure to watch the video to see how it's done). Now close the bleed clip at the lever.

Releasing the lever slowly
Releasing the lever slowly

8. You are now going to remove the syringe from the caliper. Use a rag to keep any drips in check and unscrew the bleed fitting from the caliper. You should see fluid topped up right to the face of the bleed port. If you don't you may need to re-bleed the caliper. Install the bleed port screw and wipe off any excess DOT fluid after you've sprayed the caliper down with either water or isopropyl alcohol.

9. Be sure that the pad contact adjuster is threaded fully up against the body (all the way in) before bleeding the master cylinder. Open the bleed clip and bleed the lever just as you did the caliper. Apply slight pressure to shrink any air bubbles, followed by pulling out on the plunger to draw the bubbles out. There are two quick tips you can do to help remove any bubbles in the system: gently tapping the line and lever with the handle of a screw driver can knock bubbles free, as can flicking the brake lever slightly to release any air that is clinging to the piston. When this is done once again apply pressure to the syringe and then pull back. Repeat the process until you can no longer pull any air out of the system.

Removing air from the lever/master cylinder
Removing air from the lever/master cylinder

10. You can test your lever throw by applying a slight amount of pressure to the lever syringe and pulling gently on the brake lever. The lever should feel firm as well. Close bleed clip and remove syringe. Again, you should see fluid topped up to the top of the bleed port. Install the bleed port screw and clean the lever using a rag and cleaning agent. Take a minute to check the brake by pulling hard on the lever (be sure to still have the bleed block in place) and watching for any fluid at the lever and caliper hose fittings. When you're sure that the caliper is clean and free of any DOT fluid reinstall the pads and retaining bolt and clip.

Testing the system
Testing the system


As with any job, be sure to check your mechanical work before hitting the trails. Besides ruining a ride, not having your brakes bled properly can be dangerous and certainly cause injury. Do a number of test stops to positive that there is no air in the system and that your brake pads have not been contaminated with DOT fluid. If you are not 100% confident in your work, take it to your local shop to have them double check.

Technical Tuesday #1 - How to change a tube.
Technical Tuesday #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
Technical Tuesday #3 - How to remove and install pedals


Have you found this tutorial helpful? Share any of your hints or tips below!


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72 Comments

  • + 17
 Nice I got my weekly dosage of Technical tuesdays on a Monday
  • + 10
 congrats!
  • + 8
 that was awesome. Technical tuesday is turning out to be super helpful...one question for anyone that may know...when can you rotate the 360 banjo? can you do it at any time or does it have to be during the bleeding process? thanks in advance
  • + 5
 you can do it anytime you want, but you will have to bleed after you move it. So the smart idea would be to do it right before you bleed them.
  • + 1
 Great video, final something that not every one knows!
  • + 1
 8:12... thats what she said.
  • + 1
 Lol that makes me wanna load this whole damn video until 8:12 even tho i already know how to do this
[Reply]
  • + 8
 I'm curious to see how many people are going to complain this week that "if you don't know how to bleed your brakes you have no business on a bike". Or will this finally shut them up.
  • + 1
 haha, last weeks really sparked up some people ay!
  • + 1
 what was last weeks?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Be sure to check which dot series fluid your brake uses as some are not compatible with seals and metals in the brake. Some brakes specify the dot which can be used on the resivour. Also if you don't have drip free fittings be sure to wear eye protection, dot fluid in the eyes is not a good thing. Sorry if I missed these points in the article.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I remember when I first time seen a friend bleeding Elixirs. It took 2 hours just to degas fluid in syringe. It was very funny for me as I had already bled my brakes and drinking beer while he was still trying to degas Smile
I don't have Avid brakes, thanks god.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Best Tech Tuesday Yet! Really Helpful! The only thing is that when I bleed my Hayes Stroker Trails I bleed them all the way through until no air bubbles come out the top. But I guess there is different ways to bleed different brakes.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 QUESTION! I bought a Juicy 5 who was bled with wrong fluid (DOT 5, not 5.1). I replaced the lever with a spare one I had as the master cylinder was destroyed in the one I bought. What should I do to get all bad oil and big amounts of air out of the system? Should I pump a relatively big amount of DOT fluid through the whole system a couple of times (and waste the oil after each time), then proceed to normal bleeding? I'm really greatful for any feedback.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Avid's bleed system is one of the more involved but it is also one of the most precise and consistent with results. Other systems have fewer steps but that means fewer safeguards that the job is done right. Shimano, Hayes, etc. may seem faster but if you have to do the job over again because you didn't get all the air out, like the Avid system ensures, then it takes you longer to bleed the brakes because you have to bleed and rebleed them. I would rather take some extra time up front to ensure it gets done right the first time than have to do it over and over as i've had to do with my XT (which is freaking love aside from the bleed system). Shimano also seems to be picking up on the fact that the Avid system works better as evidenced by the fact that they have come out with threaded port on the lever body (because their bleed kits kept breaking because the spongy seal clamp sucked, and the freaking thing costs like $100 bucks and works only a dozen times) but they still don't have one down at the caliper body. My guess, Shimano will come out with a system similar to Avid's in the near future.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 In the old days you bled the Hayes Mag brakes with one syringe that used a friction fit that could come off and leak brake fluid all over. Then Shimano came out with a simple system that you bleed just like a car system (although I have reservations about using mineral oil in winter). Then Avid came out with a system that requires two syringes, clamps and a repetative procedure...a huge step backwards especially since Avids require more frequent bleeding than once per year. I've owned all of them and the Shimano was certainly superior.

