Disc Brake Hacks For Road Bikes | Road Bike Maintenance

Disc Brake Hacks For Road Bikes | Road Bike Maintenance

– Ah, disc brakes. The
hardest to look after than rim brakes. Possibly
just a little bit. But the main reason for that is because they are different to what
most people are used to. But with the tips and the
hacks which are coming up You should be well on your way. [Upbeat Music Playing] Firstly, let’s have a look
at the very annoying case of disc brake rub, essentially
where the brake pads are rubbing against the rotor.
A few things to check, but the first one you should
do is simply to loosen the mounting bolts here. Slacken them right off, then
hold your front brake on. This is the left brake
front bike at the moment. Hold it on nice and tight. Do the whole system back up again, preferably with a torque wrench like this, and give the wheel a spin
and see if that has solved your problem. In a lot of
cases it will have done, but with flat mount discs in particular it can be a little bit more complicated. For the hack, you are going to need some kind of business card.
I’ve taken Si Richardson’s, And you’re also going to
need to take the wheel out, which for this particular
bike is a 6mm Allen key. Drop it out briefly,
then you’re going to take your business card and bend
it over the rotor like so. And once you’ve bent your card into shape, insert it into the calliper. Then, put your wheel back in. (upbeat music playing) Then we are going to loosen
the calliper off again, as we did before, and the
width of that business card should be just the right size to space the pads out nicely. So pull your brake on again.
Should be all nice and centred and then you can do it back up with your torque wrench again. Then you are ready to drop
the wheel back out again and remove your business
card. And then hopefully… And you put your front wheel back in. And tighten the whole lot
up. Everything should be perfectly centred, and no sign of any disc rub. Perfect disc brake hack. (music playing) Now, it’s fair to say that
for the majority of us disc brakes are relatively
maintenance-free, and that is a fair reputation,
but if you ride a lot in bad weather there is something else that you need to know
about and be aware of. And that is sticky pistons.
The pistons are essentially what’s inside the calliper
here, which pushes the brake pad onto the rotor, and they can
occasionally become sticky. They’re in their own little oil bath, and you’ll be able to tell
by looking inside them. It won’t necessarily be evident just by pulling the brake lever on here. So, to get access to them,
you need to remove the wheel, and also remove the brake pads. Then once you’ve got the pads removed and the pistons exposed, you
want to pump the brake lever a few times to pop them slightly out. Make sure you don’t go over
the top when you’re doing this because it’s very easy to pop
the pistons out completely, and that would mean a full re-bleed. So, just a few times
until you’ve got around three to four millimetres
exposed on both sides, at which point you’ll want to get yourself some alcohol spray and a nice, clean rag, and clean the non pad-facing
side of the piston. So, effectively, the bit
that’s around the edge that needs to be nice and clean
when it’s going in an out. [Upbeat Music Continues] If one piston is particularly sticky, what you might find is that
the other piston has come out and is exposed, but one is left hidden. And that situation, what you want to do is spend the first part of your time cleaning the exposed piston,
and then using something like a plastic tyre lever,
push that one back in. And then with the fluid
that’s in the system, it should be enough to push
the slightly sticky piston out. Then, once they’re all cleaned and dried, push the pistons back inside the calliper using a plastic tie lever,
and then give the brake a few pumps, just to check
that they are now moving up nice and evenly. Then you just need to put the
brake pads back in like so, and hopefully that will
have solved your problem. And then stick your wheel back in. Looks nice and aligned already. Perfect. Right. Next up is a hack
