Axis 1.0 Brakes… If they come on Any Bike I Buy in the Future, I’ll Throw ‘Em in the Garbage. My First Bad Review of a Product in Seven Years
Normally, if I don’t like something I simply won’t write about it. I don’t need to be difficult and I certainly don’t need to be mean. Brakes are a different story though. We’re talking about the things that stop you – they’re kind of important, ya know?
Specialized likes to use Axis 1.0 on their entry-level high-end bikes. Those entry-level bikes were once called “Comp”, then Elite. In other words, Venge Comp, Alias Comp, then Venge Elite….
The Venge Comp and Elite came with 105 brakes. This year, Specialized are going with the Comp and Elite divisions and then the entry-level model is the Sport. That’s the one I’m talking about. The Tarmac Sport, at $1,900 has Axis brakes. So does the Amira SL, the Amira SL4 Sport… you see the pattern. The Venge Elite still has 105’s.
Anyway, back to the point of this post. We had nothing but trouble with my wife’s set of Axis caliper brakes. They were horrible. They stopped my wife’s bike poorly, they didn’t have enough spring in them so the cable would bind up and the pads would rub the wheel because of it. We had the bike in to the shop four times trying to get them to work right (all of the work was done free of charge). Nothing would work for long.
I bought a new set of brakes for my Venge, that actually match the Venge perfectly, so I put my 105 brakes on my wife’s bike. What do you know, they work like you’d expect brakes to… Or in other words, the problem was the Axis 1.0 caliper brakes, not something else in the braking system.
The Axis brakes were so bad, I didn’t even bother to save them. After the switch was complete and everything was set up to my liking, I took the Axis brakes to the shop and gave them to the owner. I don’t even want them in my part collection – I don’t even want to be tempted to use them in a pinch. Now in fairness, I could have gotten a bad set of brakes but I doubt I’ll ever find out for sure. From now until I’m worm food, I’ll upgrade any set of Axis brakes I get on a bike for 105’s or better. They’re not even worth the chance of the headache.
This has been my experience.
Folks, sometimes gaudy works on a bicycle. It just does. My Specialized started out as a stripped down, base model with some cheap parts on it to just get it on the road for a reasonable price. Over the last several years I’ve painstakingly turned it into what I find to be a beautiful, working piece of painted carbon fiber and epoxy art. Now I’m getting down to the little bits and pieces, even though I thought I was done just a short while ago. Whilst perusing Nashbar a month ago or so back I found a set of brakes on sale that piqued my interest.
The bike started out as a Specialized with an FSA crank to keep the price down. That led to my purchasing a set of lighter, upgraded red and white trimmed set of wheels. Then came a carbon-wrapped aluminum stem that, if you ask me, brought the whole mix together. Then came the S-Works Aerofly handlebar and S-Works crankset:
Unfortunately, I had some serious problems with the rims on the wheels pictured above. They were light but a little too light for my 175 pounds. I kept breaking spoke nipples on my front wheel and the rear wheel wouldn’t hold its true for more than a few weeks. I began investigating ways to get around the issue, because I really loved how the red and white Vuelta decals worked with the bike. Those wheels are only sold as a set though, so I ended up purchasing new rims from Velocity and reused the hubs and spokes. My problems ended. The change cost me a hundred grams, or a quarter-pound, but I’d rather that than all of the problems I had. So the wheels decals changed, and I tidied up the stem, having it cut to size:
After that photo was taken I declared my bike was done… right up until I saw that set of FSA brakes. Originally I closed the webpage without purchasing the brakes. I came back to it several weeks later after deciding to pick up a couple things for my wife… Keep in mind, sometimes gaudy works:
Oh yes it does.
The whole project, installing the FSA brakes on my bike and installing my 105 brakes on my wife’s bike took about an hour, including trimming the housings and cutting the cables to the right length (which occurred after this photo was taken – I had to pick up the pinch-on end caps at the shop and daylight was fading).