Help me out: Shimano MT200 or Deore brakes? Or anyone with good experience with Avid Elixirs?

At least over here, there seems to be a big price difference in Shimano brakes -you can either go for cheapy MT200 or then it seems to jump by 100% in price to the next level of Deore brakes. While I'm a gentle xc person, there are times on descents where my errr.. overweight body needs decent braking. I do have some old generation Alivio hydraulics that aren't quite cutting the mustard on my hard tail. At times I really have to haul on them and they still seem to have a problem stopping with some really awful wailing. I should add they are bled properly with non spongy levers and I run a generic 180mm disc up front and have BS01 Shimano pads. Changing pads and cleaning the disc don't seem to make any difference, so I'm attributing the issue to the brakes not having enough power for me.

So, has anyone used MT200s? Are they comparable to Deore level brakes for power? I'm happy to give up fancy features just not braking power.....

Secondly, I also seem to be the only person in the world who has had great luck with Avid Elixir brakes. In comparison they give me really easy one finger braking and power wise are streets ahead of the Alivio brakes. So I'm tempted to just buy another set which are comparable or lower in price than the MT200s. I've got all the bleeding tools necessary (for both Avids and Shimano) and have found I can bleed the Elixirs really well and for them to keep that bleed for a long, long time (yes, I know, so many people say that is a problem, but while they are tricky blighters to bleed, I've found with care and determination I can do a pretty good job and they perform excellently and consistently). However, I'm really afraid my brakes are a "one off" (or at least not built on a late Friday afternoon) and if I get another set of Elixirs I'm throwing my money away...... Can anyone convince me that Avid Elixirs aren't as bad as people say?
 
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Drago

Flouncing Nobber
The MT200 should stop you just fine. The biggest variables are pad selection, bedding in and cleanliness. Get that right and they feel like some one has shoved a broom handle through the front wheel - get and one even slightly wrong and you may as well not have bothered.

I've never found any model or Avid hydro especially robust or trouble free, although I have had hassles with Shimano hydraulic systems too.
 
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OP
Nigeyy

Nigeyy

Guru
Well, an update: I ordered some new in box Avid DB1s. Yes, yes, yes I know, I know so many people have had problems with them, but honestly my Elixir 1's have -and continue to be -great brakes for me and for my gentle XC riding. I believe the DB1s are little more than rebranded Elixir 1s.

The DB1s were at the right price, though they are on a slow boat from China at the moment, but I'm willing to wait. Add in the fact I have the Avid bleed kit for them, as well as some pretty good spare pads, and I was too tempted.

A bit of a gamble and I always have a tinge of doubt having stuff shipped to me from far off countries, but I think I like the feeling of Avid/SRAM brakes over Shimano stuff, at least for the brakes I've tried. I hope I don't regret it as I get the impression I'm in the minority in having reliable, strong, good modulating Avid brakes!!!

FYI: I realized the other day thinking about it, the last time I bled my Elixir brakes was at least 3 years ago (gulp, I've had them since 2012 and bled them only twice). This will also be an excuse for me to rebleed them with some fresh fluid -which I'll definitely buy on the assumption all that jostling in the bowels of a rusty freighter in confused seas will have spoiled the bleed in the DB1s. Wish me luck!
 
OP
Nigeyy

Nigeyy

Guru
Yet another update: after almost a week I was contacted an informed that the Avid DB1 brakes were not actually available (got a full refund) So.... just ordered some Avid Elixir 1's -at least I'm familiar with them!

I'm going to order some new 5.1 dot fluid and do a bleed of my existing set and new set when I get them. Hopefully the new brakes will be as good as the ones I've had.
 
OP
Nigeyy

Nigeyy

Guru
Hmmm.... yet another another update:

I just spent an entire evening bleeding the new brakes to my satisfaction -there is no doubt at all that Shimano brakes are far easier to bleed, and strangely I found the new Elixirs I had harder to bleed (I also wanted to replace the fluid as I assume the fluid that came in them was old) than my old pair (why?). However, there is no doubt at all I prefer the feel and modulation of the Avids and these are way better than the old cheap Shimano brakes I'm replacing for both power and modulation. I'm just hoping these brakes turn out to be as reliable as my old set.

Anyway, lessons learned:

1. when you bleed Avid or SRAM brakes, don't forget to clean the syringes afterwards. I obviously had forgotten! When I first pulled in clean brake fluid, I realized it got contaminated with all these little bits.
2. I didn't bother using SRAM specific brake fluid -I used DOT 5.1 (NO NOT DOT 5!!!) that was probably 4 times cheaper. I ended up getting 500ml -I wish I could have found 250ml but it seems you can only get 120ml or 500ml. I'm planning on replacing and rebleeding my old brakes, so 500ml it was.
3. Patience is the key to bleeding Avid Elixirs (I don't know about other models). You just have to keep going until all the bubbles are gone. And it seems you have to this 2-3 times. As I said, not like the easy Shimanos with their funnels.

Finally I got the entire brake set including HS rotors for around 44 quid including shipping. I already had the Avid bleed kit, spare pads and needed new brake fluid for my other brakes, so it made financial sense. Given the difficulty in bleeding and bad feedback in reliability, I'm sure I would have plumped for Shimano mid level brakes had I got them at the same cost, which wasn't going to happen.
 
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