Having bike upside down is bad for hydraulics?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Having bike upside down is bad for hydraulics?

    I was working on my bike and i put my bike upside down. After 5min or so, i put my bike up right again and went for a little ride, my brake levers had no pressure in them. I had to pump them several times and are still not quite right. I had to bleed them to make them come back to how they were. I'm assuming having your bike upside down is bad for the brakes?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Nope. Hang bikes like that all the time. Its a sealed system, so your brakes probably already had a small air bubble in the system, but by hanging it upside down, the air travels to the highest point.

    When a bike is on its wheels, the master cylinder is the highest point, but upside down, the caliper is. A little air bubble in a master cylinder, brakes will work fine. Air in the caliper, no brakes.

    As long as there is ZERO air in the system, you can hang a bike however you like. Unless the fork starts to leak.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brake FAQ
    Will air get in the lines if I turn my bike upside down?

    Maybe, but only if your brakes were not bled and maintained correctly in the first place. For air to get into the lines (the only place where air can make the brakes feel mushy) it has to be present in the reservoir before the bike was inverted. Then what happens is that upon inversion the bubble enters the master cylinder piston area through the transfer port in the bottom of the reservoir. When you turn your bike the right way up and operate the brake you can now compress the bubble an hey presto - no brakes!

    There must be NO air in the reservoir and the only effective way to achieve this is by pushing fluid through the system from its lower end while the reservoir cap is held on gently with a finger. This will displace some fluid and all the air. Simply filling the reservoir to overflowing is no guarantee that no bubbles will be left behind when the cap is replaced.

    This is for brakes with reservoirs that can be opened by removing a cap. There are other brakes (Hayes and Formula spring to mind) where the reservoir is a flexible bladder within the lever body and this problem doesn't seem to be an issue.
    This is what it says in the Brake FAQ. http://www.mtbr.com/discbrakesfaqcrx.aspx

  4. #4
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    The key is what has already been mentioned, the system has to have as little air in the system as possible. Every bleed kit\instruction will tell you that you can't get all the air out, its just not possible, but if you don't get the majority of the air out and hang the bike or have it upside down the air bubbles will gravitate to the master cyclinder and lever leaving you with no lever pressure. It doesn't take much. There are guys that have reported that after some serious climbing that their hydros levers go soft, and that after they level out and begin descending the lever comes back. I know I have personally had an issue with one set of hydros doing this after leaving the bike hung from its front wheel for a week or so. Sounds like you need to re-bleed.

  5. #5
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    No good

    I'll never store my bike upside down again, I think it's bad for hydraulic brakes. I'm wondering if it contributed to my Hayes Stroker carbon plungers seizing up. I ruined a wireless computer by leaving it on the bike upside down, after a couple of weeks the display was wasted. I never had a problem with my bike until I started storing it upside down most of the time.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hillwilly
    I'll never store my bike upside down again, I think it's bad for hydraulic brakes. I'm wondering if it contributed to my Hayes Stroker carbon plungers seizing up. I ruined a wireless computer by leaving it on the bike upside down, after a couple of weeks the display was wasted. I never had a problem with my bike until I started storing it upside down most of the time.

    It's posts like this that make me wonder about MTBR these days.

    Do you actually think that the boxes that the brakes and bike computers come in are shipped and stored in a specific orientation to preserve their longevity? Your brakes died probably due to lack of cleaning/maintenance. Your computer didn't die from being stored upside-down unless there was something wrong with it in the first place, as small LCD displays are not affected by orientation.

    Where the hell has all the common sense gone??

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by hillwilly
    I'll never store my bike upside down again, I think it's bad for hydraulic brakes. I'm wondering if it contributed to my Hayes Stroker carbon plungers seizing up. I ruined a wireless computer by leaving it on the bike upside down, after a couple of weeks the display was wasted. I never had a problem with my bike until I started storing it upside down most of the time.
    when they store brakes, forks, Displays etc... in the warehouse or when they ship them, you think they are kept upright?
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino
    Where the hell has all the common sense gone??
    No frikkin kiddin

    (and I didn't read your post before I replied to the other.)
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  9. #9
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    Whenever I store my bike upside down, I also store it backwards. Storing it backwards negates any of the negative effects of storing it upside down. Its very important to get the orientation right to prolong the life of the components.
    Grit, spit, and a whole lot of duct tape!

