Cleaning your brake rotors and brake pads is important for optimal braking performance and can be a solution to noisy brakes. Follow this guide for how to properly clean your brake rotors.
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Nitrile or latex gloves
- Fine wet/dry sandpaper - above 1000 grit
- Clean, lint free shop towels or cloths
- 5mm Allen Key
- 3mm Allen Key
- T25 Head Screwdriver
- Needlenose Pliers
Make sure you put on your gloves before using the isopropyl alcohol!
You can clean the brake rotors while they are still attached to the wheels. If this doesn't resolve your problems you will need to remove the brake rotors from your front and rear wheels.
If cleaning the rotors on the bike, simply spray the brake rotor with Isopropyl Alcohol. After spraying, dry the rotor with a clean, lint free cloth.
You will need to rotate the wheel to clean all of the brake rotor. Ensure you spray and clean both sides of the rotor!
If you are removing the brake rotor from the wheel, first remove the front or rear wheel.
Undo the 6 screws holding the brake rotor onto the wheel hub with a T25 screwdriver - circled below. These will be torqued in so ensure you take care to not strip the bolts.
When removing the rotor hold it by the inner spindles - not the outside perimeter. You do not want to dirty the braking surface, especially after cleaning it!
Clean the circled portion of the rotor with isopropyl alcohol. Then lightly roughen up that surface with the fine sandpaper. Finish by cleaning the rotor with alcohol and drying with a soft, lint free cloth. Repeat this process for the other side of the rotor.
Reinstall the brake rotors by performing the opposite steps of the removal process. Ensure the screws attaching the brake to the wheel hub are sufficiently tightened.
To remove the brake pads you will first need to use a 5mm Allen Key to remove the brake caliper - you will need to remove the two screws circled below
Next remove the brake pads from the calipers. Depending on the brake model you have this could be removed in one of two ways:
- Pin Style: Use needlenose pliers to pull the pin out (you may need to bend the opposite end inwards to access the pads). Then use the head of the pliers to push the pads out. Make sure to keep track on the pin once you remove it to make sure it doesn't get lost!
- Allen Screw Style: Use a 3mm Allen key to remove the circled bolt. Then use needlenose pliers to push out the brake pads from the top of the caliper. Make sure to keep track of the bolt once you remove it to ensure it doesn't get lost!
Ensure you put on your gloves before performing the next cleaning steps to make sure no oils from your hands get on the brake pads.
With the pads removed place them down on a bed of lint free towels. Spray the braking surface with isopropyl alcohol and wipe away any residue. You may need to repeat this until the brake pad is clean and residue free.
Next use the low grit sandpaper to lightly rough up the surface of the the brake pads. After using the sandpaper clean the pads again with the isopropyl alcohol to remove and residue on the brakes.
Last insert the brake pads by performing the reverse process of taking them out of the caliper. When reattaching the caliper to the bike frame you may need as adjust it so the pads do not rub against the rotor. A guide for this can be found on this page.