which comes from our very own GCN mechanic Tom. Not
Tom Last, you understand, but someone that actually knows
what they are talking about. So, if your brakes are
starting to feel a bit spongy, The first point of contact
with the pad at the rotor, you can then pull the brake lever on it significantly further. Then it might be that the whole system needs to be re-bled,
which is quite a big job. However, if that has been
done fairly recently, you might want to check
this next hack out. For it, you are going
to need a bleed bucket, and also some fluid which
is specific to your brakes. First up, you’re going to want
to put your brake-specific fluid into the bleed bucket. Fill it up around about a third. And then put that to one side. Then you want to expose
the bleed port screw, which would be underneath
the rubber hood here, and undo that with a 2.5mm Allen key on the Shimano brake. Pull that out, put it
carefully to one side, and then screw the bleed bucket in. Right. And then to do the
actual hack part of this we’re going to take the
bike out of the stand. And put it on the floor. Right. Then, take the top of the bleed bucket off and remove this plunger from inside. Now, squeeze the brake lever
on and off a few times. Do it as tightly as you can. And what you should be encouraging
is any air in the system to be coming up towards the top. And you might, in fact,
see a couple of bubbles coming through the fluid
in the bleed bucket there. Now here’s the actual
little hack bit, though. Take the top part of the
bleed bucket and replace it, and then just gently squeeze the brake whilst also gently tapping the front wheel up and down on the
floor. And that will give an extra bit of encouragement to any air which is trapped in the
system, which could be well be the cause of your spongy feeling brakes. And hopefully that will
have solved your problem. Don’t forget, though, to
put the plunger back in before you unscrew the bleed bucket. Otherwise, you’re gonna
get fluid everywhere. Right. Then, back on with the screw. It will need a quick wipe-over. Hood back on. And it feels a lot more solid. Now, if it is the rear brake
which is feeling spongy, then when you are doing
it you can do exactly the same method, but when it comes to bouncing
the bike up and down, use the gravity to your advantage so that the air comes upwards. The bike here, just bounce
it gently at that point whilst pulling the brake lever on it. And those three hacks
should solve a lot of your disc brake problems. One
more thing that you can try if you are finding you’re
getting air in the system, is to focus on the points
where air might be getting in. So, for example, the
part here which connects to the cabling parts here.
Expose the bottom part which normally got a rubber seal over it, and on this case it is an
eight millimetre spanner there, and then a nine millimetre
here, and just check that these are nice and tight. You can also see whether there’s any fluid around there. Wipe that off with a
rag. Go out for a ride. Because everything will still be safe, and then expose it again
and see if there is any more fluid starting to leak out. And another final tip, which
you might not think about if you are new to disc brakes
as I was a few years ago, And that is when you are
travelling, you want to try and prevent the brake pads coming together and the pistons coming out. So to do that, you can get specific spacers like this, which you can put in before
you go into your bike bag. Or, if you haven’t got
one, you can simply use a couple of business cards
with a very thin coin inside. And that should do the trick nicely. I would love to know how you
get on with all these hacks. You can do so by letting us know in the comments section down below. And if you’d like to see Si Richardson taking a first look at the
Dura-Ace disc brake group set a few months ago in 2017, you can find that in the
bottom corner just down there. On the other hand, if you want 10 more general cycling hacks, you can find them in the top corner up there.
And make sure you subscribe to the Global Cycling
Network. It is free to do so. All you’ve got to do
is click on the globe.

