What to put in hydraulic bike brakes

Saving free space

Many are worried about how to store a bicycle in an apartment in winter so as not to feel constrained and uncomfortable. A good solution is to buy a fastener with two hooks.

hydraulic, bike, brakes

Such hangers are available to everyone, and only the material of manufacture affects the price. We recommend purchasing wooden or plastic fasteners to avoid scratching the bike. Mounting on the wall is carried out by means of self-tapping screws, after which the vehicle is hung by the upper pipe.

Otherwise, space is saved by disassembling the bike for parts. After removing the steering wheel and wheels, the bike can be put on a closet or under a bed.

Choosing a wintering place

Ultraviolet radiation, frosty air, constant fluctuations in temperature and humidity negatively affect the components of the bike: their elasticity is lost and destruction processes begin. Rain and snow are also harmful as bearings and chain are susceptible to corrosion.

Considering the above, the question will surely arise about where to store the bike in the winter. The best option is a dry and heated room with no dampness, moisture and sharp temperature jumps. An apartment, balcony and garage will work well. You can also use the services of a bicycle workshop, saving your time and effort on self-maintenance.

Bicycle Repair: How to Prepare Your Bicycle for Winter

The whole point of preparing a bicycle for winter use comes down to two things: removing dirt and moisture from all units and changing lubricants and technical fluids. Let’s consider the key nodes separately.

Bushings, bottom bracket, steering column

Despite the fact that many manufacturers are trying to make sure that bushings and other components are protected from moisture and dirt, there is still no escape from this muck. Only a bulkhead once a season with active riding will save the insides of your bike from increased wear.

If there are loose bearings or conventional bearings in the cage, it is necessary:

Look at the condition of balls and working surfaces, replace if necessary.

Lubricate bearings and sliding surfaces with grease (e.g. Mobil XHP 220).

Assemble back in such a way that the knots rotate easily, without any backlash or overtightening.

1.2. Industrial bearings

Industrial bearings are also susceptible to moisture and dirt penetration into them, especially for BB30, BB92 carriages, etc. It should be noted that in most cases moisture does not penetrate into the bearing itself, if everything is sorted out in time (for example, after a trip in the rain. after “bathing” the bike in a river or after a high pressure wash). But if you decide to bulkhead all the nodes only at the end of the season, you can expect surprises.

If there is a thin layer of old grease, dirt, moisture, clean everything.

Assess the condition of the bearing by twisting it. If it spins smoothly, without jerks and sounds, then everything is in order. If you feel significant resistance during rotation, sounds or “fingering” of the balls, then the bearing has served its purpose and needs to be replaced.

Assemble all units back with a thin layer of grease to repel moisture.

How To Convert To Hydraulic Disc Brakes From Mechanical Disc Brakes On Mountain Bike

It makes no sense to clean the cable and braid, so you just need to change them. Thanks to this, you will have a clear shift, and the cable will not freeze inside the braid.

It is enough to clean the switch with a brush from dirt and drop a drop of oil into the rubbing joints.

3.1. V-Brakes or mechanical disc brakes

It is enough to change the cable and the sheath for the brake to work easily and without slowing down. In the case of the V-Brake, you also need to change the arc connecting the braid and the cable with the frame on the brake lever.

3.2. Hydraulic disc brakes

Fluid change required. Check the information on your brake lever to determine the correct fluid. There may be 2 options

DOT 34 or 5.1 (Avid, Formula, Hayes, some Promax)

Everything is simple here. we pump and ride in winter. Brakes will work even at low temperatures.

Mineral oil (Shimano, Tektro, Magura, some Promax)

You need oil suitable for the brakes. Of course, every manufacturer insists that it is the oil they produce that needs to be filled. But practice shows that, for example, in Tektro and Promax oil from Shimano works quietly. And LHM oil from Citroёn generally has a whole army of fans and is not poured anywhere, because it works at rather low temperatures.

With mineral water in winter, you need to be careful. there is a great risk of brake leakage due to rubber bands that have become stiff in the frost. If you don’t feel like torturing your expensive hydraulic brakes, get a mechanic for the winter.

Spring Elastomer Forks (SR Suntour, RST)

It stops working as soon as the air temperature drops below zero. But there is a chance to revive it so that it stops working after a longer amount of time. To do this, you need to pour fork oil into your pants, but you need to seal the threaded connections, thanks to which the pants are attached to the legs of the fork. In addition, it is best not to turn the bike upside down, as the dust boots on the fork are not designed for oil in your pants and it can simply leak out. Also, oil can ooze from under the anthers and it must be constantly removed from there.

Many people solve the problem more globally, simply by removing the elastomer from the plug. it is because of it that the plug stops working quickly in the cold.

