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  1. #1
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    WD40 on discs... How to clean?

    Accidentally got a tiny bit of wd40 on my disc rotor without me knowing and went for a ride and obviously were rubbish.

    I put nail polish remover on after on the rotors and pads but no improvement. I burnt the pads today (Kitchen Hub) for about 5 mins each pad. Cleaned the rotor with soap and water using sponge. Sanded pads after also.

    Still sqeak like crazy. They stopped alright at first, then stopped working again. I did see some dry black stuff (oil) on the rotor after trying to lock the brake for first time. Rinsed with water and then went to the same old crappy performance.

    Can I use nail-polish remover instead of rubbing alcohol or do they work differently? Whats the best way to clean rotor and pads?

    Thanks.

    ps. The brakes are BB5's.

  2. #2
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    Blast them with Brake Cleaner from the auto shop. Theyll need to be washed down good. If you need to, get a small tub and soak 'em for a few minutes. The discs needs to be wiped down too.

    Dont get the brake cleaner on the hubs, plastic parts or the frame paint.

  3. #3
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    I use denatured alcohol, works great.

  4. #4
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    Will try meths, is that for pads also? If that doesn't work, ill try brake cleaner.

  5. #5
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    Use brake cleaner on the rotors.
    Burn the pads again with something like a butane torch.

  6. #6
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    A Different Approach...

    Well Bikeman1, maybe chemicals of any sort are not your thing. Using WD40, nail polish remover, brake cleaner, rubbing alcohol, etc. may all lead you to new problems or other component damage. Maybe mild abrasives would be a better choice for you. You can clean dirty rotors with a piece of industrial Scotch-Brite (gray works well), and your brake pads can be sanded on a smooth surface (workbench, kitchen counter, etc.) with very fine (400 or above) sand paper, both of which you will find at your local auto refinishing supplier. You may even be able to buy just one (9" x 11") sheet of each if they have a dispenser. The nice thing about Scotch-Brite is you can keep a small piece with your riding kit for quick touch-ups at the trail head or even during a ride for when your rotors get a little film on them and the noise is driving you bonkers. Just lightly grip the rotor with a piece of folded Scotch-Brite and turn the wheel a couple of times.
    Oh, and if you decide to go the abrasives route, you don't need to get carried away sanding the brake pads. Just a light touch, making small circles on the sandpaper will expose fresh brake pad material and "true" them up at the same time. They will act like new pads when you put them back on the bike, so you will need to carefully bed them in just as you would new pads the first time you ride them.
    'Bones

  7. #7
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    Take a propane torch, pad side down. Start torching the backside of the pad till it smokes. Keep going till it stops, also move the pad. Sand rotors and your good.
    The worst is feeling the highest of highs, but always feeling the lowest of the lows.

    It's all a dream...

  8. #8
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    how did WD-40 get there in the 1st place?
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll View Post
    how did WD-40 get there in the 1st place?
    I kinda did that once, I was working on something else and it was a little windy and didn't realized my bike was down wind untill it was to late. OOOOPS!!

  10. #10
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    another argument against wd40 and bikes!

  11. #11
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    Spraying / oiling my forks... Tiny drops got onto the rotor.

  12. #12
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    Step away from the WD 40. Seriously, WD 40 is appropriate for your door hinges, not so much with things bicycle related.

  13. #13
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    I'll just use chain lube next time

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    Step away from the WD 40. Seriously, WD 40 is appropriate for your door hinges, not so much with things bicycle related.
    Agree!

    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    Spraying / oiling my forks... Tiny drops got onto the rotor.
    Note to yourself, next time turn bike upside down, lay something over bars to protect everything and spray little bursts.
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  15. #15
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    I cleaned the rotors and pads with meths. Cleaned the rotor fine. Even improved back brake. But the oil was still on the pads... and got back onto the rotor leaving black marks. I only had very little sand paper so will have to buy some more to hopefully get the brakes working again. The brake has improved, but still not properly.

