Explore the Aire Valley Towpath

It’s the wonderful chance to explore part of the longest canal in Britain.

The Aire Valley Towpath is a canal towpath, from Leeds to Bingley with a distance of 17 miles.

You can access it through the Leeds, Shipley and Bingley train stations as well as the National Cycle Network routes 66 and 69.

If you want to take in the gorgeous scenery of the countryside, wiz past galleries, shops, museums and drink in the rich history along the longest canal in the country then why not give Aire Valley Towpath a go?

The Aire Valley Towpath is perfect for a morning bike ride, an easy day’s pedalling and a day out with the children.

Pass through urban areas vibrant with life and the calming, gorgeous countryside as you move through Leeds, out past Kirkstall Abbey, Bramley Fall, Rodley, Calverley Woods, Apperley Bridge, Buck Wood at Thackley, Shipley, HIrst Wood, Dowley Gap and the Three and Five Rise Locks at Bingley.

Along the Aire Valley Towpath you can visit:

  • Leeds Industrial Museum
  • Kirkstall Abbey
  • Abbey House Museum
  • West Wood
  • Saltaire World Heritage Site
  • Five Rise Locks


January is the month of New Year’s resolutions and challenges for the year of 2019.

Veganuary is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions and so Sustrans have complied a list of vegan-friendly restaurants on the National Cycle Network that are a guaranteed amazing meal out.

Map of world

Bike outline

Liverpool – National Route 56

Down the Hatch

Down the Hatch is situated right along National Route 56 in Ropewalks in the creative bohemian heart of Liverpool. With an array of vegan and vegetarian options, Down the Hatch can tickle your taste buds any day of the week with mac n cheese, a spicy seitan burger, salad or fries. Just like Nando’s they have an amazing assortment of sauces, so indulge in a vegan sauce to be paired perfectly with whatever you choose from the menu.

Bike outline

Durham – National Route 14

Jumping Bean

The Jumping Bean is the first ever established vegan restaurant in Durham and unique in itself. The Jumping Bean looks to create plant-based takes on all of your favourite fast foods. This means that when you are craving a vegan hot dog or nachos, you can find these and more at the Jumping Bean.

Bike outline

Bournemouth – National Route 25

Mad Cucumber Vegan Lounge

Located in the heart of the vibrant and quirky Bournemouth sits the Mad Cucumber Vegan Lounge. It’s a promise that you will never go hungry here with their array of options to suite every craving in the book. In the mood for the breakfast burritos, wraps, chilli or curry, maybe one of the daily specials starring quiche, stew, nut roasts or maybe you just fancy a homemade cake, Mad Cucumber Vegan Lounge has everything.

Bike outline

Southwark – National Route 4


Tibits caters to all, if you’re on the go or looking to refuel, why not do this with salads, breakfasts, soups and pressed juices. Every day of the week serves fresh and delicious foods, 80% of which are vegan with the added bonus that Tuesday’s are totally vegan.

Bike outline

Norwich – The Marriots Way

Namaste India

Namaste India, the family-run authentic Indian restaurant that encompasses all the flavours and foods of India in the dishes served. Whether you fancy a dish from north or the south, Namaste India has it all with mouth-watering masala dosas, spiced curies and side dishes to take you on an adventure of food.

Bike outline

Llanidloes – National Route 81

The Great Oak Café

With Vegan and veggie dishes fresh every day, organic and fair trade coffee, teas, hot chocolate and vegan shakes this café is one that you can’t skip. They not only cater to your thirst but your taste too with soups, lasagne, curries, pizza and flan and of course, what’s a café without dessert?

Bike outline

Glasgow – National Route 75


Mono is not just a Vegan café but a bar located in Glasgow’s Merchant city. Serving fresh and home cooked favourites, coupled with starters and puddings galore, this is the place to go. You’ve got pizzas, burgers, hotdogs, stews and noodle salads to pair with delicious sides.

Bike outline

Middlesbrough – National Route 65

The Green Room

A Vegan bistro that gives you the perfect combination of home cooked vegan and gluten-free options. Spend your lunchtime or dinner there and sink your teeth into the variety of fresh and tasty mains and desserts.

