About braking fluids

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What is in your brake system, hydraulic oil or a DOT fluid? What is the difference? What are pros and cons of each?

What is the difference between DOT brake fluid and mineral oil?

Avid, Formula, Hayes and Hope use DOT fluid and Magura and Shimano uses mineral oil. You should never use DOT brake fluid in a system designed to use mineral oil and vice versa.

DOT brake fluids are hygroscopic, they absorb water from the air over time. Mineral oil, on the other hand, does not. Mineral oil and water will repel each other and not mix, therefore any introduction of water to a mineral oil filled system will cause the water to pool and can freeze in cold temperatures causing brake failure. So brake systems using mineral oil can have a problem in extremely low temperatures.

Unlike DOT fluids, mineral oil is non-corrosive and will not harm your skin or your bike’s paint finish if spilled. However DOT brake fluid has a higher boiling point than mineral oil and will therefore outperform mineral oil under extreme use.

What is the difference between DOT 3/4/5/5.1 brake fluids?

DOT 3, 4 & 5.1 brake fluid is glycol-based. The main differences in these three DOT fluids are their boiling temperatures. DOT 4 has a higher boiling point than DOT 3, and DOT 5.1 has the highest boiling point of all.

DOT 5 fluid (not  5.1) is a silicone based fluid and is incompatible with all other DOT fluids. DOT 5 fluid should never be used in your hydraulic mountain bike brakes.

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How to be a better rider?

bunnyhop tribe, bleedkit.com

Relax. Being relaxed is crucial. It is important because an unrelaxed state of mind will stiffen your muscles and you can say goodbye to fluid body movements.

Trust your tyres. Yes, tyres do slip and break loose, but they will regain traction as long as you don’t panic and brake. Learn the braking point of your tyre in different conditions. Learn to trust your tyre.

Have faith and have a positive attitude. Don’t do or try something just because other riders can do it. It is about you. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it today. The mountains and trails will still be there tomorrow. When you are 100% sure on the smaller/easier stuff, move up with the right attitude. Your bike time is definitely your time. That means listen to your instincts.

One thing at a time. Improve or work on one thing at a time. When trying to get better at riding, keep your thoughts on just one specific thing you’re trying to improve.


  • Keep open knees going downhill
  • Push your knees forward going downhill
  • Looking really far ahead
  • Braking right (no dragging, with 100% determination, fisting the bar at certain times,…)
  • Weighting and unweighting the bike
  • Compressing/pressing tyres for extra grip when needed

Get a teacher instead of a new DH jersey. You will improve much faster as you get instant feedback. In addition, you will avoid wasting time on bad habits which you are not really aware of.

Visualize. Don’t think thoughts like: “I must avoid that rock!” Your mind (and a few seconds later your body) will lead you to the very thing you are trying to avoid: the rock. Visualize yourself moving in your chosen line. Focus on the line, not the obstacles. If you look at the obstacle you are trying to avoid, you will most likely hit it.

Practice any time possible. Ride a curb, do a wheelie, do a track stand at a red light…

Listen to yourself. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts like I’m tired, this will not end well, I should not do this, why am I here – then it is time to stop your bike. Get a rest/break. Clear your head and go on. It is supposed to be fun. Never forget that.

Keep the flow on difficult sessions. Modulate your speed but try not to stop. Try keeping at least minimum speed even before the gnarliest stuff.

Turning. Turn you belly button into the exit of the curve. Doing that will turn your entire body into the turn. This is what you want. Press down your outside pedal. Look far ahead into the exit of the turn.

Analyze. When you crash, work out the reason why it happened. It is not the bad tyre compound or the badly adjusted suspension. In most cases it is your wrong reaction, like braking when you should pedal, etc. Think about what you did wrong. Don’t blame it on the trail.

Brake right means you should lay off the brakes unless there is a good reason to slow down.


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