Ask Pinkbike: Unwanted Unclipping, Badly Bled Brakes, & Toolbox Tips

Apr 23, 2018 at 8:55
by Pinkbike Staff  
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Here at Pinkbike we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul-searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand-picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.

How Do I Keep From Accidentally Unclipping?

Question: Pinkbike user @seanstrickland asked this question in the Bikes, Parts, and Gear forum: What type of cleat float is right for me? I've got a set of T1's and HT offers three types of cleats for them. Two with 4 degrees of float and one with 8 degrees. My issue is that my cleats disengage when I do things like bunny hops or when I tilt my bike while in the air, many times leaving me doing a sick nac-nac to one footer lander. My pedals, tensioned full up or full down seem to not have an effect on this issue. I get that 4 degrees of float means my heel can move 2 degrees to each side and twice the distance with 8 degrees of float but what will keep my feet attached to the pedals better? This isn't HT specific, I've had this issue with every SPD style pedal I've used and these T1's are definitely the best yet, just wondering since I now have an option of a cleat with a different float.

bigquotesI'd recommend trying the cleats with 8-degrees of float if you're having trouble staying clipped in. That extra float will give your feet a little more freedom of movement, allowing them to twist further before encountering any resistance.

If your feet are still popping out even with the tension maxed out and the 8-degree cleats installed you may want to consider switching to a pedal like the Crankbrothers Mallet. Crankbrothers' design provides 6-degrees of float, but it's also possible to alter the release angle depending on the orientation of the cleat. The angle can be set at either 15- or 20-degrees, compared to the 13-degree angle of the HT T1, which will give you more room to twist your feet without having the pedals start to release.

I've spent an extensive amount of time on both pedals, and found that for DH-style riding I prefer the feeling of the Crankbrothers – they feel closer to a flat pedal due to the amount of foot movement they allow, but they also still keep your feet securely in place when riding through rough terrain. 
Mike Kazimer

HT X1 pedal review
HT's T1 pedals offer a higher possible amount of tension than Shimano's pedals...
Crankbrothers Mallet DH review
...While Crankbrothers' Mallet pedals can be adjusted to have a 20-degree release angle.

Can't Get My Brakes Right

Question: Gbeaks33 asks in the All-Mountain and Cross-Country Forum:Hi there. I switched to Shimano XT Deore brakes last summer when my SRAM Guide RSC's started locking up in the summer heat. Everything has been fine until recently when they had to be bled and pads replaced. I bled both front and back, and since it was my first attempt at it I did a poor job. Had weak spongy brakes front and back and couldn't get either to lock up. I re-bled both and it solved the problem for my rear brake, but I can't get my front to function properly. I've since bled it again twice, same result. I can pull the front lever all the way to the bar and it slows me down, but never gets to a point where the tire locks. There's no stopping power at all.

The only thing I can think of is on my first bleed attempt I stupidly forgot to take the pads out and possibly spilled brake fluid on them. I cleaned them with rubbing alcohol and sanded a thin layer off. Re-bedding the pads [to the rotors] did not solve the problem, but they don't squeal so I don't think there's oil on the pads. Another potential issue is I didn't have an exact wrench size for the bleed valve screw on the caliper, so I used a pair of pliers to open and close it. Maybe I'm not getting it closed tight enough?

bigquotesAfter reading this, and about your continued frustration with getting your brakes working in the following thread, I suggest that you call it a day and have a reputable bike mechanic service your brakes. Wrenching on your own bike can be a rewarding experience in many ways, but the end result should be a perfectly tuned bike that performs dependably. There is no honor lost in having a professional mechanic tune your brakes and drivetrain. Aaron Gwin hired John Hall to ensure that his bike works properly and it seems to be working out quite well for him. Find a trustworthy mechanic and start enjoying your bike again. It's well worth the money. RC

Aaron Gwin s mechanic John Hall gives us the details on his custom toolbox setup.
John Hall is the man that Aaron Gwin trusts to keep his race bikes performing at 100 percent. DIY pride aside, employing a reputable mechanic to keep your brakes and drivetrain in top running condition can be money well spent.

Getting into Enduro Racing

Question: Pinkbike user @bike2850 asked this question in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: I'm going to be getting into enduro racing this summer and I want to be prepared. What are the necessary tools I should bring when traveling to these races? Also, I have a extra set of wheels, is it worth it to take them to the races?

bigquotesHeading out for a weekend of racing can be a stressful experience, especially when you don't have a routine or don't know exactly what to expect. A lot of that stress can be alleviated with a little bit of preparation.

First and foremost, make sure that your bike is working flawlessly before you show up to the race. If you aren't comfortable doing your own work, stop by your trusted local bike shop and have them take a look at it. Just don't show up with only a day or two to spare expecting them to put you at the front of the service line because you have a race to get to.

