Anyone had a failure of their hydraulic brakes?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Anyone had a failure of their hydraulic brakes?

    I'm talking the kind of failure that ends up with you pushing your bike back to your car. Ruptured hoses, leaking calipers, buggered up brake reservoirs, or anything like that.

    Reason I ask is that while I like the power of hydraulics, I'm very leery of them. I don't trust them, as they are a very exposed system on a machine that us mtbr's tend to crash once in a while.

    I've been running BB7's for maybe five years now, and overall I quite like them. I also like the fact that all I have to do is carry a spare brake cable, and I'm pretty much set for most trailside brake emergencies.

  2. #2
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    do you ever worry about the brakes on your car failing those hydro's go thru alot more heat, element exposure, and abuse than a bike brake and they have been in use on every car for what 30 or 40 years. a little maintenance and TLC as far as cleaning calipers with a hose after a nasty muddy or very dry powder or sandy ride too clear the caliper surfaces of grit and dirt and a bleed every year or two and they should be fine. if your worried about bursting a line add some braided wire covered lines and i doubt you could rip one of those on a trail.maybe look into shimano set they use hydrolic mineral oil which is much less corrosive which can help cut on seal break down in the long haul. bottom line though is nothing last forever! but hydros are great in my opinion.

  3. #3
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    Been running hydros for about a decade. 2 failures in that time...

    1. bad o-ring, leaked oil from rear caliper. I rode the rest of the ride with front brakes.
    2. kinked a housing when I crashed. I rode the rest of the ride with 1 functioning brake.

    I don't believe the failure rate is any worse on hydros than on cable discs or v-brakes. Stuff breaks and wears. Only times I have had to hike out is when my motor gives out. The rest of the time my macguyver skills keep me rolling.
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  4. #4
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    other way around...

    only had my BB7's fail on me. had several sets of hydros and never once a problem...

    It was last week and my rear CPS mounting bolt fell off of the adapter and the caliper slid up to where it only contacted about 15% of the pad which it burned through in like 10 seconds then there was 0 brakeing power...

    fixed it but it sucked not to have a rear brake... luckily it was only on road riding... but this could have happened to hyrdo's too...

    Lesson learned...

    CHECK UR MOUNTING BOLTS REGULARLY

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  5. #5
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    I have only had one faliure on my hydro's.
    As I jumped clear of my bike on top of an obstacle I saw my bike boincing down the mountain, it caught a hose on a rock which tugged it loose.

    So has anyone had one fail not in a crash?
    Why would I care about 150g of bike weight, I just ate 400g of cookies while reading this?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DriveByBikeShooting
    only had my BB7's fail on me. had several sets of hydros and never once a problem...

    It was last week and my rear CPS mounting bolt fell off of the adapter and the caliper slid up to where it only contacted about 15% of the pad which it burned through in like 10 seconds then there was 0 brakeing power...

    fixed it but it sucked not to have a rear brake... luckily it was only on road riding... but this could have happened to hyrdo's too...

    Lesson learned...

    CHECK UR MOUNTING BOLTS REGULARLY

    That's not the brakes failing but the mechanic/operator.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DriveByBikeShooting
    only had my BB7's fail on me. had several sets of hydros and never once a problem...

    It was last week and my rear CPS mounting bolt fell off of the adapter and the caliper slid up to where it only contacted about 15% of the pad which it burned through in like 10 seconds then there was 0 brakeing power...

    fixed it but it sucked not to have a rear brake... luckily it was only on road riding... but this could have happened to hyrdo's too...

    Lesson learned...

    CHECK UR MOUNTING BOLTS REGULARLY


    I suggest some additional thread locker next time. Obviously something went wrong here. CPS Bolts just don't come out if they have been tightened to spec. But anything is possible I guess.

    You would really have to do a lot to make a mechanical brake fail. It's not as if such mechanical failures are common.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeaverTail
    I suggest some additional thread locker next time. Obviously something went wrong here. CPS Bolts just don't come out if they have been tightened to spec. But anything is possible I guess.

    You would really have to do a lot to make a mechanical brake fail. It's not as if such mechanical failures are common.
    ya i used alot of locktight on it when i put another one back in...


    Quote Originally Posted by Minimalist
    That's not the brakes failing but the mechanic/operator.
    ya, I am a mechanic, but I bought the bike second hand 6 months ago and well... never got around to checking EVERY nut and bolt...

    I tend to pay more attention to customer's bikes than my own...
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikedreamer
    I'm talking the kind of failure that ends up with you pushing your bike back to your car. Ruptured hoses, leaking calipers, buggered up brake reservoirs, or anything like that.

    Reason I ask is that while I like the power of hydraulics, I'm very leery of them. I don't trust them, as they are a very exposed system on a machine that us mtbr's tend to crash once in a while.

