Slowing down your bike and staying in control on a steep, rocky descent is no easy task. As the mountain bike market has evolved and largely centered on trail and enduro style riding, brakes have had to evolve to handle these longer travel, more aggressive bikes. This riding style calls for the burly braking power that a downhill bike requires, but with the finesse needed by a lightweight XC mountain bike. Sram has answered that call with their Avid XO Trail mountain bike brakes. I recently got to spend some quality time with these brakes on some very steep descents in Southern Utah. And after some close calls, a few crashes, and a whole lot of fun, Avid has proven that they can create a solid set of mountain bike brakes.
Avid handles all of the brake business for Sram and has been at it for years. Their expertise shows with the XO Trail brakes. The sleek black lever body has subtle XO decals for a clean look. The carbon brake lever utilizes a sealed bearing as a pivot instead of a bushing, a nice touch that greatly increases reliability and longevity. The lever position and lever throw adjustments are tool free, so you can adjust them quickly and painlessly with your fingers. And Avid’s Matchmaker handlebar clamp seamlessly integrated these new brakes with my Reverb seatpost remote and Sram shifter pod for a clean, no-nonsense look. Avid has done a good job of combining form and function at the cockpit.
Mirroring the Avid code brakes, the XO Trail calipers use four pistons, versus the conventional two. to provide more evenly distributed power across the rotor. Thankfully Avid has done away with their tri-align conic washers, so aligning the caliper around the brake rotor was painless. All said and done these brakes come in at very respectable 247 grams per wheel, not including rotors. Sleek and attractive, as well as lightweight, these brakes are sure to complement any mountain look.
After a bit of bleeding and a short break-in period, the XO Trails felt extremely solid. Right off the bat you could tell these brakes had a lot of power. Steep, aggressive trails like Grafton Messa or Nephi’s Twist in Virgin, Utah were no problem. And there was no skidding required to dramatically slow down. These brakes don’t have to lock up your wheels, which is nice compared to older brakes from a range of manufacturers. On new trails I like to stop and inspect technical features. It’s a tactic that has saved me from many injuries. And having the power to slow down and stop at a moment’s notice, without skidding, made me appreciate the design of the XO Trail brakes that much more.
However, the XO Trail brakes aren’t all about white-knuckle power. On mellower flow trails and technical slick rock, these brakes had good modulation and I could feather into their power. The ability to keep your bike in control while braking in varied terrain made the ride a lot of fun.
If you’re looking for an aggressive set of brakes for your bike, the XO Trails are a solid option that won’t leave you hanging. Avid brake pads are easy to come by and any shop mechanic should know how to service them. The clean, attractive look and awesome performance had me sold after my first ride. While I have had to do some extra brake bleeding to keep them performing at the highest level, a little extra maintenance is a small price to pay for the best possible performance.
Sram is a big company that puts a lot of their efforts into research and development of their products. While their brakes in the past were known to be finicky and not on the reliable side of the spectrum, Sram has continued to refine and improve their products. Case in point the Avid XO Trail brakes.
If you’re interested in a set of Avid XO Trail brakes. Check out your local bike shop or you can contact our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Paul Boyle, Marketing Specialist
Technical Features: 4/5 – The well-thought out design was only hampered by the extra bleeding I had to do after the installation process.
The Ride: 4.5/5 – Despite a short time period to get a feel for the power, these brakes kept me in control and confident on the steepest terrain.