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Replacement for Elixir 5 hydraulic calliper or whole brake?

undermanagerundermanager Posts: 42
edited October 2018 in MTB workshop & tech
Hi there

The piston on one side of my 8 year old Elixir 5 calliper front brake has seized completely. Despite my best efforts, it just isn't going to budge. I've done all the usual things found in YouTube videos, and stripped it down this morning and still cannot get it out to examine it / clean it. The good news is that I have learnt a lot about how they work, how to clean, bleed them, how to adjust them etc ! So,

1. I cannot find a shop that sells an Elixir 5 hydraulic calliper replacement. Any ideas?

2. It would be interesting to change the front brake to something else as I haven't done this before. Could anyone suggest a reasonably priced, commonly available replacement, please?

3. The Elixir 5 mounts on the left fork of my bike, the mounting holes are about 74mm apart. The rotor is about 180 - 185 mm diameter and maybe 2 or 3 mm thick. When choosing a brake, do I need to change the rotor as well? What else do I need to know before buying one to replace my current one?

Thanks for the help.


  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    Just look for whatever Sram brake is within your budget. Most new brakes are post mount, so you'll need the correct adaptor. I think Elixir were post mount, if so the new brake will just replace the old.
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  • JBAJBA Posts: 2,852
    Elixir 5's are awful brakes. Great when working but a complete pain when they need bleeding or go wrong.
    I'd recommend binning them and buying a set of Deore or SLX.

    Rotor thickness is standard. The diameter will be etched on the disc. Avid discs from that 8 years ago are probably 185mm.
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  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    I agree on the Shimano, but having different types each end is a bit of a pain as they use different fluid.

    New Sram are much better than old Avids - same company but they stopped using the name as they were so rubbish.
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  • Thanks for these thoughts. Very useful. There's no particular need to change the rear yet - it's working perfectly. Just the front needs sorting. I'd like to order something to get it sorted but ......

    1) Someone mentioned needing an adapter. How do I know what adapter to get? What do I have to look at to work out what adapter I need?
    2) How do I know if I have to change the rotor? What does it depend on?

  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    Adaptor depends on the fitment on your forks - your's sound like post mount - 74mm.


    You probably already have an adaptor - between the forks and the brake caliper. That will be fine unless you change rotors. If you do, you'll need one that suits the rotor size.

    Probably easiest to post a pick showing the bottom of your forks and brake.

    Rotors need changing if they are worn. You can normally feel a step.
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  • Thanks. It looks like a 74mm post mount and there is a 185mm rotor. I was having trouble visualising if I need a different adapter for e.g. SLT m7000 and if so, how I would work out what I need? Some brakes like these dirt cheap ones ... B00XNJPWRG

    come with a 160mm rotor - maybe swapping the 185mm for a 160mm rotor means taking out the old adapter and getting another one, so same question, how to work out what to order?

  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    The Clarks will fit using your your current adaptor and rotor.

    If you want to use the smaller rotor supplied, you don't need any adaptor. Standard post mount is 160mm.

    The rear depends on whether that is post mount or IS. If IS you use the adaptor supplied. If rear is post mount you might need a post to post 20mm adaptor. Rear post mount is commonly 140mm.

    But again, without knowing I'm just guessing.

    You will probably need to shorten the hoses, so might need a bleed kit (if you do it well you can do it without needing to bleed), some decent cutters, and possibly new olives and inserts.

    And Clarks use mineral oil, not DOT fluid like Avid, so make sure you get the right stuff.

    Good place to get bleed kits, but their Clarks seem to be for older models that used DOT fluid.

    So I'd give them a call and check. Very helpful guys.
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  • Cheers, that all makes good sense. One last question - any advantage or disadvantage of using larger / smaller rotors?

  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    Bigger will have more stopping power. Unless yours are really worn I'd just leave them and bolt the new brakes on.

    Get some isopropyl alcohol and use it to clean rotors etc. useful for cleaning all sorts of things.
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  • 02gf7402gf74 Posts: 1,168
    Post mount forks by default are designed to use 160mm rotor.

    To use 180mm rotor, the adapter is a spacer moving the calliper further out..

    Remember if you go down to smaller diameter rotor, the bolts need to be shorter.

