Yesterday I changed the tyres on my bike from hybrid to mountain bike in anticipation of the days ride, unfortunately the rain didn't clear so I cleaned my bike instead. Once the front wheel was back in I did a systems check and noticed the front brakes no longer worked. Ok they did, but only at about 5% effective. Time to do my first brake bleed, which I put off until Sunday (today).
The manual that came with my bike said to remove the calipers and let them hang vertically and attach a tube with a bag on the end to the fluild nipple on the calliper. First step was to procure me some mineral oil, which is the fluid used in the brake system. First step of step one was finding out where I can get mineral oil. Turns out mineral oil is also baby oil (99.95% mineral oil, 0.05% fragrance), so I ducked down to my local Coles and grabbed me the cheapest I could find: 500ml Coles brand Baby Oil for the princely sum of $2.29; this stacked up favourably to the $5.49 for 250ml of the Johnson variety and $23.50 for 1L official Shimano brake oil (100% mineral oil).
Baby oil acquired and urge to smother myself in it and roll around denied, I removed the calliper as per the instructions. I didn't have the required pipe and bag so I just let it hang and drip onto a rag on the ground. Worth a shot and I couldn't be bothered getting back in the car and driving an hour to chase down 10cm of 5ml clear plastic pipe. I followed the instructions for a while but failed miserably.
Then I flashed back to years spent helping my old man work on cars and my time spent helping him bleed brakes. I think I may have even done it for myself and mates a few times in my Uni days. For a car, one person puts pressure on the brake pedal while the other tightens and loosens the nipple on the calliper at the right time. Applying those principals to my bike I figured I should be able to do it myself. Full of confidence I put the callipers back over the discs and affixed them to the bike.
Ignoring my failed steps here's how I successfully bleed and fixed my brakes:
Oh, and remember to continually monitor the reservoir fluid level!