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Shimano Brake Bleed kit

Shimano Brake Bleed kit

Keeping your stoppers working well is vital. Air is the arch enemy of a hydraulic system - it causes lock-ups, leads to expansion and gives a vague spongy feel that robs braking power. Bleeding brakes can be a real pain and sometimes a two person job. However, if you've got Shimano brakes, help is at hand and this bleed kit will take a lot of hassle out of the job and actually make it pretty easy.
I love stuff that saves me time. It's great. This bleed kit saved me loads of time. Get one!

Oh, so you want to know the detail? Even though I could bleed the whole teams brakes, twice, in the time it'll take me to write an explanation, when you could have just trusted me? You're so demanding! Oh, OK, go on then.

In the kit you get a clamp, a bottle and a syringe. All pretty simple components but how on earth do you put them together and how do they make your life easier?


Shimano bleed kit components

The clamp has a soft foam pad on one jaw, with a hole through the middle. The hole has a straw that passes from one face and protrudes out the other. Depending on your bleed method (see below) you connect either the syringe or bottle to the clamp and connect the other one to the bleed nipple.

The first step is to support your bike so it's level (a work stand is a big help). Rotate the brake levers so the reservoir is horizontal. Remove the reservoir top cap and place the spongy face of the clamp over the reservoir. Clamp it all up tight. The soft pad deforms and seals oil into the reservoir.


The clamped up reservoir

Now you've got a choice - you can bleed 'top down' or 'bottom up'. I recommend 'bottom up'. In this method, the new fluid is pushed from the caliper, up the hose, to the reservoir. Why? Well, any trapped air will rise with the fluid, purging much more quickly. If you bleed 'top down', you are fighting the bubbles as they rise back against the downward fluid flow. Any pause in flow allows bubbles to rise again so they take longer to clear.

Pad removal is not necessary but is recommended - oil on the pads will mess them up.

For 'bottom up' bleeding, connect the bottle to the clamp straw and hang it off your bars.


Fill the syringe with fluid and purge all the air bubbles from the syringe. Now all you do is connect the syringe to the bleed nipple, crack the nipple open 1/4 turn and squeeze the plunger.


Shimano bleed kit components

Fluid from the syringe fills the system, pushing oil and air ahead of it. Since this is an open system, the excess fluid can escape the reservoir without the need to operate the brake lever.

Keep going until there are no air bubbles coming out of the reservoir. One syringe full is more than enough to fill a rear brake. Almost done.

At this stage, it's recommended to pump a bit of fluid top-down just to check the caliper is bubble free. Tap the caliper to loosen any stuck bubbles, crack the bleed nipple and pull the brake lever until fluid appears. Nip the nipple before releasing the lever.

Once you are happy you have purged all the air, lock off the nipple, remove the syringe, top up the reservoir and refit the diaphragm and top cap.


Clear, air free fluid coming out of the reservoir


Tips for a good bleed:

- bleed 'bottom up' so you're not fighting the air bubbles
- remove or cover your pads and rotor (fluid messes up the friction)
- during bleeding, tap the hose and caliper to dislodge any 'sticky' air bubbles
- ensure the nipple is higher than any part of the caliper to prevent air pockets
- don't open the bleed nipple too far (air can leak in the threads)
- be careful with fluid near your pads and rotors!

Job's a good 'un. Bleeding brakes is now so simple I almost want to do it!

The Shimano bleed kit is distributed in the UK by Madison and is available for around 35 from all good bike shops.

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More articles from the 'review | hardware' section:
[ VholdR helmet camera / headcam review ] - posted on 17th December 2008 by Phil.

[ Shimano Brake Bleed kit ] - posted on 27th January 2008 by Phil.

[ Shimano XT All Mountain wheelset ] - posted on 16th January 2008 by Phil.

[ NeoGuard review ] - posted on 4th December 2007 by Phil.

[ DMC Moto trainer review ] - posted on 27th November 2007 by Phil.

[ Shimano XT shadow mech ] - posted on 13th November 2007 by Phil.


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