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Thread: Cleaning brakes

  1. #1
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    Cleaning brakes

    I ignorantly sprayed my brakes (Gx eagle) and rotors with Tri a Flow Superior Lubricant Aerosol Spray in an effort to clean my new mountain bike after riding in wet and muddy conditions.

    What should I do about it now?

    what are the simplest cleaning instructions for the brakes and drivetrain going forward? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Remove wheel and pads. Clean rotors and calipers thoroughly with isopropanol to remove all traces of lube. Spray isopropanol around the caliper pistons to get out any lube that can affect the piston seals. Dry off with a rag. Replace the pads with new ones.

    No cleaning is better than misdirected cleaning that contaminates or removes lube in pivots and bearings. I liberally lube my chain, turn the cranks to work it in, and wipe off as much lube as possible while it's still wet. The derailleur can be lubed and the excess flossed off with a rag to clean it. A thin tool and stiff brash can remove stuff stuck in the cassette. You can gently rinse brakes with water though there usually little reason to do so. For the rest of the bike, I let any mud dry and use a dry brush to remove accumulated detritus. If you want it to look cosmetically clean, you can wipe and floss the bike with a rag using a spray cleaner like Pedro's Bike Lust or similar.

    But, basically, I clean my bike very infrequently.
    Do the math.

  3. #3
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    I've always done brakes on my cars, motorcycles and bikes...I use brake cleaner to clean calipers, rotors, etc. Cheap and easy to find at any autoparts store. I would remove pads from bike and spray any contamination off them. Also clean around calipers and rotors but be smart about overspray. You can squirt on a rag and quickly clean with vs spraying directly on components.
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    If you need to brush off dirt, that's fine. Cleaning bike rotors takes off the off the embedded pad transfer, not good. OP, throw out that spray can, some applied polish to the frame works, as well as some chain oil as needed.

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    Is it ok to use a rag with degreaser on to wipe the rotors and pads off?

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    Quote Originally Posted by j102 View Post
    Is it ok to use a rag with degreaser on to wipe the rotors and pads off?
    No. If you got tri-flow on the pads, they are toast. 91% or denatured alcohol is all that should be used to clean brake parts. Even automotive brake cleaner can mess up bike brakes, as they don't get hot enough to cook out left over residues.

    If pads get lubes or brake oil on them, just replace. Make sure you clear the rotors really well with the alcohol before putting new pads in place.

  7. #7
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    Cleaning brakes

    Quote Originally Posted by jselwyn View Post
    No. If you got tri-flow on the pads, they are toast. 91% or denatured alcohol is all that should be used to clean brake parts. Even automotive brake cleaner can mess up bike brakes, as they don't get hot enough to cook out left over residues.

    If pads get lubes or brake oil on them, just replace. Make sure you clear the rotors really well with the alcohol before putting new pads in place.
    I donít have that problem. I thought it would help the OP issue.
    Will the pads be lost if he had used WD40 on them instead of TriFlow?

  8. #8
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    some people have had luck with "baking" the oil out of pads, but if the lube has soaked into the pad material, there's a 99% chance you're better off throwing the pads away. new pads are not expensive anyways.

    clean everything thoroughly with strong isopropyl alcohol. floss the gap in the caliper with a rag and alcohol too.

    for cleaning the rotors, do the same, but use clean, new rags or paper shop towels. any rag that's every been used on something else before will have oils on it that will get back on the rotor and contaminate the new pads.
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    Is it Ok/safe to ride once or twice if I clean them with degreaser and alcohol until I can completely replace the brake pads or is it an awful idea to try to go out and ride?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dddfg44 View Post
    Is it Ok/safe to ride once or twice if I clean them with degreaser and alcohol until I can completely replace the brake pads or is it an awful idea to try to go out and ride?
    You got a death wish? There's nothing like going down a slope only to realize the brakes stopped working.

    Brake pads are not solid, they are a composite. Getting a lube on it means that the lube will be absorbed into the pad. You cannot just wipe it off, as its IN the pad now. As mack mentioned above you can "try" to bake them in the oven, hope and pray the lube is burned off. But really, its a lot easier and safer to replace with new.

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    Youíre right, thanks. I ordered new ones. If I clean my rotor with alcohol and just replace the pads, am I good to go? Or are there more things I should do and therefore should take it to a shop to replace the pads? Thanks!

  12. #12
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    You can swap the pads in yourself, its pretty easy. If the pads are pushed out a lil bit (from pad wear), you can push them back in with a tire lever or a spanner, flathead etc etc...


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    Pads are porous. If it's porous enough to soak in thick oil, it'll soak in alcohol.

    Stuff happens like splashing some lube on your brakes the night before a ride. It's nuts to blow your weekend because you think a little contamination means you need pads.

    You can clean oil out of pads with soap, then rinse a ton and finish with alcohol. I've done it many times. You get weak brakes just like a new set of pads, then it settles in and works just fine.

    The worst was someone grabbing my rotor with a nasty greased up hand at the trail head. I wiped it with a shirt, and dragged the brakes until it worked again, which wasn't long.

    Obviously do your best to keep your brakes free of oil, but if/when it happens it's not as fatal as it's made out to be. Clean, rinse, ride.

  14. #14
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    The only thing that works 100% of the time for me is to bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Clean pads and rotor with isopropyl 99%.
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