Bike outline

Derry – National Route 92

Hidden City Café

If you’re looking for an independent, family-run café that stars organic and local ingredients, then the Hidden City Café in Derry is where you need to go. If you want breakfast, lunch, a healthy snack or something sweet to treat yourself then the Hidden City Café has it all.

Bike outline

Glastonbury – National Route 3

Excalibur Café

Are you in the mood for a feast? Then look no further, here you can experience Arthur’s feast, a vegan buffet with salads, seasonal vegetables, hot dishes and dressings galore. All you need to do is pay for the size of plate you want and go crazy. If a crazy, fresh and multi-coloured buffet isn’t on your menu for the day then treat yourself to a selection of pressed juices, smoothies and biscuits.

Bike outline

Inverness – National Route 1

Velocity Café

If the words locally sourced and organic ingredients makes your mouth water than why not try the Velocity café. Scan the menu and fluffy pastries calling your name from the counter, warm up your toes and fingers with soup and fresh bread or give yourself that extra burst of energy with a piece of homemade carrot cake. But before you go, why not stop off at the workshop housing experts who can look over your bike, giving it some much needed TLC.

Bike outline

Bangor – National Route 5


Voltaire may be the perfect place for you after a long and tiresome cycle. Your legs may be aching and a little unstable but Voltaire’s all-encompassing menu serves as the perfect distraction. Let your eyes float over the words, your mouth watering at the sight of Vegan burgers and fries, curries, pizzas and more. If water just isn’t doing it for you anymore then why don’t you scan over the multi-coloured, fresh mocktails.

Follow along the National Cycle Network tasting Sustrans 12 recommended Vegan restaurants in 2019.

£13 million raised Prudential RideLondon


£13 million raised for charity.

This year’s RideLondon event has beaten the 2017 record of £12.75 million and has brought the total money raised for charity in the first six years of the world’s greatest festival of cycling to more than £66 million.

Prudential RideLondon was created by the Mayor of London and agencies in 2013, growing to become the world’s greatest festival of cycling. The event is managed by the London & Surrey Cycling Partnership (LSCP), a partnership between London Marathon Events Limited and SweetSpot Group Limited.

This event sits within the Mayor’s and TfL’s cycling programme.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said:

“I’d like to pay tribute to every cyclist who helped raise this record-breaking amount of money for charity at 2018 Prudential RideLondon. Their efforts will help some fantastic charities make a real difference to people’s lives”.

The first launch of Prudential RideLondon in 2013 saw 16,000 riders raise more than £7 million, with the following years seeing a significant increase in the number of cyclists and the money raised. 2014 saw 20,709 cyclists that broke the £10 million barrier, 2015 saw 25,564 finishers raising more than £12 million and setting a new fundraising record for a cycling event in Europe. 2018, may have been the hardest year yet as riders fought through the strong winds and heavy rain but came out champions raising a record £13 million.

£300,000 was raised for Charity of the Year, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Children’s Charity by a team of more than 450 riders.

Macmillan Cancer Support raised more than £500,000, with Alzheimer’s Society, British Heart Foundation and Prostate Cancer UK among the many other charities that raised six figure sums.

This year’s event has been impressive and a milestone in cycling, but what will 2019 bring to the table?

The 2019 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 takes place on Sunday 4th of August!

Registration is now open.

Registration closes on Friday 4th of January 2019.

If everyone cycled…

cycle city

Today, the EU transport sector is the biggest greenhouse gas emitting economic sector, exceeding the 1990 emission levels by 20% and accounting for 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Cyclists Federation (ECF) made it very clear recently, that cycling is able to contribute to stopping climate change.

“Achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050 through a socially-fair transition in a cost-efficient manner”.

The ECF, welcomes this goal, viewing it as a key sentence in the European Long-Term Climate Strategy.

250 million Europeans cycle, however more cyclists are needed to achieve the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In order to this, apparently the number of cyclists need to quadruple to 1000 cyclists.