Comments (100)

  1. Have you got any hacks of your own? let us know 👇

  2. no everyone has liquid instead of wire…. like me

  3. This is why I will never have risk brakes

  4. Shots fired at Lasty! Haha. Why doesn't he present anymore?

  5. Wot no latex gloves when working with brake fluid!

  6. When you have disc brakes do you need a stronger spoke set-up? There would be some additional torque expected moving the braking from the rim to the hub, is it significant enough to be a factor?

  7. Great video. Just one thing, I think you misspoke at about 9:00 calling for an "8mm allen key", when you meant to say 8mm crescent wrench (or spanner as you folks say 😉 )

  8. It takes me several tries to get my wheels with disc brake rotors remounted on the bike. I'd love primer on how to do this quickly

  9. I have my first bike with hydraulic brakes, Shimano. I like to work on my bike upside down, like when fixing flat tire. Even with wheel in place NEVER pump the brake lever, doing so when upside down puts air in the system and requires a complete bleed out. This applies also when transporting the bike upside down. What do you think?

  10. Where did your hair go is that for aero reasons

  11. Anyone else notice that the brakes are the opposite way round to normal i.e. Front Brake on the left and back on the right, I thought normally the Front brake lever is on the right and the back on the left as mine appears to be!!!

  12. Mineral water, and now mineral oil; the man never stops.

  13. All the dislikes are from olympians who just buy a new bike when the handlebar tape (probably incorrect terminology) gets worn in one part

  14. When adjusting space sometimes you can see the gap between pads and align caliper accordingly. Also sometimes the hose can push caliper to one side so loose-squeeze brakes-tight them back doesn't always work!

  15. Maybe someone can help me.

    I bought a brand new Giant adventure rapid last week and I realized I should have done a test run before leaving the store. Basically, when I use my disk brakes they make squeaky sounds like ''eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee'' no matter how fast I go. The guy told me it can happen at the beginning but I've been abusing them a lot and nothing changed. What do you think creates that sound? There is definitively something that needs to be fixed.

  16. can i do this also on a mtb hardtail disc brake?

  17. Thanks GCN! I have excessive amount of hoses on my road bike, could you possibly do a video on how to shorten/trim existing Shimano Hydraulic Road Disc Brake Hoses. Specifically hoses with an inline Shimano Easy Hose Joint System. Thanks in advance!

  18. What about for mechanical disc?

  19. Thank you for this video. One question: can the first hack be used on Mechanical brakes also?

  20. Do you recommend shimanos di2 shift system?

  21. I mtb in wet season with mudguards just on often wet road, and my calipers were getting a constant supply of road muck in them and the pistons needed to be maintained every few days. it was awful. my disk brake hack was to stop using hydralic calipers and change to cables. immediate end to extremely high maintenence. the feel and power is a little less but there is no frustration. (my bicycle caliper pistons didnt have a "weather seal" to keep the piston clean because they were, essentially, a little toy-like.)

  22. What is the recommended torque for this particular canyon bike's brake screw?

  23. Almost identical to my 9.0 LTD, awesome bike!

  24. ps Awesome business card hack!

  25. Iv'e watched a lot of GCN and GMBN videos. I thought the Brit's use the right side for the front brake but this bike has the front brake on the left side. What's up with that?

  26. Thanks for the business card hack. took a few tries to do it but it worked.

  27. You start to hate disc brakes after replacing tires :))

  28. what sort of bleeding fluid is that? surely not the shimano. is it cheaper?

  29. ¿Does the hack for the rear wheel hydraulic brake works on a mtb?

  30. Which bike is the one of the video?

  31. Nice hack, could always buy Floating Discs ! : )

  32. Thanks!!! the business card hack worked!

  33. Hey friends. I’ve got Magura mt S and have an annoying vibration in front brake, I’ve done all this process y’all showed, but this vibration doesn’t go away, i don’t know what else to do. Any idea what would be? It doesn’t feel like it needs bleeding and the pistons are working good. Would be it commun issue with this brakes? Thanks for help!!

  34. Just got my first bike with discs and had a slight rub on the front… very useful video and cured the problem immediately. Cheers…

  35. What seat post is that?

  36. Best solution for non pro's it's mechanical disk with thru axle. Who need these painful maintenance of hydraulics system?

  37. What torque wrench do you recommend ?

  38. Uh….what about SRAM hydraulic brakes?!?!?!?

  39. A couple more hacks. Check your disc is not bent, ensure it spins straight so it doesn’t rub and to centre the disc in the pads, use a lacky band to hold the brake lever on whilst undoing the brake caliper on the frame. Let it float then tighten straight away. Easy

  40. That business card hack is brilliant!  Solved the very slight rub I've been trying to chase out for weeks.  Thanks!

  41. Ouch bad hit on Tom Lasty!

  42. I have been using this brake for a good few months from new. I think the cable has stretched: I thought having seen this video that I could re-set the cable. I cannot however reengage the locking device. Is this normal? How do I take the stack out of the system?

