If you haven’t seen it already, soon after Sea Otter Pinkbike had this video on updated bleeding procedures for the Elixir brakes posted on their site. The video is of none other than SRAM’s own technical wizard Chuck Perryman going over a few new additions to the previous Juicy bleed procedure which has now been tailored to the Elixirs. While overall a great product, many Elixirs had been affected by unreliable performance especially with the rear brake.
However, it seems that brakes that had been bled using the old procedure were suspect to feeling OK at the shop, only to have stubborn air bubbles hiding underneath a seal in the lever work their way free causing poor lever feel while riding.
Think this is happening to you? Maybe, but it could be only part of the problem…
First off, I’m happy to say that after using the altered procedure to re-bleed many problematic brakes on our shop’s customers’ bikes, the results have been outstanding. Even brakes that showed no signs of issues other than having not-so-positive brake lever feel have been vastly improved. Personally I recently received a set of Elixir R’s on my Fuel, and although the brakes had worked fine for the first two rides, I decided re-bleed them and was pleasantly surprised with the results in regards to performance. Both brakes had extremely positive feel to the lever, equal pull, and decreased drag on the rear brake.
It wasn’t all good news though, as the fluid I removed from the two brakes was questionable at best.
The fluid I pulled from the rear brake was much darker than fresh Avid DOT 5.1 fluid, and seemed like it has a different density than the fresh fluid it mixed with in the syringe. It was easy enough to replace, and between the new fluid and the proper bleed the brake felt great. On the front brake the fluid was the right color and consistency, although it had gum-like solids floating in the fluid (shown below). Again, I’m not quite sure what it was but I thought it best to remove it from the system.
So what can you take from this? Well, it definitely seems the Elixirs have had a bumpy ride into the public arena and not without warrant.
If you’re having issues with your Elixirs, it’s likely they just need to be re-bled using the proper method. If you don’t feel competent to bleed your own brakes, then take your bike into the local shop and be sure to mention the new video…and have them double check the fluid itself for any of the issues shown here.
To SRAM’s credit, whenever a company is manufacturing components overseas it is nearly impossible to keep tabs on all materials used and processes implemented. Talk with any product manager (Editor’s note: In just about any industry) and they will tell you horror stories of how one of their suppliers switched material spec on them to cut costs. What’s important here is that SRAM has stayed SRAM and provided top of the line warranty service and support to insure Elixir owners are happy.
All said and done, my Elixirs are now performing the way they should. The brakes continue to have great modulation and incredible power, and after quite a few miles on the new set up I am extremely satisfied with the results.