As far as supplies that you take to the race, the list could be endless, but you likely won't need much outside of what you would normally ride with and carry with you on a longer ride. A flat kit, including a pump/CO2, tube, patches, and tire plugs along with a derailleur hanger, multi-tool, chain-breaker, spare shift cable, and spare master link should go on your bike or in your pack. Toss a shock pump and floor pump with a gauge you trust in the car. A spare wheelset could come in handy if you have one, along with a spare tire and sealant for those running tubeless.

If you're unsure of conditions and have an alternate set of tires, you could save time by putting them on the second wheelset as well as the proper size rotor and cassette. Few things are more frustrating than attempting to seat tubeless tires in a gravel parking lot an hour before a stage starts, so a few CO2 cartridges to assist in the process is an easy way to avoid any unwanted hassles. Don't forget chain lube and cleaning supplies, especially if it's a multi-day race.

Try to talk to locals wherever the race is...scour the forums for advice and see what they recommend bringing. Some trails eat tires while others choose to snack on derailleurs. You know best what you most often break riding day-to-day - that's a strong indication of what you should ensure you have and know how to fix. You could easily bring a lot more, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Unless you're at a truly remote venue, you'll likely find a nearby bike shop or fellow racer to help you out in a pinch. The most important thing to remember is a good attitude and a pocket full of "try-hard." Give it your all and have fun...maybe you'll do well, maybe you won't. At the end of the weekend, hopefully you will have had a fun and memorable outing on the bike and made some new friends while you were at it.
Daniel Sapp

Aaron Gwin s mechanic John Hall gives us the details on his custom toolbox setup.
You don't need to have a toolbox set up anything like Aaron Gwin's mechanic, John Hall, but a little bit of preparation will go a long way.

Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.


  • 98 4
 John Hall, I like you. Your toolbox makes my ocd happy.
  • 30 4
 When I saw that image of the tools, this great feeling of joy and calm swept over me like a cloud of pot smoke.
  • 3 0
 What I want to know is which torque wrench that is. I cannot get mine to fit into my foam inserts.
  • 1 0
 I have done this myself with a pelican case and matching “Kaizen” brand foam if anyone wants to give it a go. Even wen t far enough to do all my automotive tools too. It came out great.
  • 8 0
 @meesterover: looks like a Wera
  • 43 1
 I prefer using the term "CDO" as its in alphabetical order.
  • 1 1
 @High-Life: ditto. I actually felt my blood pressure drop.
  • 3 0
 A picture of my shed would probably put you in hospital...
  • 58 5
 answers 1. flats 2. don't need 'em 3. bring a chair cuz you'll be doing lots of sitting in between stages
  • 17 3
 Beat me to it!
1) don’t run clips
2) get better at what you’re doing.
3) sign up, turn up, pedal.
  • 1 1
  • 2 2
 I wouldn't bring a chair, unless it's at your camp. Never seen someone drag a chair along during race days. Just sit on the ground or rocks near the start gate and chat with your new friends.
  • 53 8
 @Gbeaks33 - don't listen to RC and give up. How about investing in some simple tools? Perhaps a combination wrench rather than a set of pliers for for the XT's caliper bleed screw or Shimano's bleed funnel? Maybe even check out a youtube video or two? Not every problem is better solved by throwing money at it.
  • 22 5
 Yeah what a crap answer. Try a couple things. Even if pads don't squeal they can be contaminated. Hold them with tongs up to a gas burner and let them burn off a bit. This almost always fixes contaminated pads. Make sure you dont skip any little step when bleeding. Undo the little phillips screw on the lever during bleeding then tighten it back up before closing things up. Sometimes a bubble gets in there. Hang your rotors vertical from the levers. Use a syringe to pull fluid from the caliper if you are still having trouble. Get the correct wrench for the bleed port. Ive broken one trying to use the wrong tool while traveling.
  • 13 2
 It's not that I'm against mechanics or afraid to admit defeat. I totally know I'm nowhere near qualified to do some of this stuff myself. But...the wait time at my bike shop is almost a week right now. I don't want to be off my bike for that long because I suck at bleeding brakes. I'd rather get better at it. Hence why I posted in the forums. I have a bleed kit, funnel, and a garage full of tools. I watched a few videos and did some homework, but I can't for the life of me find a 7mm spanner in the 3 hardware stores in my town. Best I could do is a 7mm socket set, which works but you can't use it with the bleed hose on the port. So i tried to do it as quick as I can while I await amazon to bring me the tool I need. I've mostly solved my problem on my own now, just requires a good 10-20 pumps of the brakes before i start riding. I can live with that. Still able to ride everyday and my bike isn't sitting in the back of a shop for 5-7 days waiting for a job a mechanic could do in 15 minutes.
  • 8 1
 @gbeaks33: if you are having to pump the brakes then that means you have air bubbles trapped in the system. Fill the syringe up with some fluid, put the bleed funnel on the lever (empty) and push fluid from the caliper up to the funnel. I guarantee you'll see some air bubbles come out. Don't push all the fluid through or you'll just introduce new air into the system. If that doesn't help I would bet money that you have a small leak somewhere in the system that is sucking in air. I had this issue with my DH bike once. Brakes worked great after a couple pumps. I'd bleed them and they just would never feel right. Come to find out after a dusty DH run that my line had a tiny little kink that was causing the issue.
  • 8 1
 @gbeaks33: craftsman makes a pack of tiny wrenches, one of them is 7mm. Look for craftsman mini wrench set metric:

