The most likely cause of squeaky brakes is natural noise. This is most likely the case if the noise you are experiencing is mild. Brakes are a friction device that place metal in contact with hard surfaces and so by the nature of how they operate they will often generate noise; thus, squeaking is to be considered within the natural range of functioning for disk brakes. There are spray-on compounds that will relieve the noise but will reduce the effectiveness of the brakes. Use these with extreme caution.
If the noise you are experiencing is beyond the range of natural squeaking, then the next most likely cause of the noise is natural wear and tear/aging. The particular brake pads that we use need to be replaced if the total thickness of the backing plate and the pad friction material is ever less than 3mm. To check the thickness of the pads, remove them from the calipers with a pair of forceps. Be careful not to touch the pads or brake rotors directly with your hands as this can contaminate the parts with natural skin oil as well as dirty your hands.
If the brake pads are too thin, it is time to replace them. Brake pads are not covered under warranty as they are a “wear” component. As such, the customer is responsible for the cost of replacing them. Replacement pads can be ordered directly from Organic Transit and can be replaced in the ELF by the customer, or by a local bicycle shop. Relevant information on when and how to replace the brake pads can be found at the manufacturer website on the tenth page of the user manual. A link to the document is provided here.
If the brake pads are determined to be adequately thick, then the rotor bolts on your ELF may be loose. To check to see whether or not this is the source of your problem, check with a wrench to see if the bolts that hold the brake rotor to the wheel hub are loose. The brake rotor is the black metal disk that rotates with the wheel and the wheel hub is the portion of the wheel that sits on the axle.
Provided that you have the proper tools, you can tighten the brake rotor bolts to meet the manufacturer specified torque value of 6.4Nm. The bolts on the front wheel brake rotors require a T25 wrench while the bolts on the rear require 4mm Allen keys. If the customer does not have the tools to perform these servicing tasks, the ELF can be brought to a local bicycle repair shop for service.
If the rotor bolts are determined to be snug, then the problem may be caused by caliper misalignment. To see whether or not this is the cause of your problem, examine the calipers to see if they are aligned with the rotor. You can put a piece of paper behind the braking assembly to provide contrast in order to better view the components. If the rotor looks off-center with respect to the calipers, then this might be the cause of your problem.
To align the calipers, follow the instructions given on the video provided here.
Finally, if none of the above suggestions yield a solution, your squeaky brakes may be caused by improper break-in or excess brake pad material lodged in the brake rotors. Assume that this is the cause of the problem if none of the above steps yield a solution.
To fix this problem, clean the brake rotors with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and a green Scotchbrite pad. Then perform five hard stops, where you get the ELF moving at top speed and then brake hard and fast, making a complete stop. Be safe!
If this does not resolve the problem, then use a green 3M pad in conjunction with isopropyl alcohol to clean the brake rotors and try five more hard stops.
Last but not least, follow the instructions given in this video if all else fails.