You know the scenario, grab a handful of front brake and nothing or almost nothing happens!

Get off the bike and you’re saying to yourself WTF, then you see one side of your tire covered with oil. You’ve just blown a seal…insert 8th-grade joke here.

If you are out on the trail there are a few ways to do a temporary or maybe a permanent fix. If you have upside-down forks this is a lot more important cause, well, gravity, liquid, etc.

Firstly pop the dust seal out and slide it down the fork leg.

If there is any dirt between the dust seal and the fork seal you need to clean this, next grab your seal mate

Motion-Pro Image

or seal doctor

image: Seal Doctor

What do both of these two pieces of plastic do?…the exact same thing, but the seal doctor is just a little better at it and a lot more durable.

repeat the process a couple of times, bouncing the forks between each rotation and wiping down the seal cleaner and the fork leg each time.

You don’t have one of these tools?


Any cylindrical thin plastic container will likely do the trick, soda bottle, water bottle, yogurt carton, etc. just cut to shape and make sure there is a small lip to catch the spec of dirt that is creating the leak

you don’t have any of the above, and there’s no garbage around, have a look in your wallet. insurance companies send out cards made out of almost perfect thickness material, cut it, use it, and keep in your wallet for next time.

If it appears you have fixed the issue, removed that little spec of dirt that caused the leak, next thing is to clean the brake caliper, brake pad, brake rotor, and tire as much as you can, put the dust seal back in place and ride on.

Your brake WILL NOT instantly be good again if the fork had been leaking on it for a long time unnoticed, there is a good chance you might have to get a new set of brake pads…take that into consideration before your next ride.


Once back to civilization thoroughly check your fork seals again, also the fork legs for scratches. Any substantial damaged parts will obviously have to be replaced.


Older riders will regale stories of how they did this fix back in the day with 35mm film, young riders will looking confused what those old duffers are talking about.


Any other items you found useful in this situation to do this quick fix? Be sure to add them to the comments below.


lead image: Rottenronnie

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