I recently bought a bleed kit (for shimano brakes from shimano) and used it on my hydraulic brakes (successfully as far as I can tell). During cleaning up I noticed the syringe says it was for single use only. This seemed annoying to me at first (produces waste, requires to actually get new ones - shop opening hours / struggle with shipping companies …) so I was wondering what the reasons might be and came up with the following candidates:

  • They come from the same production line as medical syringes, where they really really shouldn't be used more than once. So the label is on it by default and the production company never bothered to figure out what actually happens upon multiple uses.

  • The syringe won't be clean after the first usage and the oil damages the plastic over long exposure, so you get traces of whatever comes out of that reaction into the oil, and the syringe won't work properly (piston not tight / piston stuck)

  • The oil attracts dust and dirt, so after storage I would contaminate my brake with "bike tool drawer dust".

  • I might not remember if I used a syringe for mineral oil or dot 5.1 / dot 4 and run into danger of mixing the two when using on a different bike, and all just because I tried to safe a few bucks on a new syringe. (or even worse, who says I only use the syringe for brakes? I might mix all sorts of liquids)

  • I use my syringes for years and with different fluids and the worst what happened was increased friction so you have to apply more force to the plunger. Am still interested in answers, so have an upvote. – Klaster_1 Aug 23 '18 at 8:52
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    They might be sourced from medical suppliers where this would be the norm. – Carel Aug 23 '18 at 9:33
  • Used mine multiple times over the years without issue – Andy P Aug 23 '18 at 10:33
  • Did you buy from Shimano, or from a third party to suit Shimano procedure? Might have a bearing on the answer. – Swifty Aug 23 '18 at 15:38
  • From Shimano, added. – pseyfert Aug 23 '18 at 15:43

You can likely use it multiple times.

Obviously, you don't want to mix different fluids in that are incompatible; you could clean the syringe by drawing in and out a bunch of times, but its probably less convenient than just keeping a separate syringe for different fluids.

They may fail at some point (likely the gasket), but that's probably fine; just use a new syringe when it fails. This may occur between multiple uses if you don't clean/if the materials degrade the syringe over time. But its not a big deal.

Note that even humans have fairly high success rates reusing syringes, particularly drug addicts in first world countries and oral syringes for babies (which is closer to the type of syringe your bleed kit has). Though, obviously, for medical reasons, you don't always want to (usually don't) want to reuse a syringe.

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  • I'd stick each syringe in a plastic clipseal bag and clearly label it with the fluid type. – Criggie Aug 28 '18 at 8:29

Simply clean them with some cleaning alcohol spray. After it dried, lube it with a little bit of the hydraulic oil again (otherwise you would damage the rubber part of the piston) and you are ready to put them back to your tools an reuse them again.

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