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Saturday 10 October 2020

Fixing squeaky bike brakes... or not

 I spent the afternoon trying to stop my rear brakes making a screeching sound when fully applied.

The usual reason suggested for the noise is contamination on the pads however, some people say it can also be caused by vibration due to the caliper being out of alignment.

I tried all the various methods that I have read about that people claim fix noisy brakes:

  • Carefully aligned the brake caliper
  • Sanded the pads on a flat surface
  • Cleaned the pads with brake cleaner
  • Soaked the pads in brake cleaner
  • Cleaned the pads with engine cleaner
  • Smeared a thin layer of copper grease on the back of the pads

In addition to the above, at each attempt, I thoroughly cleaned the disc rotor with brake cleaner and a clean paper towel.

None of those stopped the squeak.

The final solution was to replace the pads with new ones. That worked. No more noise.

My conclusion is, that the rotor is easy to clean but the pads are not.


UPDATE: April 2021


After 6 months, the replacement pads started making a screech. When I looked at them, one side had a deep groove, so I decided they had lasted long enough and were not worth even attempting a clean.

I did have another go at the pads I had tried to clean back in October. This time with success.

I don't know whether it was necessary but, on advice, I gave the disc rotors a light sanding.

The significant bit is that I decided to soak the old pads in bike cleaner. Muc-Off, to be specific. My thinking was that if it was grease or oil on the pads, the detergent should help get rid of it.

I let them soak in the Muc-Off for 10 minutes, then wiped it off. Lastly I sprayed on brake cleaner and gave them a rub with a clean paper towel.

Everything back on the bike and a test ride. No noise. They've been quiet for a couple of weeks now :-)

Update, again: They did eventually start squeaking again! I've put in new pads again.