Annoying sounds and disc brakes seem to be unavoidable in the biking world. I’d like to share a recent story of a trip I took with my wife, and how MY brakes started to annoy me, and what can be done about it.
Recently my wife and I headed up to Door County Wisconsin, one of our FAVORITE places to celebrate our 25-year anniversary. When we go to northern Door, we almost always take bikes, especially if we are planning on staying a couple of days. With a little extra time, our Cruiser Bikes can add a lot of fun to a vacation and avoid the HUGE hassle of parking ANYWHERE in DC.
One day in particular we decided we’d do a bike day. We took the bikes to Sister Bay and worked our way through down-town and checked out the beautiful beach. It was a hot one, so we took plenty of water and kept on moving. Eventually we made our way to one of Wisconsin’s true gems Peninsula State Park.
For those of you who are not familiar, Peninsula has epic views of Green Bay and some unique rock formations because it is one end of the Niagara escarpment, its sister rock formations being Niagara falls. The park is breathtakingly beautiful and well maintained, but kind of a bear to bike because of the hills.
This means it’s REALLY fun with ebikes, especially ones with quiet and powerful motors like the Cruiser Bike. With it’s laid back vintage style and upright riding position, it makes the hills a breeze and you can ride all day.
And we did.
I spend a lot of time on my bike and test a lot of different products prior to selling them to our customers (for the last 2 years upwards of 1000 miles) so we can be sure of what we are selling. In practical terms it means my bike gets a lot of miles but is in good mechanical condition. In this case, it was operating flawlessly, until we started out on the beautiful sunset trail.
The sunset is super fun with it’s lakefront views, hills, and gets you to some off-the beaten path sections of the park. It runs around the rim of the entire peninsula so you can see it all. Unfortunately, it’s dusty. And dust like other contaminates leads to brake noise. About 3 miles in my brakes sounded terrible.
Disc brakes pick up particles of junk as you ride, unless you are riding in a vacuum (haven’t tried this yet.) and when they do, if you brake, it is burned into the pad. In some cases, it can wear away by itself and the noise goes away on it’s own. In this case, that’s what happened to me. We got back on pavement, and a couple of steep decent with braking, and I was back to squeal free.
In cases where it doesn’t…… the contamination is bad enough that it sticks onto the pads. This can happen QUICKLY, but it can be almost permanent.
Your first and simplest cure is to wipe the rotors down with isopropyl alcohol and complete the brake bedding process. This ensures that the rotors are clean and then attempts to burn off the pad contamination. The bedding process as described in the manual is below:
Preparing Your Brakes
Your Cruiser Bike is equipped with a more effective brake style called disc brakes. Disc brakes require a breaking-in process called “bedding-in” to prepare them for use and to prevent squeaky brakes. The Team completed the bedding process before packing your bike. It may be necessary to do it again if the brakes become squeaky. Brake rotors (the thin piece of metal that the brake pads clamp onto) have unique patterns. Bedding-in rubs brake pad material onto the brake rotor. By doing so, the brake pads will develop the same pattern as the brake rotor, making for the most effective braking. Bedding-In Brakes
• Complete all steps as listed in the manual up until this point, making sure your bike is ready and safe to ride.
- Find an open area straight-away to ride your Cruiser Bike with no obstacles.
- Clean the brake rotors with rubbing alcohol thoroughly before bedding Please take special care with your brake rotors. They can become extremely hot during use and have sharp edges, do not touch them especially after using the bike. If needed for service the brakes can be touched when cool and when wearing appropriate safety equipment.
- Set the PAS to zero and pedal at 10 mph (the bike should be providing zero assistance)
- While riding at 10 mph, slowly squeeze the front brake and maintain pressure. DO NOT STOP THE BIKE COMPLETELY. Stopping the bike in the bedding-in process will create a build-up of brake pad material in one area.
- Continue to gently squeeze the brake until the bike slows to a walking pace and then release the brake so the bike is still moving.
- Repeat 10 times in a row with the front brake, then do the same for the rear brake.
- Repeat all steps at a speed of 15 mph for both brakes
- Your brakes are now all set! If squeaking persists, redo the bedding-in process
If that doesn’t work it might be time for our ace in the hole. For this we recommend a product called squealout. Apply to the rotors and drag the brakes slightly while keeping the bike moving forward. It is important to note that your braking function can be reduced by up to 80% when you are doing this operation so STAY SAFE and complete it in an area with little or no traffic that you are familiar with.
A couple of more notes on brake noise: If the brake is squeaking constantly or lightly ringing it is more likely that the caliper has gone off center and the rotor is constantly rubbing against the pad. This can happen when the caliper is impacted in some way. We have a video to that you can watch to correct this yourself or bring to your local bike shop.
Lastly if you hear a squeaking sound that is intermittent or some type of clanging, you have a bent rotor. This again usually comes from some type of impact. The rotor will have to be “dished” which means bending back the part that is out of round with the rest of it. While our shop guys make it look easy, it is a skill that takes some practice and finesse. We’d recommend having the brake adjusted locally, this should run about $15.
But enough about the boring stuff! After a great day of riding, we headed back to HQ enjoyed some food and good company. Next time we are in the area maybe we will see YOU on your Cruiser Bike.
If I could ride my bike at 15 mph on a big enough surface for a long enough time, this might work. As it is, I have now gone 18 mo with the same annoying squeak. I guess I will hire a teenager to try this next spring…
Or, conversely, you might bed in the brakes b4 selling the bike!
Thanks. A clear explanation made the difference. Good on YA!
I just received my order for Squeal out. The directions say that after using it the wheel should be removed to wipe off leftover product. Is that necessary? I don’t feel comfortable doing that. Thanks! Love my Boogie Bike. 400+ miles and counting!
I bought my boogie bike this past January. When it had 3 miles on it the squeaking started. I went through the process of bedding in 4 times(I had more miles bedding in than actually riding. I messaged but no response. I took to a bike shop to correct it. A day later I got it back with my wallet $30 lighter, Less than a half mile later the squeaking won. I took to a bike shop, 2 new rotors and brake pads at $130. I seldom have a squeak now. I find it hard to recommend Boogie Bikes because of this issue. Use a better quality brakes and pads and it should minimize these issues.