“This could reduce CO2 emissions by 555 million tonnes by 2050. This is roughly equivalent to the CO2 emission of the whole of the UK and Ireland combined for 2015”.

This is to say that quadrupling the number of cyclists in the EU can reduce the CO2 emission by a level that the 71 million inhabitants of the UK and Ireland are responsible for.

Not only this, but, the quality of living will be improved through a reduction in air pollution, noise and accidents.

There is the need to put the bicycle industry at the core of sustainable development in order to protect the environment and better the cities around the world.

Click here to find out how you can get the bike you want using retail finance.

Night riding London 2019

London Nightrider 2019 gives you the opportunity to explore the city at night by bike.

Registration to join the hundreds of other cyclists taking part in the 2019 London Nightrider is now open. Registration before the 31st of December 2018 is only £29.

london night ride

London Nightrider is celebrating its 10th anniversary!

It is a fun charity event at night in the heart of London, giving you the chance to explore the cities sights, latest attractions and famous landmarks on wheels.

London Nightrider is the perfect time to see the capital through different eyes, cycling down the quiet streets and watching the first glimmers of the sunrise as you complete your ride. The routes are all fully sign posted allowing you to cycle at your chosen pace. GPS is also available to anyone who wants it. Support, back up and regular break stops are provided throughout the night with a breakfast and medal waiting for you at the finish line.

Cycle on your own, with your friends, family or work colleagues for a Saturday night like no other. This is not a timed ride, or a sportive ride but rather all about having fun and cycling together.

The ride starts from the Lee Valley VeloPark with a 1-mile lap of the road circuit before heading out towards north London. You have a choice between a 100km and 50km circular route, both routes will take you past many of London’s famous landmarks, including Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Power Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and the rare chance to cycle along The Mall!

Is it for me?

  • If you want to challenge yourself with friends in an amazing atmosphere, then this is for you!
  • Cycling 100km at night is a challenge, therefore this event is not suitable for beginners.
  • You should be confident at riding a bicycle alongside road traffic.

Join Sustrans Nightrider London team on one of their limited Charity Places securing your place by paying £29 before the 31st of December and raise a minimum of £175 for charity.

Or register for the discounted fee of £75 and you can support any charity of your choice, raising as much money as you would like.

  • You’ll receive a fundraising pack with ideas and tips to help you reach your fundraising target
  • A Sustrans T-shirt and a Nightrider hi-vis vest

How to cycle through the winter

It’s getting to that time of year again, where you wake up to dark mornings and are met with darkening skies at 4pm. This couples with cold, wet, icy and even snowy weather makes cycling seem like a chore.

There are ways to combat the challenges that winter throws your way.









Keep your feet warm

There is absolutely nothing worse than wet, icy toes. But, with decent socks and waterproof shoes, or overshoes your feet can stay warm and toasty even in the harshest of weather conditions.

Wear gloves and a hat

Keeping your fingers warm and protected from the cold chills is a life saver. Not only does this make cycling more pleasant but, your hands can still function properly meaning you can break and change gear safely. Covering your ears with a hat makes all the difference to a cycle ride.

Check the weather before you go

We all know that English weather is stubborn and ever changing but, knowing there is a chance of rain means that you can prepare yourself before you go. You don’t ever want to be in the position where you are caught out on the road in a downpour without the right accessories.

Wear lots of thin layers

Of course it is easy to get warm and sweaty while cycling, and yes, even in the winter. So wearing thin layers means that you can take things off and put things on depending on the temperature and how you feel.

Invest in quality waterproofing

Waterproof wear makes all the difference while cycling. We all know how much England likes to rain. Waterproof jackets, gloves and trousers will keep you 100% dry no matter the weather.

Now with these tips you can keep cycling through these next few months unaffected by the weather conditions. You can stay fit and healthy and took after your physical and mental wellbeing.

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Bicycle maintenance guide: How to look after your bike over winter

Regular checks (and cleaning!) are a must throughout the year, but even more so during the winter!

Whether you’re a road cyclist or a trail cyclist, winter takes its toll on your bike if not looked after properly. Dirt, grit, salt and even snow all conspire to spoil your winter riding.

