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Amateur hydraulic brake issue

Old 07-24-21, 05:55 PM
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BK22
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Amateur hydraulic brake issue

Hello! I'm trying to get back into riding, and I could use some help getting my hydraulic disc brakes working properly. I'm very amateur, but I'm struggling to find the info on the internet. Please feel free to just send me links to instructions if that's easier.

The key issue is that squeezing the front brake has no impact on the brake calipers. I believe the brakes are Shimano LX from around 2008 on a Brodie Kinetic mtb. I believe I caused the problem by loosening the wrong bolts on the caliper. Apologies but I can't yet post a picture of even URL yet. There are two bolts that mount the caliper and two other main bolts visible from the inside of the caliper looking through the wheel. The bolts I'm describing make it so squeezing the lever has no impact on the brake pad movement. After tightening the bolts back up, the brake remained useless.

The TL;DR of this is that I took the bike into a local bike shop for a tune up. I'll vent here a little and say I was less than pleased when they told me my $60 tune up would be $260. I expected $100+, but phew - would have loved to just buy some new components for that price. The bike shop bled the brakes and changed the pads. When I got home, the front brake felt sort of mushy and I could almost keep riding with the level near the grip. The problem described above is a result of me naively trying to do some adjustments myself. The rear brake didn't feel mushy but is squealing like crazy, so that's my next problem to solve.

I really appreciate any help or guidance on this and apologies for the amateur issue. Take care and have a great rest of your weekend.
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Old 07-25-21, 06:21 AM
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You can find set up instructions for your components here https://si.shimano.com/#/ Probably your best path to success is to return to the shop and have them work on it until they get it right or explain why they can't. Good luck!
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Old 07-25-21, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by BK22 View Post
Hello! I'm trying to get back into riding, and I could use some help getting my hydraulic disc brakes working properly. I'm very amateur, but I'm struggling to find the info on the internet. Please feel free to just send me links to instructions if that's easier.

The key issue is that squeezing the front brake has no impact on the brake calipers. I believe the brakes are Shimano LX from around 2008 on a Brodie Kinetic mtb. I believe I caused the problem by loosening the wrong bolts on the caliper. Apologies but I can't yet post a picture of even URL yet. There are two bolts that mount the caliper and two other main bolts visible from the inside of the caliper looking through the wheel. The bolts I'm describing make it so squeezing the lever has no impact on the brake pad movement. After tightening the bolts back up, the brake remained useless.

The TL;DR of this is that I took the bike into a local bike shop for a tune up. I'll vent here a little and say I was less than pleased when they told me my $60 tune up would be $260. I expected $100+, but phew - would have loved to just buy some new components for that price. The bike shop bled the brakes and changed the pads. When I got home, the front brake felt sort of mushy and I could almost keep riding with the level near the grip. The problem described above is a result of me naively trying to do some adjustments myself. The rear brake didn't feel mushy but is squealing like crazy, so that's my next problem to solve.

I really appreciate any help or guidance on this and apologies for the amateur issue. Take care and have a great rest of your weekend.
The significantly higher bill from the bike shop was a communication problem on their part, but your bike probably needed it. It would not be inappropriate to say you at disappointed with their communication. New parts are still difficult to source in many cases and may not be available.

Shimano brakes take a long time to end up like yours did and I strongly suspect that you've blown through several service intervals on your bike. Your repair bill sounds reasonable given, they just needed to do a better job communicating that fact. A standard tune up is really just adjustments and cleaning, there's very little real maintenance in it.

You loosening the bolts that hold the caliper together is your fault. Previously you couldve brought the bike back and asked they rebleed if it feels bad. Now it's going to need new pads, cleaned rotor, and a really extensive bleed and they have no way but your word that there was anything wrong with the brakes after they serviced them.

Last edited by cpach; 07-25-21 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 07-25-21, 03:47 PM
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Thanks for the comments. Much appreciated. I suspected I would need to rebleed but didn't want to go the wrong route (again). Obviously I need to relearn the ins and outs of the hydraulics, so it's a good opportunity to do so.

I have no doubt there was $260 of work/parts put into the bike and that it needed every penny to get three years in the garage off of them. Yea I probably would have gone a different route I'd known I was getting a full brake reservicing or how that reservicing would turn out. Just goes to learning to to be a little more specific about what's desired when working with smaller shops.

Thanks again. Take care.
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Old 07-25-21, 08:33 PM
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Older Shimano brakes are a pain to bleed without the correct, and now hard to find tools, however a good LBS should have those tools. From your description, it's nothing to do with any bolts, as the caliper would be noticeable loose if these were not done up, more the bleed itself, as mentioned, on older Shimano brakes, this is a pain, and much more difficult than the current ones to get right first time, which is the norm with current Shimano brakes

For the bill, any significant change should have been advised/authorized by the customer (yourself) before proceeding, as with that difference, you could have got a new set of brakes, eliminating the issues you currently seem to be having.

