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KEEPING YOUR BIKE IN TIP-TOP SHAPE: CHOOSING THE BEST BRAKE FLUID
Your bicycle’s braking system relies on the fluid in it to function properly. Without quality bike brake fluid or without enough of it, you’re not likely to have a pleasant riding experience, apart from the danger, that is; especially if you’ll be riding in terrain that’s prone to accidents or populated.
Fluid is an important component of your bicycle’s hydraulic brake system. It works by transferring the forces you create at the master cylinder (lever) to the calliper pistons, thus providing an effective way to bring your wheels to a halt. Though liquids are generally incompressible, these have certain specific features, including the ability to resist the high temperatures created by the braking forces.
There are two types you’ll find on Bike Chaser, though manufacturers are the ones who make the choice of which particular one you’ll be using, since bicycles are usually compatible with only one of the two types. If you’ll be custom-building your own ride, however; you’ll certainly benefit from understanding what the relative merits of the two types are. Even if you’re not doing that, knowing will help you understand your bike better and make for more effective maintenance.
DOT BRAKE FLUIDS
DOT fluids are the predominant type, and with the exception of DOT 5, they are all made from a poly-glycol base. They are made to meet strict standards laid down by the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Department of Transportation (where the name comes from). The standards mostly revolve around the ability of the liquid to maintain effective performance in a range of temperatures (high and low), as well as specifying the minimum boiling temperatures for manufacturers to adhere to.
Those standards are often surpassed by many brands, so you should definitely take a thorough look at specifications while going through the inventory here. The product will naturally degenerate and lose effectiveness over time, as it absorbs water. It’s generally advisable that you do a bleed and replacement every year, but that is dependent on how heavy your bicycle usage is and how humid the environment in your location is.
The first difference between the Mineral Oil and DOT types is the fact that the former is hydrophobic, meaning that it does not naturally absorb water at all. While this grants the advantage of longevity and lower maintenance over time, any water that gets into the system (through seals or microscopic pores in the line) will result in a drastic reduction of the boiling point of your excellent Shimano mineral oil to that of water.
All the glycol-based DOT products can be safely mixed or swapped without resulting in any adverse effects on your adverse performance. DOT 5.1 is an exception because it’s made from silicone and has vastly different properties. The lines blur somewhat when it comes to mineral oils: Manufacturers insist that only their brand products be used in their bikes but there have been reports of people interchanging them safely. It’ll probably be best for you err on the side of caution and stick to what’s printed on the bike. If your ride is a Shimano, your best bet would be to shell out for Shimano brake fluid.