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How often you should make a review of your bicycle brakes

How often you should make a review of your bicycle brakes

The brakes are one of the basic safety components of any bicycle. That is why it is essential to review their status frequently and keep them in perfect condition at all times. They are not just an active bicycle safety element. They also help you in the management and control of it, optimized performance and improving your times. Domain the braking technique correctly will allow you to optimize the time of the passage, better descend a port or be faster (by paradoxical that seems) in technical declines in the case of mountain cycling. But to improve the handling of your bike in these lands, the brakes must be in perfect condition. Therefore, perform basic maintenance like the one we propose below will prevent your braking system from being efficient, does not lose power or breaks down.

Basic brake review of a bicycle in 5 steps

Currently, most market bicycles assemble disc brakes, whether mechanical (without brake fluid) or hydraulic (with it). Bicycle assemblies with tire brakes or shoe are only sold for road bicycles or very low range mountain bikes. Therefore, at the entrance we are going to focus on disc for its greater use in current cycling. Although later we will give you specific guidelines for the maintenance of those of Zapata. We can divide the review of a disc brake system (whether front or rear) in five steps, attending to the pieces or components that form it and their general operation. Remember to carry out this review approximately each month, although it can be shortened or lengthened depending on the frequency of use.

Brake handles

Start reviewing the state of the handles. To do this, make a visual check of the lever and tank cover (if they are hydraulic) to verify that there are no oil losses. You can also take advantage to verify that the scope of the handle is correct, that is, the distance between it and the handlebar. This distance or scope can be moved away or approached by an adjustment screw adjacent to the handle in Shimano mountain brakes, such as Deore XT or the SLX, and SRAM road, Shimano or Campagnolo. Although in the latter, the road, the screw is generally a small nut located at the top or side of the handle. https://youtu.be/_CW5SI3OiQI


The second element that you must check of the brakes are cables or hose, which connect the handle with the brake tweezers. Check your status at the height of the insertion with the handle or with the clamp, verifying that the case is not worn or folded. This can cause irregular braking behavior, power losses and liquid leaks. The damage must be repaired by changing the cables themselves for new ones.

Brake tweezers

Follow the brake verification route towards the wheel with the tweezers. You have to make sure that they are in good condition that they are clean and have no oil leak inside. It also extracts brake pads and verifies that its thickness is not less than 0.5 mm. Otherwise you will have to change them for wear.


It ends with the review of your disc brakes checking the status of the latter. If they have a blue, brown or rainbow line on their surface, they have overheated very extreme use or that the pills are worn. It also checks the thickness of the disc, which should not be less than 1.5 mm, although each model has a minimum thickness ranging between 1.5 and 2 mm. Less of that measure will indicate wear and will have to be changed.

Braking power

A loss of brake power is identified in the low voltage of the handle, a late drive point of the braking or the speedy appearance of fatigue after several braking or successive or long duration. In the first two cases it is often related to lack of cable tension in mechanics or with the air entry into hydraulics, although it may also be due to a poor state of the hills or the disc. The third problem however has almost always to do with wear or contamination of the pills, which will have to be replaced.

When to purge the disc brakes

Brake record repair A purge of the hydraulic circuit of your brakes every year will ensure that they work correctly, have the best possible touch and do not lose power. Purgated is the removal of the brake fluid used or worn (generally mineral oil, although marks such as SRAM use synthetic that delay overheating) and replacement with a new one. You can take the annual purge as a general reference. But if you make intense use of the brakes, whether it frequently lower mountain ports on the road or enduro practices or descent in MTB, we recommend you purged approximately every six months. However, if you notice loss of power or touch in the braking, you must make an emergency substitution.

What if my brakes are from Zapata?

The revision and maintenance of Zapata brakes is in principle easier than the discs, although they tend to wear or disagree more quickly than these. Check frequently especially that the braking bridge is centered, just like the shoes. It also verifies the wear of the shoes. All of them have several vertical grooves that serve to evacuate water. If these have disappeared and the surface of the shoe is already totally flat, you have to replace them. If you will not lose power and effectiveness in the braking and wear the tire braking track more quickly. The latter will need to be replaced if it is damaged or very worn (the surface becomes concave), the disbursement being much greater than the change of shoes. Precisely, the tire braking track is one of the areas that must always be kept clean so that the braking efficacy is optimal and its wear is delayed. After each outlet, clean it with soap and water or a special tire cleaner. This has a special composition that also protects and repels dirt facing the following exits.

How much does brake review cost?

Unlike other bicycle components such as transmission, wheels or suspension systems, brake review, purged or replacement of parts does not imply such a large disbursement. For example, a purged disc brakes in a mechanical workshop is usually not more than 40 euros, including striker and rear. With regard to the pills, a game varies between 8 and 15 euros for low and medium range brakes, both from Mountain Bike and Road. The spare parts for Zapata brakes are even cheaper. Get worked shoes of shimano mid -range brakes can be changed for no more than 10 euros. SRAM's replacement usually has a higher price, although it ranges between 10 and 20 euros per par. Always keep in mind that a review and replacement in time is better, fulfilling the recommended deadlines, than to wait for the components to wear completely or break. It is possible that this worn piece, whether a pill, shoe or cable, has damaged other components and repair increases its cost or a total brake replacement. Or even the complete wheel in the case of tire brakes.
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