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  1. #1
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    Installing New Hydraulic Disc Brake, Rotor Rubbing Against Brake Pads

    Hi everyone,

    I got Avid Elixir 3 hydraulic disc brakes and it came almost pre-installed with my bike. All I had to do was bolt the caliper to the fork.

    Currently, my bike is experiencing rotor rubbing against the brake pads. This is how I installed it:

    1.) Remove spacer that's between the brake pads

    2.) Install front caliper with the bolts, but don't torque all the way down

    3.) Install front and rear wheel via quick release

    4.) Pull brake lever tight, tighten the front and rear caliper (this aligns the brake pads so they're straight against the rotors right?)

    So that's my install steps, now I'm not sure why it's not aligned straight, causing rubbing issues?



    As you hear in the video (please turn up speakers), first part is the rear wheel in which the rotor is constantly rubbing the brake pads. In the second part, you can see the rotor is rubbing 1/4 of the brake pads, always rubbing at a specific point in the rotor.

    Can anyone please tell me how to fix this? Much help appreciated!

  2. #2
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    First and foremost, the caliper alignment procedure you used is official, and it can work, but don't let it being official lead you to believe it always works. It doesn't

    If you have the caliper installed and you get the rotor rubbing in only part ( <1/2 ) of the revolution, then you have a warped rotor. This is very common. The solution is to bend it back into true w/ your hands (carefully!) or with a tool like the Park DT2 (carefully!).

    Learn to align your calipers by sight, looking through the opening between the pads, and by sound. This is the same view you will likely be using to true the rotor. Just get the bolts almost snug and make small changes by hand. Also, unless you get it right in the first couple trys, you may have to remove the front wheel and use that plastic pad spreader/spacer from the other thread to push your pads back to fully open. This makes caliper alignment easier.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    rebmem rbtm
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    Sometimes the brake caliper can move when you tighten down the bolts, try realigning the rear brake caliper.

    Your front rotor doesn't sound like it's true because it's rubbing sometimes but not all of the time.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the help guys.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snfoilhat View Post

    If you have the caliper installed and you get the rotor rubbing in only part ( <1/2 ) of the revolution, then you have a warped rotor. This is very common. The solution is to bend it back into true w/ your hands (carefully!) or with a tool like the Park DT2 (carefully!).
    Bending as in going either way (pushing/pulling) right? In the youtube vids I saw, all mentioned "pulling" with 4 fingers, never push.

    Quote Originally Posted by cobba View Post
    Sometimes the brake caliper can move when you tighten down the bolts, try realigning the rear brake caliper.
    I'll try to hold the caliper today when i re-tighten it again. Yesterday when I tightened it down without holding it, the rubbing became much worse than when I didn't have the calipers tightened... To the point where the wheels would not rotate at all as the brake pads were in constant contact with the rotor.

    I'll also try to put the spacer back into the rear wheel to fully open the rear brake pads. Hoping either one of these 2 methods will work

  5. #5
    Total Goober
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    You can also use an adjustable wrench to straighten rotors. Just to be safe (from scratches), you can drape a rag between the wrench and the rotor.

    Regarding the caliper moving when you tighten the bolts, make sure you tighten one a little, then the other, and so on. If you crank one down while the other is loose, it will usually move.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    You guys suck im all bummed now

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigSteve in CO View Post
    You can also use an adjustable wrench to straighten rotors. Just to be safe (from scratches), you can drape a rag between the wrench and the rotor.

    Regarding the caliper moving when you tighten the bolts, make sure you tighten one a little, then the other, and so on. If you crank one down while the other is loose, it will usually move.
    Thank you. I just loosened the rear caliper and the rotor was able to move freely somewhat while still rubbing... But once I tightened the caliper down, even just a little bit, it starts to rub to the point where the wheel cannot move. This is when I tried without pulling the brake lever.

    When I pulled the lever and tightened both bolts at the same time using 2 allen, same thing still occurs...

    I've tried to put the original spacer in between the brake pads but it won't go all the way in.... Tried hammering it in etc... No avail...

