If Avid was in the business of making disposable shavers, I suspect that the management team at Gillette would be busy cashing in their share options and perusing the classifieds. Luckily for them, and us, Avid makes brakes instead. The latest offering is the Elixir, which appears to have set a new benchmark in terms of precision and control. At the heart of this achievement is the tapered bore technology. The clever swots at Avid have figured out that by placing the reservoir in line with the piston and having the piston operating directly inside the reservoir you can improve the feel and control of braking throughout the range of lever action. For us, the punters, this means greater modulation and smooth reliable power. Packaging the piston and reservoir in this way also results in a tidy and robust looking lever assembly. The lever ergonomics are excellent, with a form and position perfect for single-digit braking and a broad, solid lever that inspires confidence (the last thing you want when on the anchors is to feel like you’re relying on a piece of al dente spaghetti to bring you to a stop). After market versions of the CR come with carbon levers for added car park swagger. The CR model offers adjustment of both the pad contact and lever reach. These are very useful in setting the brakes up to your specific personal preference. The former is done by twisting the reservoir barrel and the latter via a small dial just inboard of the lever pivot. Avid has made an effort to minimise potential damage to these adjusters by integrating them into the lever body. It’s a good idea, however as a result both adjusters prove to be a little fiddly to use, especially the lever reach. Fortunately, there is still the option of making this adjustment with an Allen key, as is typical on other brake levers. Features at the caliper end of the system include: an adjustable banjo fitting situated inboard of the caliper for neat, trouble free hose routing, vented pistons for better heat dissipation, and Shimano inspired top-loading pads for hassle free replacement and cleaning (hallelujah!). Avid is marketing the Elixir as suitable for use across the entire spectrum of riding. We never put ours to test in the brake burning conditions of extended downhill, but in every other application we were impressed by both performance and reliability. When it comes to braking it is worth having the best components at your fingertips. The Elixir is a definite contender. LEIF ROY
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