  10. #10
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    this is from the tech doc for shimano brakes, its the same for all models
    "When turning the bicycle upside down or on its side the brake system may have some air bubbles inside the reservoir tank which are still there when the reservoir tank cover is
    replaced, or which accumulate in various parts of the brake system when it is used for long periods. The M755 disc brake system is not designed to be turned upside down. If the bicycle is turned upside down or on its side, the air bubbles inside the reservoir tank may move in the direction of the calipers. If the bicycle is ridden in this condition, there is the danger that the brakes may not operate and a serious accident could occur.
    If the bicycle has been turned upside down or on its side, be sure to operate the brake lever a few times to check that the brakes operate normally before riding the bicycle. If the brakes do not operate normally, adjust them by the following procedure."


    as far as the way the boxes are stored or shipped is irrelevant because they are freshly bled and there is no air in the system. after they have been used for awhile the pads wear and the fluid level is compensated by a bladder and there is a tiny vent hole in the master to prevent a vacuum. this alows a small amount of air in the system, as mentioned above, as long as its in the master and, preferably above the bladder its not a problem, but sometimes if you store the bike upside down the air will make its way out and cause spongy braking

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan0
    this is from the tech doc for shimano brakes, its the same for all models
    "When turning the bicycle upside down or on its side the brake system may have some air bubbles inside the reservoir tank which are still there when the reservoir tank cover is
    replaced, or which accumulate in various parts of the brake system when it is used for long periods. The M755 disc brake system is not designed to be turned upside down. If the bicycle is turned upside down or on its side, the air bubbles inside the reservoir tank may move in the direction of the calipers. If the bicycle is ridden in this condition, there is the danger that the brakes may not operate and a serious accident could occur.
    If the bicycle has been turned upside down or on its side, be sure to operate the brake lever a few times to check that the brakes operate normally before riding the bicycle. If the brakes do not operate normally, adjust them by the following procedure."


    as far as the way the boxes are stored or shipped is irrelevant because they are freshly bled and there is no air in the system. after they have been used for awhile the pads wear and the fluid level is compensated by a bladder and there is a tiny vent hole in the master to prevent a vacuum. this alows a small amount of air in the system, as mentioned above, as long as its in the master and, preferably above the bladder its not a problem, but sometimes if you store the bike upside down the air will make its way out and cause spongy braking

    Your post is good advice to people who don't like to properly maintain their parts. When you get to a point where turning your bike inverted causes air bubbles to get caught in the caliper, it's time to re-bleed your brakes. Many people consider it to be a "forced maintenance" kind of thing, which will prolong the life of their brakes.

    Same thing goes for fork seals - if you leak oil out of your modern fork seals when your bike is inverted, you should consider rebuilding your fork. In fact, many fork manufacturers have recommended storing your bike inverted to keep the bushings and wipers lubricated during long periods of inactivity.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino
    Your post is good advice to people who don't like to properly maintain their parts. When you get to a point where turning your bike inverted causes air bubbles to get caught in the caliper, it's time to re-bleed your brakes. Many people consider it to be a "forced maintenance" kind of thing, which will prolong the life of their brakes.

    Same thing goes for fork seals - if you leak oil out of your modern fork seals when your bike is inverted, you should consider rebuilding your fork. In fact, many fork manufacturers have recommended storing your bike inverted to keep the bushings and wipers lubricated during long periods of inactivity.
    Good point. I have inverted forks does that mean I have to hang it upside down?

  13. #13
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    Those poor bastards in Australia.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885
    Good point. I have inverted forks does that mean I have to hang it upside down?
    Ah the beauty of the DUC! My roommate has a Matic with a DUC. If he ever parts it out, I'll consider putting it on a 29er build I'm planning.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by frdfandc
    Nope. Hang bikes like that all the time. Its a sealed system, so your brakes probably already had a small air bubble in the system, but by hanging it upside down, the air travels to the highest point.

    When a bike is on its wheels, the master cylinder is the highest point, but upside down, the caliper is. A little air bubble in a master cylinder, brakes will work fine. Air in the caliper, no brakes.

    As long as there is ZERO air in the system, you can hang a bike however you like. Unless the fork starts to leak.


    Looks like someone already posted about the possibility of having air in the system BEFORE hanging the bike upside down back in Nov.

    I have no clue who did......................

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino
    Your post is good advice to people who don't like to properly maintain their parts. When you get to a point where turning your bike inverted causes air bubbles to get caught in the caliper, it's time to re-bleed your brakes. Many people consider it to be a "forced maintenance" kind of thing, which will prolong the life of their brakes.

    Same thing goes for fork seals - if you leak oil out of your modern fork seals when your bike is inverted, you should consider rebuilding your fork. In fact, many fork manufacturers have recommended storing your bike inverted to keep the bushings and wipers lubricated during long periods of inactivity.
    fox used to recommend storing the bike upside down to lube the seals, I dont know if they still do.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by frdfandc
    Looks like someone already posted about the possibility of having air in the system BEFORE hanging the bike upside down back in Nov.

