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Avid Elixer.....Front doesn't work.

697 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Sghost
Like the post says, front brake doesn't work. Trek EX9, Avid Elixer's w/185mm rotor. It started with sqeaking, then progressed into squealing.... then the feel of the brake became almost wooden, almost like instead of brake pads I had popsickle sticks in the calipers. I bled the brakes with Motul change. I then deglazed the pads and roughed up the rotor with steel wool and then cleaned guessed it, no change.
I then replaced the pads with semi-metalic pads, cleaned the rotor, re-bled the line(no air bubbles) change!:madman: I was hoping I got the first Trek with production ABS.......But I don't think this is the case.
Any help would be great. Maybe I overlooked something? Oh and I also checked to make sure the piston in the mastercylinder was moving the full stroke, and it does......:madmax:
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Got me...glazed rotor? Certain they're bled properly?, could be the squeal was normal (got em wet etc.) Then that made you think to bleed them improperly. Just guesses.
Didn't get oil on the pads either, right?
Have you properly bedded pad material into the rotor and given it time to break-in? any brand/model of brakeset, they can have problems. Most new hydro brakesets that have a problem are usually fixed by a good bleed. Frankly I think Avids are one of the hardest brands to bleed...not undoable by any means...but many folks have a really difficult time. They were a challenge for me when I first experienced it, and I have a background of decades of automotive and motorcycle brake systems.

That said, you didn't mention how the lever pull was in terms of "distance". Does the lever come to the bar when you get this "wooden" sensation or what? Does the lever distance change? If the lever pull is short, strong, tight, and consistent, it sounds a bit like contaminated pads or such. You said you replaced the pads with semi-metallic units. Don't they already come with semi-metallic pads? On the famous Avid turkey-gobble-vibration deal, I did fix one of my Juicy and Elixir calipers with the application of a different brand of semi-metallic pads with an alloy backing, so yes, different pads and pad compounds can influence this. In your case, however, you seem to have a braking power issue that is either bleed or pad contamination related from the sounds of it.

Hey Will...this is weird, but in all of my dealings with bicycle brake systems, the issue of brake pad/rotor glazing has been almost nonexistent. It seems to me that most cases where that term was used were usually the result of pad contamination and not some form of "glazing". My understanding of "glazing" is where the actual pad material changes composition to the extent that this "altered" material builds up on the surface of the pad and/or rotor. I think this is quite rare except in cases where really high temps are encountered...and frankly most people do not reach that level of abuse, though many would like to think they do. I see glazing often misidentified when the real culprit is contamination from fork oil and chain lube as the primary causes. I've had brakesets achieve temps where you could actually smell the pad compound but almost never got any glazing. I know it can happen, but I've only seen it rarely. I did achieve this on Moab Rim trail some years ago when they had that chairlift setup there. I had 6" rotors on a Bullit, and they got hot enough to turn blue. I didn't touch them, and during next day's ride, the brakes started off a little weak from some glazing that had occurred, but just a short bit of riding worked that glazed material off in short order. I tend to think that most disc brakes will somewhat "right" themselves unless true pad contamination has occurred or there is air in the system. Pads and rotors are self-cleaning to a large degree without human intervention. Contaminated pads and air in the system will almost never fix itself.
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Thanks for the responses. Being a motorcycle mechanic, I pretty well versed on most brake systems. I can confirm that there are no contaminents on the rotor or pads and though the bleed process is rediculous, I do think I have bled all the air out of the lines. I guess I can try bleeding them again, but the lever is firm and only moves about 1/2" or so.....
Is there a possibility that the rotor may be done for? It is slighty black w/a blue-ish tint to it. Also it's the only thing I have not replaced. It still measures out to a hair under 2mm, so I think it's stillin the workable range......Just don't know?????
The rotor is less than 2mm thick to start with. You can wet sand the rotor with lots of water and a fine grit sandpaper. If the pads are contaminated, get either new pads, or soak the pads in a shallow pool of alcohol and light the alcohol. The heat will pull or burn the contaminants out of the pad. Then sand in a figure 8 pattern.

I have seem some glazing issues, but you are right, most issues likely stem from some sort of contamination. When I posted, I was not thinking of glazing, but I was wondering more if he had properly broken in the brakes? Building up heat, slowing down, going, slowing, etc. Until pad material had transferred and bedded into the rotor. After a thorough cleaning of the rotor, the pad material may need to be bedded again.
Take your pads and rotor off the rear, move to the front and see how your doing. Do not change just the pads, or just rotor. Keep them as a set so you have an established baseline control to eliminate the problem area. Also don't want to cross contaminate.
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