Regular ‘preventative’ maintenance during the wet months will help keep your bike running smoothly throughout, so Pete-one of the original pioneers of Cytech training and a trainer/assessor at pjcsonline.co.uk (PJCS)-is here to show you a few things to keep on top of.


It’s important to regularly clean the rim of your wheels and inspect for any damage that may occur due to potholes, for example. For bikes with rim brakes, you should also inspect the wear and tear on the braking surface (as well as the brake pads themselves) which are subject to heavier wear rates during the winter months. Most modern rims have some form a wear indicator-if this is no longer visible then it is time to consider replacement to avoid a catastrophic failure of the rim if neglected for too long. For more information on brake pads check our previous articles in the bicycle maintenance series.

A rim that has worn completely through the braking surface.

Whilst in this area of the bike it’s also best to check the condition of your tyres which, like most bicycle components, wear over time. They should be inspected for cuts, cracks and splits in the tread or sidewall, as well as any other damage or debris stuck in the tyre that may cause the tyre to fail prematurely and lead to a puncture/deflation. Replacing the tyre (if necessary) at home is much easier than out on the road or trail!

Checking your tyres

If riding tubeless you will need to continue regularly checking fluid levels and top up if necessary-there are brands/tools out there that allow you to be able to do this without ‘popping’ the bead, making the whole process less hassle.


This time of year is particularly heavy on the drivetrain components such as the chain, cassette, chainrings and derailleurs, so spending some time on keeping these cleaned and lubricated will reduce the wear and tear of these items to the minimum.

Unless you use a power/quick-link or variant, the chain should be cleaned in situ as ‘breaking’ and refitting it by the more traditional methods can add another potential weakness to the chain. There are a number of products available to aid in cleaning your chain in situ, which can be very useful, especially if you have disc brakes. As mentioned in our last article it’s important not to contaminate your disc pads, so removing them and the wheel is sensible when cleaning. With the wheel removed, a ‘dummy hub’ comes in very handy to keep the chain ‘in place’.

Using a dummy hub and a chain cleaning tool

This process of a thorough clean should be a monthly task and, over the winter period, it’s also a good idea to have an additional quick clean and re-lube after every ride, which will help reduce chain wear considerably.

Moving onto the rest of the drivetrain the cassette should be removed and soaked in de-greaser at least monthly and then re-fitted. No additional lubrication required on this item due to transfer from the lubricated chain.

Front and rear derailleurs should be cleaned regularly as well, ensuring that all linkages are thoroughly lubricated by working them through both extremes of travel with fresh lube.

The chainrings should also be wiped clean regularly to keep the levels of dirt and grit to the minimum.

Having cleaned and re-lubricated the drive train, it’s a good time to check gear adjustment, and fine tune if necessary, as clunking gears can also increase the wear rate on these components.

Checking gear adjustment

Below are the processes of properly checking whether your gears are set up correctly;

Standard Rear Derailleur

1. Check that the derailleur is fixed properly to the frame, and tighten if not.

2. ‘Disengage’ the cable. To do this shift you bike into first gear (biggest sprocket) whilst turning the pedals. Then, without turning the pedals, use the lever to shift into your highest gear (i.e. without the chain actually changing gears) to release the cable tension. With the cable tension reduced bring the cable out of the guide (as pictured below), and then turn the pedals to let the chain shift onto the smallest sprocket.


 Disengaging the cable

3.With the chain on the highest gear (smallest sprocket), check that it runs smoothly. If not then use the High-End Stop Adjustment screw to adjust.

4. Now, whilst turning the pedals, manually (so without using the shifter) push the derailleur onto the lowest gear (biggest sprocket). Check that the chain runs smoothly in this gear, and if not then use the Low-End Stop Adjustment screw to adjust.

Re-engaging the cable

5. Whilst still pushing the derailleur onto the lowest gear, re-engage the cable. Continuing to pedal, let the derailleur go so that it returns itself to the highest gear.

