How To Bleed Shimano Xt Brakes?- In Easy 10 Steps

Bleeding Shimano brakes can be daunting for those unfamiliar with the process. It is important to ensure that you use the correct procedure to ensure the longevity of your brakes. The mechanics on the Santa Cruz Syndicate team have developed an effective way of servicing Shimano brakes that is easy and efficient.

In this article, we’ll review everything you need to know to bleed Shimano XT brakes. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, this step-by-step guide will walk you through the process. By the end of this article, you’ll have the confidence to tackle your brake maintenance and keep your bike running smoothly. So let’s get started.

Reasons To Bleed Shimano XT Brakes

There are several reasons why it may be necessary to bleed Shimano XT brakes:

  1. Air in the brake system: Air can enter the brake system over time, causing a spongy or inconsistent lever feel. Bleeding the brakes removes the air and restores proper brake performance.
  2. Contaminated brake fluid: Brake fluid can become contaminated with dirt, moisture, or other debris, affecting its ability to provide consistent braking power. Bleeding the brakes replaces the old fluid with fresh, clean fluid.
  3. Soft or weak braking: If your Shimano XT brakes feel soft or lack stopping power, it may indicate the presence of air or contaminated fluid in the system. Bleeding the brakes can help address these issues and restore optimal braking performance.
  4. Brake lever travel: If your brake lever has excessive travel or feels mushy, bleeding the brakes can help reduce the lever travel and provide a firmer, more responsive braking experience.
  5. Brake maintenance or installation: When performing brake maintenance or installing new brakes, it is recommended to bleed the system to ensure proper function and remove any air that may have entered during the process.

Bleeding Shimano XT brakes regularly or whenever these issues arise is crucial to maintaining their performance, consistency, and safety.

Here are 10 Steps To Bleed Shimano Xt Brakes

Tools You Need

Shimano Bleed Kit with FunnelEssential for proper fluid transfer during bleeding
Shimano Hydraulic Mineral OilSpecifically formulated brake fluid for Shimano systems
Bleed BlockHelps maintain proper spacing during bleeding
7mm Box WrenchUsed for opening and closing bleeding valves
2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm Allen WrenchesFor various brake adjustments and bolt sizes
Isopropyl AlcoholUsed for cleaning and degreasing brake components
Clean RagTo wipe off excess fluid and keep surfaces clean
Velcro Strap or Toe StrapUsed to secure the brake lever during the bleeding process


Step-1: Adjust the lever and free stroke

  • Use the tool-free adjustment to turn the lever clockwise until it’s as far away from the bar as it can go.
  • Turn the free stroke adjustment clockwise to bring it all the way in.

Step-2: Remove the brake pads

  • Remove the C-clip from the brake pad axle.
  • Use a 3mm Allen wrench to remove the brake pad axle.
  • Slide the brake pads out of the caliper and set them aside.

Step-3: Push the Pistons in flush with the caliper body

  • Insert a flat spanner through the caliper and evenly push the pistons in flush.

Step-4: Insert the bleed block

  • Slide the bleed block between the pistons.
  • Use the brake pad axle to hold it in place.

Step-5: Position the brake lever

  • Loosen the brake lever slightly and position it at a 45-degree angle to the ground.
  • Tighten it to hold the position.

Step-6: Remove the bleed screw

  • Use a 2.5mm Allen wrench to remove the bleed screw from the top of the brake lever.
  • Ensure the O-ring comes off with the bleed screw.

Step-7: Attach the bleed funnel

  • Thread the bleed funnel into the hole where the bleed screw was.
  • Add a little mineral oil to the bleed funnel.

Step-8: Remove the caliper from the frame or fork

  • Unthread the mounting bolts and take off the caliper.
  • Let the caliper hang straight down from the lever for optimal fluid flow.

Step-9: Fill the syringe with mineral oil

  • Fill the bleed syringe with Shimano hydraulic mineral oil, removing any air from the syringe.

