Product Test: Avid X0 Trail Brakes
The line between trailbikes and all-mountain bikes is getting blurrier every year. New pedaling platform technologies and approaches to geometry have pushed the length of travel acceptable for a “trailbike.” These do-it-all bikes are becom-ing the norm, and riders expect components that can handle the rigors of aggressive trail riding without the weight penalty. Avid recognized this and wanted to create a mountain bike brake that could be used on any bike. Their answer was the X0 Trail brake.
The Avid X0 Trail was created to fit in between Avid’s burly Code brakes and their lighter-weight X0 brakes, borrowing design elements from both models. The X0 Trail’s master cylinder sees the same second-generation changes to their taper-bore technology as other Elixir brakes; however, the lever assembly itself is unique. The Trail uses dual, sealed pivot bearings with a Torx bolt holding it all in place for a solid, smooth pull and durability. The lever features tool-free reach and pad contact adjustments so you can easily fine-tune the fit and feel.
The master cylinder uses the same leverage ratio and power curve as the X0, so the increase in stopping power is created at the caliper. As on the Code brakes, the Trail X0’s caliper features four, dual-diameter pistons. However, at 14 and 16 millimeters, the Trail’s pistons are smaller than the 15- and 16-millimeter pistons found on the Code. Avid engineers fine-tuned the amount of power they wanted by experimenting with different piston sizes. The pistons are laid out in a similar manner to towed V-brakes. The lead- ing piston is the more powerful, 16-millimeter piston, and the trailing is the less powerful, 14-millimeter piston. This configuration increases modulation and control while decreasing brake noise. The dual-piston design allows for a longer brake pad with more surface area for a more power- ful brake.
Impressively, the X0 Trail brakes weigh only a quarter ounce more than the previous generation of X0 brakes. Avid shaved as much material as possible and also used the direct-mount hardware instead of the old stack of conical washers to position the brakes. The complete setupwith lever, caliper, 6-inch rotors, hardware and an uncut line weighed 15.5 ounces for the front and 1.4 pounds for the rear. The Trail X0s retail for $310 a wheel.
Field test results:
The X0 Trails were designed to adapt to any steed. Our Trek Slash 9 seemed to be the most fitting candidate in our stable. It seems Trek would agree, as their 2013 Slash 9 comes stock with the X0 Trail stoppers. The Slash originally came equipped with X0 brakes with a 200-millimeter rotor up front and a 180-millimeter rotor in the rear. For a direct comparison, we ran the same size rotors. After getting the brakes installed and the brake line cut down to size, we took the time to break in the X0 Trails before heading out on a ride.
The X0 Trails retain the classic Avid feel; they come on smooth and dive deeper into the power as you increase lever pressure. While the modulation feels very familiar, the amount of power is noticeably increased. Given the slight weight increase over the old brakes, the power gain is even more impressive.
Though more powerful, the brakes are still very controllable. In the last few years, Avid engineers have changed their leverage ratio from a falling to rising rate so that the power ramps up more and more as you pull the lever farther. So, while there is more overall power, it doesn’t grab unexpectedly. You can still feather the brake for slight speed adjustments.
The updated taper-bore technology inside the master cylinder provides more consistent braking. On long descents, the Trail brakes remained consistent and predictable.
While the X0 Trails are sure to impress fans of Avid brakes, even within the wrecking crew, there are those who prefer the feel of Avid brakes and those who prefer Shimano or another brand. If you aren’t a fan of the feel of Avid brakes in general, the X0 Trail probably won’t convert you. Additionally, at $310 per wheel, the X0 Trails have a hefty entry price when compared to the X0’s $261. They are, however, are on par with Shimano’s XTR Trail offering.
The X0 Trails go toe to toe and gram for gram with the best brakes out there and would work great on a wide array of bikes.