Spring oil fork

Just needs cleaning and oil change. You can add less viscous oil to your pants to make the fork work better in the cold.

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Air Oil Fork

Requires more than just cleaning and oil changes. The air chamber also requires bulkheads and replacement of rubber bands, since even slightly worn rubber bands may not hold the required air pressure at negative temperatures.

In winter, there is one ideal option. a rigid fork. It is best if it is carbon fiber, because your bike will weigh much less, you do not need to torment your expensive fork and buy expensive repair kits for it, and when riding on soft snow, the fork will tend to “cut through” it, which will increase the bike’s cross-country ability

If you have inexpensive, not very high-quality tires, slicks or semi-slick tires, then it is recommended to change them at least for more aggressive ones.

It is ideal if you have studded tires, because then you will not be afraid of the presence of ice on your way, and due to the high tread, it will “rake” in any conditions.

Note that in cold weather the air pressure in the tires drops slightly. Inflate the wheels a little more than usual on a hard surface. But if the snowfall has just passed, and the road or sidewalk has not yet been cleaned / trampled down, reduce the tire pressure.

In winter, it is expected to operate in a rather aggressive environment (sand-salt mixture, reagents), so the chain needs serious protection against corrosion. Wet-weather lubricant is recommended, although it is more viscous as it stays in the chain longer. over, if the weather keeps at a warmer level of 5 degrees, it is advisable to lubricate it every day or every 2 days. Snow mixed with reagents sticks to the chain, after which it thaws and destroys all the lubricant on the chain.

Life hack. Take a small brush with you to clean the snow from the bike before entering a warm room. Thanks to this, you will maximally protect the key parts of the bike from moisture and dirt.

A few tips for preparing your bike for winter in the video

How to store your bike in winter? Preparing your bike for winter

True fans of the two-wheeled bike do not think about how to store the bike in the winter. They ride annually and in any weather. However, with the cold snap and the arrival of autumn frosts, most vehicle owners feel uncomfortable. Rain, wind and icy conditions force us to suspend cycling and start preparing the bike for the winter period. At the same time, storage conditions must comply with certain rules, with the help of which bicycle parts will not wear out until the next season.

Balcony storage

The sun’s rays and moisture destroy the paint on the vehicle (it can peel off completely), so storage of the bike on the balcony in winter should be done in appropriate conditions. This section of the apartment should be glazed, and the bike itself should be covered with paper (cloth) and sprayed with silicone spray. As a result, the paint will not dry out or fade.

In addition, it is recommended to lower the wheels a little so that the severe frost does not damage them.

Bicycle disc brakes: hydraulic or mechanical?

Very often, when choosing a bicycle or buying new brakes for it, the question arises: “Which brakes are better, hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes?” The question is very relevant, because they differ significantly in price, quality and other equally important parameters. Therefore, in this comparison, we tried to tell as succinctly and clearly as possible how hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes of a bicycle differ in design, principle of operation, braking performance, adjustment and maintenance, as well as maintainability and price.

Customization and maintenance

While the braking performance of hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes is almost the same, the difference is much more noticeable in setup and maintenance. The clear favorite here is hydraulics. It does not need to be adjusted as often as a mechanic, and the adjustment itself is made during the first installation or when replacing the brake pads. Although this rule does not apply to single-piston hydraulic brakes, which, like mechanics, need periodic adjustment. Adjustment of mechanical brakes is necessary after each removal of the wheel and periodically, according to the degree of wear of the pads and the stretching of the cable. Also, the disadvantages of mechanics include the need for periodic maintenance of the cable, namely keeping it clean and lubricated.


The braking quality of hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes is practically the same (taking into account that disc mechanics are not the cheapest). Both one and the second do an excellent job with their tasks. Braking is more influenced by the material of the brake pads, their size, as well as the rotor diameter. The larger the contact surface of the pads with the rotor, the better the braking quality. The material of the brake pads should also be noted. At the moment, there are two types of bicycles on the market: metallized (Sintered), which are better suited for muddy trails, and organic (Resin), which prevent overheating of the caliper.

There is still a difference in braking between hydraulic and mechanical brakes, though. It is expressed more in the comfort of use. On hydraulics, due to the fact that there is no cable that rubs against the shirt, it is easier to move the brake lever. The second advantage is a more precise control of the braking force (modulation). In other words, it’s easier for you to figure out how hard you should push the handle in a given situation. Although this parameter also depends on the level of hydraulic brakes, namely on the number of pistons.

