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  1. #1
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    Do I need to bleed my brakes?

    In a not-very-bright day, I mistakenly posted this in the 29er board, deleted it from there, posted it in the Tool Time board, not even realizing that there is a specific Brake forum here. So I'll post my question here as well.

    Anyhoo...

    I just noticed today that the hydraulic brakes on my Niner have become VERY stiff - they only move an inch and half before locking down completely, and it requires a lot of effort to squeeze them more than that. There is a little bit of modulation available, but over a very small range of movement.

    They were working fine last I used this bike (about 6-8 weeks ago - been away from home since and only got back a few days ago), and today, I was changing the tires prior to heading out on a trip in a couple of days. To replace the tires, I flipped the bike upside down.

    AFAIK, I dont think I pressed the brakes while the wheels were off. And in any case, the brake pads seem properly positioned - there is no rub on the rotor or anything.

    I am also noticed a soft squishing/squelching sound coming from the brake levers when I squeeze them, but there is no brake fluid leak or anything.

    I've tried putting a blade between the pads and levering it from side to side, but that doesnt seem to have done much. And in any case, like I said, pad rub is not an issue, so not sure if it is a piston thing.

    Basically, I'd like to be able to use a greater range of motion on the levers, in order to get the most out of the modulation.

    In the Tool Time forum, it was suggested that there is an internal leak and I'll need to bleed it.

    I have ordered a bleed kit which will take 2 weeks to get to my corner of the globe, but So till it gets here, is there a way to do a quick'n'dirty bleed without a bleed kit?

    Also, should I also look at ordering any other spare/replacement parts as well (I'd rather get all the parts at once, than have to wait another 2 weeks to realize I need to replace XX)?

    TIA,
    Vandit
    EMD9, drop-bar Bandersnatch, Surly LHT, a couple of Ridleys
    ... and a lot more bruises than can be counted

  2. #2
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    You bleed brake to make the lever feel firm. Also, it would help if you told us what kind of brake you had... Your profile says BB8s... which you'll have a difficult time bleeding with or without a kit.

    If you indeed have a hydraulic brake, then you can try opening the reservoir and squeezing the lever to get excess fluid out, that might take care of the problem.

  3. #3
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    Erm, sorry, forgot to mention the brake type - these are Elixir Rs. About 3-4 months old.

    As far as I can tell from the Elixir tech manual, there is no reservoir that opens up here. Bleeding is done by inserting 2 syringes into the bleed ports, one by the lever and one down by the caliper.

    Any way to get excess fluid out without these syringes? I suppose one way to do so would be to remove the hose and squeeze the lever a little, but the manual expressly states not to do that -- of course, this is in reference to changing the hose length, so maybe it will not be a problem if I am trying to get some extra fluid out.

    OTOH, I suspect that if I squeeze the levers a little with no hose connected, I am going to introduce bubbles into the system. I guess if the brakes are TOO stiff, a couple of small bubbles will not hurt. Right or wrong?

    V
    EMD9, drop-bar Bandersnatch, Surly LHT, a couple of Ridleys
    ... and a lot more bruises than can be counted

  4. #4
    turtles make me hot
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    I answered you in the Tooltime forum. I still say your masters need to be rebuilt. I'm a mechanic for over 25 years. If you own a set of Avid brakes, you need some form of bleed kit to bleed them.
    You CAN open the bleed screw on the caliper and LIGHTLY squeeze the lever to move out some fluid. Do NOT release the lever until you close the bleeder screw or it will suck air in. This is not going to solve your problem, but you may see that you're not moving any fluid toward the caliper.
    Immediately wipe off any fluid with a wet rag. It will ruin your paint.
    I like turtles

  5. #5
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    Oh lord, DOT will not ruin paint the moment it touches it. Really, it's amazing how different DOT is when going from cars and motorcycles into the world of bicycles.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for that, NYrr496 - I didnt mean to doubt your advice in the TT forum, btw, just trying to figure out if there was anything I could do to sort out the problem for the time being, till my bleed kit got here.

