Component: 2011 Avid XO Hydraulic Disc Brake Set w/ 185mm rotors
Intended Use: XC Race, XC, Trail, All-Mountain
Installed on: Santa Cruz Blur LT2
Rider: 6’0″, 160lbs., been riding mountain bikes for 15 years
Test Locations: General Salt Lake and Park City area; Jackson
Duration: 50+ days
So…what to look for in a brake set?
Seems like these are most of the relevant questions:
Does it bring you and your bike to a stop? Does it still stop the bike after riding a monster descent for miles on end? Can you regulate how quickly the brake set stops the bike? Does the lever position and swing match up with your finger well? Are they going to scare off all of the wildlife with their howl? Do they burn through pads or bend rotors easily? How much maintenance is required, and how much of a pain is it to perform regular maintenance? Are they in an acceptable weight range for your intended use?
After riding the new XO brake from Avid this season, I can say that they consistently provide the right answer to all of the questions above.
To me, the most important thing in a brake is the strength, feel, and consistency each time I pull on the lever. The XO brake gives me exactly what I want. The power is there; if you want to lock up the wheels (not recommended) just give a nice firm squeeze.
More importantly, if you want to slow down without locking up the tires, the XO brakes offer outstanding modulation so you can feather them lightly to scrub off small bits of speed, or squeeze them a little more and walk that fine line of braking as hard as you can without locking up a wheel.
Consistency is also very important. It’s good to know exactly how much braking power you’re going to get each time you pull on the lever. And here, the XO brake also shines.