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  1. #1
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    Hydraulic brakes, is it bad to hang bike upside down?

    I just thought of something, the bike i am looking to buy, which i've mentioned in a previous post, has a bad rear hydraulic brake but i'm wondering if the problem is related to hanging the bike by the rims upside down for the past 2-3 yrs and if so, is it likely that i can simply fill the resivior and the brakes work again? If so, that would save me 130 incl labor. Is it easy to do myself or will it require special tools. If special tools, i might ask the bike shop to do it a part of a tuneup and add the extra fee.

    anyway, just wondering how likely you believe this to be the problem and the likelihood i could conveniently fix

  2. #2
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    Don't know about the brakes but I've heard hanging them upside down is not good for the fork seals.

  3. #3
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    Have to make a lot of assumptions because you haven't said what brakes we're talking about but in general you shouldn't store a bike with hydraulic disc brakes upside down for long periods of time. If there is air in the system, it will migrate to the highest point which, if you turn the bike upside down, becomes the calipers. The calipers do not have bladders in them to compensate for air or expansion so it gets stuck and causes your brakes to get mushy. The levers usually have bladers and reservoirs which can make up for heat and air and that's why people recommend that you keep the bike upright during storage.

    Here's the kicker: your brakes need help because you haven't serviced the things in 2-3 years not because you hung it upside down. Check the service manuals and you'll find that most brakes (and forks and shocks) should be serviced a lot more frequently than "when they stop working."

    Depending on what brake you have, you could buy the bleed kit and do it yourself but some brakes are less friendly than others. All of them can be done at home, but you'll want to buy whatever the nicest version of the bleed kit you can find.
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  4. #4
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    Hayes Hydraulic Disc brakes, Hayes Hydraulic Disc levers

    thx for input, here is the brand

  5. #5
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    If there is air in the system, upside down storage may have some negative impact on the system.
    Don't know about the brakes but I've heard hanging them upside down is not good for the fork seals.
    This is just plain wrong. This is actually good for the fork seals, and it is one of the pros with having upside down forks as it keeps the fork seals oiled and lubricated. However, it may be a problem with oil migrating inside the fork on open bath systems, so you will have to cycle the fork a couple of times for the oil to move back to the damper circuits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tealboy1 View Post
    Hayes Hydraulic Disc brakes, Hayes Hydraulic Disc levers

    thx for input, here is the brand
    They're not too bad to bleed, the fittings can be a pain in the ass but the process usually goes well.
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  7. #7
    Wēk Ss
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    It's probably worth picking up a caliper rebuild kit. The o-ring around the pistons are probably shot after 2-3 years of being dry. It's an easy replacement, you get the seals and the pistons in the rebuild kit.

  8. #8
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    Back in the day there were some brakes like the old Magura's that had gravity valve for releasing air and heat. If you turned them upside down they would let air in through the port. Most brakes these days have closed systems and use a diaphragm that lets air out but not in. I hang my bikes on the wall from the front tire. I notice if they sit for more than a week all the air rises into the reservoir and they need a pump or two to get fluid where it belongs.

    But the other posters are correct. Hayes use DOT 4 or 5 fluid which attracts water and dirt. They just need to be serviced probably. The worst case scenario is they have a bad seal. Here's a couple of youtube videos on bleeding Hayes. You didn't put the model of Hayes in so I just grabbed what I thought you were riding. Also check the Brake forum.

    Hayes HFX 9 IMPROVED Performance - YouTube

    MBM - Disc - Bleed Hayes Nine-Sole - YouTube
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Have to make a lot of assumptions because you haven't said what brakes we're talking about but in general you shouldn't store a bike with hydraulic disc brakes upside down for long periods of time. If there is air in the system, it will migrate to the highest point which, if you turn the bike upside down, becomes the calipers. The calipers do not have bladders in them to compensate for air or expansion so it gets stuck and causes your brakes to get mushy. The levers usually have bladers and reservoirs which can make up for heat and air and that's why people recommend that you keep the bike upright during storage.

    Here's the kicker: your brakes need help because you haven't serviced the things in 2-3 years not because you hung it upside down. Check the service manuals and you'll find that most brakes (and forks and shocks) should be serviced a lot more frequently than "when they stop working."

