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Can I use Avid Rotors with Shimano Brakes?

By amarkie - Posted on 04 March 2015

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

On my XC I run Avid Elixir 7's with standard 180/160 rotors
On my Enduro I run Avid Elixir 5's, with 200/180 rotors (upgraded because Im fat bastard).

The braking power I get out of the 7s is far greater than the 5's despite the rotor increase.

If the Elixir 7's were still available I'd simply upgrade however with the current bargains to be found online with Shimano XT I was considering switching brands.

The question is, can I use my Avid HS1 Rotors with Shimano Brakes?


Yes you shouldnt have any issues whatsoever.

Also look into sram guide brakes. I recently changed my elixir 7's for these and they have been much better

I have some XTR (older series) brakes on my 26inch which have taken a real beating and still perform great but i was blown away by the quality of the new SLX brakes on my 29er, I would rate them equal or better than the old XTR's.
I've seen some really great deals for both SLX and XT.

Yes you can. I have done so with 180/160.

The Guides have reportedly come up close to the XTs in terms of performance, but you still have to fluff about with hygroscopic (water-absorbing) DOT brake fluid, which can take your paint off if you don't clean up ány drips and spills thoroughly. You will need to bleed regularly, more often if you ride in wet conditions. The upside is supposedly better heat performance ... when the fluid is fresh. When it's been in the lines for awhile the water tends to expand and lock your brakes as it gets hot.

Love my current model XTs. Dramatically better than the Elixir 9s I had, no irritating nails-on-blackboard squealing, terrific power and modulation, more than worth the very slight weight penalty. Still on the original pads after more than 2,000kms, performance still as good as new.

What sort of wizardry do the XTs use if they aren't using Dot Fluid?

Mineral oil. No wizardry, just good old fossilised dinosaurs.

And when water gets into mineral oil it sinks to the lowest point, your calliper, and then boils easily and can cause corrosion. I even read recently about a guy who had this happen and in the Canadian winter the water then froze his brakes!

Theres a trade off for both Smiling

First I've heard of that! Shocked

Some interesting info here on DOT and Mineral brake fluids:

Sram and Shimano both make 160mm and 200mm rotors. Sram do 185mm and Shimano 180mm. This might cause an issue if you don't have the correct adaptors.

2011 or maybe 2010 Elixer R brake set. Research suggests they may be no more powerful than your 5's though as they are still a single piston XC brake rather than a proper trail brake set.

Sitting in the shed gathering daddy long legs corpses and no interest from any paying customers for a looooooong time so they are now free to a good home. Can't see myself using them and only remember I still have them when they get in the way of other things on the shelf.

I replaced the Elixers in late 2013 with then brand new Shimano XT's and Icetech rotors. The Elixers had a nice feel, but once I'd bedded the XT's in and was used to them I would never go back to the Elixers. Chalk and cheese doesn't do the comparison justice. XT's are much more powerful, are quiet and just keep on working.



The more I look into it the more I think I will get XT.

I double checked and my 7s are actually 9s which is why they are so much better than the 5s. But even on Ebay run out old stock of 9s are 50% more than XT.

XT it is.

I'd take all the Avid/Sram trade-offs for how nice the lever is shape compared to the round shaped anaemic Shimano lever, I hate mine, the old Saint was nice but all the new S brakes are made for children's fingers.

certain you won't be sorry with the XT's
would like to hear your impressions once you get the new kit bedded in? Eye-wink

Heat performance is a problem with the XTs.

I have XTs on two bikes and have had serious problems on hot days with them. Its happened on the last two RockyTrail all mountain races. Both days hit 39 degrees and my brakes started to lock on!

They were bleed between races and they still had problems.

Don't get me wrong I love the XTs they are a great performing and feeling brake BUT I really don't like the mineral fluid they use!! There is a reason they use Dot fluid in cars and avid brakes, it tolerates heat and moisture far better and Dot fluid can be purchased just about anywhere.

Clean up of Dot fluid really isn't a problem. If your bleeding your brakes correctly you should only get a drop if any on your bike. Just wipe it off with a wet rag, job done!

The SRAM guide brake is a vastly better brake than anything Avid ever made. This is why they used the SRAM name to get away from the Avid stigma! The SRAM guide RSC is just as good if not better than the XTs. I have just purchased another set of Guides for my new DH bike!!

You won't be disappointed with the XTs. The feel, power, 1 finger braking and ease of adjustment are about as good as you'll get.

Thanks for that BikeRumor link Dudeist, that was super interesting.

So Shimano brake fluid is actually proprietary. I was a bit shocked that their boiling point was actually the highest of the lot (although in the comments section it was pointed out that some race-grade DOT fluids go much higher).

Also interesting were the comments from people at the coalface in the bike industry - LBS mechanics.

They were pretty much universally scathing of Avid/SRAM brakes and the company's approach to pre-release product testing and due diligence. I hope my newly acquired Reverb seatpost doesn't need warranty. Sad

I think we need to more fully explore the link between wheel size and mineral Vs DOT brake fluid? Eye-wink

Another problem with DOT4-5.1 is you don't know how good the supposedly new fluid going in is. From memory leaving the lid off a bottle of DOT fluid for an hour on a humid day will reduce the boiling point by quite a lot. If you have your brakes done by a shop how many times has it been opened before you get to the last bleed?

Most car garages will test your fluid as part of a service and if the boiling temp is within spec it stays in, this is only really possible on a bike if you are dumping the fluid.

I'm pretty sure boiling will only happen after you release the lever so they go to crap the next time you try to apply them. Any chance the weep port on the troublesome Shimano brakes is full of dirt?

Troublesome Shimano brakes? Puzzled

Was referring to the post by VTSS350.

My 2015 Deore rear lasted about two months before the lever would play games with you and change the amount of free stroke if it wanted to. Sometimes there was none and other times the lever came to the bar, I nabbed them new for $50 off a Speshi a mate bought so I wasn't all that worried. I'm going Guides next, I've never owned a Sram brake but figure they can't be any worse than a Magura MT and you can't hate on something if you haven't owned it.

I have SLX on my fuel ex 29er, upgraded to resin fin pads and 200mm ice-tech rotors front, 180mm on the rear and the stopping power is phenomenal!!

Just a few months ago I changed my Elixir brakes for XT and haven't changed the rotors. Very easy job I could do myself and the performance is excellent. The most relevant issue I had with the Sydney summer heat is Dot oil from Elixir brakes expanded in the heat and became really annoying to sort out. Mineral oil should not suffer from this problem.

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