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Avid Code Hydraulic Disc Brake Set

Average User Rating: (Outstanding)
Vital MTB Retail Partners:
Chain Reaction Bicycles Jenson U.S.A. Competitive Cyclist Backcountry

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Featured Review

“The buck stops here”

The Good: Awesome power, great modulation and feel, easy to set up, top-loading pads, lever shape, looks.

The Bad: Can get a little inconsistent when pads are worn. They require DOT 4 or 5.1 (non-mineral) oil which is a little bit less straightforward to manipulate (requires gloves etc). Bite point adjustment gets sticky after a while.

Overall Review:

The previous (first)generation Code brake was known for its power, but also had quite a few problems. They were hard to bleed right, and many developed issues like stuck pistons over time. The caps sealing the fluid reservoir were dodgy, leading to fluid seepage which eventually ate away at the finish of the lever body. The 2011 version under review here has addressed all of those problems, and added some new features as well, in a complete overhaul of the whole system.

Starting with the looks, the lever body has been reshaped and now integrates the fluid reservoir in the body itself. It looks sleeker on the bar now. The finish is great, and seems to stay that way as well (1 year on the brakes now). For me, the best thing about this brake is the power, and the lever geometry/shape. It sits very naturally under your finger, and indeed 1 finger is all it ever takes to stop you dead, when needed. They also offer far more modulation than Saints for example, which feel very "on/off" in comparison. The Codes don't bite quite as hard from the beginning of the lever stroke, rather they build up power really consistently as you apply more pressure.

I have never noticed any brake fade on these, including on long alpine runs (and I'm an expert brake dragger too!).You can feel a very slight amount of lever pump if it's hot out and you hit a long and sustained descent with hard braking, the lever can stiffen up ever so slightly, but nothing that really changes the feel of the brake. I have never experienced any loss of power.

The top-loading pads are a boon. Take the wheel off, loosen the little screw that holds the pads in place, slide out the old ones and pop in the new ones - yes they fit right back in without having to wedge the pistons apart like on the previous model for example. With the new pads in there, push the brake spacer between the pads, and the pistons reset at the correct distance from each other (use the specific plastic spacer you should have received with your new brakes to avoid damaging the new pads). A few hard stops from speed is then all it takes to bed in the new pads (organic). The "tri-align" system also makes it dead easy to set up the calipers properly and eliminate any brake rub.

The bite point and lever reach adjusters work well, although I don't really know why anyone would want to dial in a longer free throw before the bite point - it always seems to me that in case you like to run your lever close to the bars, you can just adjust the lever reach, instead of adding a little "slop" to the beginning of the lever stroke. Maybe some people like the feeling of "pre-engaging" the lever without actually activating the brake at all. The bite point adjustment mechanism is finicky, and also gets a bit sticky over time, but nothing too bothersome. You should also add a drop of oil to the reach adjustment knob every now and then to keep it smooth.

Finally, the brakes are much easier to bleed, and also hold their bleed much better. My bike travels upside down on my car, and on the previous generation Code, that would always cause issues with air bubbles entering the hose - that is no longer the case on the current generation.

If you ride a lot of DH/FR, or if you just want one of the most powerful brakes out there, the latest generation Code should definitely be on your shortlist. Power, modulation, ease of set-up and maintenance, lever feel - it's all there. Only the weight-watchers would care about the few grams you could save on running a lighter brake.

2011 Code

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Vital MTB Retail Partners:
Chain Reaction Bicycles Jenson U.S.A. Competitive Cyclist Backcountry

Specifications

Riding Type Trail, Freeride, Downhill, Dirt Jump / Urban
Lever Material Black Aluminum Lever, 3-cartridge Bearing lever pivot
Mount Style Post Mount
Rotor Sizes HS1 160/180/200mm
Rotor Mounting 6 Bolt ISO
Fluid Type Dot 5.1
Colors Ano Grey, Lever: Black
Weight

0 lb 14.5 oz (410 g)

Miscellaneous 4-Piston, Dual-Diameter, Forged 2-piece Caliper // Organic, Top Loading Pads // Contact Point Adjustment, Tool-Free Reach Adjustment, Adjustable Banjo, Tri-Align Caliper Positioning // TaperBore Technology, Reversible break-away lever, Split Clamp, MatchMaker Compatible
Price $269.00
More Info Avid website
Vital MTB Retail Partners:
Chain Reaction Bicycles Jenson U.S.A. Competitive Cyclist Backcountry