You Can Do It! (Brake Edition)

In my last post I touched on how my front brake has given up the ghost.  I put it off for a little while but was getting really itchy when I couldn’t get out and ride my bike.  True, I did one trip out and used Ryan’s hardtail and then swapped it for our friend’s full suspension downhill monster bike (talk about opposite ends of the spectrum!).  Both were fun but I was on new trails and I was missing poor Jenny.  It was time to take the matter into my own hands!

I decided that I had enough money to replace just the front brake.  I would’ve loved to do both at the same time but I’ll have to wait a bit on that I think.  I was also super keen to put my new mechanic skills to the test and actually take it home and install it myself.

This journey starts with a bit of research but I decided which kind of brake I wanted and headed into the shop.  My history with bike shops has been pretty good, actually, but I’ve found that I spent a lot of time beforehand studying what to say and how to say it to make it seem like I have some idea of what I’m talking about.  Mostly I’ve just given up on that endeavour as it’s always better to just admit when you don’t know something and ask for help, but I still get a bit nervous that I’ll be looked down upon for my ignorance.  I headed into Dunbar Cycles and, luckily, was mostly just tired having come from work and didn’t have time to feel nervous.  I walked up to the service desk and, astoundingly, found myself saying words like I knew what I was talking about…. wait a minute… I DID know what I was talking about!  There wasn’t a panicked text to someone about a question I didn’t know how to answer or even much of a pause in the conversation for me to think!  Honestly, it felt so good to be asked a question and know exactly what the answer is.  It’s quite the turning point in my biking career and I loved the feeling of it!  Hell yeah I can tell you about my bike and its parts!

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So I get the brake home and look at it.  It looks familiar.  There’s nothing too foreign about it in comparison to the brake I had already.  I can do this!  I must say without help of Ryan OR Youtube I changed the pads (swapped organic for metallic), changed out my rotor for a gently used one, installed the brake, routed the cable properly, and got the lever on in the right spot.

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I must say the moment I put the wheel back on I was holding my breath a little bit, worried it would somehow not fit… or explode… or something dramatic that ruins my entire bike. But it slid right in, fit like a glove and I felt so proud that I used what I’ve learned and that I have the confidence to just tackle it without second guessing myself (too much)!

I’ve already taken it out for a ride and had a blast.  It took about half a lap for me to get used to it but after that it felt totally fine.  I think it may need a bleed so I’m going to get a kit and do it myself rather than go to the shop.  I’ve got this!

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I know sometimes these things can feel incredibly daunting and intricate.  It feels like somehow you’re going to do one little thing that will absolutely ruin the entire mechanism or even bike itself.  My only advice for people like me who get nervous about this stuff to seek out and take a bike maintenance course.  If you’re in BC and can make it to Abbotsford, I really do recommend taking the UFV Bicycle Mechanic course like I did.  I feel so much more confident because I got to play with bikes, screw up, realize it wasn’t a big deal, and learned how to fix what I’d done.  That alone is worth so, so much.

What about you folks?  What are your home mechanic victories?

6 Replies to “You Can Do It! (Brake Edition)”

  1. Home mechanic wins? I guess the time I really needed to change pedals (spd to spd-sl) but wasn’t at work so I used a small spanner wrench and removed my shower curtain rod to slide over the wrench handle for extra leverage….

    I always bleed brakes after installing new levers so that the hoses aren’t sticking out (after cutting them to length) . I could see a home mechanic doing bleeds on Shimano hdb (mineral oil) but DOT bleeds are finicky.

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    1. I did learn to bleed my Avid Codes (the old old ones) and it went okay. I’m gonna snag a kit. I didn’t have to cut anything to length. It’s the perfect length out of the box ☺️
      But there’s definitely some air in there. Ho hum. Time to get a bleed kit. At least I can use it more than once.

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  2. This is so cool! I’m still on a total newbie level with bike maintenance (for example, last year I had a flat tire and fixed it myself which felt AWESOME…and then halfway through my 20 mile ride it was flat again so I definitely did something wrong). I’m impressed you were able to replace a break and hope it works out!

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    1. First of all-congrats on the fixed flat! That is not an easy thing, especially when you’re out riding and the pressure is on and you just want to keep going! It does sound like make your tube got caught under the rim and got pinched so you ended up with another flat. It’s pretty common.
      I actually am in awe of you a bit because out of all the stuff I’ve had to do to my bike I’ve still yet to have a flat. *knock wood*. I’m still scared of the day when I get to try to change it on the side of the trail just to find out I can’t get the tire off or something. I guess that’s a pro tip! See any riders on the side of the trail ask if they’re okay! Especially if you’re good at mechanicals 🤣
      Keep rocking it! I’m going to head to your blog to check out some of your adventures.

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      1. MTB tires are almost always easy to get on/off, thankfully.

        The tricky thing about DOT is that you need to de-gas it really well while it’s still in the syringe before doing the bleed. This is where most people’s home bleed jobs fail.

        And now for something completely different… I have set up my Blog V.2.

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