Also try flicking and tapping the brake housing to get the bubbles to move.
  • 5 7
 My XT levers always have more throw before they engage than I care for, but I can always lock up the rotor. Posters problem might just be that he got fluid on the pads and fouled the pads. I agree with RC's advice here because it sounds like the poster might not be experienced enough wrenching for this job. Some people are very umm....novice with tools.

That being said I used to use the bleed blocks to keep me from fouling the pads, and found that the lever throw ended up being way too far and that the pistons would never pick back up the bit of freeplay. I'm not sure if this could be remedied by
-putting the pads back in
-opening up the top reservoir and putting the funnel back on with some fluid in it
-pumping up the brakes?

I just bleed my brakes and think I didn't get any on the pads but it's a less than perfect system.
  • 1 0
 I had the same problem with my xts. Inconsistent feel and had to pump levers before riding. A lever bleed tipping bike veritical while flicking the hose did the trick to get all the bubbles out.
  • 1 1
 @gbeaks33: pump the brake up until you have good lever feel, them pull it all the way to the bar and strap it down with something. Be sure your caliper is hang ing below the lever and leave it like that overnight. This will help air travel into the reservoir so you can get it out easier. The next day hook a syringe that's about 1/8 full with mineral oil to the lever and lightly suction air bubbles out while flicking the lever. It sounds like your issue is you have air in the line still so that should get it out.
  • 20 1
 dude, just do like Gwin and hire a professional mechanic... given the amount of World Cups he's won clearly it's the only way to go
  • 2 4
 @gbeaks33: You could get a 7mm wrench from a Snap-on dealer, if you aren't sure where to find a Snap-on dealer you could go to a auto repair shop/car dealer and ask a tech for the dealer's phone number. Try to get a six point wrench and not a 12 point. Snap-on part number is OSHM70B, it maybe around $25-35, I bought mine a long time ago.
  • 2 0
 @captaingrumpy: park sells a reasonably quality line wrench for these. a little loose, but better than an open ended wrench.
  • 1 0
 @gbeaks33: don't know if it's extended to the all range, but had to change Shimano calipers recently and got super stocked you don't need spanners anymore, there's a bolt you turn with an Allen key, that's a God send and so much easier.
Saw recently, but can't remember where, a tip from the Parktool guy that had a really nice trick for stubborn brake bleeds: leave the funnel on and the lever depressed with a zip tie or similar overnight, works like a charm.
  • 8 0
 I used to hate bleeding brakes and could never get it right until I tried this method. It’s easy, you don’t need many special tools and it works very well.
  • 1 0
Check out an auto parts store for the wrench, they will have it for under 5 bucks. Also, the mechanics lounge in PB forums is filled with skilled mechanics happy to lend suggestions to your wrenching questions. Good luck.
  • 1 0
 @gbeaks33: I once had a brake I couldn't bleed. Every time I bled it it would feel spongy almost immediately. I just kept putting more brake fluid in and still it was spongy. Where was all the brake fluid going?????
It turned out there was a split/crack in the inner sheath and the fluid was being forced into the outer cable, which meant there was no sign of a leak until I finally put so much fluid in that the outer cable split as well (bloody messy).
I put a new cable in and everything was fine.
  • 4 0
 @gbeaks33: Try the method in the below YT video. I had a stubbornd spongy shimano brake at one point. I did a full bleed several times and it got a bit better each time, but was still somewhat spongy. Then I tried burping as per the vid and they firmed up nice and solid. Good luck
  • 6 8
 Ya what a dick and classically useless. That’s just RC.
The easiest brakes in the world and RC decides to tell some guy he should give up.
  • 7 4
 @acali: Give RC a break. This guy is not "getting" bleeding brakes. The best thing he can do is pay someone to do it right and watch them do it, asking questions along the way.
  • 7 1
 @Rubberelli: that's the thing though. I can't do that. Turnaround time is 5-7 days at local shops and I can't ride my bike in the meantime. Hence why I'm trying to figure this out on my own. Even brakes that function at 80% capacity beats not riding for a week. Didn't think my forum question would get posted on the friggin front page to get eaten alive by the trolls, but I appreciate the feedback and links, dudes. I'll be a pro bleeder in no time. And then I guess I'll just hire that guy that Gwin has.
  • 3 5
 @gbeaks33: Avid BB7. Haven't bled a brake in 15 years and only feel underbraked after a day of steep DH when everyone else's fingers are toast too, regardless of their hydraulic heaven. Lever feel is also nice, if you set the cables up well. Not the fashionable choice admittedly. Anecdotal evidence, but it's all I've got.
  • 3 1
 RC your answer is so half assed it belongs down here in the comments section.

