I have a set of Shimano m785 calipers with Saint RT81 rotors. Every week or so they squeal and severely lose braking performance (mainly the front).

Using disk brake cleaner and a touch of sanding I can get them working again. When cleaning there is clear contamination from oil that has dried.

Now I've thoroughly cleaned the caliper and even simultaneously replaced the pads and rotors. Two weeks later and it's back again. I do ride past some moderately industrial areas but where is the oil coming from? I don't think there's a leak from the caliper as the lever doesn't feel spongy.

Is there a way to prevent this other than catching the oil early each week and removing it?

  • 1
    Have you checked to see if the caliper pistons have any evidence of seepage?
    – mikes
    Jul 24, 2017 at 19:55
  • "Oil that has dried" is a bit of an oxymoron. If it's oil it won't dry, but will retain some of the glossy/wet look that oil would have when new. Jul 24, 2017 at 21:15
  • 2
    Thanks! I think you are right. link I dried the area and repeatedly squeezed the lever and noticed some bubbling like in the video on the right piston. How easy is this to repair, I'm guessing a strip and re-bleed at least? Jul 24, 2017 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


It's probably some kind of unfixable (given the lack of replacement parts) problem with the pistons. If you want you can take apart the caliper to confirm, using a blower attachment on an air compressor to pop the pistons out and inspect them. But what it comes down to is if your no-service-parts-availability caliper is leaking oil repeatedly, there's not a lot you can do but replace it. Luckily a new BR-M785 complete with finned pads is under $50US.

  • Agreed - I'm astonished how cheap hydraulic brakes are now compared to a couple years ago. Brakes are not an area you want to skimp!
    – Criggie
    Jul 25, 2017 at 0:07

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