    Will releasing some of that extra fluid reduce the stiffness and provide a temporary fix, at the very least?

    Also, is there any way to rebuild the master myself, or will I need a spares kit? If the latter, I'll just detach the brakes and take them to a bike shop in London in a couple of days.

    Thanks,
    V.
    EMD9, drop-bar Bandersnatch, Surly LHT, a couple of Ridleys
    ... and a lot more bruises than can be counted

  7. #7
    turtles make me hot
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    Jerk Chicken, No, it won't be immediate, but why give it a chance to soften the paint up?

    vkalia, I would order a rebuild kit and go to it. You will either solve your problem or learn what it is. You're either bypassing the master or it's internally leaking. I have a feeling you're not going to solve this problem simply by releasing fluid. No offense taken, I just don't want to see this take any longer than it has to.

    BTW, I had to send my Juicy 7s to Avid for a warranty rebuild. I didn't want to be without my bike while they were gone, so I bought a set of Juicy 3's for like 100 dollars and used them in the meantime. Same caliper brackets and rotors, so it was an easy swap.
    Last edited by NYrr496; 07-29-2009 at 06:38 AM.
    I like turtles

  8. #8
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    Ok, so I just took off the brakes and re-installed them, following the instructions in the user manual. Adjusted a couple of spacers as well this time around.

    I also removed the brake pads, squeezed the brakes to get the pistons out and then levered them back inside. Then I reinserted the brake pads, and levered them apart some more. Spent a lot more time on it this time. After that, I loosened and re-adjusted the brake levers.

    Right now, the brakes seem a lot better, actually. Were it not for that soft squelching sound, I'd go so far as to say that they are more or less fine. And as an added bonus, the prior problem I had of a little bit of brake rub is also gone (and so, I hope, is the rotor squeal problem that I had every so often while on the trail).

    So... that makes me wonder. Could this squelching thing just be a red herring? Or should I still be concerned?

    I am hesitant to do too much with these brakes until my bleed kit gets here (which should take 2-3 weeks, unfortunately), as I have a 2 week trip to the Himalayas in mid-Aug. So I might just leave it as is for now, and once the bleed kit is here, give it a go.

    In any case, if the rotor squeal sound returns on this trip, then I am getting rid of these and getting Maguras or something else anyway. It completely KILLS my MTBing zen to be in the middle of nowhere, all calm and peaceful, and having my brakes squealing like a cat being tortured!

    NYrr496 - appreciate your taking the time to help, bro!

    V.
    EMD9, drop-bar Bandersnatch, Surly LHT, a couple of Ridleys
    ... and a lot more bruises than can be counted

  9. #9
    turtles make me hot
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    For the squeal, try lightly sanding the rotors and pads. Reinstall everything and bed them in. The squealing should stop.
    I like turtles

  10. #10
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    Will do - sounds easier than my plan, which was to stab my eardrums with a punji stick

    V.
    EMD9, drop-bar Bandersnatch, Surly LHT, a couple of Ridleys
    ... and a lot more bruises than can be counted

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by vkalia
    As far as I can tell from the Elixir tech manual, there is no reservoir that opens up here. Bleeding is done by inserting 2 syringes into the bleed ports, one by the lever and one down by the caliper.
    Unless it's a closed system, all hydraulic levers have a reservoir. It's simply any part on the lever that holds fluid that's not part of the master cylinder (the part that gets pumped). Where it opens is where you you attach the syringe on the lever.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by vk45de
    Unless it's a closed system, all hydraulic levers have a reservoir. It's simply any part on the lever that holds fluid that's not part of the master cylinder (the part that gets pumped). Where it opens is where you you attach the syringe on the lever.
    Fair enough. I was trying to say that there is no reservoir that opens up, like in some other hydraulic systems. Atleast AFAIK - if I am wrong, please let me know

    V.
    EMD9, drop-bar Bandersnatch, Surly LHT, a couple of Ridleys
    ... and a lot more bruises than can be counted

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