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Screaming brakes...

Nov. 25, 2020, 9:30 a.m.
Posts: 43
Joined: Aug. 1, 2019

I'm almost surprised I haven't seen more local discussion about this. Maybe I'm hopelessly incompetent when it comes to setting up my brakes, but it seems to be a very common problem on the shore - especially in the colder, wetter months. Riders I know just seem to live with it and expect it to be the norm these days. With bikes getting bigger, heavier and faster (and with bigger wheels), brakes have necessarily gotten more powerful. My new 29er needs all the braking power it can get, so I'm running Code RSC's with 220mm rotors (and yes, I do feel I need the 220mm rotors. I started on 200s, and was surprised to find that I definitely needed more power at the front. Maybe the 220 in the back is a bit overkill). My old 27.5 bike also experienced brake scream when they were cold and wet, but the new bike with bigger rotors is definitely worse. I've done every tip and trick in the book - rotors and pads cleaned with brake cleaner and/or alcohol (I can pretty much rule out any kind of contamination). I have my calipers pretty much lined up dead-centre with the rotors (this seems to be the most common suggestion online to fix howling brakes). All mounting bolts are tight, and loctited. I'm running metallic pads (I've tried both Sram pads and "off-brand" pads). Bike is a 2021 Specialized Enduro with a Zeb Ultimate. Wheels are Nobl TR37s.

I suspected that my howling brake dramas may have been related to the stiff carbon wheels I've been running - but I see buddies on aluminum rims with the exact same problems. And Shimano, Sram, it doesn't seems to matter - they all scream.

After they warm up and dry off, the howling usually goes away. But as you can imagine in the winter months, the brakes don't get a lot of opportunity to dry off.

Anyone have any tips or tricks? Would it make sense to try resin pads over the winter months? How about using 1 metallic and 1 resin pad in each caliper (I've heard of WC guys doing this - seems a bit desperate)? Does anyone have experience with another brake brand that is far better at keeping quiet compared to Sram or Shimano (while still offering the same power)? Curious to hear other riders on the shore with their experiences.

With all the dubious new standards coming out, maybe it's time the bike industry tried coming up with a more robust brake mount interface. My hunch is that while bikes have gotten stiffer, heavier, bigger, etc, and brakes have gotten more powerful - the mount is now the weak point in the system, and hasn't kept up with increasing demands.

Nov. 25, 2020, 9:45 a.m.
Posts: 1757
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

Codes, Magura, Shimano. I have never had a squealing problem with OEM brand name pads. Bought some aftermarket cheapies and they made a hell of a noise, went directly into the garbage.

I don't think there is a trick to wet brakes not squealing a bit. Metal on metal is going to squeal when wet.


 Last edited by: Brocklanders on Nov. 25, 2020, 9:52 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
Nov. 25, 2020, 9:51 a.m.
Posts: 613
Joined: Jan. 31, 2005

My 2020 Code RSCs gurgle a lot at lower speeds, which I find annoying. And the odd shriek if the rotors are still cold and wet but generally that doesn't last long once the rotors warm up. That being said I hate those noises.

Nov. 25, 2020, 9:51 a.m.
Posts: 43
Joined: Aug. 1, 2019

Posted by: Brocklanders

Codes, Magura, Shimano. I have never had a squealing problem with OEM brand name pads. Bought some aftermarket cheapies and they made a hell of a noise, went directly into the garbage.

Wish I could say the same! I've had howling across the whole range of brand combinations. :(

Nov. 25, 2020, 10:07 a.m.
Posts: 43
Joined: Aug. 1, 2019

Posted by: craw

My 2020 Code RSCs gurgle a lot at lower speeds, which I find annoying. And the odd shriek if the rotors are still cold and wet but generally that doesn't last long once the rotors warm up. That being said I hate those noises.

I know the exact gurgling noises you're talking about! If I could get away with ONLY those noises, I'd be super happy!

Nov. 25, 2020, 10:24 a.m.
Posts: 317
Joined: April 15, 2017

I never had it with MT7 Maguras, but I like it perversely with my current Code RSCs as it keeps me honest in my riding - but it only comes up when they're wet


 Last edited by: DanL on Nov. 25, 2020, 10:24 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
Nov. 25, 2020, 11:09 a.m.
Posts: 752
Joined: March 15, 2013

I HATE the Sram gurgle/warble so so so much. So much that I'm thinking of selling my Code RSCs despite the brakes feeling and performing great. 

I'm tempted to try a different brand of rotor but I don't really want to drop a hundred bucks on rotors and it not make a difference.

Nov. 25, 2020, 11:29 a.m.
Posts: 43
Joined: Aug. 1, 2019

Posted by: thaaad

I HATE the Sram gurgle/warble so so so much. So much that I'm thinking of selling my Code RSCs despite the brakes feeling and performing great. 

I'm tempted to try a different brand of rotor but I don't really want to drop a hundred bucks on rotors and it not make a difference.

My thoughts exactly. Experimenting gets expensive - especially if it doesn't yield results.

Nov. 25, 2020, 1 p.m.
Posts: 257
Joined: March 6, 2017

Metallic pads howl. Im running Magura and run metallic in the back and organic or whatever in the front, the rears howl like a banshee when wet or cold.

Nov. 25, 2020, 7:09 p.m.
Posts: 138
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

I had a problem with my Zee brakes that turned out to be caused by the cheapo rotors I was using. The front brake/rotor would hit a resonance frequency under hard braking and howl like crazy. Wouldn't stop worth a dam either. I installed better quality XT rotors and haven't had a problem since. And yeah, OEM pads for sure

Nov. 27, 2020, 2:44 p.m.
Posts: 739
Joined: May 11, 2018

Posted by: T-mack

Metallic pads howl. Im running Magura and run metallic in the back and organic or whatever in the front, the rears howl like a banshee when wet or cold.

This. I have never been able to get metallic pads to be quiet. I'd get a set of semi and a set of organic and see how it goes. 

My wife has constantly squeeling brakes in the winter and I think its because she is too light and feathers her brakes too much. If I get on her bike and ride it down an incline, pedaling with the brakes pulled I can get them to be quiet for a while. I always assumed I was wearing off a film of corrosion but it could be that I'm just heating them up too.

If you are light (probably not based on your need for 220 rotors) this might be going on.

Nov. 27, 2020, 8:46 p.m.
Posts: 1
Joined: Dec. 20, 2019

I wonder if there's a reasonant frequency related to bigger rotors, more material to vibrate - seriously! My Old 200/200 Codes screamed when wet, but it's also likely you're heavy on the brakes, late, as you should be - instead of brake dragger Dreej here.

Nov. 28, 2020, 9:01 a.m.
Posts: 43
Joined: Aug. 1, 2019

Posted by: Gdreej

I wonder if there's a reasonant frequency related to bigger rotors, more material to vibrate - seriously! My Old 200/200 Codes screamed when wet, but it's also likely you're heavy on the brakes, late, as you should be - instead of brake dragger Dreej here.

Ha, I've actually found that the best way to quiet them down is to very slightly drag them - even when you don't need them. You're in good company Dreej - apparently that's now Minnaar brakes as well.

I've always been a "brake as hard as you can for as short a time as possible" kinda guy - and that's probably not ideal to silence howling brakes.

Nov. 28, 2020, 9:16 a.m.
Posts: 1655
Joined: April 25, 2003

IME in really wet weather my brakes howl until they’re dry. I can quiet them by dragging, but if I’m only periodically claiming down on them than they’ll howl. Once the rotor and pads are hot (dry) they’re all good. 

This is for Shimano brakes. SRAM brakes (for me) have no rhyme or reason to why they’re howling.

Nov. 29, 2020, 11:16 a.m.
Posts: 14
Joined: July 18, 2017

What brand pads you running? My Guides screamed something awful with multiple sets of SRAM pads. Changed to Uberbike Race Matrix pads, no more howling.

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