Disc Brake Maintenance

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Intelligenthamster, 23 Aug 2007.

  1. Intelligenthamster

    Intelligenthamster Über Member

    On the Wheel
    Got my first hydraulic disc brakes on my new MTB :biggrin: and they are really something. As my workplace is on summer shutdown I have been riding lately and today was my last full free day so I went to ride Summer Lightning despite p***sing rain.

    Terrain here is sandy and puddles were *deeeeep* great fun, but wet sand everywhere and from the grinding noise on way home, either the Tardis is materialising behind me or the front pad mech and / or disc is a bit filthy. Stopping produces ghastly screeching like on a car with filthy wheels so methinks the disc and / or pads are somewhat mucky.

    On my hybrid (rim brakes) a bit of water and / or with cleaner does the job, any reason why that shouldn't be done with discs?

    Sorry if it's a silly question but I'm only a year back on any bike!
  2. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    S of Kendal
    Lots of fresh water will do the trick. Even a hose pointed into where the pads and disks meet, but don't squirt a hose directly at any bits that are greased like BB, hubs, headset, etc.

    But don't worry unduly by all the 'expensive' sounding noises. Disks are WAY more resilient to wear and tear than V-brakes and rims. In winter it was possible to go through a set of V-brake pads in one ride and a set of rims a year. With disks, it's down to perhaps two sets of disk pads a year, a set of disks every 3 years and of course, no rim wear at all.

    Disk brakes on mountain bikes are brilliant.
  3. starseven

    starseven Guest

    Agree with hosing them out, suppose it differs brand to brand but mine seem to auto adjust and have been ultra reliable after 12 months of sandy/wet winter commuting.

    I did notice the front becoming a little "wooden" and less effective lately, decided to take the pads out (loads of pad left) and gave hem a rub with some wet/dry paper also clean the discs with white spirit.

    Normal service resumed front disc back to the stop on a dime performance that saved me a few times over last winter!! They may be someone along saying never ever put WS on your discs , but it worked for me.:biggrin:
    Otherwise just water.
  4. barq

    barq Senior Member

    Birmingham, UK
    Water is usually fine, but it is worth cleaning with methylated spirits, ethanol, or isopropyl alcohol to remove any oil. (I cannot over state the importance of keeping oil away from your disc brake pads!) After considerable use (especially if you tend to drag your brakes, which makes them heat up more) the pads can glaze over in which case do what Starseven says and rub them with wet and dry paper.

    Some disc brakes do shriek. It can be exacerbated by dirt, but is normally due to vibration of the brake pads. Some people suggest a dab of copperslip on the back of the pads. I would caution against this because of the risk of contaminating the braking surface - if not when you fit them, then at a later stage when washing the bike. Some pads are quieter than others, sintered pads last longer but tend to make more noise than the softer organic pads.

    The other thing to check is whether the brake callipers are mounted correctly. If they are dragging on the rotors then this can cause noise. Because there is so little clearance between pads and rotors brakes can be a bit tricky to set up. It is occasionally necessary to have the frame mounts faced by a bike shop or to install tiny shims to adjust the brakes. Take the bike somewhere bright, put a piece of white paper on the ground and standing over the bike peer down through the brake pads towards the paper. You should be able to see around about a 1mm gap each side of the disc. If things seem uneven then your brakes may need a tiny bit of tweaking.

    Noise isn't normally a problem, it can just be a little annoying. ;)
  5. ratty2k

    ratty2k New Member

    Agree with all of the above, bar the meths(I'm sure there is oil in meths). I'd stick to proper solvents as mentioned or brake cleaner. I just use car shampoo and water to wash the bike down, and the brakes screech like mad till they have dried out. But other than that, no problems. Brakes can and will screech while out on the trails- nowt to worry about. Dont forget to check the pads for wear, I go thro' about 4-5 sets a year. If you do wear the pads out-
    1. you wont stop!
    2. You'll wreck the discs.
    3. You wont stop!!!!!!!
  6. bonj2

    bonj2 Guest

    meths is fine.
  7. Peyote

    Peyote New Member

    Yep I use meths and it works a treat!

    White Spirit leaves an oily residue though Ratty.
  8. barq

    barq Senior Member

    Birmingham, UK
    I'd avoid most car shampoos as they often contain wax to leave the finish nice and shiny. Not so good for the disc brakes.
  9. ratty2k

    ratty2k New Member

    Sorry! Wrong again!;) well, close (ish)....... Barq, slightly wrong with my description,:sad:
    Should of said car windscreen wash.....

    I'm putting it down to pressures of work!!!! My excuse, and I'm gonna stick to it!!!!
  10. barq

    barq Senior Member

    Birmingham, UK
    :sad: That's not a bad idea, I've never used that before, but it makes absolute sense.
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