@gbeaks33 it's mostly about getting the right tools for the job, especially a proper bleed kit including a syringe and 7mm spanner. Most importantly in my opinion is the little yellow Shimano brake block, so that your pads don't become contaminated during the process.

This video from GMBN is how I learned to do the job properly:

It's possible that your pads are contaminated and sometimes you can use a blow torch to burn all the contamination off. Don't heat them red RED hot though, as this can make the friction compound become brittle and then it crumbles to pieces.

It's also possible that your pads may be glazed or contaminated beyond redemption. New pads is the only option in this case. Make sure you use the yellow bleed block to prevent contamination of your new ones. Only handle these pads after you've bled the brake to your satisfaction, and only after you've thoroughly cleaned the caliper and your hands of brake fluid.
  • 1 0
 @acali: "Hang your rotors vertical from the levers."
  • 2 0
 It should be easy to tell between contaminated pads a bad bleed. If the lever feel is solid but you get very little braking force its not the bleed at fault
  • 1 0
 @DhGabe: Doing that, pushing fluid from the calliper, will eventually wreck the bladder in the lever, its not really recommended.
  • 1 1
 @gbeaks33: few tips,
1. Use a syringe with the flexible hose to remove 25ml of fresh break fluid. Point up and push out air from syringe, fold hose at a point where there is fluid so it is sealed. Now pull the syringe a few times to create a vacuum, this will off gas the fluid.
2. Blead your breaks bottom to top with correct tools, usual method.
3. Wipe rotors with ipa.
4. Pads out pull leaves 3-5 times to bring pistons closer to rotors, but not rubbing after reinserting pads.
5. Fit shimanos cheapest pads and replace when the chamfered edge has worn away. It's just easier.
  • 1 0
 @BenPea: no offense, but cable disk brakes blow compared to hydraulic...sure bleeding brakes can be a p.i.t.a., but c’mon.
  • 3 0
There's a lot of good advice here, and some bad (don't draw fluid from the caliper with the syringe, the fitting isn't tight enough and you will introduce air in the system).

This site has some pretty good instructions for a quick top up as well as a full bleed:
  • 1 0
 @gbeaks33: did you check if your brake hose is intact? I had a similar problem with my rear brake, and found a little hole in my hose that was leaking. Changed the hose and did another bleed, problem solved.
  • 1 0
 @ReformedRoadie: True story. Perhaps nobody wants to hear it, but I like to wheel it out once in a while.
  • 1 0
 @incubus: I just tried this and it works a treat. Thanks for the link.
  • 1 0
 @gbeaks33: put the funnel on and pull the lever and let it flick back quickly several times.
  • 2 0
 @addatx: Meant calipers not rotors. You can put your rotors back on now...
  • 2 0
 @gbeaks33: sorry to hear your shop is like that. You can ask them if you can make an appointment (and they won't have to store your bike) and in the 5 days you wait, go ahead and give these tips a try. I think RC mentioning Gwin's mech was to make you not feel bad as even the fastest rider in the world relies on someone else to bleed their brakes.
  • 1 0
 If the lever is solid, pad contamination is the cause. Been there myself, even touching the pads and/or rotors with greasy hands will do it. Take the pads out, wipe down the rotor hard with acetone, then alcohol, easy enough. The pads probably have fluid (or oil) soaked into them, they're porous and wiping won't help. Dip them in acetone and wipe them a couple times to remove the low hanging fruit. Then get a propane torch and set a low flame. Put some fire to them just until they smoke then remove from flame. You want to burn out the contamination but NOT overheat them, I don't know what they'll take for heat, but I'll vouch it's a lot more than burning off some oil, I've ridden them hard for at least a season afterwards and I'm a clydesdale) Test, test, test to trust and verify. (If you repeat, don't skip re-cleaning the rotor.)
  • 1 0
 @gbeaks33: I never tried to bleed my shimano brakes this way before but it works awesome. Very solid lever feel.
  • 1 0
 Could also be something as simple as worn pads. I thought my front pads had plenty of meat left on them, but I threw new pads in last night, and the difference between bite and lever travel is night and day.
  • 1 0
 @DeepDickens: Holy crap, that's the most comprehensive brake bleed I've ever seen!

Definitely going to try that!

