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If you don’t already know how to bleed brakes, this will make it easy for you. Changing the brake fluid on your bike is a simple, but important part of bike maintenance that should be done regularly.
Over time brake fluid absorbs moisture and air which degrades the brake fluid, resulting in decreased stopping power. You can recognize when your brakes need bleeding by the ‘spongy’ feeling you get when applying the brakes. When they are working properly, they should feel sharp and responsive.
- Make sure your bike is clean, especially around the brake fluid reservoir. You don’t want an ounce of muck getting in the lines. Remove the filler cap and top up the reservoir with the recommended brake fluid – which is usually dot 4 (it will tell you on the top of the cap).
- You’ll find a nipple on your brake caliper. Remove the rubber cap and place an empty container under it ready to catch the old brake fluid.
- Give the brake lever 2 or 3 pumps. Using an open ended spanner, loosen the nipple while keeping pressure on the lever. Old fluid will come out of the nipple and your lever will go soft. Tighten up the nipple then let go of the lever. Repeat this process until you see the new fluid come out.It’s very important you keep topping up the reservoir never allowing air to get in the lines.
- Once you tighten the bleed nipple and replace the rubber cap, top up the reservoir to 3/4 full. Put the rubber diaphragm back in place and carefully screw the reservoir cap back on.
And there you have it! How to bleed brakes in 4 easy steps… any backyard mechanic can do it. The process is the same for your rear brake line.
Here’s a couple of extra tips to keep in mind:
- Spray the reservoir cap screws with WD40 and let it soak. Sometimes those damn screws sit for so long and vibrate so tight you end up stripping them just trying to get ’em out – very frustrating!
- If you still have a spongy feel to the brake, or just poor performance, you probably still have air in the lines. You may need to reverse bleed the lines using a syringe and rubber tube connected to the bleed nipple. You’re best to have a chat with your local bike shop.