How To Adjust Shimano Hydraulic Disc Brakes (Step By Step Guide)

The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes have developed over the years to give an amazing performance to the market’s different bikes. Modern bikes have more newly invented ideas and improved over the years to give incredible bike performance and safe than before.

The mountain bikes come with disc brakes, especially since they are all over the road community. The disc brakes on the mountain are special and offer an excellent barking system even in bad weather. It’s good to have a look into the Shimano hydraulic power to understand more.

What Is Hydraulic Disc Brakes?

The hydraulic brakes refer to when the brake lever is pulled, and fluid is compressed, which then runs down the brake caliper. After the fluid is compressed to the brake caliper, the pad is compressed as well to the rim of the wheel. The hydraulic disc brake works differently, and with them, there is no cable involved in the process. The hydraulic disc brakes work quite differently from the mechanical brakes.

The mechanical brakes do not have the fluid that is compressed to the caliper and the wheel. That’s what makes them a bit different. The braking performance of hydraulic disc brakes is good and very powerful since the pads are pushed into the rim. The bikes having hydraulic disc brakes work well, and you have more control of the bike than ever. The weather does not matter at all. The cycles work well to give you excellent performance.

Types of Disc Brakes For Bikes

There are two types of disc brakes, and each of them works perfectly fine. One of the disc brakes is mechanical, which works with cables. The working of mechanical brakes is different from the hydraulic disc brakes. The hydraulic replace the cables with the hydraulic fluids that are fully sealed in line. When you want to brake, the pressure compresses the fluid to move to the caliper and then press the pads against the disc to go to the rim. The way bikes with the two brakes work are different from each other.

For the brakes, they come at different prices. Most of the bikes that are less than $1000 are most likely to be of mechanical brakes. The mechanical brakes offer a lower cost to the user and allow one to spend less. Even so, the bikes are reliable with excellent performance. It comes with all-weather stopping power. Mechanical brakes, as we have seen, are cable activated, which some of the users like. That’s because the cable-activated bike is more comfortable to work on and compatible with most of the mechanical brake levers. Most of the bikes that are flooding the market come with the hydraulic brakes

  • Getting Started

The Shimano disc brakes work using the hand lever, which is a master piston. The Piston pushes the brake fluid through the sealed brake to the caliper. It’s quite easy to adjust the Shimano hydraulic disc brake with few steps to follow. When doing the inspection on the hydraulic system, don’t turn the bike upside down. This is to prevent the air from entering the brake lines. The lever comes in two different caliper mounting systems. The body of the caliper may be attached to the rotor mount of the fork or the frame. It’s not in all bikes that the caliper is attached to the frame’s rotor mount or fork. Some are attached to the bracket. The bracket is attached to the fork or the frame. If the caliper is attached to the mounts, then you will have to use a thin washer to adjust it. Place the washer between the fork mount to adjust the caliper body. It’s not hard at all. You will then have to install the washers and secure them using the mounting bolt.

  • How To Carry Out An Adjustment

Carrying out adjusting is not hard at all. To get the best brake performance, you have to align the caliper to the rotor. To proceed with the adjusting, you have to loosen the calipers’ bolt that is mounted on the brackets. The bolt loosens, it will then move to the side. You will have to maintain the pressure and secure the pads against the rotor. To do this, you will have to lower the brake lever first, and also, it will move the caliper. When the caliper moves, it will ensure that both are well aligned. You will have to inspect the brake pad and the caliper carefully since it’s very important. To do that, you have to push the Piston to the left and right and align it to the center. You will have to tighten the caliper by mounting the bolts to maintain the pressure on t rotor when adjusting.

The process is simple with little time needed, but you have to do it correctly. After you release the lever, check the pad’s alignment, and it should be able to clear the rotor without rubbing it in the process. When you experience tight rubbing, you don’t have to worry. It has no great effect on performance at all. In instances where your wheel slows down when you do the turning, then you have to do something. You have to loosen the mounting bolt of the caliper and adjust the pads’ position and the caliper for a smooth wheel ride. When the mounting is loosened, you can as well do fine-tuning on the alignment of the pad and ensure the other bolt is tight. This enables the push on the caliper to turn the snug bolt.