6. Using the shifter, shift to the 2nd highest gear (so 10th gear on an 11-speed sprocket, 9th on a 10 speed etc.) (for Campagnolo gears you want 7th on 10 and 11-speed sprockets). Whilst pedalling forwards increase cable tension using the micro adjuster until the chain starts to ‘chatter’ against the side of the third sprocket in, and then reduce cable tension until the ‘chatter’ stops. This should result in fully adjusted gears.

7. Run through the gears in both directions. If it does ‘snag’ in either direction, return to the highest gear (smallest sprocket), then shift down one click (or to gear 7 for Campagnolo). Micro adjust 1 notch in either direction. Repeat until you get smooth shifting in both directions.

Making micro adjustments

Front Derailleur

The front derailleur can seem a little trickier to get the hang of, so may be worth seeking some hands-on advice (or booking yourself onto one of our Home mechanic courses!).

1. Check that the height/orientation of the derailleur is OK, and also that the derailleur is fixed properly to the frame.

2. Shift the chain onto the smallest chain ring (at the front) and the largest sprocket (at the back).

3. Either disengage the cable similar to the rear, or slacken the cable using the tension adjuster (remembering how many turns you’ve adjusted it by).

4. You can now check if the chain runs smoothly on the small chainring and if not use the Low-End Stop Adjustment screw to adjust.

5. Reintroduce/retighten the cable and shift into the largest chainring and smallest sprocket.

6. Check if the chain runs smoothly on the large chainring and if not use the High-End Stop Adjustment screw to adjust.

7. Now shift through the gears to make sure they all run smoothly, and if not make small adjustments to the cable tension to fine tune.

If in doubt with either of these processes you can always consult your nearest Cytech qualified mechanic!


It can’t be said enough that a clean bike is a happy bike! During the winter it’s even more important that you regularly wash the whole bike using warm soapy water and soft brush to prevent heavy build-up of dirt and mud etc., and rinse off with cold water. Make sure to wipe down and dry the bike and, for extra protection, it’s recommended that you apply polish to the frame to help prevent the corrosive elements attacking your paintwork.

Now you’re bike’s ready for the winter rides, all that’s left is to make sure you’ve wrapped up warm in order to go out and enjoy them!

‘Conflicting messages’ on safety stop children cycling to school

‘Conflicting messages’ on safety are preventing parents from encouraging their children to walk or cycle to school, according to campaigners.

A survey by Sustrans and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) found 42% of parents felt safety was a barrier to travelling actively to school.

The survey asked 1,232 parents, who were engaged with the SPTC, how their children travel to and from school and why they travel in this way.

girl on bikeThe survey showed that just 3% of Scottish children cycle to school and 2% scooter, whilst but almost half walk.
Eileen Prior, executive director of SPTC, said: “Parents often get conflicting messages.”

She added: “They are expected simultaneously to be responsible for keeping their children safe, for ensuring they are fit and active, and very often, for getting to work on time.

“These pressures often lead to a vicious circle of competing imperatives. For instance, we know driving too close to schools to drop off children actually creates danger in many ways.”

Of those questioned, almost half (42%) said safety was a barrier to their child walking or cycling to school, followed by a lack of cycle routes (29%), too much distance (22%) and not enough time (17%).

Parents said safer walking and cycling routes and slower traffic speeds were most likely to encourage active travel but convenience is still the main driver of travel choice.

Lynn Stocks, acting head of behaviour change at Sustrans Scotland, said the survey confirmed what they were already hearing anecdotally from parents and teachers.

“Increasing the number of pupils travelling actively to school is a simple way of providing children with the moderate intensity of exercise required every day,” she said.

“However it is clear that as long as parents feel that these journeys are not safe, they will be unwilling for their children to travel actively.”

Beat the train fare rise!

Average rail ticket prices have risen by 3.4% across the UK, in the biggest increase to fares since 2013.

Commuter routes that are now more expensive include Liverpool to Manchester (up £108 to £3,152), Maidenhead to London (up £104 to £3,092) and Elgin to Inverness (up £100 to £2,904). But there is a way you can beat the rise… get on your bike!

Switching to a bike for your journey to work could save you thousands every year!