Then I bought a set of Hope brakes and never looked back.
  • + 1
 i think avid has the best bleed system because you are bleeding the whole of the brake and be sure 100%air bubbles are gone, and doesnt take that long. i mean doing hayes and that is easyer but some time can have a bit of air left in.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Great video sure helped me successfully bleed my first AVID Elixir brakes. Air removed by vacuum unlike the Shimano gravity "traditional" bleed process, corrosive DOT fluid, whew, give me my Shimano/Magura hydraulic brakes.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Bleeding avid elixr"s is the most annoying thing ever, i just wish they could design a brake that bleeds good. the bleed kit is poor quality > I honestly think elixrs are the crappiest brake on the market right now for servicing>
[Reply]
  • + 3
 maybe people will stop complaining that their avid breaks suck after following this guide
[Reply]
  • + 0
 derek your juicys are the same procedure. I like these kind of tutorials because you dont have to go to a bike shop and waste your hard earned money and do it yourself. I have the codes and they are pretty much the same cept u have to use the code(4 piston) bleed block. I like how he says to spray surfaces that got brake fluid on them with alcohol or water cause it will strip or wreck painted surfaces
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I would assume this would be the same procedure for bleeding any hydraulic brakes? I have Juicy five's on my bike, so I could just need the correct bleed kit correct? Thanks in advance for any input Smile
  • + 2
 I believe that all the avid brakes use the same bleed bleed port design.
  • + 10
 Every Avid except the BB5s and BB7s Razz
  • + 1
 Thanks guys!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 awesome video. just bled both my avid elixr 3's and this method got out loads more bubbles than the instructions in the kit method. stoked to go ride them!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 guys i have question.i have an elixir cr and i want to change oil,all of them. should i let to drain of it or it's eneugh to do the same way just like in the video.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Was just wondering if my Avid Juicy bleed kit will work for this, as the pad spacer block looks the same. I need to do this soon, and it would save alot of money I dont have Smile
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I think all Elixer owner's know how to bleed brakes .. the amount of times you have to do it you'll soon run out of cash/ Friends if you don't
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I found this official sram video to be a little shorter and easier to follow... however I benefited from both:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoaPUw5DliA
[Reply]
  • + 2
 i noticed that is the front brake he is bleeding are the fluid amounts the same if you are bleeding the rear brake????
  • + 1
 It is slightly more, like a mil or two, for the rear brake but not even noticable. you are dealing with a tiny bit of fluid. and the fluid is cheap.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Perfect!!!!
After watching this video I learned to let someone else do it lol
Boy oh boy why did disc brakes get so complicated ?
[Reply]
  • + 3
 I wish my Shimanos were so easy to bleed...
  • + 18
 What? If anything Shimanos are more easy to bleed than Avids. Just open up the main reservoir and pump fluid through from the caliper so it overflows from the lever. Easy as pie.
  • + 1
 you mean the old ones or servo wave too? It took me ages to bleed my Saints, so there are finaly no bubbles coming out. I had to do it both up and down.
  • + 4
 haha Waki lol! it took me 10mins to build up and bleed my Saint! c'mon!
  • + 0
 well, perhaps I am not the best service guy, but hayes MAG and Avids were easier for me to bleed than Shimanos.
  • + 3
 shimanos are so much faster to bleed did mine in 10 min f+r
  • + 4
 I think we need a Tech.Tuesday to show us how to do it then ! I needed 30 mins. to bleeded the new Deores ( same as XT ) on my wife's bike ! Drove me crazy !
  • + 1
 Like I said, open up the reservoir cap, pump fluid in from the caliper, and let the oil overflow out from the lever. It's really that easy. You can pump the lever a few times while you're pushing the fluid through if you need. After you're done, close the reservoir back up, wrap a rubber band tightly around the handlebar and the lever, and let the bike sit for a few hours.
  • + 2
 I agree with seraph. Shimanos are by far the easiest brake to bleed. Although the Avid's are also easy to bleed if you have the kit
  • + 3
 yes, seraph, let the bike sit for few hours: this is what I mean! I dont mean it is technicaly hard. it just takes long time... those bubbles are keep on coming! plus i dont have original shimano bleeding kit so "just pump it up is not so easy". I prefer to do it downwards because of that. problem is you just need to watch so there is oil in the system all the time, so it does not suck up air.