  16. #16
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    You have to touch the pads or go down a huge hill fast holding the brake.
    The worst is feeling the highest of highs, but always feeling the lowest of the lows.

    It's all a dream...

  17. #17
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    Can I just burn them on the kitchen hub? I did that.. Should I do it again? Hardly any smoke came out when I did it. I'll chuck some degreaser on it, then sand it.

  18. #18
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    Don't do it on the stove you eat there. No point in Degreaser n sanding. Torch or big hill. I know its not what you wanna hear.
    The worst is feeling the highest of highs, but always feeling the lowest of the lows.

    It's all a dream...

  19. #19
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    Sanding wont do anything? Then what will? The oil is still on the surface, not much oil left though. I'll try a downhill sometime. Is torching a lot more powerful than the stove?


    So basically, meths on pads, meths on rotor, go really fast downhill / torch and they should work?

    Thanks.

  20. #20
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    honestly just about everything you've tried is wrong, starting with the wd40 on the chain and especally on the forks!

    get new brake pads, and probably new rotors if rubbing alch and scotch bright wont work. then consult a knowledgeable before doing any more maintenance.

    and dont touch anything with bare skin.

  21. #21
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    Automotive brake cleaners often to have an oil content which would ordinarily be burned off under braking - bearing in mind that car/moto brakes typically operate at much higher temps than bicycle brakes. This make them unsuitable for bike maintenance (much like WD40!!)

    Try this guide for cleaning your disc brakes.

    What use is a philosopher who doesn't hurt anybody's feelings? -
    Diogenes


  22. #22
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    Please just buy a $3 can of propane. Get the propane torch adaptor. Torch back side of pads. Or buy new pads. Your choice.
    The worst is feeling the highest of highs, but always feeling the lowest of the lows.

    It's all a dream...

  23. #23
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    Nice Site, Steve. It looks like you've put quite a bit of effort into that.
    'Bones

  24. #24
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    My friend went into this problem, but a lot more oil. His were very greasy and slippery and wouldn't brake at all really. He soaked the pads with Kerosene and then went for a long downhill. They squeaked so loud and after, he got brilliant stopping power and no more squeaking. His brakes are Tektro Auriga Comp hydros. Should I try it?


    So before I fit the new pads/torched pads should I just use rubbing alcohol / meths to clean the rotor ? I don't want the new pads to be contaminated also.

    And for torching the pads, I have semi-metallic pads which some say can't be torched/oil burnt off. Can I boil these instead in a pot for about 20mins?
    Last edited by bikeman1; 09-06-2011 at 01:12 AM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    Step away from the WD 40. Seriously, WD 40 is appropriate for your door hinges, not so much with things bicycle related.
    WD40 isn't even appropriate for that if you want to truly lubricate the hinge/pin.

    It does have some 'penetrant' qulaities which is why it will get in and stop the squeak, but it's not really a lubricant per se (not a very good one anyway).

  26. #26
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    Might as well try any methods to try decontaminate the pads before I fit the new ones. Does kerosene evaporate oils? My friend did go down a long hill to burn of the kerosene which lead to powerful braking. His disc is slightly greasy, but I guess that helps the stopping power.

  27. #27
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    I quit spray lubes when I went for disc brakes...

    I sometimes use a WD-40-like product to wipe off the chain but I spray it on a rag first, away from the bike.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  28. #28
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    1. Throw wd40 in the trash can
    2. Since nothing has worked suck it up as a learning experience
    3. Buy new pads and rotors. You'll be much happier with the results

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    Can I just burn them on the kitchen hub? I did that.. Should I do it again? Hardly any smoke came out when I did it. I'll chuck some degreaser on it, then sand it.
    Old Fry pan med heat.....wait till they stop smoking...more like 10 minutes.

  30. #30
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    The last time I got my rotors contaminated really nice (Tri-Flow chain lube carelessly found its way onto my rear brake), I rode down a very steep 9-story high paved hill while pedalling hard enough to maintain 10mph and as much brake pressure as I possibly could apply. Halfway down, they started grabbing and then started to fade until they barely worked. At the bottom, there was a decent amount of smoke coming from the brake as I rode around slowly.

