Bleeding brakes is a pretty simple concept, on paper: Basically you just need to purge air from a sealed system using hydraulic syringes. The reality of bleeding brakes can be a nightmare, though: Without the proper bleed kits, it’s nearly impossible to do with any success. And without nice tools, it can be more vocabulary limiting than installing tubeless tires.
Park Tool makes some undeniably top-notch tools. If you peek into a bike shop’s service area, you’ll almost certainly see a plethora of blue handles, each carefully engineered to make a bike mechanic’s job as easy as possible. Park’s pricing often reflects its reputation for quality and dedication to R&D and engineering, and the BKD-1 is definitely no exception to this, ringing in at $118.
On the other hand, Cycobyco, a brand we could find sold only on Amazon, comes in at basically a quarter of the price: a very reasonable $33, and appears to borrow component ideas from much higher end kits.
The reality is that most bleed kits use rebranded, unlabeled, or slightly modified veterinary syringes as the base for their bleed kits. These are very inexpensive, so it’s no surprise that Cycobyco can produce a high-end looking bleed kit for pennies on the dollar of the likes of Park Tool. But does it stop there? I wanted to see what, if anything, you might be missing if you opt to save some cash.
It’s Just a Box?
The difference in overall quality between the two kits is immediately apparent, even before taking the bleed kits out of their box. The Park’s box feels like it should house an expensive power tool, where the Cycobyco feels like there should be cheap hooks, bobbers and sinkers inside. The Park’s box is also quite a bit bigger, which was nice for repacking the bleed kit after use.
This quality gap continued once the box was opened. The Park uses metal where the Cycobyco uses (sloppily) molded plastic for the fixtures to connect the hose to the syringe. The Park also only uses one set of hoses with screw-on adapter ends (also metal receptacles) where the Cycobygo just has separate tubing and barbed adapters. This made things more difficult to keep organized.
The quality of the actual syringes were pretty close. Both have large handles, thick cylinder walls, metal plunger rods, and metal hose fixture receptacles, though small cosmetic differences make it clear they’re not exactly the same.
Park Tool BKD-1 – Standout Features
As expected, the BKD-1 is a really dialed in kit. It performed flawlessly on my SRAM and Hayes brakes. It was easy to use, well organized (there’s a small box inside to keep the adapters together, and a sticker label to help identify them), and seems like it’d last the test of time. I found the syringe hoses were long enough to offer some flexibility in where I mounted the syringe via the especially handy syringe mount. Regarding that mount, I really appreciated the fact it had a rotating head, allowing me to affix the syringe to the fork leg, chainstay or handlebar at whatever angle worked best, not just parallel. Plus, it was far easier to use and more secure than velcro straps.
I would have liked to see something to aid in barb installation or hose cutting in the Park kit, but they offer a separate, very specialized, tool, the Hydraulic Barb Tool, for that. It’ll set you back $106.
The Cycobyco kit is clearly a product meant to distribute from Asia at the lowest possible price, with little attention paid to customer support and localization. Because of this, the instruction/user guide, reads similar to a group of cheap fortune cookies; the point is there, but is not always crystal clear. My favorite line from the instruction manual: “Tips: Heatening the hose by electric hair drier does a favour to assemble !” [sic, obviously].
The kit is also very centered around SRAM brakes, as the instructions focus solely on them. This seems fine, as that’s what a majority of the DOT-powered brakes on the market are, however, it is also clearly outdated, as the brakes in the graphics are from a few years back. But more importantly, the Cycobyco kit does not include the SRAM Bleeding Edge fitting, which you will need to service any modern SRAM brake. That’s an extra $20 any way you slice it, and you will have to slice it if you want to fit it to the Cycobyco syringe hose.
Speaking of those hoses, despite looking like the interface between the syringe and hose would be a source of bubbles under suction, the seals here held fast.
I did have an issue when using the kit to install a Hayes Dominion A2. The interface to the master cylinder (brake lever) leaked. I ended up having to use one of the Park Tool syringes and adaptors for this. Looking at the Cycobyco Hayes adapters, they are definitely slightly different than the ones that came in the Park Tool kit (and the ones that come in Hayes’ bleed kit as well). My guess is that this is because of the kit’s age. In fact, though these fittings were the best suited for the Hayes brakes, they may actually be meant for some other DOT brake. The adapters for SRAM brakes worked just fine, aside from missing the Bleeding Edge fitting.
I did find the hoses on the Cycobyco to be quite short, and a bit limiting. Also the toolbox takes some spatial visualization skills to get everything back in the box nicely, as it’s a fairly tight fit.
Speaking of boxes, Cycobyco sells its Professional bleed kits on Amazon in conjunction with its Standard kit. The options are labeled “Set A” and “Set B”. Set A, the Professional kit, comes in a plastic case and claims to have nicer hoses for the syringes. Set B uses a cardboard box, and is slightly cheaper at $26. If you accidentally order the wrong one (which we, like, totally didn’t accidentally do at all), at least returns are easy.
Extras Extra Credit
The Cycobyco Kit assumes you have no tools for bleeding brakes whatsoever. It comes with a T10 torx key for the bleed ports and an open-ended 8mm wrench to handle the compression nut. The quality and tolerances of these weren’t the greatest, but they got the job done. It also came with disposable gloves, which are nice when working with DOT oil, as it’s not exactly a nice fluid to get on your skin. Another nice thing included was hose clamp blocks, which aren’t necessarily needed, but are nice for helping with cutting and installing barbs.
Park Tool expects you to have all the wrenches and torx keys needed for the procedure, which makes sense, really, but I do have to say, it was nice not having to dig through my toolbox to find these.
For my Dominion brakes, the bleed block spacer size is 11mm. This is right between the sizes included in the Park Kit (10mm and 12mm) and larger than the one included in the Cycobyco. I’d expect this from the Cycobyco, but was a surprising omission from a $118 universal bleed kit, especially given its especially deluxe array of fittings.
If you’re only bleeding your SRAM brakes once or twice a year, the Cycobyco is hard to beat for the price. Even after buying a Bleeding Edge fitting, you’re still saving almost $25 off SRAM’s Pro bleed kit. But if you’re doing so for the option to bleed other DOT brakes, you have to be prepared for some hiccups. I’d be leery of recommending it for anything other than SRAM brakes, unfortunately. The Park Tool kit, on the other hand will ensure you consistent results in a professional bike-shop quality tool. Is it worth the price? It’s tough to say…. The components the Park is built from are not expensive, however, you’re largely paying for consistency and a lot of R&D, and I have no idea how much time was put into development of this. Personally, I think this kit would be better priced at about $80. In the end you aren’t going to find a nicer bleed kit than the Park, and it’s not much more than other brand-specific high-end bleed kits on the market.
Uniquely functional and functionally unique
Works just like a regular pump, unless you want something more