  • Removing and Replacing The Brake Pad

Removing and replacing the brake pads needs special attention to some of the parts. A good is that you have to look and check the pads to see if they are unevenly worn. This is so for the caliper that is aligned to the rotor. Before you start removing and replacing the brake, you have first to mount your bike on a stand and remove the wheels. You have to get the reservoir parallel to the ground. This can be done by rotating the lever on the handlebar. With the upper surface of the reservoir parallel to the ground, you then can then wipe the lever and the reservoir cover. The reservoir may have excess fluid. You have to take off the cover to remove the fluid. It’s not hard to do it on your own with the right instruction.

You have to remove the pad fixing bolt and take out the pads. This can be done by shoving them from the hub axe with takes a few minutes. To clean it, you have to use a mild solvent and a clean rag. Clean the piston area well and remove dirt around the area. Push the piston to the caliper’s body with a plastic lever. Make sure it’s pushed near the center piston and not at the edge piston. After you are done, push the Piston back into the caliper’s body when you are done cleaning. Install the caliper and check the alignment between the pad and the bolt hole and connect the pad to ensure it’s secure using a bolt.

When done installing the pad, screw the reservoir cover just as it was before, install the wheel back as well and test them to see if they require bleeding or not. If the lever feels soft, then your wheels require bleeding. Check and see if the pads are aligned as required. If not, you will have to reset it

  • Replacing and Bleeding of Brake Fluid

Bleeding is the process of removing air that is trapped in the calipers in the hydraulic system. The levers of the hydraulic disc brakes work using mineral oil. In the Shimano brake system, you will not be able to use the DOT brake fluid. To bleed your bike, you have to do the following. Bleeding requires you first mount your bike on a repair stand and remove the wheels. With the brake pads still attached, it may lead to fluid contamination. The next thing is to remove the brake pads. For this, you have to install the brake block. The Shimano brake block is suitable, and you may have to consider using it. Rotate the bike for tubing to have an upward slope from the reservoir of the brake caliper. Rotate the lever on the handlebar to make sure the upper surface of the reservoir is parallel to the ground.

The bleed tubing needs to be tied at the end of the bleep nipple, and plastic bad can be used at the end of the tubing to collect the excess fluid. At the same time, wipe the reservoir tank clears all the dirt from the lever. Take the reservoir bladder off and also the cap and filled it to the top. From the caliper body, you can then loosen the bleed nipple. When the bubble appears on the reservoir tank, the fluid might go down as you continue to use the lever. Continue filling the reservoir to remove the air trapped in the reservoir and use a nonmetallic lever to collect the brake fluid.

Make sure to keep the reservoir tank of the bike full of fluid and close the bleep nipple at the caliper as the oil starts to pour out of a bleed tube. When you pull the lever, it should be firm and stiff. This indicates they are ok. In case there is resistance, you should open the screw and operate on the handle to pump the oil to the system. You have to use a small adjustable wrench to loosen the bleed nipple and open the system. Check for air bubbles present in the system once opened. Get rid of air bubbles present. Add fluid to release the leaver and asses the reservoir tank carefully. Once done bleeding, disconnect the hose from the bleed pipe. With the simple steps, you are able to do bleeding

  • Resetting The Brake Pads

To reset the brake pads, you have to follow a few steps. First, you have to mount your bike on the repair stand and remove the wheels. This is a step that is followed in doing so many things, including bleeding and others. Remove the crews and open the pad. When the pad is screwed, you have to use a fresh rag and mild solvent to clean the piston faces and the caliper body’s interior. To push the Piston into the caliper body, you have to use a plastic lever like a tire lever. Assess to see whether the Piston is full of excess fluid in the system.

The next step you have to do is to install the pads. Install a floating Shimano like a Y8CL1200 Shimano. You then have to squeeze the lever severally to center the align the caliper. When installing the wheel, be careful not to squeeze the lever. Use washers when the center is aligning the pads to the rotor. With all the steps, do you have to secure the mounting bolts then back in place? You then have to assess the alignment by squeezing the lever. The steps are not hard to do, especially if you are a fan of bikes and using the hydraulic disc brake system.


When adjusting the hydraulic disc brake system, you have to consider a lot of things first. Remember, when the air gets into the hydraulic brake system, it leads to the brake’s poor performance. The air is a nemesis to performance. When it gets into the brake causes the balance on the system pressure, especially when hot. When adjusting the brakes, make sure the air does not get into the brake system.

This is also because they produce bubbles when braking hard and make the lever pump out. It’s good to follow all the instructions on adjusting the Shimano hydraulic disc brake. Bleeding the brakes helps to maintain the bike’s performance and remove the air in the brake system.

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