    Worked great after that. Just like new. You just need to get everything hot enough to burn out the oil. It's as simple as that. I have tried sanding, alcohol, ... you name it. Brake Cleaner makes it worse. Sandpaper doesn't really seem to help. The only thing I found was to ride it down a big hill and let it get hot. Really hot. I may try the torch thing next time just for giggles. Never thought of getting everything burned out them before installing the pads. I do get a kick out of letting things break-in naturally though, even if it does just mean restoring functionality.

    -Eric

  31. #31
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    Anyone have any thoughts on the Kerosene, then burning it off? I think it works because it will take out the oil, leaving kerosene behind (another sort of oil), but burns off easy when riding really fast and braking.

  32. #32
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    Well, they are now good as new!

    I just heated the pads, sanded them, cleaned with degreaser, sanded again, cleaned with meths and cotton balls, sanded again, meths again. Then the rotor a couple of times with meths and cotton ball and sanded about 3 times.

    Then just bed them in again.


  33. #33
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    WD 40 is only good for cleaning sticky shifters.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by rccardude04 View Post
    The last time I got my rotors contaminated really nice (Tri-Flow chain lube carelessly found its way onto my rear brake), I rode down a very steep 9-story high paved hill while pedalling hard enough to maintain 10mph and as much brake pressure as I possibly could apply. Halfway down, they started grabbing and then started to fade until they barely worked. At the bottom, there was a decent amount of smoke coming from the brake as I rode around slowly.
    This^^ is the answer. Burn them hot with riding. It's the only way that works properly, you can be screwing around with solvents and cleaners forever and not get the same result.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal View Post
    This^^ is the answer. Burn them hot with riding. It's the only way that works properly, you can be screwing around with solvents and cleaners forever and not get the same result.
    This doesn't seem like a very smart idea. If your brakes don't work, why would you ever think of riding down a big hill unless you're trying to get away from a bear that's chasing you?

    Acetone works great for contaminated pads. Soak the pads and rotors, bake them with a torch, and you're good to go again.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radarr View Post
    This doesn't seem like a very smart idea. If your brakes don't work, why would you ever think of riding down a big hill unless you're trying to get away from a bear that's chasing you?

    Acetone works great for contaminated pads. Soak the pads and rotors, bake them with a torch, and you're good to go again.
    It's a very smart idea. Brakes do work even soaked in oil or WD40, they just don't work as well as they should. As they heat up and start to burn the oil off they work better and better. It only takes a gentle hill but it has to be long enough for the brakes to heat up enough to burn the oil.
    Brakes are designed to work with this level of heat repeatedly, you're not doing anything they're not intended to do.

    Soaking brake pads, where you don't know the compound, in acetone. Now that's not a smart idea. Hopefully the pad material won't soften and crumble on you, or worse, fall off the backing plate.
    If you want to use a torch to burn them clean, go for it, but leave the acetone for your nail polish.

    I ride down big hills often, there are no bears where I live and ride.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal View Post
    It's a very smart idea. Brakes do work even soaked in oil or WD40, they just don't work as well as they should. As they heat up and start to burn the oil off they work better and better. It only takes a gentle hill but it has to be long enough for the brakes to heat up enough to burn the oil.
    Brakes are designed to work with this level of heat repeatedly, you're not doing anything they're not intended to do.

    Soaking brake pads, where you don't know the compound, in acetone. Now that's not a smart idea. Hopefully the pad material won't soften and crumble on you, or worse, fall off the backing plate.
    If you want to use a torch to burn them clean, go for it, but leave the acetone for your nail polish.

    I ride down big hills often, there are no bears where I live and ride.
    I don't think you were tracking me there. My point was this: If your brakes don't work, then it's not too smart to go ride down a hill. God forbid you actually have to stop and can't because your brakes - as you put it - don't work as well as they should. I ride down big hills often enough to know that having properly working brakes is very important.

