Forum home Commuter cycling forum Commuting general

Reliable disc brakes for commuting

CalundannCalundann Posts: 10
edited July 2018 in Commuting general
Hey everyone,

I'd like to input for the most reliable disc brakes for every day commuting. It should maintain power level and bite over a long period of time. I don't care about modulation, brand, cost of replacement parts etc.; only the brake's ability to stop me consistently - and do that for a long period of time. I'd love to see at least half a year between maintenance. I ride 28k / day five times a week, some of it in the city, hence the need for reliable brakes.

Looking forward to hear your suggestions! If you read the background story below you will know that I have not had good luck with Shimano. Is anyone commuting with SRAM brakes, e.g. Level or the cheaper spec Guides?

Thanks!

Here is some background.

My bike came equipped with shimano 355 brakes. The rear caliper completely seized within three months. The front had problems with glazing, i.e. shortly after replacing both pads and rotor, the brake would almost completely loose power and squeal like mad. I spent two years continuously cleaning, sanding and replacing pads and rotors, before replacing the brake altogether with an SLX (M675). I did bed the pads / rotor in after each maintenance / replacement. The SLX has the same exact problem, and it has now been another two years. I have tried 160 mm rotors, 180 mm rotors, resin pads, sintered pads, but all will be nearly useless after just a week. I live in Copenhagen and ride in mostly mild weather.

I should also add that the XTR M985 brakes on my hardtail also fades quickly, as does the front XT M785 on my full suspension trail bike (but not the rear). The squeal / power loss also appears after periods of storage, e.g. inside over winter.

I can't do it anymore, and especially not for the commuter bike. I want to get a new set of brakes and the number one requirement is reliability. The bike only has mounts for discs.

Posts

  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    Avid Elixir are pretty good IME.
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    It sounds like something is contaminating your disc brakes on your commute or in how you store your bike.
  • roger_merrimanroger_merriman Posts: 6,159
    Kajjal wrote:
    It sounds like something is contaminating your disc brakes on your commute or in how you store your bike.

    i'd agree all of the bikes in the family are disks and they generally just work, my wife bike does glaze over the pads since she brakes so gently, but other than that I just feed them pads as and when.
  • imafatmanimafatman Posts: 351
    A well setup hydro brake, whether Shimano or Sram should not require any maintenance in years....

    I went 3 years before my Sram hydro brakes needed bleeding. My Ultegra is over 19 months and feels like new. The only thing you have to do is change pads.

    I would agree with others... there is something up with the way you maintain or store your bikes for you to go through such problems.
  • CalundannCalundann Posts: 10
    Thanks for the feedback. The commuter is stored outside, but under a roof. Both MTBs are stored inside, the hardtail in a basement and the other one in a bedroom. I would not expect these storage conditions to cause any issues.

    Perhabs the bikes are too clean. I am thinking that the presence of some dirt may help maintaining friction on the brake surfaces. I will try moving the commuter to an open area, exposed to the weather and clean / sand the brakes one final time.
  • whyamiherewhyamihere Posts: 7,501
    What are you doing to clean them?
  • roger_merrimanroger_merriman Posts: 6,159
    Calundann wrote:
    Thanks for the feedback. The commuter is stored outside, but under a roof. Both MTBs are stored inside, the hardtail in a basement and the other one in a bedroom. I would not expect these storage conditions to cause any issues.

    Perhabs the bikes are too clean. I am thinking that the presence of some dirt may help maintaining friction on the brake surfaces. I will try moving the commuter to an open area, exposed to the weather and clean / sand the brakes one final time.

    possibly, I generally don't clean or fiddle with the brakes, they just work so no need to clean bar the hose off, after a MTB ride.
  • CalundannCalundann Posts: 10
    whyamihere wrote:
    What are you doing to clean them?

    10 years ago when my (single) MTB has avid elixirs, I only washed the bike with water and soap and did not take any precautions for the brakes, not did I have any brake issues to speak of.

    Nowadays the ritual is slightly more complex: The SLX brake on my commuter faded over the first year or so, the XTR on my hardtail within a couple of days after installing it.
    My brake cleaning procedure is the same for commute / MTB: The pads are removed and appear shiny with a glossy surface (both resin and sintered pads have this appearance). I have experimented with and without de-greasing the pads immediately after removal. The surface is then sanded using a dremel with a sanding drum. Following this I have experimented with and without de-greasing again, and also with various de-greasers including ordinary isopropyl alchohol.

