DISC brakes can seem alarmingly complicated but to the trained eye they are simplicity itself. Here’s Johnny from Ride to give you the low down on pads, springs, callipers and fluid.

Step One – Remove the wheel

Yes, it’s possible to maintain your brakes with the wheel in situ, but you’ll have more room to manoeuvre when the wheel, and crucially the brake disc, are out of the way.

While there are lots of wheel fastenings – conventional quick release skewers, bolt through “Maxles”, and Trek’s Active Braking pivot – but they all do the same job. We’re concerned today with brakes.

Step Two – remove split pin and retaining bolt

The pads are secured in the calliper with a three millimetre Allen bolt and retaining split pin. Pull out the split pin with pliers before getting busy with the appropriate Allen key. Make sure you put the parts somewhere safe. They’re easy to loose and difficult to find.

Step Three – remove pads

The pads on this Shimano XT brake are removed by pushing them gently from underneath the calliper. They should release as a pair held in place with a spring.

Step Four – check pads

Check the surface of the pads for wear and contamination. This is also a good opportunity to check the retaining spring is straight, unbuckled, and, well, springy. Tip from Johnny – place the pistons with their abrasive surface upwards to avoid contamination from any grime on your work surface.

Step Five – clean calliper

This is your best opportunity to clean the calliper. Use a duster to wipe off all that trail dirt and muck both inside and outside the calliper.

Step six – check pistons

Stuck pistons are a common complaint. Hold the working piston in place with a flat-bladed screwdriver and pump the brake lever to free the stuck piston.

Step seven – lubricate the pistons

Key point: different brake systems use different fluids. Mixing fluids is a big no-no. Shimano use a mineral fluid, while Hope, Avid, and others use a dot rated system. Still unclear? Call the shop.

Step eight – reset the pistons

Time to pick up the flat-bladed screwdriver again and reset the pistons by pushing them back into the borehole, creating room for the spring and pads.

Step nine – replace pads

Re-seat the pads in the retaining spring and push the whole unit into the brake calliper. Replace the retaining bolt, tightening it with a three millimetre Allen key, and replacing the split pin.

Step 10 – replace the wheel

Replace the wheel, tighten the quick release, and check the function of the brake. You should now experience easy application and release of the pads and clear, unobstructed spinning of the rotor.