    And I know brakes are meant to get hot. It's how brakes work, turning all that kinetic energy into heat.

    In theory, I agree with you that your method of cleaning the pads would be effective in removing some, or even most of the contaminants that have a low-ish boiling point. Yes, when you get the rotors and pads hot using a hill, contaminants will boil off. The problem is that there's lots of things that simply will not evaporate through the use of the heat you're going to generate by riding down a hill and braking alone - the boiling points are too high for some of those compounds. Think of mineral oil used in Shimano brakes. It gets to the same temperature as the pads in the caliper, but it doesn't boil off. It wouldn't be any different if it was on your pads.

    Hence, my suggestion of using a much-hotter torch to bake the brake pads then solvents to clean the rest of the crap off.

    Any of the automotive brake pad cleaner is acetone and other organic solvents. If getting WD-40 on your pads didn't dissolve the glues, then the acetone probably won't either. I've never had any crumbling of brake pads after using a solvent (like acetone) or brake cleaner (mostly acetone) to clean up. That goes for bikes and cars.

    Of course, you could always just drop $20 and get new pads.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radarr View Post
    I don't think you were tracking me there. My point was this: If your brakes don't work, then it's not too smart to go ride down a hill. God forbid you actually have to stop and can't because your brakes - as you put it - don't work as well as they should. I ride down big hills often enough to know that having properly working brakes is very important.
    Go soak your pads in oil and try this. It is nothing like you are imagining. It works very well and is the best way to clean oil contaminated pads.

    The brake fluid does not get as hot as your pads at the rotor surface. The pistons are insulators and the caliper has cooling airflow over it. Acetone and WD40 are not comparable as organic solvents. They don't sell WD40 as nail polish remover for a good reason.

    In theory dragging the brakes down a hill works very well to burn off oil. In practice dragging the brakes down a hill works very well to burn off oil. The coloured oxides on my disc rotors show they reach over 300C when used hard. That's hot enough to burn off any oil. During a burn off Your brakes literally start smoking as the oils burn.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal View Post
    Go soak your pads in oil and try this. It is nothing like you are imagining. It works very well and is the best way to clean oil contaminated pads.

    The brake fluid does not get as hot as your pads at the rotor surface. The pistons are insulators and the caliper has cooling airflow over it. Acetone and WD40 are not comparable as organic solvents. They don't sell WD40 as nail polish remover for a good reason.

    In theory dragging the brakes down a hill works very well to burn off oil. In practice dragging the brakes down a hill works very well to burn off oil. The coloured oxides on my disc rotors show they reach over 300C when used hard. That's hot enough to burn off any oil. During a burn off Your brakes literally start smoking as the oils burn.
    Yeah, I won't be soaking my pads in any oil anytime soon. It might be fun to try, but no, thanks.

    Like I said, I agree with you that you can probably get most everything off your pads by dragging your brakes while hauling ass. I just wanted to point out that 1) riding down a big hill on a bike with brakes that don't work that great is not a good idea unless you're being chased by a bear, and 2) you aren't going to get everything off of your brake pads and get them back into the same working condition they were in before by only dragging your brakes. You have to use some kind of solvent to clean the residue off the pads and rotors. Isopropyl alcohol, acetone, something.

    The boiling point of mineral oil is almost 400C, so 300C under hard braking simply wont cut it. Especially when you consider that brakes have vented rotors and are designed to cool down as quickly as possible, so they're not going to stay hot enough long enough to cook everything off. And mineral oil makes up about 20% of WD-40. There are a lot of other things in there, but like I said, you're not going to get everything off the pads by dragging your brakes alone.

    If this method works for you, then it works for you. It's not how I'd do things, but hey, to each his own. I like my solvents, right?

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radarr View Post
    Yeah, I won't be soaking my pads in any oil anytime soon. It might be fun to try, but no, thanks.

