Understanding and Addressing Common Issues with Hayes Dominion Brakes

Hayes Dominion brakes, particularly the A4 model, are highly praised in the mountain biking community for their powerful stopping capabilities and excellent modulation. However, users have reported several common issues that can detract from their overall performance. This blog post will outline these issues and provide remedies to help you get the most out of your Hayes Dominion brakes.

Common Issues

1. Bleeding Process

The bleeding process for Hayes Dominion brakes is more intricate compared to other brands like Shimano and SRAM. Improper bleeding can lead to air bubbles in the system, significantly affecting brake performance.

Problem: Difficulty in bleeding the brakes properly. Solution: Follow the Hayes bleeding guide meticulously. Allow some time (around 15 minutes) between bleeds and frequently flick the hoses and levers to release trapped air bubbles. Using the correct bleeding kit is essential; either the Hayes bleeding kit or a cheaper Avid kit can be used, as they share similar fittings.

2. Lever Feel and Stroke

Some users have reported that the lever throw is too long before the pads engage, which can make the brakes feel less responsive.

Problem: Long lever throw before pad engagement. Solution: Adjust the lever reach and bite point settings. If the levers are set too close to the handlebar, they might bottom out before fully activating the brake. Make sure to set the lever reach to a position where it provides a firm feel without excessive throw.

3. Installation Challenges

Issues with adapter compatibility and the large size of the caliper can complicate the installation process.

Problem: Difficulty in fitting the caliper and routing the brake lines. Solution: Ensure you have the correct adapters for your bike. In some cases, modifications might be necessary. For internally routed cables, carefully plan the routing process and follow any specific instructions for your bike model. Cutting the brake lines correctly and using the appropriate tools is crucial.

4. Pad and Rotor Issues

Problems with pad clearance and rotor rubbing are common. Some users have received warped rotors, which exacerbate these issues.

Problem: Pad rubbing and rotor warping. Solution: Utilize the Crosshair caliper centering screws to fine-tune the caliper position and eliminate rubbing. If the rotors are warped, contact Hayes for a replacement or consider straightening them if the warping is minor. Regularly check and maintain the pad clearance to prevent rubbing.

5. Seal Leaks

Instances of caliper seal leaks can lead to fluid loss and reduced braking power.

Problem: Fluid leaking around piston seals. Solution: Inspect the calipers regularly for leaks. If you notice any fluid leakage, contact Hayes for warranty service or replacements. Ensuring that the brakes are bled correctly and that there is no air in the system can also help prevent leaks.


Despite these issues, Hayes Dominion brakes are highly regarded for their strong braking power and modulation. By following proper setup and maintenance procedures, you can mitigate many of the common problems and enjoy reliable performance. Regular bleeding, careful installation, and consistent maintenance are key to keeping your Hayes Dominion brakes in top condition.

For more detailed guidance on bleeding procedures and maintenance tips, refer to the Hayes bleeding guide and consider joining mountain biking forums where fellow riders share their experiences and solutions.

Happy riding!