Avid debuts three new brakes for 2012, including the top tier Elixir 9 model. I spent two wonderful days at the School Of Avid in Santa Cruz, California, using the new brakes while doing my best to keep professional shredders Curtis Keene and Kyle Strait in sight. Video and all the information inside.Avid makes some big changes to their lineup with the addition of the new Elixir 9 and Elixir 7 models for 2012 that take the place of the current CR and R models. While the general shape of the brake looks similar to the previous offerings, there are enough updates that the new Elixirs are really an entirely new platform. So, the question is why would Avid make major changes to their current lineup, especially when their brakes are already a favorite among many riders? The updates for 2012 focus on improving reliability while making the system easier to bleed when it comes time for maintenance.2012 Elixir updates:
• A redesign of the Taperbore internals that facilitates a more effective bleed
• Reconfigured detent reach adjustment dial
• Redesigned caliper
• Completely new rotor designs with updated sizes (available in both 6-bolt and Center Lock
• Updated caliper mounting brackets for less sizes and lighter weight
Avid's top tier Elixir 9 details:
- Adjustments: tool free reach, tool free contact adjust
- Carbon or alloy lever blade options
- Weight - 358 grams
- MSRP $215 USD
Avid Elixir 7 details:
- Adjustments: tool free reach
- Carbon lever (aftermarket), alloy lever (original equipment)
- Weight - 350 grams
- MSRP $179 USD
Avid's Taperbore design is very different than what you'll find in any other brake system. A traditional master cylinder (your brake lever's internals
) uses what's called 'timing ports' with a plunger to move brake fluid as the lever is depressed. As the plunger's head passes over the port, it closes it off and pushes fluid down through the system. This design has been proven to work well, but is not without its issues, one of which is that each time the plunger passes over the timing port, its sealing O-ring scrapes over port, damaging it over time. Depending on the tolerances, this could be an issue sooner rather than later, or it may rear its head further down the road.
The Taperbore design does away with the timing ports, instead sealing off the master cylinder by forcing the plunger's O-ring into a tapered barrel as the brake lever is pulled. Not only does this system move more fluid, thereby better managing heat, but it also lets Avid's engineers better fine tune the system's power and modulation to suit the brake's intentions. Even more beneficial, especially in the long run, is the fact that the sealing O-ring no longer passes over the timing port, meaning that it is less likely to become worn or tear over time.
Avid continues to use their proven Taperbore master cylinder design for 2012, but has made major changes to the internals. The new version (right) has its bleed port on the main lever body, allowing it to forego the extra sealing O-ring that the previous version (left) requires between the contact adjustment dial and lever body. The side-by-side comparison also clearly shows the difference in how the inside of the master cylinder is shaped on the new version in an effort to better control any air that may be present in the system, preventing it from getting past the seals and into the brake line.
The new Elixir uses updated internals, but the same great lever geometry that positions the lever's pivot closer to the handlebar. Thankfully, the Elixir's comfortable lever blade shape is also carried over to the new models.
While the new Elixir 9 and 7 models are sure to get the most attention, Avid's new Elixir 1 also comes to the ring swinging. It may lack some of the bells and whistles of its more expensive siblings - no contact adjust or tool free reach - it still uses the Taperbore internals. The 1 also retains the G2 rotor and doesn't use a split perch, but comes in at an impressively low $89 USD. Who out there remembers when you could spend well over $200 USD an end on V-brakes? Expect to see the Elixir 1 as OE spec on a lot of bikes for the 2012 season, as well as being a strong upgrade option for those who are ready to ditch their cable actuated brakes.
Probably the most visual change to the new brakes is the addition of completely new rotors that forego the slotted design for an arrangement of small holes. Avid acknowledges that the G2 rotors could be prone to 'warbling', especially when wet, and this new rotor design is said to resolve this issue. Rotor sizing has also been amended, with Avid joining the majority of other brake manufacturers by using 140, 160, 180, and 200mm evenly sized rotors. This has allowed them to simplify their range of adapters, as well as redesigning them to shed a few extra grams.
Check out Mike using the new brakes in Santa CruzVideo by Taylor Sage
The new rotor design does away with the slotted holes that the previous versions used, instead using a pattern of small holes.
So how did the new stoppers perform? It goes without saying that two days on a new product does not qualify as a proper test, especially when talking brakes, where long-term reliability can play such a large factor, but I did come home from my time in Santa Cruz with a few early impressions. The engineers at Avid smartly carried over the positive attributes of the previous version, including the great lever geometry and shape that my fingers feel so at home on, but have also made some changes that are quick to spot before even hitting the trails.
There were plenty of opportunities to come in hot and get loose, including this one for Adrian Marcoux's camera.
The new brake's contact adjustment dial is now shaped symmetrically, as opposed to the older version's single large protrusion at the bleed port. Four smaller ridges not only make it much easier to turn, but it also features well defined detents. Reach adjustment also seemed easier to dial in, not that the previous model's dial was very hard to turn, but the new dial is certainly more user friendly. Giving the lever a hard squeeze gave me the impression that the new brake's perch felt to be slightly stiffer, although I would have liked to compare back to back before betting money on it.
The two days using the new brakes were spent on fast trails trying to keep up with professional shredders Curtis Keene and Kyle Strait, both of whom pushed me well beyond my comfort zone anytime the trail pointed down - a good opportunity to gather some feedback on the new stoppers, even if it was only for a few days. As mentioned above, the perch felt somewhat stiffer, but the good news here is that Avid was able to carry over the same great modulation and power while making the changes noted above. If you are a fan of the feel of their current brakes, you'll love these as well. Firm at the lever, a gradual slowdown of the wheel, and a smart and usable amount of power.
Video by Taylor SagePhotography by Adrian Marcoux
Riding with those who are faster than you, Keene and Strait are just out of frame and pulling away from me in this photo, is a great way to get the feel for a set of brakes.
Visit Avid website
to see their entire lineup.Two days on the new brakes does not qualify as a test in the slightest, but I came away with a good impression of the new 2012 brakes. Making them user friendly seemed to be the name of the game, with more reliable internals that allow for more exacting bleeds, as well as changes to the tool free adjustment dials that make sense from a gloved hand's point of view. Stay tuned for a more detailed review down the road.