Pretty cool of Marshy to reveal some of his pro WC DH mechanic techniques.
  • 1 0
 A) It sounds like having your bike sit for 5 days at the bike shop is a shorter period of time than how long you've been trying to get the brakes to work on your own. And in the end, your brakes will work. It's worth it. Not to mention how dangerous having an essentially non-working front brake is.

B) Why not have the bike shop put you in their work order list, (which is currently 5 days out, or whatever the time frame is), and during that time, keep your bike, ride it, work on it, whatever. When they call you to tell you they are now ready to work on your bike, either you've fixed it yourself and you tell them to cancel the work order, or you take it in and you're only off your bike for one day. And maybe you can hang out and watch and ask questions while they do it for you. Bonus.
  • 3 0
 @tmargeson: If you followed the thread, it took me a few rounds in my garage to get my brake working flawlessly again. So everything is good now. And I agree, it would be dangerous to ride with a malfunctioning brake. As stated in the thread, after 5-10 mins of riding the power weakness would go away. But now that's fixed. As for B) I don't understand why this is a repeated suggestion. I can't change workflow at a bike shop and get them to do whatever I want. What business works that way? If they offered what you're suggesting, I'd do that. But they don't. All 3 shops in my city don't. They are busy and have a job to do for their other customers who are paying a fair bit to get their bikes fixed. But it's all good, fellow pinkbikers, I found the answers I needed in my thread and my brake issue is fixed.
  • 1 0
 @gbeaks33: You're right, I did not look at the actual discussion thread where this question was plucked from for this article. I just read the repost here and the answer and comments posted here. Glad you got it all worked out.

As for B), it's a repeated suggestion, because it makes sense and works? The shop I work at, and the 2 others I've worked at in the past, all will put your name in their repairs list when you call, as a placeholder. And then they'll call you back when they get to your workorder. I'm friends with mechanics at other shops in my city, and they all do this as well. Not sure why shops in your area won't. That's ridiculous.

Not sure what your comment about changing workflow at a bike shop, and getting them to do whatever you want, is referring to. That wasn't suggested. Exactly BECAUSE they are busy and have other jobs to do for their customers is why it's suggested that you get your name in their line and they call when they get to you. There's no suggestion that the bike shop gives you preferential treatment. ??
  • 3 0
 @tmargeson: I know it makes sense, man. I'm not saying it doesn't. I'm saying that isn't an option for me, at the various shops where I live. I've been getting comments and DM's saying how I should be telling my LBS to run their business. I can't control that, hence my frustrated tone. Anyways it doesn't matter because I figured it out myself and no need to queue up my bike for a week at a shop.
  • 24 0
 I cringed when I read about a pair of pliers being used on shimano XT brakes.
  • 1 0
 But many are not even noticing that for him to have bled the brakes with the pads in means that he isn't using a bleed block.
  • 28 7
 @bike2850 - if you learn how to ride flats you'll realize poor technique is whats causing you to unclip - If you're using your feet to pull up on the pedals for things like bunnyhops and jumps then you're doing it wrong
  • 3 2
 opps - not meant for @bike2850
  • 5 8
 That’s just not true.
What’s his nuts understood the question and answered it perfectly.
But good job trying to tell someone they suck at something.
  • 19 6
 Coming unclipped isn't a gear problem, it's a technique problem. You shouldn't be pulling up on your feet off a jump - you should be pressing your weight into the jump, releasing the pressure, and letting the rebound off the lip get you into the air. Same with a bunny hop - you're not supposed to pull up. Watch a tutorial video or two on bunny hopping. MBR.CO.UK does some good ones. So does Seth's Bike Hacks. Both on YouTube.
  • 30 1
 Clips don't come out when you pull up. I wouldn't judge his technique just yet.
  • 3 2
 @AgrAde: possibly, but it's common that when you pull up you aren't pulling up in a perfectly straight line (especially with a quick explosive action like a bunny hop or jump). I used to have the same problem. Keeping your feet planted on the pedals by not pulling up fixes that problem.
  • 3 0
 Could be a combination of old cleats/old pedals. Over time I notice the cleats come out easier because they wear down. Recently I’ve noticed with new cleats and my old pedals it’s still easy to clip out so I’m thinking I need new pedals. @gumbytex:
  • 2 0
 idk, the second half of the his example, "bunnyhops or when i tilt my bike in the air", suggests it could be lack of cleat float. getting your bike sideways in the air requires a lot of foot movement. Foot movement that may be drastic enough to push past the cleat float. I woudn't jump to remonstrations of technique just from the info above.
  • 1 0
 I never had this problem, but I had a bikefit session and he changed my cleat position quite a bit based on some other biometric measurements. I bet you have a cleat position that is not right for your knees, ankles and feet. That, and poor technique. Switch to flats for a bit and work on your cleat position, preferably with a professional if you can afford the brass.
  • 2 0
 People clipped in usually tend to over-pull on one side or the other (you can tell because the back tire usually goes to one side). You should be loading the suspension as hard as you can, and then "scooping" with your feet as the suspension rebounds. No pulling necessary.
  • 1 0
 yes it is often a technique problem, but i think it is not the one you mentioned. at least for me the problem is that i twist and lean my inner foot during hard cornering - a flatpedal carryover. I am too old to get rid of that mistake, i tried CB and shimano , the problem remains i will try used HT as my last effort, otherwise i ll stick to flats (hopefully)
  • 7 1
 I have a simple but mega tip for bleeding any Shimano brake. The secret is that RockShox Reverb bleed kit syringes are the exact same thread, so will screw into Shimano's reservoir bleed port and make a nice tight seal. Attach one with the syringe plunger removed, then pump fluid up from the caliper with another syringe. Pump the brake lever a few times after a full bleed to get rid of any final air bubbles. Close the bleed valve, remove syringes, replace the reservoir grub screw. Done
  • 6 1
 Or use the "Marshy Method". Either with the fluid pot at the lever bleed port, or a syringe with removed plunger... You just let gravity do the work and don't need to attach anything to the lower bleed port. Works a charm. Easy as pie.
  • 1 0
 Using a syringe to bleed is the best way, but I'd pick up a syringe specifically for your brakes. Jagwire makes some good bleed kits.
  • 1 0
 +2 for the syndicate Marsh method, this finally fixed my XTR inconsistent bite problem. Pushing oil up from the caliper is not necessary. Just bag the caliper and drain until oil runs clean, wipe down thoroughly with iso, install pads go ride your like new stoppers.
  • 6 1
 Blow torch and cement does wonders for resurfacing pads in a pinch. Torch till they smoke, cool them, and a quick rough up on the cement has got me going again in a few minutes on a messy bleed job. Telling some to hire a mechanic for a bleed job is a crap, crap, crap answer, even more so for Shimano brakes. The bleed kit via Amazon and a jug of fluid is less than having a mechanic bleed a set of brakes. I can bleed either set of my Shimano brakes in about 15mins.
  • 3 0
 @seanstrickland: I may have a solution for you. Get someone to film you from behind and from the side and watch it in slow motion. Your heels might be flicking out to the side or something like that. If it was a mechanical problem, you would have found it when you changed your setup.

