I have recently have purchased my first ever bike with disc brakes, I wanted to know the basics, the dos and don'ts, and to understand stuff I hear like contaminating disc brakes, what does this, how can I stop this and any other things I should know about my hydraulic disc Brakes?
I feel like some bits are missing from the previous answer. To give you a bit more perspective, I'll try to order them by importance:
• Don't get oily contaminants (hands or lube), onto the rotors or pads. This is fairly obvious, but as mentioned in the comments v-brakes will be more resilient to oily grime than discs. It also means that you should not just use any kind of chemical to clean your discs. I personally clean mine with rubbing alcohol and am wary about additives that might degrade the pads or leave a coating.
• Break in your pads properly. I am surprised this one did not come up. If your pads are new, do not overheat them. You could otherwise "glaze" the pads: A mirror like finish at the surface, which reduces stopping power. More about this
• Depending on the quality of your brakes be mindful of having them get too hot in general. Some brakes will lose stopping power when they get too hot (a brake is a device than turns kinetic energy into heat). Some other brakes MIGHT STOP working because of extreme heat (brake oil starts boiling resulting in mushy levers). To mitigate this, brake in "bursts" when possible.
• Don't actuate the lever without a rotor or a spacer in, the brake caliper pistons could come off or leak some oil.
• Good disc brakes do not require much maintenance, but you might need to bleed them every once in a while. This depends on so many factors (oil kind, usage, humidity) that it is difficult to predict when this could be a necessity. Keep in mind that if your levers get mushy or get too close to the handlebars, you will probably need to do it/have it done.
Disc brakes are truly amazing provided you pay attention to the aforementioned points.
- Don't bend the rotor (unless it's bending with a proper tool to unbend some earlier bending damage)
- Don't touch the rotor when hot
- Ideally don't touch the rotor braking surfaces even when cold as skin oils can slightly degrade braking
- Don't let any oils or other nonvolatile liquids on the brakes
- The pads wear out very fast, many times faster than on rim brakes, so you'll need to learn how to change them yourself (you may find some information about the differences of organic resin pads vs sintered metal pads)
- If the front wheel has a quick release as opposed to thru axle, check that it's tight before every ride
- Don't actuate the lever with the wheel off the bike. When transporting the bike with the wheel off, use a pad spacer.