I washed my bike few days ago with soapy water. I didn't directly wash the brakes, but I assume I got some soapy water on them.

Now my disc brakes do not work. I can see that cable is tight enough, and the pressure is there, but it does not stop.

The front brakes are better after 1 day of driving (but still are weaker than before). The rear breaks are pretty much useless.

Details about the bike & brakes:

Bike: Cyclocross (bought last year)

Brakeset: Tektro Lyra mechanical cable actuated disc brake with 160mm wave rotors and Shimano ST-2300 STI brake levers

  • 1
    Clean the discs with rubbing alcohol. It should remove the remaining soap. It will also work with the pads if you remove the wheels and wipe between the pads.
    – Carel
    Jun 14, 2016 at 13:56
  • you have been riding without brake to speak of?
    – njzk2
    Jun 14, 2016 at 18:16

1 Answer 1


As @Carel mentioned, try using rubbing alcohol to clean the discs. It's often called Isopropyl Alcohol or isopropanol.

You may have inadvertently contaminated your pads which often means replacements. Did you use any sprays which may have blown on to the disc? Frame protector and water displacers like gt-85 or wd-40 will play havoc with your braking power.

I suggest taking the pads out and keying the surface with some emery paper. It'll take a little while to re-bed them in but it might bring them back to life.

If a contaminant has soaked in to the pad too deeply though you'll need to swap them out.

You may also want to take the opportunity to re-centre the calliper whilst you're tinkering.

  • 1
    What kind of soap did you use? If you took washing-up liquid it has most likely left a thin coating of water repellent that 'greases' your discs.
    – Carel
    Jun 14, 2016 at 19:42

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