I've got Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and ever since I've had the bike (from new) the front brake has never worked properly. It used to squeak really loudly and perform badly but I assumed they just needed bedding in (taking the bike back to where I got it from wasn't really an option as I bought it from a shop far from where I live (long story)). After riding around 100 miles on the bike with no improvement I decided to get the pads replaced. The squeaking isn't as loud, but it still does squeak and the performance is still rubbish.

I've read about cleaning the pads and discs with alcohol which I've now done and that hasn't made any difference either so I'm all out of ideas.

It's really annoying as I used to have cable V-brakes which worked brilliantly! My friend is also having trouble with his disc brakes and I'm starting to think disc brakes are more trouble that they're worth?!

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  • Adding more detail on the problem, and indicating what you've done to narrow it down since posting this may help. Commented May 29, 2011 at 1:41
  • Exactly the same for me I've got Shimano brakes,Ultegra hydro disc, 160/160mm RT54 rotors, and ever since I've had the bike (from new) the front brake has never worked properly & back brake hardly works at all. My bike has been to 5 different bike mechanics and no difference. All 5 gave different reasons why the brakes don't work properly ! Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 15:27

3 Answers 3


I suggest first checking that everything is assembled correctly. Make sure the rotor is on the wheel the right way round (it should have arrows in the centre). Download the instructions from Shimano's website and check that everything is in the right place and done up tight (but not too tight!) Or tell us what model you have and ideally post a picture.

Look down at the pads and make sure that they clear the rotor on both sides and that they're parallel to the rotor. Squeeze the lever and make sure they squeeze fairly evenly and with no obvious stiction. If the pads aren't parallelreset the capiler - these directions look fairly useful to me and there's a video (that I haven't watched). Basically, loosen the mounting bolts, squeeze the brake lever, tighten the bolts.


The model I had was BR-M485. I found an article saying that shimano had accepted some of them were faulty - leaking oil.

I have since bought a set of Shimano Deore M596, and they work like a dream!


Can you describe "not working properly"? Is it braking power, rotor rub, noise, lever throw,etc? Also, what brake model? Moz's idea for caliper alignment works well on most Avid brakes but it relies on a floating mount system that your setup ay not have.

@David The presence of any oil on the pads or rotor is a bad sign (and also likely explains why the brakes no longer squeal as much) - what's the lever-resistance like? Can you pull the lever all the way into the bar? If they've never worked properly I'd suspect they need to be bled, or you could have a very small leak-you don't see any fluid then around the drums that press the pads into the rotor. You can service this yourself but it's finicky and requires a few specialized tools. It's usually the same price to have your bike shop bleed the brake as buying the manufacturers bleed kit, so I don't bother doing them myself.

  • It's braking power (although it does squeak - that doesn't bother me!). With my V-brakes I could shift my weight on to the front of the bike and be able to lift the back wheel by pulling the front brake, but my discs don't have the power to do this.. Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 11:03
  • To solve the squealing, try putting some copper-slip on the back of the pad. Only use a small amount and get none on the braking surface.
    – Holloway
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 14:17

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