    Re. Effect of larger rotor, these also put more force on the fork so may invalidate the guarantee, depends on the fork but pretty sure all can take 180.... although I'm not sure how the manufacturer would be able to tell.
  • If they are 8 years old then I would sale one as faulty and the rear as working then buy some Shimano M506 or M615 brakes which would cost about £40 on ebay but you would probably end up paying £20 due to the money you gained from selling your old stuff.

    I prefer avid performance but I have yet to have a Shimano brake seize and they are a lot easier to bleed.

    Look up f180 adapter on ebay and you will find examples. You need Post to Post front 180 adaptor.
  • Cheers for all the help. After fretting about what brakes to buy, I decided to go cheap first, to see what was involved so bought some Clarks M3's for £51 this morning. Fitting was easy on the 185mm rotor - I just used the existing adapter and washers. Taking the old ones off, putting the new ones on and setting them up took just over half an hour. And surprisingly (to me anyway) they work really well indeed. The back feels exactly the same as the Exilir 5 did with just as much stopping power on the trail this afternoon. The front is nearly as good as the old Elixir brake. There is a very slight spongyness; maybe the brakes need a bit of time to bed in, or bled. But finally, the wheels spin freely and the squeaking when hard breaking has now gone. I've leant a lot in the last few weeks, servicing the hubs, changing the cassette and and chain, faffing about and finally stripping down the old brakes and now changing them for something else. All good fun. Will have to put the old Elixirs on EBay this weekend :-)

    Thanks again.
  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 2,438
    Ref the front brake.
    Have you bedded the new pads in? If not they will neither last as long nor work as well.
  • No, I haven't! Thanks for that. Just when you think you are done ....

    Job for tomorrow.

  • cobbacobba Posts: 282
    Fitting was easy on the 185mm rotor - I just used the existing adapter and washers.

    You need to remove the CPS (cup and cone) washers that were previously beneath the Avid calipers, they will make the pads on your new calipers overhang the rotor by 5mm.

    Only Avid 'CPS calipers' need these extra washers beneath them for the correct spacing on a rotor, your new calipers are 'standard calipers' that have a different spacing to the 'CPS calipers'.

    Overhanging pads will have less contact with the rotor and can eventually lead to brake failure.

    Shorter mounting bolts are needed with 'standard calipers'.

    I'm surprised that nobody picked up this problem.
  • Mmmm. Interesting.

    The brakes have performed great yesterday and today, exactly as i would expect. Looking carefully, I can see that the brakes could be lowered further into the callipers - there is maybe 6 or 7 mm further to go. Doesn't the 185mm rotor mean that you need this extra spacing?

    There is a cup and cone washer both above and below the calliper mounting. Are you saying that they should all be removed, or just one of the pairs?
  • cobbacobba Posts: 282
    The cup and cone washers need to be removed beneath the calipers with your new brakes.

    The pads will wear like the following image and can lead to brake failure if the unworn parts of the pads press against each other.



    Your old Elixirs are 'CPS calipers' that have a different spacing to the 'standard calipers' that you have now fitted.
  • Okay, great explanation. Appreciate the time you spent explaining it to a newbie. Thanks. Will remove the cup and washer under the calliper and leave the cup and washer above the calliper in place tomorrow, and see how it looks and feels.
  • cobbacobba Posts: 282
    Post mount brake mounts will need 5mm shorter bolts to attach the brakes without those 'CPS' washers beneath them.

    Washers above the caliper won't affect the brake mounting with the rotor.
  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 2,438
    cobba wrote:
    Post mount brake mounts will need 5mm shorter bolts to attach the brakes without those 'CPS' washers beneath them.


    It is very important that the bolts are shorter than the hole they are screwing into. If the bolt touches the bottom and the caliper is still not clamped sufficiently, the temptation is to tighten a bit harder. That's when you strip the post mount, and then basically you are bu99ered! :shock:
  • All done. I removed the CPS washers below the calliper, got 5mm shorter bolts and reset the brakes. I can see now that the brake pads are sitting fully on the rotor as they should compared to before when they were clearly not fully on the rotor, and they all work very well.

    Once again, thanks for your time and patience. It was invaluable.

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