Apart from that I have nothing against shimanos, love them!
  • + 1
 You don't have to follow that last step, it's just an extra little technique I picked up a few years ago that seems to be the best method for making your brakes feel perfect.
  • + 1
 I have to try it out then. Sounds very convenient actualy, Thx!
  • + 1
 I do not owe any shimano bleeding kit. just 1L bottle of citroen suspension mineral oil. NO NO NO tools (except a screwer but that's obvious) are required.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Yeah! After many years bleeding Hayes brakes, i need 2 bleed my elixir ang this is it! Thnx! -=)
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I would like to see a marzocchi 888 rc3 tuning guide since marz tell you nothing about setting them up.
  • + 7
 first what you want to do is throw it in the trash and dont ever buy marzocchi.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Chuck, Thanks for this, you're a star, I'd spent hours trying to get this right before seeing your film. Cheers
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Just bled my brake using this video and got it sorted in the first attempt.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Nice a very handy tech tuesday !
[Reply]
  • + 1
 How many brakes can you bleed per kit? Or do you never have to replace them?
  • + 2
 You Don't have to buy new sets just buy new brake fluid. But you need to store the set correctly (you can get it in sram.com / technical / avid bleed video - he said it well).
  • + 1
 Also, you can pick up a bottle of brake fluid at your local auto parts store. Most brakes will use either dot 4.0, but can use dot 5.1. If you do buy 5.1 make sure that you push extra fluid through your lines in order to remove any of the older 4.0 fluid. It's always good to check your brake for the specification as not all brake companies use dot fluid ( shimano uses mineral oil...).
[Reply]
  • + 1
 super good article gonna go get a bleed kit with my birthday money and go bleed my brakes nowBig Grin
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome, i didn't know about pushing pressure on the air bubbles then pulling back to release the little buggers!!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 would be nice to know how to bleed Hayes Nine brakes, the avid bleed process is so much easier.
  • + 1
 DUde Hayes HFX9s are easy as pie! Take out the little plastic peice out the leave , get a 3/4full syringe and pump it all thought from bottom to top . Tap leaver and hose as you are bleeding it though and it should be perfect. only takes 5-10mins Smile
[Reply]
  • + 2
 whoa trippy i'm wearing the same shirt as him
[Reply]
  • + 1
 if the brake has no fluid in to start do you use the same amont as what he used
  • + 2
 im assuming you just keep pumping fluid into the caliper until it starts filling the syringe on the lever?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 will using dot 5 fluid actually ruin the elixir brakes?
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Would this be the same steps for fitting new brakes aswell. I'll be fitting some elixers to my new dj bike that's all
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Really helpful! Good stuff
[Reply]
  • + 1
 must have thing!everybody! works well!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Thanks for posting this.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Ok Ill keep that in mind
[Reply]
  • - 3
 You don't need to remove the wheel, though
[Reply]

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