  7. #7
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Try pumping the brake a bit. If you still have the bleed block that comes with the brakes, insert that and pump the brake. The way hydraulic brakes self-adjust is very cool, but can cause problems if the brakes are applied without the block (or a rotor) in place.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    Installing New Hydraulic Disc Brake, Rotor Rubbing Against Brake Pads

    A tip: place a white piece of printer paper (or rag or anything else for that matter) under your bike. Align the paper in your line of sight (eyes, brake caliper, paper) so that you can more easily see the gaps for adjusting the rotor or caliper.

    This helps immensely when trying to make these adjustments. It also helps to have plenty of light.

  9. #9
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    I placed the spacer in between the brake pads. It won't fit all the way in so I tried to do what i can. When i put it in from one end, the other end narrows. And if i put it from the other end, the first end narrows... Basically I have to place the entire spacer in in order to even it out, which I can't since it won't fit all the way in ...

    Another issue is .. Even when my caliper aren't tightened at all, it is still rubbing the brake pads. What could be causing this? I never pulled the brake lever when there wasn't the spacer.. Therefore the brake pads aren't "stuck" .......

    Also, the brake lever feels very stiff. My front brake would engage at 1/2 way down when engaging the brake, but the rear would engage at just 1/4 and doesn't return fast/natural

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SenorSerioso View Post
    A tip: place a white piece of printer paper (or rag or anything else for that matter) under your bike. Align the paper in your line of sight (eyes, brake caliper, paper) so that you can more easily see the gaps for adjusting the rotor or caliper.

    This helps immensely when trying to make these adjustments. It also helps to have plenty of light.
    This thing is rubbing even when the caliper is loose. Just checked my brake pads using a white paper behind it.

    There is barely any space (if any) between the brake pads, that's why the rotor is constantly hitting it.


    Do I have to push the pistons out or something to move the brake pads further apart from each other?
    Last edited by BobaX; 09-14-2013 at 09:24 PM.

  11. #11
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    Start over by first pushing the pistons back in as far as they go using the plastic coated handle of a cone wrench or something else rigid and flat that won't hurt the pistons.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobaX View Post
    Another issue is .. Even when my caliper aren't tightened at all, it is still rubbing the brake pads. What could be causing this? I never pulled the brake lever when there wasn't the spacer.. Therefore the brake pads aren't "stuck" .......

    Also, the brake lever feels very stiff. My front brake would engage at 1/2 way down when engaging the brake, but the rear would engage at just 1/4 and doesn't return fast/natural
    I had a similar problem once, my rotor seemed to be sitting to deep in the caliper. You notice the caliper brake pads get closer together towards the top..? I ended up needing some spacer washers that are concave on one side, and those pushed my caliper off the mounting bracket enough for the rotor to sit in there correctly. The rotor was then easily aligned.

    The way I align my calipers/rotors is a little unorthodox, but it works. I loosen up all the bolts so there is no rubbing on the rotor when the wheel is turning. Then I spin the wheel as hard as I can and slam on the brake so the wheel stops. Holding in the brake lever, I tighten down the bolts, not too tight, but enough. Release the brake lever and spin the wheel. If it rubs, I adjust the bolts or start over. This method works very well for me.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mevadus View Post
    I had a similar problem once...
    Thanks for the suggestion. My brake pads don't offer enough clearance from the beginning so even when my caliper aren't tightened, it's still rubbing the brake pads.

    Quote Originally Posted by borabora View Post
    Start over by first pushing the pistons back in as far as they go using the plastic coated handle of a cone wrench or something else rigid and flat that won't hurt the pistons.
    I will try this method. I don't have a cone wrench so i have to find something flat... By the way, is this the correct method outlined below? If it is, can i do it while the brake pads are on there?



    I did a search, seems like Avid Elixir 3 brake pads have very narrow clearance, and another person was having issues with lack of clearance.

  14. #14
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    Some thoughts -
    - Is the rotor warped or not. Take off the brake and spin the wheel. It will be easy to see if it is running true.
    - You can adjust lateral brake position with shims, which are just thin washers between the body and the mount.
    - When you use your technique of closing the caliprs on the rotor, make sure that the bolts are loose enought to let the caliper move!
    - I like using a business card between pads and rotor. Then do the same procedure. The card thickness will keep the caliper centered as you tighten the bolts. Having a second person to help will...help.
    - If the spacer can't fit between the pads then the pads aren't opening all the way.