I agree with others that this is a technique problem. I don't want to assume that you can't bunnyhop using the correct technique in flat pedals, but if you can't, then I recommend you learn - you won't regret it. In three or four attempts you'll be getting a few inches off the ground, and then it is just practice and determination. It is the most important skill when riding rough terrain.

When tilting your bike in the air, clamp or push your seat with your thighs - don't use your feet to move the bike around. If it doesn't work in flats, it won't work in clips.
  • 3 0
 perhaps you should be answering these questions. No blaming the tools here - just learn to ride your bike!
  • 4 2
 Your pads are contaminated. The easiest way to check for this is to pull the lever lightly to the initial point of pad contact. Rotate the wheel by hand while doing this. There should be some friction there. Test for differences between front and rear using this technique, since you think the rear is good. If the front has bad pads, there will be very little to no friction with the pads contacting lightly. It sounds like contamination to me though. The torque spec on the bleed nipple is not very high, so I doubt that to be the cause.
  • 3 1
 @Gbeaks33 Have you tried zip tying the brake levers over night, tapping the brake lines to clear out any bubbles then attaching the bleed cup and pumping the brake lever? This usually helps get out all the air from a less than stellar bleed job.
  • 3 3
 No not yet! Brakes are good right now and don't want to mess with them further but that'll be on my list for next time.
  • 2 1
 @gbeaks33: trying to bleed with worn pads? When you use a bleed block, you fill the system with enough volume for new pads, but not enough if they are worn.
  • 2 0
 For the brakes try swapping the pads from the back and front brakes to prove that the pads are ok. Then try rebleed with the pistons on the calipers pushed back into the caliper all the way and rotate and tap on the caliper when u bleed to make sure there is no air trapped it.
  • 3 0
 If you do that you will contaminate both rotors.
  • 3 1
 Then just swap rotors back to front.
  • 2 0
 I have problems with my XT rear brakes: wandering bite point, can't fix it after multiple bleeds (using different methods). it seems worse when the brake pads are brand new... I have this problem on my 2 bikes for a while now.
  • 7 2
 Screw you guys, sick bunny hops are all in the hammys
  • 4 3
 Ha!! SRAM to SHIMANO!! If you want a real challenge switch to Magura, fine one minute absolute dog shite the next and a bleeding technique that can only be compared to neurological surgery. The most horrendous brakes I’ve ever owned, and I’ve had Avids, I’d rather play with hypodermic needles than have another set, and I’m not alone
  • 6 2
 I have Magura brakes, MT-5's. Great consistent braking and super easy to bleed. Just wanted to offer a different opinion because it could not be farther from what I've experienced over the last 2 seasons. Not sure what you mean by a difficult bleeding technique, it's basically the same exact thing as Shimano's, but to each his own
  • 7 1
 go Hope - easy
  • 3 2
 @mm732: ...that make me actually laugh...Hope are the worst when it comes to bleeding the brakes.
  • 1 0
I can 2nd this. Love the brakes.... hate to bleed them.
  • 2 1
 The pads could be contaminated or the rotors could be glazed, or both. Maybe I am mechanically inclined, I don’t know, but I’ve never thought of a bicycle as hard to work on. Just jump right and and tinker with it. You can’t really break it and there is no motor to blow. For brakes, get the right few tool, learn the bleeding procedure by watching a video, and then enjoy the savings and satisfaction of having fixed the problem your self.
  • 2 1
 The m8000 xt brakes are so easy to bleed and setup. Definitely tilting the lever and flicking/tapping the hose while pumping the lever helps a ton, but the number one thing when I mounted my new 4 pot xt caliper was bleeding the air out at the caliper nipple. Works like a charm.
  • 1 0
 Pop out the pads from the good working brake and install them in the front. Test. If brake is good then your oilly pads are toast. Either torch em or toss em. Oh and always remove pads before a bleed. Your asking for trouble
  • 1 0
 @gbeaks33 just thought I’d throw in my two cents. I too have a set of XT brakes on one of my bikes. Couldn’t for the life of me get them bled right. I did take mine to the LBS, cause I was at my wits end. The mechanic couldn’t figure it out either. Everything was done right, but they just didn’t work. The mech got in touch with the local Shimano office, and they informed him that the reach adjust on the front of the lever needs to be fully out (or, the lever needs to be as far out from the bars as possible) before bleeding. Worked like a charm.

