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How to Fix Squeaking Mountain Bike Disc Brakes

Nothing can ruin an idyllic bike ride than squeaking bike disc brakes. You hear that sound for every rotation of a wheel. Not only is it annoying, it can also mean decreased braking performance, which may potentially result to injury.

Squeaking bike disc brakes are a common problem experienced by bikers. In fact, every serious mountain bikers have already experienced this embarrassment at one point. Often, people assume that this issue is specific to Avid brand of disc brakes. But the truth is that they will squeal at some point, no matter what the brand is. It happens even in Magura, Formula, and Shimano.

But before we discuss how to deal with the squeaking disc brakes, it might best to understand what causes this problem in the first place.

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Causes of squeaking disc brakes

Brakes are one of the most important features in a mountain bike. Unfortunately, they often go unnoticed until something goes wrong or until they start creating unusual noises. There could be tons of reasons why you’re hearing an annoying squeaking sound coming from your bakes.

Here are some of the most common causes.

Worn out pads

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Brake pads will wear out after lots of miles on the road or trail. This leads to less efficient braking and may cause your brakes to make a little too much noise. If your brakes do not feel as sharp as they used to or you hear some squeaking noise, worn out pads may be the cause of the problem.

Depending on use, brake pads will need to be replaced a few times a year. As such, it is important to check your brake pads every month to see if they need to be changed. New brake pads have grooves, teeth, and some sort of pattern in the pad. If you can no longer see any indents in the brake pads, they need to be replaced.

Brake pad contamination

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Disc brake pads tend to absorb oil and grease easily. Contamination can come from poor maintenance procedures, sloppy brake bleeding or from leaking hydraulic brake lines on the bike. Brake fluid, bike polish, and chain lube can find their way to the rotors and contaminate the brake pads. Whatever the reason is, contaminated pads may lead to number of problems. Squeaky brake is one of them.

If you happen to contaminate the pads, just clean it with a clean rug and isoprophyl alcohol. Burning the pad is also an effective way of cleaning the pads. Clean the pads, rotors and wheel rims regularly to avoid squealing brakes.

How to fix squeaky bike disc brakes

Noisy brakes are probably at the top of the list of annoyances among cyclists. You’re cycling along a quiet country lane only for the peace and quiet to be shattered by a loud squealing. You don’t have to put up with that awful caterwauling noise.

Follow the tips below to silence those squeaky mountain bike disc brakes once and for all.

Clean the rotors and pads

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If you hear a loud, obnoxious sound whenever the brake is applied, there’s a good chance that this is due to contamination. In fact, brake pad contamination is one of the most common causes of disc brake squeaks.  To silence the squeaking bike disc brake, you will need to clean both the rotors and the brake pads. But let the bike sit for a while before cleaning. It may be hot after a ride.

If the pad has recently been contaminated and the oil hasn’t been absorbed, you can just wash the pads. Start by removing the wheel and extracting the pads from the brake calliper. Then, pour some isopropyl alcohol on the rag and use this to get rid of dirt and oil residue. Keep doing this until there is no more dirt showing on the rag.

Your disc brakes should work properly after cleaning. It should also address the squeaking sound. If a good cleaning doesn’t solve the noise, consider replacing the brake pads. Or better yet, take your bike to a technician. The problem may require more than just cleaning.

Replace the brake pads

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Worn out brake pads can lead to poor brake performance. They will also make an awful sound if you wear down the brake pads to the metal backing plate.

As a general rule, brake pads should be replaced if the pad thickness is less than 3mm. There should be a reasonable amount of pad material on the metal back plate. If all you can see is the backing plate, then it’s a good time to replace your brake pads. You don’t want to get caught out with ineffective brake pads. If you ride frequently, we highly recommend that you visually inspect your brakes on a regular basis.

Check the rotors  

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If you notice a squeak, squeal or pinging noise while you’re riding, a bent rotor may probably what’s causing the problem.  Most rotors get bent from hitting something on the trail. `

Before attempting to silence a squeak, we recommend that you check your brake pads and rotors. Give the wheel a spin and look at it from above. If you notice rubbing or wobbling, it’s either you have a bent rotor or your wheels may need truing. Take your bike to a mechanic to address the problem.

Break in your bike disc brakes

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Most riders drag their bikes lightly around every corner in the trail. This causes a new set of brakes to squeal. If you do this, then that is probably what’s making your brakes howl.

Brake squeal is usually caused by a weak initial break-in period. A lot of people don’t know this, but your brake won’t function properly unless some of the brake pad material is deposited on the rotor. If the layer of pad material isn’t uniform or gets compromised by contaminants, you are likely to experience some squeaking from time to time. Chain lube and soap are the most common contaminants. Unfortunately, this cannot be addressed by replacing the brake pads.

Before you go out on the trail, we suggest that you break in your disc brakes with a series of very firm stops from a reasonably good speed. Do this a few times until you feel the brakes become more powerful. This way, you can be sure that the pad material is properly deposited on the braking surface of the rotors. Plus, it prevents your bike disc brakes from making horrible noises.


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