Design and principle of operation

The principle of operation of mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes on a bicycle is basically the same. Pressing the brake lever sets the brake pads in motion, which compresses the rotor. As a result, braking occurs due to the conversion of kinetic energy into heat due to the frictional force. The main difference lies in the method of transferring the pressing force of the brake lever to the brake pads. Mechanical disc brakes use a cable. When you press the handle, it is tensioned, which leads to displacement of the movable block.

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In hydraulic disc brakes, its role is played by the piston system and hydraulic fluid. When the handle is pressed on the hydraulics, the piston of the master cylinder is moved. It pushes the hydraulic fluid that drives the pistons in the caliper, thereby compressing the pads.


But in terms of maintainability, disc mechanics wins, which can be relatively easily repaired in the field. In the event of a cable failure, it can be easily replaced on site, given that you have a spare. What can not be done with hydraulics. If you caught on a branch and damaged the hydraulic line, it is unlikely that you will succeed in installing a new one, filling in oil and pumping the system without special equipment. Plus, finding replacement parts for bicycle hydraulic disc brakes is much more difficult than for mechanical ones.

Another point where mechanics win is price. Good hydraulic brakes are more expensive than mechanical ones of the same level.

Reverse pumping

  • A syringe with a volume of 200 ml is introduced through a short tube to the valve of the caliper;
  • The lever closes and air is sucked in from the caliper and hydraulic cord;
  • The valve of the caliper closes, the hose with the syringe is disconnected, air bubbles are squeezed out;
  • The syringe is inserted into place and the procedure is repeated until the hydraulics are completely free of air;
  • The next step is to completely fill the hydraulic system with brake fluid.

In this way, it is convenient to pump fluid into the brakes if it is not possible to squeeze out all the air from the system during direct pumping. And pumping in the first way takes more time.

Also, in this way, air is pumped out from the opposite half of the caliper without its own valve.

A detailed video guide to servicing hydraulic brakes:

Why should you take the choice of brake fluid as seriously as possible? The fact is that the uninterrupted operation of the braking system and, accordingly, the safety of the car largely depends on it. When the driver presses the pedal, the pressurized brake fluid in the system transfers force to the caliper piston and the piston to the pads. The brakes are applied and the vehicle comes to a stop. But due to the resulting friction, the liquid is heated. If it boils, it will lose its important property. incompressibility. In this case, the system will practically stop responding to pedal pressing and it will be very, very difficult to stop, since the force is not transmitted to the brake pads.

Symptoms of a hydraulic brake malfunction

The first symptom of a malfunction of such bicycle brakes is that it starts to slow down on its own. This can be explained by the fact that air has entered the brake system. This could have happened due to the fall of the bike, a low level of brake fluid in the reservoir, or when the hydraulic circuit is open.

Since air tends to compress, unlike liquids, when it enters the system, it works like a gas spring. That is, the air creates the pressure of the brake fluid, which activates the brakes.

Also, the braking system can engage in such self-activity, in case of jamming of the working piston. And the reason for this is the ingress of water into the hydraulic system.

And, of course, the brakes urgently need to be repaired if the brake lever is not as elastic as before, or the hydraulics no longer responds to the cyclist’s command to stop the vehicle.

Breakdown of the mechanism

The main symptom of a hydraulic breakdown. “Failure” of the brake lever when braking.

This is due to the appearance of air bubbles in the hydraulic system, due to a fall, a decrease in the level of the liquid or a break in the connected circuit inside the hydraulics.

When air enters, it compresses, creates pressure, drives the pistons and starts the mechanism.

To find out the cause of the failure, it is necessary to exclude the usual contamination, for this, the pads are also removed, the brake machine is cleaned.

After that, the pistons are pressed in with a special device: the brake lever is pressed until both pistons are fully extended, if they are jammed, the cylindrical system is worn out, in this case the pistons and special sealing rings change, the oil in the system is replaced.

Also, spontaneous braking can occur as a result of seizure of the brake piston after water ingress.

The hydraulics must be repaired even with minor failures.

In addition to mechanical damage to the shell, over time, brake fluid or hydraulic oil changes its consistency and begins to absorb air and moisture through microscopic gaps.

As a result, the fluid changes color, the brake lever collapses, and the efficiency of the system decreases.

How The Hydraulic Brakes Work On A Bike. Not Only For Newbies.

Air infiltration is also possible due to expansion of the tank, this happens if you pull the lever on an inverted bike.

To resume normal operation, the hydraulic brakes on the bicycle must be serviced: completely bleed the hydraulic system.

Mineral oil or pillbox?

Hydraulic disc brakes use a special brake fluid to transfer force from the brake lever to the brake pistons of the caliper. In the evolution of bicycle braking systems, manufacturers have adopted two brake standards. DOT and mineral oil.