Would ask the shop to have another go at the brakes (FOC) as they seem to have failed to fix them in the first place, and then look for another (and better) LBS for future work
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Old 07-28-21, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
Older Shimano brakes are a pain to bleed without the correct, and now hard to find tools, however a good LBS should have those tools. From your description, it's nothing to do with any bolts, as the caliper would be noticeable loose if these were not done up, more the bleed itself, as mentioned, on older Shimano brakes, this is a pain, and much more difficult than the current ones to get right first time, which is the norm with current Shimano brakes
Are you just taking about the really old brakes with no bleed port at the resevoir? Those are easier with the old "pro bleed kit" that basically is a big clamp with a foam pad with a bleed port on it, but it isn't rocket science to bleed them using a syringe with surgical tubing, 7mm wrench, and shimano mineral fluid pusing fluid into the open resevoir. Bleeding the caliper is annoying because you need to keep adding fluid to the resevoir.

Also last I checked you could actually still order the tool from Shimano.
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Old 07-28-21, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by cpach View Post
Are you just taking about the really old brakes with no bleed port at the resevoir? Those are easier with the old "pro bleed kit" that basically is a big clamp with a foam pad with a bleed port on it, but it isn't rocket science to bleed them using a syringe with surgical tubing, 7mm wrench, and shimano mineral fluid pusing fluid into the open resevoir. Bleeding the caliper is annoying because you need to keep adding fluid to the resevoir.

Also last I checked you could actually still order the tool from Shimano.
Really old brakes? not really, just old, anything older then the current design, which came from around 2011/12

It may not be rocket science, but it was far more hassle than it needed to be to bleed them (if using the correct tools) the current cup system is super easier in comparison for the user.

Sure you can still buy the tool, I did years ago, and it was meh, the foam pad didn't last, and that was for a home user, for the cost of the tool (unless your a shop) put that money into a new set of brake (or just levers as all Shimano levers are interchangeable) with the bleed port on the lever, as it will be cheaper in time and lack of frustration as the bleed process is far much easier with the current system.
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Old 07-28-21, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
Really old brakes? not really, just old, anything older then the current design, which came from around 2011/12

It may not be rocket science, but it was far more hassle than it needed to be to bleed them (if using the correct tools) the current cup system is super easier in comparison for the user.

Sure you can still buy the tool, I did years ago, and it was meh, the foam pad didn't last, and that was for a home user, for the cost of the tool (unless your a shop) put that money into a new set of brake (or just levers as all Shimano levers are interchangeable) with the bleed port on the lever, as it will be cheaper in time and lack of frustration as the bleed process is far much easier with the current system.
Its a matter of degree. As a working mechanic I see about 50 newer Shimano brakes with bleed ports at the lever to one of the older style. They do hold up better than some of their contemporaries... In contrast, if I were taking road bikes, "really old" might be, I dunno, pre 70s bike boom, from my perspective.
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Old 07-28-21, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by cpach View Post
Its a matter of degree. As a working mechanic I see about 50 newer Shimano brakes with bleed ports at the lever to one of the older style. They do hold up better than some of their contemporaries... In contrast, if I were taking road bikes, "really old" might be, I dunno, pre 70s bike boom, from my perspective.
Upto a point, their biggest contemporary being Avid Juicy brakes, which BITD were bad when new, and the standard suggestion if anyone needed any work on them when they were new was to replace with Shimano, amazing that any are still around today, the older Shimano design also had a big issue with the cold, the M775 (the one I had plenty of experience with) would go very wooded at sub zero conditions, Obviously this issue won't affect you if you like in a warm climate, but for where I am, it was bad in winters, and as soon as the new design came out, it was replace all and the issue went away
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Old 07-29-21, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
Upto a point, their biggest contemporary being Avid Juicy brakes, which BITD were bad when new, and the standard suggestion if anyone needed any work on them when they were new was to replace with Shimano, amazing that any are still around today, the older Shimano design also had a big issue with the cold, the M775 (the one I had plenty of experience with) would go very wooded at sub zero conditions, Obviously this issue won't affect you if you like in a warm climate, but for where I am, it was bad in winters, and as soon as the new design came out, it was replace all and the issue went away
My default service procedure for dead taperbore Avid/SRAM brakes was to replace with Shimano. Due to shortages I've had to start replacing master cylinders on Elixirs and the like again. Alas.
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