Brake cleaning tips

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al
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Brake cleaning tips

Post by al » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:15 pm

Like me, some of you have been using your bike on and off during the winter and may have noticed a slow degradation in brake performance or the bike needing more effort to wheel around. You might notice this even if you have had your bike in storage over the winter months and go to get it out of hibernation in the spring.

If so, it's time to give the calipers a bit of a clean. The following is my own personal method so feel free to find a method that works for you.

Along side my trusty tool box, I look out the following items for this task:-
  • 1 tub of cotton buds / q-tips
  • 1 small container of brake fluid labelled "for brake cleaning only"
  • 1 pair of plumbers pliers/G-clamp or similar.
  • 1 handfull of rags
  • 1 box of nitrile gloves (to protect my soft hands from nasty chemicals)
  • 1 aerosol can of brake cleaner
  • 1 spare spanner with a body longer than your brake pads and a similar thickness to your disks (degrease spanner with brake cleaner before use)
Only remove one caliper at a time and if you have 4 pot brakes then some sort of g-clamp or similar is handy for preventing the pistons you are not working on extending too far.

With the caliper removed I first slide the pads away from the piston(s) then give them a blast with some brake cleaner spray to remove any loose dirt.

Then slide the pads back out to the sides and place the clean spanner between the pads. Carefully and slowly pump the brake lever to extend the piston(s) a couple of mm. The spanner is only there to prevent you accidently over extending the pistons and should not be squeezed hard by the pads.

Working one piston at a time, dip a clean cotton bud into the brake fluid and gently clean the exposed sides of the pistons. At this time you may want to remove the pads to give better access all around the pistons.

Once you have cleaned the pistons with the brake fluid and cotton buds then give them a quick blast with the brake cleaner spray again to remove any excess brake fluid. At this point I would probably recommend popping the pads back in place before attempting to push the pistons back into the calipers.

Depending on how easy your pistons are to move you may be ably to just twist the spanner inbetween the pads to put enough pressure on the pads to retract into the caliper. If not that's when you may have to use the plumbers pliers with the ends wrapped in rags to "ease" the pistons back into the body of the caliper.

If you have sliding type calipers such as the one shown below then you want to make sure that the caliper is free to move along the slide pins. (a sliding caliper will only have piston(s) one one side of the caliper)

Image

The metal part on the right hand side of the rubber gaiters/boots should slide from side to side with finger tip pressure. If it doesn't then possibly one or both of the gaiters has failed allowing muck and salt inside which builds up on the slider causing friction. However, the more likely problem is that salt and muck that has got between the bottom gaiter and the hole in the caliper body that the gaiter/boot passes through. Water carries the salt and grime into the space where it dries out and crystalises effectivly reducing the diameter of the hole in the caliper which causes the rubber of the gaiter/boot to press on the sliding pin making it hard to move.

The only choice you have there is to carefully remove the gaiter/boot and clean up it and all the muck from inside it's mounting hole as per the photo below.

Image

Once cleaned up you can then carefully replace the gaiter (easier said than done so take your time). I carefully use some ACF-50 on the rubber to lubricate it and neutralise any remaining salt and apply ACF-50 to the corresponding hole in the caliper body..

Then all is left is to replace the slider, pads, and re-attach the calliper. Please remember to install the pads the correct way round with the friction material of each pad pointing together!!!!!!

Remember to pump your brake levers and test the brakes before riding and your brakes should be working properly again.

At any time of year, if you find that your brakes are betting a bit spongy then I would recommend cleaning your pistons and making sure they are all free to move before people start going on about changing brake lines etc. If your pistons aren't free to move then what good are braided lines going to be except an additional expence!

Big Kneed Al (master of the emergency stop & "stand up" comedian).

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by mpgscott » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:53 pm

Cracking write up cheers..

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Dave
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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by Dave » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:39 am

mpgscott wrote:Cracking write up cheers..
:2up

I make sure I wear glasses when using break cleaner, it can have a good bit of pressure and blast back into your face.

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by aisgsimon » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:29 am

great advice!