Cycling is only second to walking as the cheapest form of transport. Check out the Cycle to Work calculator to see just how much you could save.

If the cost of buying a bike is putting you off, don’t forget you can spread the cost over as long as 48 months with Ride it away. Check out our handy finance calcualtor to see how little it could cost to get the bike of your dreams then find your nearest dealer and get cycling!

Bicycle maintenance guide: How to repair, service and look after your disc brakes

So, you’ve got a nice a new bike that has disc brakes on it, yet you’ve never really known how to maintain them yourself.

Just like their rim braking cousins, disc brakes have dos and don’ts that you should be aware of to get the best out of them.

However, if you end up not doing a “do”, or even more importantly doing a “don’t”, then the consequences can be a lot more costly than your standard rim brakes.

Andrew, Cytech trainer and assessor at Specialized Canada, is on hand to give you the skinny about disc brakes and how to avoid some common pitfalls.

The types of disc brakes

Disc brakes can either be hydraulic or mechanical, with hydraulic brakes using brake fluid in either an open or closed system and mechanical systems being cable actuated with either a single piston or dual piston set-up. The information below will be useful no matter which system you have on your bike.

General points and maintenance

Hydraulic brakes work by using brake fluid inside sealed tubing running between the lever and the caliper, normally being either DOT fluid or mineral oil/fluid. Contamination will happen over time with both fluids, meaning that the system should be bled and fluid replaced periodically. The regularity will depend on a few things including the amount of use, however, as a rough guide, a yearly service is advisable.

Bleeding hydraulic brakes can be tricky, especially if you’ve never done so before, and with each brand there normally comes a slightly different process. One thing all disc brakes do have in common, though, is that the pads (and also rotors) are very susceptible to contamination, meaning that care should be taken at all times when considering any work around your disc brakes. Instructions can be found online, however, we would definitely recommend taking your bike to your nearest Cytech technical three qualified technician for a brake bleed and service-if done annually it can be a part of a regular service schedule for your bike.


 Brake blocks will keep the pads properly spaced even if the lever is depressed while the wheel is out.

It is also worth noting that whenever your wheel(s) are removed, not just when you’re performing maintenance, that it’s wise to insert your brake block(s) in between the pads. These are usually supplied in the small parts box, along with all instruction manuals, and will keep the pads properly spaced even if the lever is depressed while the wheel is out. Above are examples of different versions of brake blocks supplied by different manufacturers.


Bleed blocks are used when the wheel and pads are removed-these keep the pistons properly spaced, even if the lever is depressed while the wheel is out.
As well as brake blocks there are also bleed blocks to use when the wheel and pads are removed-these keep the pistons properly spaced, even if the lever is depressed while the wheel is out. Above are examples of different versions of bleed blocks supplied by different manufacturers.

Pad wear and replacement

Hydraulic systems are self-centring when it comes to pad alignment, which is one of their biggest pros over mechanical disc brakes. This means that even as the pads wear they should keep their alignment and not need much adjustment until fully worn.

Mechanical systems are easier to work on but require more regular maintenance. For example mechanical systems will usually need adjustments over time due to cable stretch, as well as periodic re-adjustment due to pad wear (similar to rubber rim brake pads). Another thing to consider is the model of caliper as it may only have a single moving piston-this means that you will need to adjust the ‘static’ pad to bring it closer to the rotor as it wears. You normally have a knob or screw located on the back of this static side to allow you to do this. The ‘moving’ pad then also needs to be adjusted as appropriate to get the right spacing-this is done in the ‘usual’ way by tightening the cable.


 (From left to right) adjuster bolt, single sided caliper – open, single sided caliper – closed.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s time to replace the pads once the pad material (not including the metal backing) abrades to a 0.5mm thickness or lower, however, always check with the manufacturers’ instructions to be sure. Changing your pads in a timely manner will ensure consistent braking without any unwanted surprises-be sure that when buying new pads that they’re either the same as the old ones or compatible with your caliper and rotor as they do come in different shapes and materials.

