SRAM Avid XX Hydraulic Disk Brakes (2011)


I have been waiting for a long time to try the Sram/Avid XX brakes. As these are high-end brakes, details such as light weight and outstanding braking force permanently kept me curios and stirred my thoughts until I finally could test these brakes on an XC bike with top componentry, ridden, of course, on specific tracks.

It was a smart decision, as Sram XX have been developed on purpose for this type of riding and oriented towards pro riders. If you have a burning desire of installing this braking system on your bike, these are the reasons why it’s worth doing it.

First of all, you must know what buying these brakes involves in terms of budget. As XX are Avid’s top of the line brakes, their price can only match their performance. You must prepare a budget of minimum 340 euro to get to own them, as these are also the most expensive brakes from the Avid range. Now, multiply this amount by 2 and you get a complete set of brakes for your bike, offering outstanding performance. Although not absolutely necessary you could count the cost of the brake pads (approximately 20 euro) or even of a rotor. If you ever have to replace it, its price is around 45 euro.

The top finishing of these brakes create a striking visual impact and you won’t have to stare at them too long to notice it. Colors are brilliantly mixed, and the materials range from titan in case of the bolts to carbon, used for brake levers. To prevent overheating and quickly dissipate heat, rotor’s core is aluminum made, while the rotor itself is made of steel. Thus, fading, so common in the case of small rotors, does not usually occur, or when it does, on longer descents, it is hardly noticeable.

Avid XX features a 160 mm rotor for the front, and a smaller 140 mm one for the rear. These small dimensions should not scare you, as the system works flawlessly. And, do not forget:  there is also the “extreme” option of a 185 mm rotor. The 140 mm is only available for the rear.

The complete braking system weighs only 2 x 288 grams, thus being one of the lightest available on market. It’s only real competitor in point of weight is Ashima Pan Cake Brake also geared towards XC races, which doesn’t utilize pistons in caliper, but two membranes actuating the brake pads, hence, small weight.

Modulation is excellent and maximum braking power is quickly available, within a short lever travel. Also, it’s up to you to adjust it as you wish by using an Allen key, and not by turning the little knob to be found for example on Avid Elixir R. All this in order to save weight! More than this, as these brakes, same as Elixir CR or X.0 enjoy Contact Point Adjustment, an excellent option which will help you set how fast the pads will get into contact with the rotor. Adjustment is easily made, straight from the lever.

The lever is wide and ergonomic, and remains comfortable even after long periods of braking. Even more, it is enough to use only one finger, this is why beginners should take some time to get used to the very responsive braking Sram Avid XX has to offer.

If levers are carbon made, Sram decided to use magnesium for their bodies. The only disadvantage of using carbon for levers comes in case of crashing, as they might break. As we know, carbon is very fragile.

Like most of Sram/Avid products, XX levers may be switched at any time, as it only takes two titan bolts to install them on the handlebar. The system utilizes DOT 5.1 braking fluid.

There are many things to be said about these brakes, but the idea is quite simple: these are among the best XC brakes in the world, in terms of performance and weight. Also, it is hardly needed to be said, these brakes are extremely expensive and their price will keep many “pretenders” away from Avid XX. However, they still have a chance of buying them as used parts at a slightly lower price. Final conclusion? Exceptional brakes!

Weight: 288 grams (with 160 mm rotor and lever)
Use: XC