  • DOT (US Department оf Transportation). has become the generic name for working brake fluid in vehicles (not just bicycles). The key feature of DOT is the high boiling point of the liquid. At the same time, the boiling point drops as the bunker starts to absorb water, so ideally change the bunker every 12-18 months.
  • Mineral oil. It is produced from petroleum and is a mixture of hydrocarbons separated from gasoline. It is used in various industries (including cosmetology), including used as a brake fluid. Fluid compression levels and boiling point are roughly similar to DOT.
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All other things being equal, the boiling point of mineral oil and bunker is approximately the same, but the “mineral water” has one important nuance. it does not absorb moisture, but accumulates it in the hydraulic system. If the accumulated water in the bunker reduces the efficiency of the brakes, then in the mineral water at a high operating temperature of the brakes, the water evaporates and leads to the failure of the system. Similarly, brakes on “mineral water” are not recommended to be used in the cold season, since the water accumulated in the system expands during freezing and the rubber bands of the pistons in the caliper or brake lever can simply squeeze out. Having accelerated and started to brake, you can find that there are no brakes, therefore, when using the bike all year round, it is recommended to use the brakes on the bunker or change to mechanical analogs.

Another very important nuance. brake fluids are NOT INTERCHANGEABLE! Systems designed to run on “mineral water” will not work on bunkers and vice versa. Systems such as Avid / SRAM, Formula, Hayes and Hope use DOT 4 or 5.1. Magura, Shimano and Tektro systems use mineral water.

Everything slows down perfectly for me, do I need to service?

There is an opinion that maintenance of brakes includes only timely replacement of pads. As we found out above, not only pads require replacement, but also brake fluid, preferably. once a year or two, depending on the intensity of use.

In the foreground is the ingress of air and fluid into the brake system. Over time, the brake lever begins to fall down to the grip, the braking efficiency decreases and the brakes need to be pumped. As the brakes are used, the grips and caliper may need to be serviced. either a complete busting system, or a bulkhead with partial replacement of rubber bands and oil seals.

Four Tips for Caring for Your Brakes:

  • Try not to contaminate the brake system. Be careful with chain lubrication. it is advisable not to use a spray smear and chain cleaner in the form of a spray, since oil or greasy cleaning agents that get on the rotor or caliper will damage the brakes. When washing your bike, try not to push dirt off the bike and the chain towards the rotor.
  • Clean the rotor with a brake cleaner. Solvent-based specialty agents remove dirt and oil particles from pads and rotors for improved brake performance.
  • Check the bolt tightness or the center-lock of the rotors. In case of poor tightening, the rotor starts to “walk”, causing vibrations and reducing the effectiveness of the brakes, which can lead to an accident.
  • Inspect hoses and mechanisms for leaks. Nobody ruled out wear. it is likely that over time, the rubber bands may become stiff, deteriorate and the hydraulic fluid will leak. Early diagnosis allows you to solve the problem with the least loss, while driving with a leak can damage pistons and other parts.

Hydraulic brakes are used primarily on bicycles where precision, responsiveness and reliability are required. First of all, these are heavy, massive mountain bikes designed to overcome steep slopes and climbs. Also, hydraulics have become an integral part of high-speed bicycles, as it allows you to very accurately and in the shortest possible time reduce speed.

The principle of operation of hydraulic brakes is very similar to mechanical brakes, where the brake pads are operated by a cable. The only difference is that in the hydraulics, instead of cables, brake fluid is used, and levers and eccentrics replace the cylinder-piston groups. Thanks to this approach, the frictional forces in the system are significantly reduced, and this increases its service life.

Despite this, hydraulics also has disadvantages, first of all, it is difficult to repair in case of breakdown. For example, if the hydraulic line breaks down, the brakes will not work in the field. The most that is possible with the tools is to bleed the hydraulic brakes.

How To Fit & Set Up Shimano Road Bike Hydraulic Disc Brakes | GCN Tech’s Full Setup & Installation

Blowing out hydraulics

Hydraulic fluid varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

In the hydraulic system of Shimanu, Tektru, Maguru bicycles. mineral or semi-synthetic oils, all other companies use DOT brake fluid.

It should also be borne in mind that Avit and Formulu hydraulics do not have connecting tubes for pumping, so you need a syringe set with an M5 / 0.8 sleeve.

The main difference between fluids: brake fluid DOT is hygroscopic, that is, over time it absorbs moisture and may lose its properties, it should be changed every 2 years, regardless of mileage, oils do not absorb moisture, but over time it darkens, and if it is still water gets into the liquid, then when mixed it becomes “whitish”.

In addition, mineral oils are not chemically aggressive and do not harm the plastic or paintwork of the bike.