How to clean mountain bike disc brakes: cleaning brake discs

how to clean mountain bike disc brakes

What many often do not know is that the disc brakes of an MTB also need to be well maintained. If you don’t do this, you will be able to brake less accurately or the brakes may actually kick in. Both of these can lead to very unsafe situations. In short: cleaning the disc brakes is very important. In this cleaning guide I tell you everything you need to know!

Why clean mountain bike disc brakes?

Let’s start with why it’s so important to regularly clean your mountain bike disc brakes. Although very important, cleaning a mountain bike is an often forgotten activity. And that is quite a bad thing, since not or too little cleaning of bicycle disc brakes can lead to unsafe situations.

Consequences if your bicycle does not clean disc brakes

Apart from unsafe situations, various mountain bike parts can also be seriously damaged. The biggest consequences at a glance:

  • Brakes slide through: if the brake discs are very greasy, brake pads can slide on the disc brakes, so that you do not brake or brake much too slowly. And of course we shouldn’t think about that during a mountain bike ride.
  • Brakes squeezing: Too much dirt can also cause your brakes to sag. As a result, you have to provide much more energy to move forward. And that is of course a sin.
  • Disc brakes can be damaged: When brakes are applied, the disc brakes can also be damaged. And this ultimately affects the braking quality.

So, it should be obvious why it’s time to clean them!

How to clean MTB disc brakes

Cleaning your bicycle disc brakes is not a difficult job, but you do have to take the time to do it. As I mentioned, brakes are an important part of safety. It is important to get the right mountain bike tools and cleaning products. For example, it is very important not to use greasy products: if a disc brake is greasy, the brakes can slip.

What do you need for cleaning

Get the following resources and cleaning tools together:

  • A good degreaser
  • Two clean cloths
  • Water
  • Drip tray
  • Pillow

Cleaning / degreasing mountain bike disc brakes step-by-step

Everything collected? Then we can start with the (big) cleaning! Follow the steps below.

Follow the steps below to clean mountain bike disc brakes.

  1. Turn the mountain bike upside down

    Place a cushion or cloth under the mountain bike seat so that it is not damaged

  2. Place a container under the wheel with the disc brake you will be cleaning

    This allows you to collect dirt and then easily throw it away

  3. Apply the degreaser to the disc brake

    Turn the wheel to make sure you apply it all over. Do this on both sides of the disc brake.

  4. Wipe the dirt off the disc brakes with a cloth.

    Is there still a lot of dirt left behind? Then apply the degreaser again.

  5. Rinse the disc brake well with water after removing the dirt.

    Make sure they are completely clean and don’t be too frugal with the water.

  6. Dry the bicycle disc brakes well with a dry and clean cloth

    So do this with a different cloth than the one you used with the to clean mountain bike disc brakes

After cleaning it is very important to check the mountain bike brakes for proper functioning. Something may have come loose during cleaning. So put your bike back on its wheels and test the brakes front and rear. Do you feel that the brakes need to be readjusted? Check out my guide to adjusting mountain bike brakes here.

Frequently asked questions about cleaning bicycle disc brakes

How often should you clean MTB disc brakes?

This depends entirely on how often you get on your bike. In addition, the weather conditions have a strong influence on the cleaning intensity. It is therefore smart to check your brakes for dirt after every mountain bike ride. You can of course simply remove larger dirt with your hand. Are they really visibly dirty? Then it can’t hurt to clean and degrease them.

Won’t a degreaser make my disc brakes slippery, causing my pads to slip?

No, it doesn’t. A degreaser ensures that your brakes are not greasy. Greasy brake discs result in slipping brakes, resulting in unsafe situations.

Do I have to disassemble my disc brakes to clean them?

No. It’s smart to turn your bike upside down so that you can turn the wheels around and get good access to the disc brakes. Put a cushion or something soft under the saddle, so that it is not damaged.

Do I need to readjust my brakes afterwards?

It is possible that something has changed in the setting of your brakes. After cleaning it is really necessary to check your brakes! Readjust them again if necessary.

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