    I've been running BB7's for maybe five years now, and overall I quite like them. I also like the fact that all I have to do is carry a spare brake cable, and I'm pretty much set for most trailside brake emergencies.
    I've ridden/owned both over a period of 10 years and never had a brake failure that wasn't due to a crash. And only one each with a set of BB7s and one with a set of Hayes hydros. In both instances it was due to cable housing/hydro line damage. I neither case did I have to walk out, but the ride out was slower due to having only one operational brake. Even if there had been no damage to the brakes it would have been a slow ride out due to damage to ME! To put it in perspective I've had MANY more crashes in that time period than just two. I've suffered way more damage to derailleurs, wheels, tires, bars, saddles, seatposts, forks, etc. than any brake components.

    The bottom line is, if you want to try hydros go for it. They're every bit as reliable and dependable as your BB7s. Maintenance is different, but not anymore frequent or difficult. And you're not anymore likely to experience a catastrophic failure with them than you are with a mechanical. A blow that would disable a hydro master cylinder or caliper would certainly do the same to a mechanical lever or caliper. Neither system is fragile, just different concepts.

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  10. #10
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    My brakes didn't fail while riding (thank goodness) but did fail. I installed a set of aftermarket stainless steel lines. Rode with them all summer (including some lift assisted riding). Then squeezed the brake one day was I was walking by it in the garage. The brake line popped completely free of the fitting at the lever end. Brake fluid sprayed, some cursing ensued, and now, 10 weeks later, still no replacement lines from the manufacturer. Everything was torqued to spec, it appears that the line just popped free of the barbed compression fitting.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by pode
    do you ever worry about the brakes on your car failing those hydro's go thru alot more heat, element exposure, and abuse than a bike brake and they have been in use on every car for what 30 or 40 years. a little maintenance and TLC as far as cleaning calipers with a hose after a nasty muddy or very dry powder or sandy ride too clear the caliper surfaces of grit and dirt and a bleed every year or two and they should be fine. if your worried about bursting a line add some braided wire covered lines and i doubt you could rip one of those on a trail.maybe look into shimano set they use hydrolic mineral oil which is much less corrosive which can help cut on seal break down in the long haul. bottom line though is nothing last forever! but hydros are great in my opinion.
    I believe that auto brake systems are way overbuilt. They can get away with that, as automobile owners aren't weight weenies like mtb owners are. Also, a lot of auto systems are hidden or protected by the car body or chassis, and are less likely to be damaged.

    Personally, I've had two or three instances of auto brakes failing (leaking fluid) in 25+ years of driving. Not a bad average, I guess, given how many kms I've driven and how badly maintained some of those vehicles were. None of those failures resulted in accidents.

    However, I do see what you're saying, pode. I suppose the technology has come a long way in the past...what, decade now? How long have they been on bikes now, anyways?

    Is Shimano the only company to use mineral oil fluid? Also, can you use Shimano calipers on regular discs ? Do any brake systems come with braided lines, or is that aftermarket only?

    One other questions - what about the reservoirs? Are they not a vulnerable part of the system?

    Thanks to everyone for the responses. It's good to hear that hydros are much tougher than I imagined they were.

  12. #12
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    well shimano and i believe magura are the only ones that use mineral hydro oil most others nowadays use dot 5.1. the brake handle is basically the master cylinder and the reservoir, and most newer models are designed for 1 or 2 finger operation which puts the levers farther on the bar helping protect it a bit, the end of your bars will hit the ground but the levers dont usually impact much.Sometimes shite happens if you wreck enough nothing on a mountain bike is infallible because of the (our bikes) abuse they take in my opinion! bleeding can be tricky sometimes because of the small scale leaves little nooks where air can hide. Bottom line is i love my hydros i have a pair of formula mega's and an old pair of shimano xt 755' 4 pistons.

  13. #13
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    I've been running and working on hydraulic disc brakes for the better part of 10 years and have not seen a major faillure to the Master Cylinder or Caliper. Most issues I see are maintenance or lack of maintenance to o-rings and other seals.

    Typically most damage is to the line, but it takes a pretty solid impact or a lot of abrassive rubbing to damage the lines.

    On my own bikes they don't see a lot of attention, spending all day working on other folks bikes doesn't leave a whole lot of motivation to work on my own, so they have to be reliable and low maintenance. The only faillure I've had on my own bike was a sticky piston on a set of J7's last year, and that took all of 10 minutes to fix and didn't cost me a ride. Heck, I haven't done anything to my Formulas in two years, save refresh the brake fluid this spring and replace the pads.

    happy trails...

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  14. #14
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    Only time I've had failure was when the pads bit the dust (mud actually) and all proper braking ceased. Not the brake's fault though......should have checked pads b4 ride
    Rimmer - "There's an old human saying - if you talk garbage, expect pain"

  15. #15
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    "Is Shimano the only company to use mineral oil fluid?"