    Like I said, I agree with you that you can probably get most everything off your pads by dragging your brakes while hauling ass. I just wanted to point out that 1) riding down a big hill on a bike with brakes that don't work that great is not a good idea unless you're being chased by a bear, and 2) you aren't going to get everything off of your brake pads and get them back into the same working condition they were in before by only dragging your brakes. You have to use some kind of solvent to clean the residue off the pads and rotors. Isopropyl alcohol, acetone, something.

    The boiling point of mineral oil is almost 400C, so 300C under hard braking simply wont cut it. Especially when you consider that brakes have vented rotors and are designed to cool down as quickly as possible, so they're not going to stay hot enough long enough to cook everything off. And mineral oil makes up about 20% of WD-40. There are a lot of other things in there, but like I said, you're not going to get everything off the pads by dragging your brakes alone.

    If this method works for you, then it works for you. It's not how I'd do things, but hey, to each his own. I like my solvents, right?
    Dude there are some key points you are missing.

    1. You don't haul ass downhill. To get your rotors the hottest you can you must crawl down the hill at about walking pace. Going faster means the rotors don't get hot enough, the wind cools them down.
    2. It works perfectly at burning oil out and returns disc brakes to their maximum stopping power. I can appreciate you're struggling with a concept you've never experienced.

    I have been riding and dealing with oil/diesel/etc contaminated pads and rotors for a long time now. I've tried solvents, I've tried oxy-acetylene torches and nothing, absolutely nothing works as well or is as easy to do as burning them out while riding downhill.

    Metal sintered pads are porous, they are impossible to clean with solvents. You can clean the surface, but as soon as you wear them down a little the contamination is back on the working surface. Burn them out properly riding and you're done.
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    Well, no wonder my friends method worked... He put Kerosene on as a oil, then burnt everything off going down a hill (He was going very fast). They were better than new after

    However, the rotor on his bike is very greasy, and if he wiped it with meths, a lot would come off.

  42. #42
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    I second that riding down a long hill is the fix to remove any contamination of disk brakes.
    In addition to that, when you go downhill on asphalt (above 40 MPH) start breaking and
    keep on pedaling as hard as you can. If the break start screeching then brake even harder.
    Find the sweet spot when the brake is the most effective aka before your bike starts shaking.
    Best month for MTB is June!

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by uzisuicide View Post
    I second that riding down a long hill is the fix to remove any contamination of disk brakes.
    In addition to that, when you go downhill on asphalt (above 40 MPH) start breaking and
    keep on pedaling as hard as you can. If the break start screeching then brake even harder.
    Find the sweet spot when the brake is the most effective aka before your bike starts shaking.
    Hmmm pedalling at 40 MPH

    66 KPH

    With a 46/11 gear combo and a 2050 mm roll out tire (2.25 inch).

    128 rpm at the pedalss????

    134 rpm 44/11 at the pedals????

  44. #44
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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Hmmm pedalling at 40 MPH

    66 KPH

    With a 46/11 gear combo and a 2050 mm roll out tire (2.25 inch).

    128 rpm at the pedalss????

    134 rpm 44/11 at the pedals????
    Yes, it is safe and possible to do on paved roads with a mountain bike.
    When the hill grade is greater then 10% then you can build up enough
    momentum and carry it with spinning on the pedals. Make sure the
    tire pressure is above 30 PSI (over 2 bars) so you won't roll the tire.

    I ride with GPS and most of the category 2 hills are appropriate to
    burn-in disk brakes on. They are long and steep enough and have
    some safe sections for high speed. If you are not able to pedal at
    40 MPH (64 km/h) then you will catch up as soon as the bike
    slows down due to hard and continuous braking.

    Doing max effort is the key!
    (Remember, - for disk brakes - bake before shake)
    Best month for MTB is June!

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radarr View Post
    This doesn't seem like a very smart idea. If your brakes don't work, why would you ever think of riding down a big hill unless you're trying to get away from a bear that's chasing you?

