How to fix oily brakes on the trail


You’ll only use this mountain bike maintenance tip to fix oily disc brakes once or twice in your lifetime, but when you do, everyone will think you’re a guru!

The scenario: You’re out on the mountain bike trails and your riding buddy has twisted his chain up, so he removes his rear wheel to fix the problem more easily. He man-handles his greasy chain for a few minutes to get it to cooperate.  Eventually he fixes the chain and begins to re-install the rear wheel.  But,

As he does he finds it hard to locate the rotor between the brake pads, so as he’s fiddling he man-handles the rotor with his greasy hands or gloves to help slip the rotor and wheel back into place. Without realizing it he now has chain oil and greasy stuff all over the rotor.

And he starts riding.

Then, just down the trail he pulls over to the side, his face all screwed up, and says, “I can’t seem to stop the rear wheel, no matter how hard I try. The rotor just keeps slipping between the brake pads.”

“Try this,” you say, picking up a pinch of dust from the trail and rubbing it onto both sides of his rear rotor.  “Now start riding again.  And apply the brakes, on and off, several times.”

“Its working,” he shouts back after a couple of hundred meters, “My brakes are back to good! What just happened?” he asks you.

“Just like oil-soak or kitty litter, the dust soaks up the oily deposits on the rotor and sands the brake pads clean within a few good pumps of the brake lever as you’re riding.” you answer.

“You’re a Mountain Bike Guru, man.” he says with a smile.

And neither of you had to get your jerseys greasy.  Scroll down for more mountain bike disc brake Super Tips.


  Super Tips to keep your brakes running smooth

Quick and easy disc brake clean – click here for step by step instructions and video

Squeaky disc brake fix – find out how to fix squeaky disc brakes here. It’s easy!

How to break-in or bed-in disc brake pads – a simple procedure that you can do in minutes

Leaks are a two way street – If your hydraulic disc brakes are leaking fluid, heed the call and get them repaired as soon as possible. Remember, leaks are a two-way street. Just like a leaking suspension fork, a leaking brake system not only loses brake fluid, but can also draw in air, dirt and other contaminants during operation.

Air is compressible, so any air drawn in can cause the lever to feel spongey on application of the brake, making it difficult for the brake system to develop full braking pressure. Dirt and other contaminants washed in or drawn in by operation or system vacuum, can increase friction of seals and internal parts, accelerating wear. It all just gets worse from there…