It is easiest to remove and replace pads when the wheel is removed. The following process of replacing pads is tailored slightly towards hydraulic systems but is very similar to the process for mechanical systems too. In either case, always make sure your hands and surroundings are clean to avoid contaminating the pads or the rotor.

Once the wheel is removed use a brake pad setting tool (or similar) to push the pistons back into their original position. Most pads are held in place with a cotter pin or threaded locking pin along with a clip to keep the pin in place if it comes loose. Remove the clip followed by the pin, then bring the pads out of the caliper. In most, if not all cases there will be a ‘return spring’ that comes out with the pads-make note of the way the spring and both pads come out and their set-up. Insert the bleed block to keep the pistons in place.


 (From left to right) examples of the clip, pin and spring, new vs used pad thickness, uneven return springs.

Place the new pads along with the return spring back into the caliper and secure with the locking pin and clip. You will now need to condition the new pads to your rotor, which you should give a thorough clean (away from your new pads!) before re-attaching the wheel to your bike. For this it’s best to use a disc brake cleaner or some isopropyl alcohol.

Rotor wear

While cleaning your rotor it is also a good opportunity to check for wear. Rotors have a minimum thickness that is laser etched on the side of the rotor-in most cases the minimum is 1.5mm. Use digital calipers to determine if you need to replace your rotors, and when replacing your rotors make sure you also buy the correct one for your caliper and the material of the pads that you are running.


Bedding in new pads

As is the case with cars, disc brake systems on bikes also require a bed-in process. The goal is to transfer a film of brake pad material to the rotor to ensure that they interact together as expected throughout use. Most manufacturers will have a bed-in process outlined in their instruction manuals or website, but the result is always essentially the same. The process below is an example of how to bed in your new brakes.

Find a quiet street that is long enough for you get up to a decent speed and allow for a gradual slowdown. Focusing on one brake at a time, accelerate to a moderate speed and then apply the brakes with medium pressure until you are going at walking speed. Repeat this about 20 times. Now accelerate to a higher speed and then with firm pressure apply the brakes until you are going walking speed. Repeat this about 10 times. DO NOT LOCK UP THE WHEELS/USE THE BRAKES TO COME TO A FULL STOP during this process.

When you’re done allow the rotors and pads to cool and you are good to go. You should do this every time you change your pads or your rotor.

Things to avoid with disc brakes

Above are some of the “dos” for your disc brakes, however, there are a few things you should definitely avoid doing.

  • Spraying lube or any form of cleaner near your pads or rotor. Contamination will cause loss of braking power and an unholy amount of noise. Once pads are contaminated they need replacing. With the rotor, in a lot of cases if your rotor does come in contact with lube/oils etc. then a thorough clean (along with the caliper) with isopropyl alcohol should solve the issue. In extreme cases though a new rotor will be required.
  • Using the wrong brake pad/rotor compound combination. Disc brake pads come in two common types, organic and metallic. Organic pads wear more quickly but are quieter than metallic. Metallic based pads are longer lasting and are seen more on gravity bikes that endure high intense braking loads in abrasive off-road conditions. Each of these pads bed into the rotor as explained earlier and should you switch pad type without changing/thoroughly cleaning the rotor, braking performance will be compromised along with the likelihood of increased noise.
  • Using the wrong hydraulic fluid. Hydraulic systems are built to take only one type of fluid (either mineral oil or DOT (usually DOT 4 or 5.1) fluid). Each of these fluids have specific chemical makeups and using the wrong fluid will cause catastrophic damage to the seals in the lever and caliper, requiring at least a full rebuild or more likely replacement.
  • Forgetting to clean up after bleeding. If you are able to do your own hydraulic bleed, always wash everything down afterwards. Isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle is best followed by soapy water. DOT fluid is corrosive and will ruin the paint job on your bike or any other part it touches.

As with a lot of cycle maintenance further details can be found in your bike’s owner’s manual or the specific brand instructions, and don’t forget there’s always your nearest Cytech qualified technician who will always be happy to help.

Now you know how your brakes like to be kept, you can enjoy your new stopping power and the consistency no matter what weather you’re riding in!