  43. Thank you a lot for the tip with the business card, it works perfectly.

  44. Poor Tom Last. The grim older dudes taking the piss all the time. You'll have him crying into his pillow or disappearing on a walkabout at the very least.

  45. I'm still astonished after now 7 years of hydraulic disc-brake biking. Apart from cleaning them now as Dan shows. They've been entirely trouble-free reliable and powerful/proportional. Their principal of operation is so simple there's little to go wrong once they're installed properly. Provided they are clean, inspected for leaks and work well I subscribe, in this matter only, to the school of "If it ain't bust then don't fix it". It's astonishing that they are not universal or even compulsory.

  46. I am a newby to disc brakes but in general YouTube standards Dan is excellent at presenting the facts and tips. Very helpful. Thanks.

  47. @Global Cycling Network, after described procedure of cleaning callipers my lever go all the way to handlebars and brakes hardly work, I did something wrong could you advice what can I do?

  48. Another great video , learning a lot about disc brakes . Disc brakes are awesome . Love the braking power and Confidence it gives me on the road

  49. I have discovered mechanically activated hydraulic calipers. I just went through putting new lines on and it was a headache to say the least. If I need to upgrade or replace calipers i will use the mechanically activated type. example not an endorsement

  50. I got a canyon endurace only 3 months ago and my rear brake lever has this problem, travels all the way back to the bar, still bites at the end, but seriously annoyed with it.

  51. it's look super easy fixing a new bike hhhh

  52. This really helped me! Thank you!

  53. Left brake lever for front wheel?? That was a new one to me.

  54. The business card trick was golden! I spent hours trying to get rid of disc rub yesterday, and ended up giving up. But putting a business card in the rotor for centering got it perfect for me in <10 minutes!

  55. Why do you have your front brake lever on the left? Every bike I’ve had including motorcycles have the front brake on the right lever

  56. Great video for disc brake newbie on new road bike, thanks GCN

  57. A cycle gear ki cycle acchi hai acchi hai cycle Hai given kids recycle Baker

  58. Convinced me I don’t want them

  59. And make sure you avoid touching the rotors and getting oil on them… if you do, that's sometimes enough to make them start squealing like mad :-/

  60. Just use mechanical disc brakes.

  61. Hi there, in this video the free stroke seems to be relatively large to me. But there is no comment about this particular parameter. So, maybe everybody else would be happy with it. I an new to road bikes. I bought a new one this July, and I never felt that comfortable with the huge free stroke. These are Ultegra R8000 disk brakes. Today I tried to use the adjustments on the ST-R8070, however it was already set to minimum free stroke. With the front brake I am actually ok, but for the rear brake especially with winter gloves it feels not that optimum. The cylinders at the brake start moving once I move the levers, however there is obviously some more distance to reach the rotor at the rear compared to the front. Anybody out there with a valuable comment? Despite bleeding.

  62. Hey everybody, Has anyone tried the "spongy hack" on Sram force1 Levers? i just recieved my cyclocross bike and the front brakes just touch the rotor a bit but there isnt any real biting … bit dispointing

  63. Per centring the callipers, I semi tighten the mount bolts, so the calliper does not rock and rotate the wheel while gradually applying the brake. If the calliper is loose enough to rock, god knows what position it is in when the the anchors are fully applied. Thus when you tighten the calliper it will be forced into a different position. I rotate the wheel because the disc may be warped slightly, so this finds a common centre ( actually I'm not to sure about this logic ) and I tighten the bolts evenly and gradually. The business card trick prob does the same thing by leaving a gap and you don't have to worry about faulty logic.

