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Brake fluid is the medium which conveys the pressure from the brake lever to the brake pad and is attached to the frame or the fork. The master cylinder presses the brake pads on the disc towards each other and the bicycle brakes. There are two kinds of brake fluids currently in use: DOT or mineral oil.
Mineral oil has the advantage of being non-toxic and it does not absorb water so quickly. DOT, however, guarantees a more powerful contact point and also has a higher boiling point. In addition, the seals on DOT brakes wear down less quickly than on others.
DOT stands for the American Department of Transportation, which classifies brake fluids as follows:
DOT 3: Boiling point at around 205 °C, dyed yellow
DOT 4: Boiling point at around 230 °C, dyed yellow
DOT 5.1: Boiling point at around 260 °C, dyed yellow
Mineral oil: Boiling point at around 190° C
The brake manufacturers use the following brake fluids:
Avid Elixir 3, 4: DOT 4;
Avid Elixir 5, 7, 9, XX, XO DOT 5.1
Avid Juicy 3: DOT 4;
Avid Juicy 5, 7, Ultimate, Carbon: DOT 5.1
Formula: DOT 4
Magura: Mineral oil
Shimano: Mineral oil
The brake fluid should be replaced once a year.
If brake fluid escapes onto bike components, thoroughly clean the affected areas with brake cleaner and check them for damage.
If brake fluid is very aggressive, avoid bodily contact. If brake fluid comes into contact with the brake disc, brake calliper or brake pads, these parts have to be cleaned or replaced by a qualified bike mechanic. Wear protective gloves and safety goggles when working with brake fluids.
Brake fluids are not compatible with each other! Be sure only to use brake fluid specified by the manufacturer: