ASK MBA: WHAT DO I DO ABOUT A STUCK BRAKE ROTOR BOLT?

Don't break your brakes.

Stuck rotor bolts can be a major problem for any mechanic.

ASK MBA: WHAT DO I DO ABOUT A STUCK BRAKE ROTOR BOLT?

Q: I’m trying to upgrade my bike one piece at a time and have recently bought a new wheelset that I hope will improve the way the bike handles a lot. In preparation of changing all of the pieces over, I was trying to take off my rear rotor and found that one of the bolts seems to not want to budge. I’m afraid to put too much effort or force into it in case I strip the head or shear it straight off. What do you recommend in this case?
Dan Foley
Providence, Massachusetts

A: This is a problem we’ve been presented with quite often, especially those of us who spent any time working in a bike shop. When these bolts appear, it’s time to dust off the old bolt extractor set. It’s relatively simple, but can be one of the most frustrating parts of any mechanic’s day. This can be done by yourself, but we’d normally recommend you head to the bike shop to have them take care of it. Bolt extracting can go horribly wrong if not done correctly, even going as far as destroying a hub. Most manufacturers will void any warranty if anything happens to a product that you’ve tried to work on yourself, but will consider honoring it if you had a professional do it. Just keep that in mind.

In order to keep this from happening on your new wheelset if you’re still set on doing it yourself, we highly recommend the use of a torque wrench. Most manufacturers recommend a torque of 4-6nm of evenly distributed torque. Do you remember how your mom or dad told you to tighten the lugnuts on your vehicle in a star pattern when you had to repair a flat on the highway? Well, that’s exactly how you evenly tighten the rotor to the hub. Also, don’t forget to use Loctite to keep those bolts from backing out on you and providing an unwanted adventure mid-ride. This will also keep those bolts from getting stuck.

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