I somewhat agree with both camps here. Don’t just give up, but also, if feasible, go to a shop. If you find a good shop, as I was fortunate enough to, they’ll be happy to impart some of their knowledge to you along the way. My LBS happens to be a bit of a “Church of Shimano”, so they know their stuff when it comes to Shimano. When I bought the mineral oil from them, the mech gave me some tips on bleeding, and then let me watch him work on the brakes at first when I brought the bike in, which meant I got a pretty cool behind the scenes look at the shop.
  • 1 0
 @Gbeaks33 the real issue with your brakes is that SRAM used a bad material for the plungers in the RSCs, I got mine replaced through SRAM's warranty and the bike shop was paid to bleed my brakes, also through the warranty. Definitely see if you can get your brakes warrantied.
  • 1 0
 I did that. It took 7 months for sram and yt to get them back to me last year. Hence why I bought these Shimanos in the meantime.
  • 1 0
 I don't get all these people's responses to RC's suggestion on the brake bleeding issue. The OP asking the question obviously isn't doing several things right, states that it was his first time bleeding brakes, says that no amount of re-bleeding is having any effect, and admits to possibly having contaminated pads. So RC tells him he should go have a professional do it for him. And you all are saying that's a crap answer?? Baffling.
  • 1 1
 @gbeaks33 ... when you have a week of opportunity, find out the favorite "refreshment" for the mechanic at your favorite LBS. Anyone who rides often will come across something they can't solve, or wants to pick the brain of people who are great at wrenching and problem solving. Most often, that "refreshment" will get you the access to watch and see some of the tricks used to get it done right with minimal fuss. Most LBS mechanics don't like bleeding brakes because they usually come from consumers who also need rotors and pads because they've ridden their brakes to failure on low-level bikes.

You'll find that knowing the right LBS mechanic is sometimes worth the wait and the occasional refreshment.