Step-10: Attach the syringe and bleed the system

  • Remove the cap from the bleed nipple on the caliper.
  • Attach the syringe to the bleed nipple using a 7mm box wrench.
  • Loosen the bleed nipple 1/8 turn and slowly push fluid through with the syringe.
  • Watch for air bubbles in the bleed funnel.
  • Close the bleed nipple once no more bubbles appear.
  • Remove the syringe and attach the tube with the oil-collecting bag to the bleed nipple.
  • Add more fluid to the bleed funnel if necessary.
  • Open and close the bleed nipple several times while pumping the brake lever to remove any remaining bubbles.
  • Close the bleed nipple securely and replace the rubber cap.
  • Squeeze the brake lever to eliminate any remaining air bubbles.
  • Adjust the lever position and rotate it to release the trapped air.
  • Secure the lever with a velcro or toe strap.
  • Clean the brake caliper, reinstall it, and tighten the mounting bolts.
  • Replace the brake pads, ensuring the axle is tight and the C-clip is in place.
  • Reinstall the wheel and center the caliper by squeezing the brake lever and tightening the caliper mounting bolts.
  • Test the brakes and make any necessary adjustments.

By following these 10 steps, you’ll be able to successfully bleed your Shimano XT disc brakes and ensure optimal performance.

How Much ML Does It Take To Bleed Shimano Brakes?

The amount of brake fluid required to bleed Shimano brakes can vary depending on the specific brake model and the length of the brake lines. However, as a general guideline, bleeding Shimano brakes typically require approximately 5 milliliters (ml) of brake fluid per brake caliper.

It’s important to note that Shimano recommends using their specific hydraulic mineral oil, such as the Shimano Hydraulic Mineral Oil, for bleeding their brakes. Using the correct type and quantity of fluid ensures optimal performance and compatibility with the brake system.

When performing a brake bleed, it’s a good practice to have enough brake fluid on hand to ensure you have enough to complete the bleed process for all the brake calipers in your system.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1: Why Do I Need To Bleed My Shimano Brakes?

 Bleeding Shimano brakes is necessary to remove air bubbles that may have entered the brake system, which can compromise brake performance and feel. It ensures optimal brake function and consistent lever response.

2: How Often Should I Bleed My Shimano Brakes?

The frequency of brake bleeding depends on usage, environmental conditions, and personal preference. As a general guideline, it is recommended to bleed Shimano brakes at least once a year or whenever you notice a decrease in braking power or a spongy lever feel.

3: Can I Use Any Brake Fluid For Bleeding Shimano Brakes?

No, it is important to use the specific hydraulic mineral oil recommended by Shimano for their brakes. Using the correct fluid, such as Shimano Hydraulic Mineral Oil, ensures proper system compatibility and performance.

4: Can I Bleed Shimano Brakes Myself, Or Should I Take It To A Professional?

Shimano brakes can be bled by individuals with some mechanical knowledge and the right tools. However, if you are unsure or uncomfortable performing the procedure, you should seek assistance from a professional bike mechanic to ensure proper bleeding and avoid any potential issues.

5: What Is The Procedure For Bleeding Shimano Brakes?

The bleeding Shimano brakes involve removing air bubbles from the brake system by injecting fresh hydraulic fluid. It typically includes steps such as adjusting the lever position, removing brake pads, pushing the pistons, attaching a bleed syringe, and cycling the fluid through the system. It is recommended to refer to Shimano’s specific brake bleeding instructions or consult a professional for a detailed step-by-step guide.


Bleeding Shimano brakes is a necessary procedure to ensure optimal performance and consistent lever response. It requires using the recommended Shimano hydraulic mineral oil, as well as some specific tools and mechanical knowledge. If you’re unsure of how to proceed with the brake bleed, it’s best to consult a professional bike mechanic for assistance. Following these steps will ensure you have safe and reliable Shimano brakes.

John D. Archer

John D. Archer is a mechanical engineer and writer based on the area of automotive accessories at, A resident expert and professional, John is passionate about all things automotive and loves to share his knowledge. He has good experience in all kind of automotive accessories. He has worked as a chief mechanical engineer in some reputed automotive garage firm.