  15. #15
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    A buddy of mine just put on these brakes and he had the same issues. It was like the throw was screwed all the way in even thou it was turned all the way out. He ended up taking it to the lbs and they were quick to point out he had it right they just had to much fluid in them to start with so the pistons wouldn't seat all the way in. After they let a little bit of fuild out and readjusted the reach they work great. I have the elixir 1's on my ride when it was new even with the reach adjustment all the way out There was very little room in each side for the rotor. I fear when I switch to organic pads I will have the same problem he had, A local guy told me they are a tad bit thicker and I mean I just barely had room with the factory pads when new.

  16. #16
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    I only skimmed the above suggestions and sorry if it's been mentioned but it sounds a lot like the "reach adjustment screw" (attached to the hand lever) may not be backed out enough. It happens sometimes when putting in fresh pads when the levers are adjusted for worn pads with no meat on them. Just a thought.
    GTA
    Ontario

  17. #17
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    Re: Installing New Hydraulic Disc Brake, Rotor Rubbing Against Brake Pads

    Besides all the great advice here, i can only add that a quick way to deal with centering issues is to put a single cut strip of paper, or business card if more spacing is needed, between the pad and the rotor (on the dragging side) and then grip lever and tighten bolts. Doing this with the rotor rotated to the point of the dragging helps too. This compensates for brakes biased towards one side only, it obviously won't work if you have a significant warp or if you've got clearance issues on both sides.

    But, I'd say its very typical for the brakes to drag when the bolts are completely loose because you'll observe the natural pressure from the hydraulic cable on the caliper tends to push it to one side.

    Hope that helps.

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  18. #18
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    Did you reset the pistons? That's the first thing you should do before anything. Sorry if been mentioned but just:
    Remove wheel
    Remove pads
    Reset pistons
    Insert pads
    Insert wheel
    Spin wheel ,grip brake and hold
    Tighten bolts brakes now centred and shouldn't rub. (If rotors are true).

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brockwan View Post
    Did you reset the pistons? That's the first thing you should do before anything. Sorry if been mentioned but just:
    Remove wheel
    Remove pads
    Reset pistons
    Insert pads
    Insert wheel
    Spin wheel ,grip brake and hold
    Tighten bolts brakes now centred and shouldn't rub. (If rotors are true).
    By reset, do you mean push them back in? Can't you do this without removing the pads?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    By reset, do you mean push them back in? Can't you do this without removing the pads?
    yes push the pistons back in. you need to remove the pads to do so. dont use a screwdriver as you may damage them. the best thing i have found is the handle part of my pedal wrench, its thin and the powder coat handle provides a cushion yet firm enough to push them back in, plus the long handle gives good leverage. failing that use a tire tool to push them back in.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brockwan View Post
    yes push the pistons back in. you need to remove the pads to do so. dont use a screwdriver as you may damage them. the best thing i have found is the handle part of my pedal wrench, its thin and the powder coat handle provides a cushion yet firm enough to push them back in, plus the long handle gives good leverage. failing that use a tire tool to push them back in.
    Yep i resetted the pistons. I used a spoke wrench as I couldn't find anything. I was able to move one piston back but the other piston just wouldn't budge ... Any advice?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobaX View Post
    Yep i resetted the pistons. I used a spoke wrench as I couldn't find anything. I was able to move one piston back but the other piston just wouldn't budge ... Any advice?
    Yes, it is probable that the piston is not "square". With the pads still out and wheel, pump the brake so the piston pushes out again as much as possible, then try resetting and repeat. Make sure you are pushing the piston at the centre of it and not around the edges when pushing the pistons back in. However when trying to free it, gently push around the edges, then push out by pumping the brake, then finally try pushing again in the centre to push it all the way back.


    The fact it is not square may not be seeable by eye.

  23. #23
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I think I get a good enough reset with the pads in place, using the bleed block.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  24. #24
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    Not sure if this solution has been mentioned yet, as this is a long thread. However, I had a similar problem when I installed new pads. I could not get the pistons to go into the caliper far enough to provide clearance for the pads. What I did to fix it was I release some of the brake fluid from the brake lever. Not much fluid. Just a drop or two... that did the trick. The pistons would not seat far enough back into the caliper because there was too much brake fluid in the system.

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