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Discussion Starter #1
So last weekend I spent some time on dusty gravel roads and at some point my rear brake started acting up. At one stop I noticed the pedal felt spongy and didn't stop well (I was using it more than usual, not being on pavement). I pumped it a few times and it seemed to clear up. When we stopped for the night, I took a look at it, and the rotor looks like it got pretty overheated. The braking surface looks normal, but the material inside the braking area (i.e. towards the axle) is a nice dark rainbow hue. I didn't quite wear the pads away, but they're very close. The rotor still feels smooth.

I'm guessing some dirt or a rock or something jammed it up somehow, causing the brake to drag and overheat the rotor. I'm going to replace the pads and the fluid (something that was on my agenda anyway). Is there anything else I should do? Is the rotor shot and about to explode? The bike has about 15k on it, BTW. Thanks for the advice!
 

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I can't answer authoritatively, but I can say that if it was me, I'd first make absolutely sure the rotor isn't warped; then just replace the pads, clean the caliper, make sure it's working properly thereafter, and forget it. The rear brake isn't all that critical anyway, as far as stopping power goes.
 

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Hello all, i experienced a similar episode with my front brakes after several miles on a dusty dirt road. no overheating, but a squeal sort of sound from the front brakes. i wasn't surprised the first couple of applications, but after 100 miles home and a couple of rides later, i still get noise early on in the ride. only when applying brakes and only after the bike is slowed to nearlly stopped. maybe glazed the pads with the dust? ideas? thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I got around to checking this out last weekend, and after a little work things look fine. The rotor wasn't scored or otherwise damaged, and the caliper looked/worked just fine. I cleaned it off a bit, put in new pads, and changed the fluid. It's working just fine so far.
 

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Eye surgeon, I always forget about those little rascles. I have dumped 2 bikes so far in soft dirt/sand by forgetting to use rear brake only. Amazing how fast I can go down in the soft stuff using the front brake.
 

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I use the rear brakes all the time. The balance between the front and rear is a good skill to develop in my view especially with the kinds of loads we tend to stack up on these guys. Good rear break help with heavy braking is needed up front can shorten your stopping distances dramatically.

I also use the rear brake for trail braking in the hills. Not something you read much about but being an old formula racer I learned the value of trail braking on racetracks and it works somewhat on bikes as well. The caviat is obvious I suppose, don't try this at home. But seriously the rear brake , while it can dump you if used abruptly can really be a good tool for helping in the loaded conditions in tight places. If you ever run a police obstackle course you will learn to use the rear brake almost entirely so practicing the rear braking techniques is just another helpful tool in the tool box , in my view. I say this admitting fully to not being an expert at it , more like a student of the art.
 

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Don't worry about it if it's not still dragging. It is worth pulling the calipers and cleaning off the pistons though.

You can have those things glowing red without problems - well, without problems unless you do a water crossing as well ;)

My brake discs get a nice blue tint or a rainbow sheen fairly regularly, it wears off with a few days of rain or sane riding.

Pete
 
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