Disc brakes are quite simple in operation; you squeeze the lever which forces the pads against a steel rotor. Brakes are one of the most important safety systems of a vehicle and must be routinely checked and maintained. Disc brakes are a powerful device and regular exposure to friction and gripping is bound to degrade their performance.
However, it might not be always required to get new brakes for your tyres and their performance can be substantially increased by careful maintenance. Disc brakes can be changed easily and there are many resources available online on how to change disc brakes. In this article, we have listed 6 useful tips to get the most from your disc brakes. Let’s get started:
1. Optimize Lever Position
An optimized lever gives you more power, control and confidence. Majority of the disc brakes have an option to adjust the position and angle of the levers. While setting up the lever, move the lever till the braking finger rests on the end of the lever in a straight line with your arm. This will decrease the arm thrust and increase the braking performance. It hardly takes five minutes to adjust the lever.
2. Oil The Brakes
While braking, all the power from the lever is passed to the pads through the brake fluid. All disc brakes are meant to be filled with brake fluid only. However, air often finds a way inside the hose which does not allow the pads to be pushed against the rotor properly. This results in in-efficient braking which can be improved by flushing the air out of the hose. It is a good practice to tap the brake lever body to ensure that there is no air bubble inside the hose.
3. Shorten The Hose
Hoses act as a transmission line to transfer the force between the lever and the brake pads. If this hose is longer, some of the hydraulic power might be lost resulting is less power to the pads. To avoid this, cut the excess length of the hose to keep it as short as practically possible.
4. Clean The Components
Cleaning the rotors and pads can remove any accumulated dirt which can improve the performance. Take the wheels out; remove the pads and rotors to inspect for any damage. If the rotors are aligned and pads have sufficient material left, wipe them with a solvent. Any alcohol-based cleaner should be enough to show considerable effect on braking performance.
5. Invest In New Components
An expensive but definite remedy would be to get bigger rotors for your brakes. A bigger rotor gets less heat up and cools down faster due to larger radius. A mere 10% increase in the rotor improves the braking torque by up to 30% without adding any considerable weight on the brake. However, make sure to cross-check the maximum rotor size that can be supported by the frame.
The material used in pads has a huge impact on the braking performance and lifetime as well. Organic pads are well suited for delivering high power in dry conditions but wear out quickly. Metal pads are noisy but work better in wet conditions. So depending upon the usage, you might consider buying a new pad.
6. Improve Your Technique
No matter how good your brakes are, it is impossible to get the most from them if you don’t use them effectively. In order to improve the power of your disc brakes, brush up your braking techniques. There are plenty of well proven braking guides online to improve your skills.
Giving a few minutes to regularly service the components of your disc brake can improve its life as well as performance. We hope that the tips mentioned in this article are helpful in improving the braking performance of your vehicle.