Hydraulic disc brakes depend on the incompressible nature of brake fluid to function properly. Over time though, air can creep into the braking system to cause excessive lever travel, and a spongy feel. Bleeding the brake is the answer, and here we show you how to do bleed Avid Elixirs.

Brakes filled with Dot brake fluid should be bled annually as this removes any contaminants, which can cause loss of performance and corrosion. This will help them to last longer and work better.

Here’s a great tip for detecting the need for a bleed on an Elixir brake. Firstly, get the bike up on the back wheel with the front wheel straight up in the air and then bounce the bike up and down on the back wheel gently while pulling both brakes on and off. If there’s air in the system it is encouraged to congregate at the highest point (the levers). After 20 seconds or so the need for a bleed will be apparent if there is a marked increase in lever travel. If you’ve bled your brakes recently you may get away with just a lever bleed — attach a half-filled syringe to the bleed port in the lever and follow step 12.

Remember to always use the correct fluid for bleeding; Avid’s Elixir brakes all use Dot 5.1. Avid’s bleed kit is essential for this procedure and will set you back £40-45. We would recommend the more expensive Pro version.

For a full article on bleeding your brakes, see the September 2013 issue of MBR, out in the shops from Wednesday August 21. And don’t forget you can read MBR on your iPad, Android device or Kindle reader — just click here.