  64. The first minute solved my problem, thanks a lot!

  65. Nice, an affordable tips and tricks video!

  66. Hi.

    Is it possible to upgrade to Hydraulic disk brake from mechanical disk brake? Thanks.

  67. These are not hacks this is simple but good maintenance .

  68. epic hacking I must say 😀

  69. Cripes. That's not a hack. That's how it's done.

  70. How would you make sure you get rid of brake rubbing on the back wheel using the same technique you used on the front?

  71. Man are disc brakes a pain in the butt to maintain in comparison to normal ones 🙂

  72. Would this work on mechanical discs too?

  73. Great trick. Without a business card it did not work. With a card it worked.

  74. Brilliant. The front brake was ever so slightly rubbing. I tried centering the caliper – didn't work. I took pads out and checked the pistons right was out out and pushed it back but didn't realise that the left one was the problem because it was stuck. I then viewed this video. So I cleaned the right one and then held the right one in so the left one was forced to come out when I depressed the lever. I cleaned that – reassembled and after a few brake and release cycles all was good. Thanks GCN. BTW I am running discs (because they came with the bike) but because it enables the bike to use fat tyres – 650b 47mm. All day comfort and off road fun. However I would have been just as happy with V-brakes but no one makes a integrated drop bar V brake lever and shifter.

  75. Really super hack!! 60 minutes fiddling with the (totally new) discbrakes and thereafter 4 minutes to get a perfectly rolling wheel..

  76. I was considering buying a new road bike with disc brakes, but I will rather stick with old fashioned rim brakes instead. They are much easier to maintain.

  77. Biz card hack worked! Noice!

  78. Merci 🙏 le truc de la carte de visite ça marche parfaitement

  79. 9:06 they are not Allen keys….. They are 8 and 9mm spanners.

  80. 09:40 GIVE IT MONEY!

  81. Thank you for the demo. Could you also demonstrate how to replace mechanical road / gravel bike brakes with hydraulics?

  82. very useful and well done! the best bike mechanic on gcn for sure!

  83. Hey GCN, awesome video, I'm always having to tinker with my disc brakes albeit on a MTB, the "Bleed Bucket" is that a hack I can use on any hydraulic disc brake, road or mtb?

  84. When tightening brake callipers, what is the required torque setting for carbon forks?

  85. the businesscard really works… thanx

  86. Thank you for the hack with the business card. Really sorted my problem. All good now 🙂

  87. who will be the first to build a dual front disc setup?

  88. Should i get an f12 w disc or rim brakes?

  89. I still dont understand why disc brake road bicycles dont use the quick release lock on the wheels??. I have a 2005 old mtb bicycle with disc brakes and quick release locks for years ….

  90. Dan, why does that bike have the front brake lever on the left hand side of the handlebars and the rear on the right hand side? Is that something specific to Canyon bikes, or is it customised? It's just that every bike I have ever ridden has the rear on the left and the front on the right.

  91. Kuya wher are you buying that

  92. The business card hack worked for me. Thanks!

  93. Excellent description. I have a sneaking suspicion that a sticking piston is what’s going on with my front brake…

  94. You guys know everything.

  95. I've shied away from hydro brakes for some time now, I simply didn't understand how it all went together. No longer, now though. Thank you.

  96. This is why I'm not with Disc brakes they will cause problems… not to many pro riders from the tour the France did not use them only 5 teams did in the tour but the other 14 team's did not go figure

  97. yes rear brake has different lever travel- i bleeeded it,there was lot of air , make same process 2-3 times and rear brake lever has longer travel when starts to brake-not spongy, can that travel be adjusted by screw as on mtb brakes

  98. Great videos!. I’ve been using Park tools since the mid-70s and have a lot of respect for the company, management, tools and philosophies. Thanks.

  99. After 1 business card didn’t do the trick I used 2! Any issues there? Thank you…love the vids.

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