    I have no clue who did......................
    yeah, sometimes old threads get dug up - same questions get asked - etc......
    but we gotta chime in cause we're lame and have nothing better to do
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    yeah, sometimes old threads get dug up - same questions get asked - etc......
    but we gotta chime in cause we're lame and have nothing better to do
    plus, we just got 12" of snow this week and now its 6 degrees out

  19. #19
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    OK so yes bikes come shipped upside down, and right side up and many need to be bled when built. Trust me. I've built thousands of bikes and many many many of them need bleeding straight out of the box. ESPECIALLY AVIDS! This is one of the many reasons your bike warranty is only valid if assembled by a properly qualified tech. Often Shimano brakes come with too much fluid and need a little pressure let off to get the proper feel, but almost never need fluid added...unlike avid...

    Now as for storing your bike upside down; It should be ok for short periods of time, and yes fox recommends it to lube the uppers. But Never Ever Ever EVER apply the brakes while the bike is inverted. If there is air in the system you have now forced it away from the centre of the earth (ie into your lines) and the brakes now need bleeding of they will likely feel like poo. (fresh warm poo in fact)

    OK perfectly maintained brakes shouldn't have air in them. You wanna push your luck, store your bike inverted. But I never do.

    Case in point, last season 3rd ride, my back wheel got hungry and ate my derailleur on a particularly muddy ride. I only had her legs up in the air for a few minutes, but by the time I finished installing the new replaceable dropout, and re fuccing with the gears to make them all lovie dovie. My rear brake went warm poo on me and I had to have it bled prior to the next ride.

  20. #20
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    I wuz chased wunce by thugs while mtn bikin. I dug a hole in the groun clear all the way to Chinaland and then pedled thru. When I was a pedalin my brakes went all swimmy an my fork was bleedin all stigmata like. My bike was rendered useless on becuz of the Chinee upside down gravty. Take Heed.
    "You can't discern by calculating in your mind how it will work. You have to feel how it rides differently to understand."

  21. #21
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    I think I just solved my brake problem with this thread. I need to try and store my bike standing instead of hanging and see if my rear brake stops being spongy!

  22. #22
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    I'm home sick, reading threads I wouldn't normally.

    I use v-brakes and cable actuated discs.


    It is a maintenanace issue like any other simply REVEALED by hanging a bike. By analogy think of storing your bike on cold cement and having your tires go flat. It is the storage or leaky tubes?

    Experts here have described the cause of this and it's solution. Learn to bleed your brakes, get good at it. It is a part of taking care of your bike that you didn't realize until now.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike
    I use v-brakes and cable actuated discs.


    It is a maintenanace issue like any other simply REVEALED by hanging a bike. By analogy think of storing your bike on cold cement and having your tires go flat. It is the storage or leaky tubes?

    Experts here have described the cause of this and it's solution. Learn to bleed your brakes, get good at it. It is a part of taking care of your bike that you didn't realize until now.

    Good analogy.

  24. #24
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    If you suffer from this, put a rubber band around the level and the bars pressurising the lowers, this will stop air from the reservoir from getting into the lower worked, easy. ( with disks or a pad spacer in only ofcourse )

    The old, rubber band, bike right way up to get the air out is riduculous as the lower is under pressure and no air can get out doh!! but everyone still seems to believe this.

  25. #25
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    i love these threads. i remember an epic one in the beginners corner.

  26. #26
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    Just wanted to say that turning my bike upside down with Shimano Zee brakes causes them to get spongy.

    Usually with pumping they go back to normal. Now my brakes don't seem to want to go back to normal so I ordered a bleed kit.

    I took my bike out right after working on it and forgot to pump them, I decided to do a wheelie and flipped right on my back because I had no rear brakes.

    Definitely turning the bike upside down can cause problems.

  27. #27
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    ^^^ congratulations!
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

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  28. #28
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    Once upon a time!

    Makes me nostalgic for rim brakes and inner tubes!

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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speeder500 View Post
    Just wanted to say...I took my bike out...and flipped right on my back because I...can cause problems.
    Thanks for clearing that up for the folks back in 2011...and the laugh.

    Having bike upside down is bad for hydraulics?-rising_from_grave.jpg

  30. #30
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    This post popped up when googling this. Good post because someone explains above why this actually happens.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speeder500 View Post
    This post popped up when googling this. Good post because someone explains above why this actually happens.
    inverting the bike doesn't CAUSE any problems. All it does is show you that your brakes needed bled, anyway. The problem was already there.

    Same with suspension forks. If your fork leaks when you flip it upside down, then your fork needed service. The problem was there before you inverted it, but inverting the bike made the problem obvious.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    inverting the bike doesn't CAUSE any problems. All it does is show you that your brakes needed bled, anyway. The problem was already there.
    If the brakes were functioning correctly while upright, my take is that the master cylinder reservoir was not topped off with fluid and some air was available. When the bike is flipped over, that air in the master cylinder reservoir entered the master cylinder piston and created the squishy, soft brake lever feel. Turn it back upright, pump the brakes a few times and the air finds its way back out of the master cylinder piston and back into the reservoir and your brake feel is firm again.

    No harm done.
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