    The rotor is normally very shiny, and has an almost polished finish. It is removed and sanded, also using the dremel with a sanding drum mounted.

    With the pads and rotor removed, the calliper is washed with water and soap to remove brake residue. All parts are normally left to air dry as not to be contaminated with a dirty towel / rag.

    After reinstalling pads and rotor, the brake is bedded in, normally with 20 sprint / hard stop cycles. The brake feels powerful with great bite for the next day or two, but then fades loosing almost all power and squeals like mad. The rotor already looks like it has been polished, except for the deepest of the scratches from the sanding.
  • whyamiherewhyamihere Posts: 7,501
    Ok, first, I'd stop sanding everything down all the time. Next - what soap are you using? Some soaps can leave residue, which is very bad for brakes.

    I'd advise leaving them alone as much as possible (though you may have to replace the rotors if you've sanded them down a lot, and I would definitely replace the pads), and only ever go near them with isopropyl alcohol.

    If you are glazing the pads, it's generally down to technique - dragging the brakes too much, or frequent, light applications. It can be hard to avoid this, especially on a commute, but chucking in some good hard stops every so often can work wonders.
  • CalundannCalundann Posts: 10
    Regular dish soap is used for the calliper. It is rinsed after washing, but you still got a good point about the residue.

    You are definitely also correct about the technique. While it is not always easy or safe, I will brake late and hard when I get the possibility.

    Any comments on the bedding in?
  • roger_merrimanroger_merriman Posts: 6,159
    I only hose off the brakes ie to remove any mud/dead sheep and once in a blue moon I’ll use some brake cleaner on it, though not generally on the MTB/gravel bike.

    The Commute bike I do fair amount of miles and it has fair portion of gravelly shared paths etc, plus I’m a child at heart so I tend to pull up sharp to some of the gates etc.

    Essentially I keep them clean but I don’t put anything on them including even mild detergents.
  • whyamiherewhyamihere Posts: 7,501
    Dish soap's not great, but too bad as long as you can be entirely certain it's all rinsed off... I personally avoid it and use isopropyl alcohol instead. Your bedding in process sounds about right though.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    Nothing goes on my brakes except water.

    No issue with the formulas on my MTB (7 years old now), still using 2 lots of 2005 vintage Shimano and I only retired the Clarks mechanical calipers on my commuter as after 8 years and 8,000 miles the calipers were knackered (they were bought used in the first place.

    Too much FUF I think....... (that's 'Mess up fiddling').
  • greenamex2greenamex2 Posts: 272
    Managed to completely trash a couple of sets of pads and a disc with fluid contamination (NOT my fault!).

    Other than that the Shimano RS685's on my commuter just get stripped down and all the mud washed out once every 12-18 months or so.

    Clean the disk and pads every month or so with Muc Off brake cleaner, mostly to get rid of the mud and grit.

    Don't use normal bike cleaner on the brakes...done it a couple of times, braking was really bad for a few miles!
  • gbsahne001gbsahne001 Posts: 1,968
    I'm with Roger on this, unless there are dead sheep attached to the bike, it doesn't get cleaned.

    The XT disc brake on my commuter went 5000miles without any attention and braking was always consistently good, up until the point I couldn't get rid of a squeak; took the pads out and discovered that they were down to bare metal.
  • CitizenLeeCitizenLee Posts: 2,227
    As above, disc brakes have always been pretty much fit and forget for me. For example, I have older SLX M666s on my MTB and they never been cleaned, nor have I have never had a problem with them.
    Current:
    NukeProof Mega FR 2012
    Cube NuRoad 2018
    Previous:
    2015 Genesis CdF 10, 2014 Cube Hyde Race, 2012 NS Traffic, 2007 Specialized SX Trail, 2005 Specialized Demo 8
  • greenamex2greenamex2 Posts: 272
    gbsahne wrote:
    The XT disc brake on my commuter went 5000miles without any attention and braking was always consistently good, up until the point I couldn't get rid of a squeak; took the pads out and discovered that they were down to bare metal.

    Tending to replace my pads every 3,500-4000 miles...whether they need it or not.
Sign In or Register to comment.