    Nope, as noted Magura also uses their version of mineral oil called "Magura Blood". However, don't get all balled up over "eco friendly" mineral oil. It isn't all that much more environmentally friendly than DOT fluid. It's not regular off the shelf mineral oil. There are additives to it that increase the boiling point, resistance to heat expansion, control viscosity, etc. It's deffinately not as caustic as DOT fluid, it won't strip paint etc. But it still needs to be handled with care and disposed of in a safe manner. The most envirionmentally friendly part of the stuff is the mineral oil base itself. It isn't petroleum based and is renewable. Deffinately points in favor of mineral oil though.

    "Also, can you use Shimano calipers on regular discs ?"

    Are you talking about using a Shimano caliper with someone else's master cylinder? In a word no. The seals used in DOT fluid brakes and those used in Mineral Oil brakes are not compatable. If you are talking using Shimano brakes with other rotors, yes you can. There is a "sticky thread" at the top of this forum that addresses this very subject. You'll likely have to browse through a few pages of posts to get a specific answer, or you may have to come back here as ask about the compatability of a specific rotor. But there are certainly standard 6 bolt rotors that will work with Shimano brakes.

    "Do any brake systems come with braided lines, or is that aftermarket only?"

    Most are aftermarket.

    One other questions - what about the reservoirs? Are they not a vulnerable part of the system?

    As noted, the reservoir is actaully in the master cyclinder. Fluid volume requirements for MTB disc brakes are really very small. So the reservoir is proportionally small. They are tucked in there tight an no more vulnerable than the rest of the lever system.

    Good Dirt
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  16. #16
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    No failures in 5 plus years...

    Did burn off a set of pads on a long muddy ride, but steel on steel got me out...

    Buddy had a bad bleed from a shop, turned the bike over to fix a flat, got air in the system so when he went fast into a corner he had no brakes at all....

    Big thigh bruise.....but really a bad bleed

  17. #17
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    Thanks for all the info, Squash!

    I was meaning the rotor / caliper compatibility. I've got nothing against Shimano brakes, but I'll be damned if I would go out and buy new hubs just so that I can use their system.

  18. #18
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    disk failed today

    Anyone had a failure of their hydraulic brakes?-iph0ne_img_0421.jpg

  19. #19
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    Did you taco a wheel and took the rotor with it?
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Learux View Post
    Did you taco a wheel and took the rotor with it?

    I am actually not sure what happened:

    I was on the road, started to hear strange noise from the back, I initially thought it was the rear derailleur. 10 seconds later my rear wheel was locked because of the disk. Only one of the 6 bolts was still on at this point. The strange thing is that the hub threads are barely damaged.. I replaced the disk with another one, and it still felt solid when I screw on 6 new disk bolts. So my best guess is that the bolt threads got damaged somehow. I was not able to find the 5 missing bolts to confirm. I hope the hub is ok..

  21. #21
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    Re: Anyone had a failure of their hydraulic brakes?

    Twice. First time was with Hayes Stroker Trail. There's a pretty weak system holding the pad in the caliper. A pad rattled out during a ride and when I pulled the brake lever the piston went into the rotor & tore it up.

    Last time -Formula RX-

    I had a seal fail in the front lever on the last lap of a race as I started down a hairy descent. Rode it out with just the rear. Everything after that descent was flat to the finish line. Rebuilt the master cylinder & bled - its been trouble free since
    No moss...

  22. #22
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    not trying to be a dink, but...

    these are DISC brakes, not DISK brakes...don't mean to offend, but geeeez... and they are also BRAKES, not BREAKS...alright, I feel better now
    2014 Nail Trail 29...

  23. #23
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    No offence taken, sorry for my poor English... pardon my French..
    Also, the manufacturer (who is probably wrong) call them disKs.
    ASHIMA LTD-Disk brake, Disk brake accessories, Rim Brake, Rim brake accessories, Disk brake rotors, Disk Brake Adaptors, Pad compound, SOS instroduction, bike Brake Pad, bike Brake shoe

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by v1ncen7 View Post
    I am actually not sure what happened:

    I was on the road, started to hear strange noise from the back, I initially thought it was the rear derailleur. 10 seconds later my rear wheel was locked because of the disk. Only one of the 6 bolts was still on at this point. The strange thing is that the hub threads are barely damaged.. I replaced the disk with another one, and it still felt solid when I screw on 6 new disk bolts. So my best guess is that the bolt threads got damaged somehow. I was not able to find the 5 missing bolts to confirm. I hope the hub is ok..


    Locktite on the rotor bolts?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ View Post
    Locktite on the rotor bolts?
    Indeed, this is most likely the issue.
    Titanium bolts came with some blue dots on them... not enough obviously.. I just ordered some locktite 243 on eBay now.

  26. #26
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    The hose on my rear Hayes Sole spontaneously ruptured a few years ago. It was the original equipment on a Giant hardtail. I replaced the hose with the cheapest hose I could find at the time fropm the LBS and it's been fine ever since.

    It ruptured on the gentle curve as the hose wraps around the front of the frame and loked like a poor quality OE hose.

    Tim

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