Disc Brake Rub Driving Me Insane -- Is it Just Me?

I have a BMC Time Machine TM01 with disc breaks and I cannot for the life of me get them to stop rubbing on a consistent basis. The shop I bought the bike from also is at a loss–they adjust them a number of times, but the adjustment does not really last for very long. Often times when I get the bike home again I find the breaks are rubbing again, and sometimes pretty badly. This is driving me crazy… I always heard disc breaks were the greatest thing since sliced bread (great breaking, and easy to switch wheels without adjustment)–the breaking is definitely better, but LOL at switching wheels without adjustment–it takes me 10x longer to adjust them then adjusting caliper breaks.

Am I just being a drama queen or have others dealt with this same issue? I’m happy to be told I’m a drama queen…

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I don’t think you’re crazy. I have discs on my MTB and if they’re not perfect it really annoys me.

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I had similar issues with my first disc road bike but they’ve largely gone away. The biggest initial issue I had was that I could get the calipers aligned perfectly but the act of tightening them to the correct torque would always bring the rear one out of alignment. Once I worked this out and compensated for it, I got it in the right spot and haven’t had to adjust it again since. You may find either the frame isn’t faced correctly or that you just need to get the adjustment and torque exactly right to stop the rubbing from recurring.

I also found the Ultegra rotors warped very easily on any ride I did with decent/steep descents. Part of this was probably caliper alignment angle so again, ensuring the alignment is as perfect as possible did help. But that issue never really went away. I wanted to switch to the XTR rotors which I’ve heard have less warping issues but had trouble sourcing them at the time. I ended up actually trying the Dura Ace rotors (more expensive but at least the black looks nicer than the Ultegra ones) and they’ve been much better too. I don’t know for sure if the DA ones are less likely to warp than Ultegra or if I’ve just had better luck with them. I’d definitely try the XTR ones first if you can get them.

Also if you do find your rotors are warped, don’t be afraid to try truing them with an adjustable spanner. If they’re warped there’s no way you’ll be able to avoid rubbing from recurring.

Now that I’ve got over the initial hurdles and am used to them, I love the disc brakes. I should add - I’m no expert at all, this is just my experience with them!

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Another point on warped rotors is braking style - making sure you aren’t always riding the breaks on descents, braking as you need it, going into corners, etc, but not riding them the whole time. I feel like I still need to do this on some really hairy descents around here (and I’d rather have some heat build-up than lose control!). But the power of the disc brakes has improved my overall braking style compared to rim brakes, and if you pay attention to this you can try to avoid the excess heat build-up which can lead to warping.

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I just replaced some sram pads on my road bike. With the pistons pressed all the way the rubbing would start if you looked crosseyed at the bike. Took a hand sander with 100 grit to the the pads and tore them down a bit. Quiet now…

On swapping wheels…

Use shims, available for 6 bolt or CL to adjust disc position on each wheel. Use the wheel that has the disc sitting the farthest out from the hub centre as a baseline, adjust your caliper to this then shim other wheels to match.
Now swap wheels in seconds…

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Make sure to tighten your thru axles to the exact same torque (torque wrench) every time. This helps minimize disc rub front and rear, and derailleur indexing at the rear.

I’m not sure how you’re aligning caliper to rotor; loosen the caliper bolts, apply brake, tighten the bolt closest to the hub first, then the remaining bolt and check. If the rub is still present repeat but this time swap the caliper bolt tightening order. Also check for disc warp. You may need to trial the aligning procedure at different parts of the disc.

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Using 105 on two bikes and once had a warped disk which was caused by bad storage whilst being transported in the back of a car. Couple of minutes with a disk truing device sorted out the warp.
No rubbing issues at all. Aligning caliper only takes a minute if you need to. Swap wheels, loosen caliper bolts, hold brake on to centre, tighten bolts. It should be that easy in most cases and not a dark art.
If your disk is warped it may be that it needs to be trued in both directions - it’s like truing a wheel and worth taking your time over to get right and silent. An adjustable wrench is good enough, just make sure it’s clean between the jaws.

Edit @rb250660 beat me to the aligning procedure. :grin:

This is how I used to do it before internal cabling, and it always worked, still does on my older bikes. Now I find, depending on routing, that the way the hose exits the frame pulls the caliper into a position that is different to where it will be when you tighten the bolts.
Now I just tighten down the bolts to where I can just about reposition the caliper, visually centre the disc at one end of the pad, tighten corresponding bolt a little more, then centre other end of pad and very gently tighten down both bolts to stop caliper moving out of position, and job done.

