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Avid Elixir 5 Disc Brake (discontinued)

Average User Rating: (Very Good)
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A Hit or Miss Classic

Rating: Featured Member Review
The Good:

Stopping power is applicable for downhill shredding. Decent lever feel. Alignment isn't too difficult.

The Bad:

Bleeding is more involved than most brakes, you might decide to make it your bike shop's responsibility. Materials are cheap. Durability and dependability have been put into question by many forum warriors.

Overall Review:

I've had a pair of these stoppers for three years, since they came stock on my Glory, and despite what many people would expect, I have had zero issues. The front caliper got really stuck once when I had the wheel off so the bike would fit in the back of my cramped and rack-less vehicle. That's not an exclusive flaw with Elixir 5's or Avid brakes.

In three years, you want to know how many times I had to do any maintenance on these slowie-downies? Twice.That's right. One uneventful alignment exercise and one bleed. Just one. After three years of abrupt application and irresponsibly timed chunder-braking, my particular pair of Elixirs have defied the words of nearly all other users. I have to be fair though; they're not perfect. And of all components fixed to a mountain bike, the brakes should be the closest to perfect.

I am arguing that at this price point, they're fine. Great, even. However it would be smart of you to consider spending more to get more. It's probably one of the best decisions you could make for your bike, but please, everyone, don't be so afraid of these things. They're not all bad.

If at this point you're still considering these brakes then you'll want to know how they feel. Good.

The lever feel of the Elixir 5's is interesting. There's not much modulation, but it's really not hard to get over this. In fact, I feel like the lever feel here could be designed for one of multiple "braking styles." If you believe in that. I'll explain further.

With the lever travel on these brakes it is easy to drag out your stopping force. When the brakes are initially applied the levers reach a point of resistance that establishes a sort of holding point. This applies adequate stopping power, but it is light enough that confidence in the rough is maintained. You'll slow down slowly at this medium pressure. The rest of the braking available doesn't move the levers that much. Imagine that at this point the brake levers are just unmoving sticks with pressure sensors on them. And finally, when your index fingers clamp down, you can feel the lever travel again (albeit with a more "spongey" feel) and it's up to you whether or not the rear wheel locks.While not initially intuitive, braking with the 5's will come naturally after a couple laps.In short, the strange modulation creates no real limitation. I personally love the feel of these brakes.

Cheaply made yet capable brake.

The Good:

Power, split bar attachment, lever design good, universally available pads and brake fluid, easy to bleed.

The Bad:

Modulation a little on/off, made of cheap aluminum housing and steel bolts, rear brake howl and suspicious of taper-bore.

Overall Review:

These are cheaply made, 'Made in China' brakes with a fragile aluminum housing more at home of cheap window frames. Despite this these brakes really do have enough stopping power even compared with pretty good 2 caliper brakes, however it is very hard to find the point between on and off on the rear especially on 180mm and larger rotors, and the rear brake has a tendency to howl, but one day you change something and it goes away temporarily or permanently. In fact it might be a good idea to have one of these on the front for power and a BB7 on the back. The Taperbore technology whist weight saving seems to be an inadequate size of reservoir which shows itself when you change the pads, the fluid is then pushed higher up the system and the brakes firm up. I was also able to get a much better bleed than factory fairly easily which means they weren't particularly well bled from new. The pad retaining bolts are made of soft steel and have rounded out and I'm worried I won't be able to remove these when I try to use my next (4th) set of pads

Plenty of power, but poor modulation

The Good:

Raw stopping power is more than enough for trail riding. Split clamp makes installation easy (no need to remove grips or shifters).

The Bad:

Modulation is lacking. Noisy.

Overall Review:

These brakes certainly have the power for even the steepest trails. The drawback is that modulation is not on par with Shimano's current offerings. It took me quite a while to find the sweet spot in the lever stroke where I could avoid locking up the rear wheel on steep descents. Once you find it, the brakes work well enough, but they never modulate as well as the Shimano brakes I've ridden recently. If you rely on finessing the brakes delicately to get you through technical sections, you should try Avid's higher-end offerings, or switch to Shimano. That said, they've kept me in control through some gnarly trails, even though they can be a bit noisy under hard braking, and I have confidence in their ability to slow me down in a hurry.


Product Avid Elixir 5 Disc Brake
Riding Type Cross Country, Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Downhill, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Lever Material
Mount Style
Rotor Sizes
Rotor Mounting
Fluid Type
Weight 0 lb 13.8 oz (392 g)
Miscellaneous Elixir 5 offers the same ride quality as higher-end Elixirs, in a simpler package. With features like modulation-enhancing TaperBore Technology, powerful two-piece caliper design and easy access tooled reach adjust, this brake offers the best power and control in its class. PreBled 2 piston caliper Taperbore Technology Deep Stroke Modulation Tri-align caliper for a no-rub setup Ambidextrous Includes lever, caliper, hose, mounting hardware and rotor Approximate weight 392 grams Hose length front 850mm, rear 1600mm
Price $24.99
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