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I accidentally got lube on my rear brake (v-brake) and my stopping power seems diminished. What is the best way to get it off the brake pads and the rims?

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    A really wild way to get rid of this lube: go to the trails in a rainy day. Bet the mud, sand and water will clean your brakes/rims "to the metal". (Although the weird tone, this suggestion is a bit serious, actually). Jan 24 '12 at 13:01
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Clean them. I'd avoid using any sort of solvent, as it would be bad for the pads and might simply make things worse.

First undo the noodle so you can access the face of the pads, then wipe pads and rims thoroughly. Scrub pads and rims with a dab of detergent on a rag, then hose down to remove the detergent. Reattach noodle. (I always forget that part.)

The brakes will likely still be a bit "slippery", but riding with the brakes partially engaged for a minute or two should bring things back to normal.

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    Detergent can react with raw aluminum. If it is anodized, this is not usually the case, but it can. Use isopropyl alcohol instead. Otherwise, good answer. +1
    – zenbike
    Aug 2 '11 at 14:46
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Loosen the V-brakes, so you can access the pads (you can even remove them and clean each individually).

Then apply degreaser to them (there are many types, I end up by using a citrus-type or in some more radical cases even use petroleum on the rim, but make sure you clean it with a rug afterwards!).

NOTE: using a solvent or petroleum can damage some parts of your bike, so make sure you test it first and definitely don't use it on rubber!

Do the same to the rim.

Clean it very well with a rug and check if there is any trace of grease, if it has, try to degrease it further.

When everything is ok, just reassemble the brakes and test it, if you did everything correctly then it should work ok!

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    V-brake pads are rubber. Degreaser can (but not always does) damage rubber. use isopropyl alcohol. It will remove the grease without damaging the rubber pads. It may take multiple applications. Clean the rims with it as well.
    – zenbike
    Aug 2 '11 at 14:44
  • @zenbike I agree, but a citrus-type degreaser (even a dish washing product) can do the job without damage.
    – jackJoe
    Aug 2 '11 at 15:58
  • Yes, some can. I tried to be clear about that. But not all, and alcohol is the only guaranteed safe product, unless you recommend a particular brand or solvent and strength. A dish washing detergent is fine if the aluminum is finished, or if it's diluted properly. Alcohol doesn't require either of those. And gas or kerosene (petroleum) are definitely not rubber safe.
    – zenbike
    Aug 2 '11 at 16:05
  • @zenbike nice one! my suggestion for the petroleum was meant for the rim, and only if desperate :)
    – jackJoe
    Aug 2 '11 at 16:31
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    I figured that you didn't mean use it on everything. But it wasn't explicitly stated, and we have to assume the asker knows nothing... Lack of detail in that manner could be damaging (or even dangerous) if someone makes a bad assumption. Even when it shouldn't be. :-)
    – zenbike
    Aug 2 '11 at 17:04
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You should take the opportunity to give your wheels and brake pads a good clean. A bucket of hot water with half a tablet of clothes washing powder and whatever brush you can find will do the job nicely. Wash off with more water and the accumulated dirt on your rims plus the lube will be gone.

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My recommendation is to use a rag and de-greaser like Simple Green. Apply the solution to your rag, wet pads let the liquid do its thing and wipe clean/dry. If that does not work, repeat. If after doing that twice you are not getting the appropriate braking power, I would gently sand the face of the brake pad with a fine grit sandpaper.

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V-brake pads are rubber. Degreaser can (but not always does) damage rubber. use isopropyl alcohol. It will remove the grease without damaging the rubber pads. It may take multiple applications. Clean the rims with it as well.

Quoting from Daniel's answer, with edits:

First undo the noodle so you can access the face of the pads, then wipe pads and rims thoroughly. Scrub pads and rims with a isopropyl alcohol on a rag. It will evaporate.

Repeat as required. If more is required, sand the face of the brake pad with a fine grit sandpaper.

Reattach noodle. (Everybody always forgets that part.)

Hope that helps.

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  • Yeah, the alcohol is a good idea, though I'd still use the detergent first. Aug 2 '11 at 15:54
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I'd use Simple Green or a similar mild degreaser followed by denatured alcohol to eliminate any residue. Make sure and thoroughly rinse Simple Green off your rims and pads using water, it makes the brakes grabby, loud, and yet ineffective if you leave it on.

You could also lightly sand the brake pads to get rid of the contamination.

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