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by Big Little Dave » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:04 am

I also use GT85 or WD40 to polish my bike, but after I use it on the brakes my bike struggles to stop when I apply them :confused Any ideas why...

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by The Rossi Kid » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:49 am

Big Little Dave wrote:I also use GT85 or WD40 to polish my bike, but after I use it on the brakes my bike struggles to stop when I apply them :confused Any ideas why...
:-o:???:


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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by Zathos » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:52 am

Big Little Dave wrote:I also use GT85 or WD40 to polish my bike, but after I use it on the brakes my bike struggles to stop when I apply them :confused Any ideas why...

Ronz MK2 ;)

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by Gazza » Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:39 am

He has to be winding us up.

There can only be one Ronz

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by The Rossi Kid » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:06 pm

If it isn't a wind up then I hope Keith is bitch slapping him around the garage right now!

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by al » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:13 pm

Gazza wrote:He has to be winding us up.

There can only be one Ronz
Izinbard used to spray WD40 on his disks. Does that make 3 Ronz'z :eek

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by haiax0 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:36 pm

Nice write up!

Lubing up your brakes... Seems legit Dave haha!


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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by Big Little Dave » Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:45 pm

The Rossi Kid wrote:If it isn't a wind up then I hope Keith is bitch slapping him around the garage right now!

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Of course its a wind up! My dad would never let me put that stuff on my discs, unless he wanted to get rid of me :eek Now theres a thought!

:log :log

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by al » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:35 am

I had a brake cleaning session yesterday so thought I would bump this post as it's that time of year.

Although I had been regularly cleaning my calopers and pistons over the winter, as in my post above, the salt and muck had managed to get between the rubber gator of one of the slider pins and the body of the caliper effectivly squeezing the rubber against the pin and gripping it solid.

This would explain why the bike felt like it had a flat tyre when riding and pushing it around. :oops

All sorted now.

Big Kneed Al (master of the emergency stop & "stand up" comedian).

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by RK6 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:29 pm

Excellent guide Big Kneed Al (master of the emergency stop & "stand up" comedian). :worthy

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by Gazza » Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:40 pm

Haven't needed to do this for a while obviously, but after a ride on salty roads I would clean the bike with a jet wash. I'd then give the brakes a good blast and ride slowly up and down the road with the brakes applied to boil off the excess water before storage. Storage was in a heated, dehumidified garage. Never had a problem with sticky brakes whilst doing that.

I'm having another large garage built in the garden this summer and it'll be fully insulated and heated etc for cars and bikes during the cold months. A dehumidifier is important or all that moist air in a warm garage will rust up your goodies.

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by Dave » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:21 am

Gazza wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:40 pm
A dehumidifier is important or all that moist air in a warm garage will rust up your goodies.
I recently got a dehumidifier, it pulls about a litre of water a day out of the air in the garage

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by RK6 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:05 pm

I really should buy a dehumidifier. Especially now that I've got a brew setup in my garage. :log

At the risk of going slightly off topic, can either of you guys recommend a good one?

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by Gazza » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:31 am

RK6 wrote:
Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:05 pm
I really should buy a dehumidifier. Especially now that I've got a brew setup in my garage. :log

At the risk of going slightly off topic, can either of you guys recommend a good one?
I haven't had one for 10 years. But Google is your friend...


https://www.bestspy.co.uk/dehumidifiers/

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Re: Brake cleaning tips

Post by al » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:53 pm

My back brake has been feeling wooden and a bit crap for a while now. I cleaned up the rear caliper over the Christmas period so thought it couldn't be needing more TLC already.

This afternoon, when I went out to my bike after work, I noticed that the brake light was on. After playing with the front and rear brakes I found out what the problem was. The rear brake lever was almost completely seized so when I was applying it it was staying on.

The rear brake lever has now been stripped, cleaned re-greased, assembled and tested and everything is alright in the world again. The only difficult bit was removing and refitting the circlip holding the lever onto the plain bearing shaft.

Therefore add checking all moving parts of the brake system to your maintenance routine and not just the calipers!

Big Kneed Al (master of the emergency stop & "stand up" comedian).

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