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Installing Shimano XT brakes

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Added this to my skills set this week. Things like this were intimidating but I finally bit the bullet. Here's how it is done:

http://www.austinbike.com/index.php/repairs/352-upgrading-to-shimano-xt-brakes

I am still not comfortable cutting down the hoses on my Hope brakes, so I don't know if those will go onto the hardtail just yet.

Next up is learning to service a rear shock and a fork. Maybe I need to bring a 6-pack to Mack Turtle's place one of these days.

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Hope brakes are just as easy. Just make sure you put new washers on the banjo bolts.  Hope has a YouTube video on it.

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“Putting washers on the banjo bolt”. Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

but on a serious note, the brake hoses are braided and I hear that is a pain

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The cutting wasn't the problem. Heard that the issue was getting the olive on with a braided cable. Maybe I'll give it a go in a couple of weeks, no urgent need today as I am skipping town to beat the heat and that bike is not part of the plan.

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Posted (edited)

I want to upgrade my brakes too. Your blog post looks very helpful. Can I ask where you bought them from and how much?

I was checking this out on eBay but the price looks too good to be true, what do you think?

 

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Edited by tomreece

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25 minutes ago, AustinBike said:

I used the existing rotors with no problem

Currently I have SRAM brakes on my bike. I assumed I would need new Shimano rotors? Am I wrong?

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Posted (edited)

Rotors is rotors. Brake brand generally makes no difference. The only time that matters is if you have some weird off brands with weird sizes. I had a Hope that was once off-sized by a few mm, it was a 183mm and the standard was 180 so I needed some spacers. 160mm, 180mm and 203mm are the most common sizes. The mounts for the calipers are all standardized so all you need to do is remove the old calipers and put the new ones on, everything should fit with no problem. You only need new rotors if your old ones are damaged or too worn down.

Edited by AustinBike
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My rear rotor is a bit bent up. I've tried to straighten it back out and haven't succeeded yet. So it rubs every-so-slightly and bothers the piss out of me.

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Then you need one. Whether you buy two is your call. Some people like everything to match. Smart people just buy exactly the same model and only replace one. It's your call, I could go either way.

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Posted (edited)

You can "true" a rotor back into shape if it's not too badly bent. I bought a Feedback Sports tool for that job which is cheap and will save you a ton of hassle and $$ over replacing rotors at the first sign of trouble. you can often do it with clean fingersa paper towel, and an adjustable wrench.

If it's mangled though, replace it.

Some rotors don't play nice with other brands' calipers. It's a matter of the rotor's outside shape. Some have waves and angles that don't line up with the pads or might hit the caliper.

Edited by mack_turtle
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Mack_turtle is right. Not that you're considering this, but there have been cases where floating rotors such as Hope's wouldn't play nice with other calipers due to the rivets on the carrier catching the caliper. Also, some discs have a different thickness, but that usually doesn't cause an issue that can't be fixed by a little pad spacing adjustment.

About truing rotors...yes it can be done. But at $35 for an ice tech rotor, just get some new fresh ones and be done with those SRAM rotors.

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I finally got my SLX brakes installed. I also bought a bleed kit just in case but I did not have to cut the cable down so I did not bleed them.

Im new to this, how would I even tell that they need bled? The lever feels good to me but I’m a perfectionist about equipment. I want it to be in tip top shape.

how can I tell if they need bled? Am I overthinking it?

 

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The nice thing about Shimano brakes is the lack of DOT fluid, mineral oil rocks. Just bleed them, it's super easy and then you'll be sure.

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21 minutes ago, tomreece said:

I finally got my SLX brakes installed. I also bought a bleed kit just in case but I did not have to cut the cable down so I did not bleed them.

Im new to this, how would I even tell that they need bled? The lever feels good to me but I’m a perfectionist about equipment. I want it to be in tip top shape.

how can I tell if they need bled? Am I overthinking it?

 

No, you might not need to bleed them.  But after a few days you may have to bleed them.  I take a small wrench and bang the tube lightly, starting at the caliper and moving up to the lever, this helps work the air bubbles up to the handle (allegedly). I also hang my bikes by the front wheel and that helps work those bubbles up to the lever.

After a couple days, do a quick bleed, 5 minutes or less, and you will see if there was any air in the system. If after a couple days they are still really firm, then skip it, you don’t need to mess with it if everything feels good. 

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On my Kona gravel bike, if I left the bike hanging vertically for a week both brakes would be completely flat. Once the bike was horizontal I could pump the brakes and they felt great. Did the bleed with pads in place and they have been perfect since.  AB is right about tapping the lines to get the bubbles to the top.

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