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I often run into the same issue where tightening the bolt moves the caliper. Now I do: loosen bolts, lightly push down on caliper, but let it kove sideways, apply brake, whilst still holding the brake lever, push down on the caliper to hold it in place, let go of brake lever, use that hand to tighten the bolts and never let go of the caliper. I think if you have the bolts loose, you might centre the caliper, but a bit away from the mount, so when you tighten it up, it has to move and is not centred any more.

Oh, and yes, new pads in sram brakes will likely rub, because they are often slightly too thick.

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Stick a business card folded around the disc and put the wheel back in like that before tightening. Adds a little space without affecting braking performance.

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I have a Whyte road bike and have had issues from day 1 - LBS and I came to the conclusion the rotor mounts on the frame and fork just arent aligned properly so no amount of adjusting will cure the problem :frowning: It has got better as the pads have worn and there seems alittle more gap bwteen pad and rotor, but its annoying.

MY new Trek Domane has been perfect since day 1. Perhaps shows what frame quality is really all about.

Piston retraction can also be an issue. The boys from Park Tool do a fantastic job of explaining it.

A bit off topic but I have started using SwissStop pads and they are brilliant. No howling noise under braking like the SRAM pads did.

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Try taking the wheel out and slip the pads out and then try cleaning in and around the pistons with some isopropyl alcohol. Use a lint free cloth and really spend some time getting into the groove around the piston and all around the area.

You’d be possibly surprised how much dirt can get in there that means if you brake hard the callipers don’t retract properly / far enough and lead to rub.

I found this worked for me, having spent a LOT of time working methodically through pretty much all of the other good advice already listed on this thread.

Also another tip - when adjusting the rear calliper remember to loosen ALL the Allen key bolts - some people forget to loosen the smaller one at the bottom and failing to do so will inevitably reduce the effectiveness of any readjustments you make as it limits the planes of movement the block can move in.

Best of luck :+1:t2:

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Trek Domane SL5. They rub constantly after I brake and then mysteriously stop.

I’ve taken it back to the LBS a few times to get adjusted and they start rubbing again after a few rides.

At this point I just ignore it and ride.

Is this long and/or hard braking? Or just even a small light squeeze to scrub off a little speed?

I think some noise is pretty normal with many bikes if you’re having to brake hard or long enough for a lot of heat to build up. If it stops pretty quickly as the heat dissipates then I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. Possibly can be solved with XTR or DA rotors, they’re supposed to be better under hard braking.

You guys are all awesome, thanks for the tips! I’ll try some of these tips I haven’t tried yet. I’m admittedly bad about exact torque specs for example…

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If you’ve done the bolts this is exactly the next step you need to be doing. IT makes a huge difference

Is it just me?

You and Chris Froome. :wink:

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I think a lot of roadies are drama queens when it comes to that :stuck_out_tongue:

No, seriously, it seems that mountain bikers have more tolerance when it comes to squealing brakes and the like. (I’m a recovering mountain biker, turned mostly road rider.) Many expensive carbon rims also hum when breaking (due to the patterned braking surface). I guess this is perceived as pleasant by some (I don’t mind), but you could also claim this is distracting or annoying, too. Now I perfectly understand why noises that road bikes make is a different topic — ideally you just hear the sound of the wind swooshing by and your tires. In reality, you have to add a little drive train noise unless you have a good day or you are in those perfect gears. And you have brake noise, too.

I have had both, Shimano and SRAM disc brakes on my road bike, and IMHO a lot is just proper maintenance. And it isn’t hard. You wanna know a fun story: I got my previous road bike (a Cube Attain GTC SL) for a huge discount, because the previous owner couldn’t manage to align the disc brakes. It took my shop literally 5 minute to align both brakes and I never had a problem with them since. I rode >10.000 km on them and spent countless hours on my indoor trainer, changing wheels. Zero issue. When I told the guy, he couldn’t believe it.

Ditto for my new road bike with SRAM eTap AXS. Again, zero issue. I just heard a veeeery faint ting 3/4 down one of the longest descents (about 500 m of elevation in one go, about half of the total ascent). They went silent as soon as they cooled down, which took literally a minute or so.

If you are having trouble with alignment, I heard a cheap disc caliper alignment tool for next to nothing can do wonders. It increases the clearance a little.

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