My wife prefers to bribe her mechanics this way than let me work on her bike. Go figure.
  • 1 0
 Zee & Saints here. All kind of tricks to bleed them, even on the shop. Still sometimes the lever just goes all the way down to the handlebars... such a sick brakes, when they work :s
  • 3 1
 Time pedals provide plenty of float. Do to my wonky pedal stroke, Times keep me clipped in.
  • 1 2
 But they don’t offer any platform for the shoe. The one mx series have is completely useless, shoe is wobbling on them, may as well run the regular atac. Float, Clipping in and out is best in the business but they need mallets cage
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I've been really happy with the DH cage. While it isn't as supportive as the mallet it is much better than the MX.
  • 2 1
 Times are the worst pedals for keeping you clipped in.
  • 1 0
 @jflb: agree completely. After years of riding Crankbros I decided to give Time’s a chance. First day was great, but second ride started unclipping with just the slightest of body English. Scariest moments came when trying to set up for big hips and mid flight pulling Fairclough sized nacs unintentionally.
  • 1 0
 @mtnbykr05: that’s weird because they offer 17deg of float while cbros 20
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: that was my first thought. Similar float, both brass cleats, and similar design. I think the pins, spring tension, and the increased platform of a mallet helped prevent my foot moving when cranking sideways into the pedal. Don’t get me wrong, they were retired to and work great on the CX bike because of the float and mid shedding, but just not cut out for aggressive mtn riding. Maybe the DH version would be better compared to the MX, but not willing to drop the bill on an experiment again.
  • 1 0
 @mtnbykr05: I just bought latest mallets DH. We'll see how they go, but my problem with Cbros is that I can use them exclusively for DH/Park as I have problems with clipping out of them on climbs if I lose balance. It's when the shoe gets pressed against the crank arm when it pointing forward or backwards. That's why Times were a great middle ground for me, although I took a few bails because of not being able to clip out of them too. But I had max 3 unintentional releases when riding DH/prk in them
  • 2 0
 So, do I now get a free Park Tool EK-2 Professional Travel and Event Kit courtesy of Pinkbike?
  • 2 0
 I jus want to know how to sell a second hand bike that's I super condition properly..... Any help please?
  • 3 0
 Loosely tie the bike to a pole. Tie can to the pole with the note "pay what you can."
  • 1 0
 As a last resort and temporary fix, for contaminated pads , a few cycles of blow torch heat and car brake cleaner . If you have no spares
  • 10 10
 How to bleed Sram brakes
1) throw Sram brakes in trash (don't sell to some other poor soul)
2) buy something else, like Hope.
  • 1 0
 @pinkbikestaff So... do I now get a free Park Tool EK-2 Professional Travel and Event Kit courtesy of Pinkbike?
  • 1 0
 If you suspect pad contamination why not try new pads before paying for a bleed which you've done 3s now?
  • 1 0
 How do I become a better person?
  • 2 5
 Stupodest questions and even more idiotic answers.
Gwin hires a mechanic , seriously!!
Enduro racing ......really ? Contrived bollox more likely.
Unclipping , get a proper pedal fitment or ride FLATS!!
  • 2 4
 What happened to the gearbox? Why haven’t the oem manufactures not adopted it yet? One week everyone is pushing gearbox, then nothing!
  • 1 1
 Really!? You kidding right?
  • 7 10
 If using clipless pedals to assist bunny hops your technique is all wrong - not the amount of float on your pedals. Get a set of flats. Learn proper technique.
  • 10 1
 I'm a user of flats that grew up on bmx and I have a good bunnyhop, maybe handlebar height on a bmx. I unclip accidentally almost every time if I tuck properly at the top of my hop - It's probably not that he's relying on the clip, it's that he's not used to being restricted by them. I never really figured out clipless for that reason. Too many accidental unclips, back to flats.
  • 5 7
 Flat pedals win medals!
  • 5 1
 Buy times or crankbros if you unclip unintentionally... if you pull real hard on Shimanos they will release. Times and CB release only sideways. Hate the latest Shimano SPD, fkng awful crap. My knees hurt, pedals unclip in corners, hard to unclip intentionally, clog with mug. The only thing they are good at is clipping in when clean. Reliability went down as well.
  • 5 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Shimano offers two types of mtb cleats - sm-sh51 and sm-sh56. 51 releases only sideways and 56 is multidirectional. When I got some new shimano pedals I had the same problem of accidental release when pulling and I hadn't got this problem with the previous shimano pedals. Only then I realised that the older came with sh51 (side only) and the new had the sh56 (multirelease).
  • 5 2
 @Kitejumping: yeah ,because no one has ever won anything clipped in. Ride what makes you happy and comfortable
  • 3 6
 :-) when I see the price of bike tools...
I happily drop off my bike at the mechanic at our LBS.
  • 2 1
 You only buy the tools once, most will be used many times, some are worth the one time use just in time and aggravation savings. Buy your tools from the shop, they'll give good tips and tricks for using them properly. Shop won't save you right before that early morning ride, or that later evening ride. Bikes never seen to need anything at a convenient time.
  • 6 1
 bike tools are pretty cheap unless you buy professional tools, and no amateur needs professional tools
  • 2 0
 There are very few bike tools that cost more than the price of paying someone to do it one time.
  • 1 0
 should have a truing stand...
  • 1 0
 @preach: pays for itself in like 2.5 uses
  • 1 0
 @xeren: it's like $10 a wheel at our LBS?
  • 2 0
 @preach: You don't need a truing stand to build or true wheels. Your bicycle is a truing stand.

I have a stand but only use it to build new wheels, it's easier to true or make adjustments with the wheel on the bike.
  • 1 0
 @xeren: except kniplex pliers. I need those!
  • 1 0
 @acali: definitely. but if you're patient, they drop pretty low in price occasionally. got mine for $35!
  • 1 0
 @preach: i think you have your math completely backwards- are you implying that truing stands cost $25?

either way, no, it's like $30 a wheel at my LBS. a truing stand is about $80
  • 1 0
 @xeren: yessir I must be looking at a high dollar one then
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