    Depending on what brake you have, you could buy the bleed kit and do it yourself but some brakes are less friendly than others. All of them can be done at home, but you'll want to buy whatever the nicest version of the bleed kit you can find.
    Zebra, do you think just having your bike upside down to oil the chain and do a few other things for half an hour or an hour could do the same things, i have Avid Elixirs, and have had a few dramas with them, cheers
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tone's View Post
    Zebra, do you think just having your bike upside down to oil the chain and do a few other things for half an hour or an hour could do the same things, i have Avid Elixirs, and have had a few dramas with them, cheers
    Damn it, I had a really nice write up and I hit the "go advanced" button instead of "post quick reply" and it deleted the whole thing for some reason.

    Anyway the short answer is inverting your bike for short periods of time will not cause any harm to a properly bled system [insert upside-down Australia joke here]. Short term inversion actually lubricates fork seals so it can be a benefit as well. Long term inversion can cause a lot of things to move into places they shouldn't be especially if you have some wear on components like fittings or fork seals.

    I suspect that you probably have air in the system (likely the caliper) and it's time for a bleed. If you're handy you can pick up the Avid bleed kit (it's good to have for this job) and follow the videos online. I've wrestled with Avid brakes for hours and really don't like working on them in any way at all. They can be tricky to bleed properly but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Even if you can't get it right you won't have caused any damage to the brake and any LBS should be able to help you get it dialed.

    Pro tips:
    - Take out your brake pads before you start. Getting fluid on them ruins them.
    - Put a caliper block between the pistons. If you don't have the nifty one from Avid I use a plastic Pedros tire lever (handy for prying pistons back into place too) or a sufficiently thick box end wrench.
    - Pry your pistons back before you close the system. Even if you did it at the start, make sure they're all the way seated in the caliper before you close the bleed ports. If you don't you will have too firm a lever or not enough pad clearance.
    - I had others but I can't remember. I'll edit if I do.
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  11. #11
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    Cheers and thanks Zebra, you have answered my questions, yes i think i have air and maybe even water in my lines.
    On a 46 degree day here which i think is about 115 where you are, i took my bike out for a ride, within 3-5 minutes it was so hot that both of my brakes ceased shut to the point where the wheels wouldnt turn and i had to carry my bike, they actually totally locked up on me while riding, the levers had zero play in them, it was like i was in the twilight zone.
    It was so hot you could hardly breath, i thought the oil in the lines had somehow expanded which i realise now cant happen,
    Many here seemed to think i have water in the lines, some said air.
    When i got the bike home into a cool home they went back to normal in about 2 hours, ive never experienced anything like it, and i have no idea how water could have got in them
    Honestly its hard to believe unless you saw it, but it totally happened, it was amazing stuff, whats your thoughts on the cause of this.?
    cheers
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tone's View Post
    Cheers and thanks Zebra, you have answered my questions, yes i think i have air and maybe even water in my lines.
    On a 46 degree day here which i think is about 115 where you are, i took my bike out for a ride, within 3-5 minutes it was so hot that both of my brakes ceased shut to the point where the wheels wouldnt turn and i had to carry my bike, they actually totally locked up on me while riding, the levers had zero play in them, it was like i was in the twilight zone.
    It was so hot you could hardly breath, i thought the oil in the lines had somehow expanded which i realise now cant happen,
    Many here seemed to think i have water in the lines, some said air.
    When i got the bike home into a cool home they went back to normal in about 2 hours, ive never experienced anything like it, and i have no idea how water could have got in them
    Honestly its hard to believe unless you saw it, but it totally happened, it was amazing stuff, whats your thoughts on the cause of this.?
    cheers
    It's pretty amazing but DOT fluid is hydrophilic which basically means it absorbs water. So over time, by whatever voodoo drives it (I'm guessing some sort of leaking but what do I know), your brake fluid absorbs water. Really it's best to bleed frequently but who has that kind of time? But you're having issues so it's a really good time to knock out some service. I would be very confident that once you get a successful bleed (easier said than done with Avid) your issues will go away.
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  13. #13
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    Hydraulic brakes, is it bad to hang bike upside down?

    Quote Originally Posted by hssp View Post
    If there is air in the system, upside down storage may have some negative impact on the system.

    This is just plain wrong. This is actually good for the fork seals, and it is one of the pros with having upside down forks as it keeps the fork seals oiled and lubricated. However, it may be a problem with oil migrating inside the fork on open bath systems, so you will have to cycle the fork a couple of times for the oil to move back to the damper circuits.
    Well, not to get too far off topic, but there is some truth to it. Fox forks with lockout levers have been known to "stick" when hung upside down for long periods. The lockout may not work after. I have experienced this myself. It always corrects itself after cycling several times through the travel with the lockout on, but it is really annoying. Generally speaking though, you are right. Inverting forks should cause no harm, and can in fact be beneficial. I think the question about the brakes has been covered.

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