The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Battle of the Disc Brake Cleaners

People ask me about cleaning their disc brakes all the time. "Should I use disc brake cleaner, gasoline, boiling water or alcohol?", is something I get at least once a day.
People don't always realize that I consider my real specialty to be disc brakes. I have always had the touch when it comes to disc brakes. I have more bikes with disc brakes than suspension also.
So when two products showed up at on my desk both claiming to eliminate squeal I was very skeptical. I have done some preliminary testing and there are three things that jump out at me so far;
  1. Squeal Out: This is a gritty goup that you put on your pads and rotor. Then you actuate the brake lightly for a little while (don't ride any real distance with this stuff on your brake) and then clean it off. It actually works better than I thought. One thing it did really well was quiet down the feedback you get from mechanical disc brakes. If you are running mechanical brakes and you get weird tnk, tnk, tnk, tnk noises as you apply the brakes this stuff seems to hone everything done and give a quieter smoother feel.
  2. Motorex copper paste: This stuff seemed to hone the pads and rotor also but we could NOT get it off the brake. So the brakes got quieter but we were not able to clean the copper paste off afterwards so the brakes didn't develop power after we used it (but they did not squeal). I have sent an email to ask Motorex if we used it right because the jar is thin on instructions.
  3. Dawn dish detergent and water: Still the best! I learned to rely on this back in the Cannondale days when working on CODA Competition brakes was a daily occurrence for me. Its easy on the environment, easy to clean up and cheap! Keep an eye on the Shockspital Blog for some handy tips to manage your disc brakes in the future; including the secret of letting Dawn make your life better.
And as always I learned that boiling your pads doesn't help, Speed Clean and other "disc brake cleaners" are OK for your car but generally aren't the best idea for your bike (most are petroleum based).

I will follow up on this again as soon as I hear back from Motorex. Motorex makes a great selection of shock oils and the very BEST, MOST recommended DOT fluid on the market as far as I am concerned. So I am interested to hear more about their idea of what the copper paste will do for disc brakes.
--B Rose