    Acetone works great for contaminated pads. Soak the pads and rotors, bake them with a torch, and you're good to go again.
    I hadn't paid attention here for a couple days, but I think you're interpreting what I said incorrectly. We have a parking garage that's 9 stories tall, with a gradual descent that is absolutely no problem to stop a bike on even if it's got tri-flow slathered all over the rotors. If I ever get grease or anything on my bike, I go to this spiralling garage and pedal hard down the hill (about as hard as I have to pedal up the thing) while holding the brakes to maintain about 8-10 miles an hour. If you go really slow, they don't build heat. If you go too fast, airflow cools them quickly. I've found 8-10mph to be about right on this hill for myself to burn the crap out in one pass down the hill.

    I find it very far from dangerous since the brakes still work well enough to stop the bike. They won't send you over the handlebars, but they do work. And they get hot enough to REALLY bake the pads in since they actually go from poor performance, to good performance, to poor performance again as they fade away. Once they cool, I've had my tri-flow soaked brakes work good as new again. Good enough to throw me over the handlebars with one finger.

    -Eric

  46. #46
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    Riding down the hill while grabbing the brake seems to work for most of us.
    An oil soaked disk brake is still more effective than an ordinary rim brake.

    For safety measure, I would do the 'disk brake burn-in' on paved roads,
    where the section is a straight hill. May need to repeat riding down if
    the hill is not steep or long enough. PS.: I use BB7 disk brakes.
    Best month for MTB is June!

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by uzisuicide View Post
    Riding down the hill while grabbing the brake seems to work for most of us.
    An oil soaked disk brake is still more effective than an ordinary rim brake.

    For safety measure, I would do the 'disk brake burn-in' on paved roads,
    where the section is a straight hill. May need to repeat riding down if
    the hill is not steep or long enough. PS.: I use BB7 disk brakes.
    15 minutes with an old fry pan on medium heat....seems simpler to acheive the same thing.

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    Personally, I find it simpler to ride down a hill holding the brakes rather than removing the wheel, un-clipping the pads, ruining a good pan (if you don't have a lame one), ventilating the house (that's not gonna be a good smell), waiting for 15 minutes, reassembling everything, then waiting for them to re-bed in a little anyway.

    To me, it seems like less effort to just take a slight detour to a hill and ride down. I also find it more satisfying to feel them get better while riding.

    *shrug* I guess whatever works for you. lol

    -Eric

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    Quote Originally Posted by rccardude04 View Post
    Personally, I find it simpler to ride down a hill holding the brakes rather than removing the wheelYeah that is the tough part, un-clipping the pads, ruining a good panYeah I got an OLD Fry Pan (if you don't have a lame one), ventilating the houseDoesn't smell bad and you can always turn on the vent fan (that's not gonna be a good smell)I was pretty sure you havn't tried this, waiting for 15 minutes,Yeah the waiting is painful reassembling everythingGotta be careful with the quick release, then waiting for them to re-bed in a little anyway. Seems to me you have to ride them to re-bed them

    To me, it seems like less effort to just take a slight detour to a hill and ride down. I also find it more satisfying to feel them get better while riding. If it works for you

    *shrug* I guess whatever works for you. lol

    -Eric
    Basically if you get Wd-40 or chain lube it tends to happen in the shop not out on a ride somewhere....so just clean-up the pads and your done....but whatever.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Hmmm pedalling at 40 MPH

    66 KPH

    With a 46/11 gear combo and a 2050 mm roll out tire (2.25 inch).

    128 rpm at the pedalss????

    134 rpm 44/11 at the pedals????
    No problem at all. I have hit 70km/h with 42/11 and highest ever of 83 km/h with 44/11 gearing.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    15 minutes with an old fry pan on medium heat....seems simpler to acheive the same thing.
    Pads being baked out smell evil. There's no way I'd do it inside.
    Owner of www.shockcraft.co.nz and NZ Manitou Agent.
    www.dougal.co.nz Suspension setup & tuning.
    SPV Devolve

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