What is Lobster and why it’s not a magic pill

Lobster – brake protection for Shimano
Lobster – brake protection for Shimano

Let’s say you ride Shimano hydraulic brakes. It makes no difference whether it’s basic or a top-end, all of them are suffering from the same problem. The master cylinder isn’t sealed, so dirt and dust can easily contaminate the system. Dirt particles settle between the piston cuffs and the cylinder walls and gradually scratch them, which is the common cause of oil leaks. In turn this leads to degrading braking power and inconsistent brake feel. The Lobster seals out dirt, dust and water (IP65), drastically extending the lifespan of the hydraulic. In the other words, the key features of your brakes, such as power and modulation, remain stable over a long time. What the Lobster definitely does NOT do, it doesn’t heal your brakes, already suffering from oil leaks or/and wandering bite point.

Basically this is all you need to know about the Lobster. Now you can peacefully proceed to the shop, or scroll down for the long read below.

The story

Hi, I’m Andrew, founder of the Red Panda Components. 

Posing with Contessa bike

One day I was riding the trail in the local park and slipped onto the sandy ground of a small ravine. Since it was “just another little crash”, I pulled my bike out of the sand, got back on the saddle and kept enjoying the trail. In a few weeks, while cleaning the bike, I noticed one of my brand new Shimano Deore XT levers was looking very messy. The inside of the lever was virtually stuffed with the mixture of brake oil and dirt. 

I decided to take the lever apart to get to the bottom of the problem. Since the Shimano hydraulic is not sealed at the “upper end”, some of the sand particles managed to get behind the piston cuffs. With the friction of the piston, they were scratching the cylinder walls until the scrapes were deep enough to let the oil leak out under pressure. 

Dirt and grease on piston cuffs

After thorough googling, it became clear that Shimano offers neither spare parts nor proper repairs. The leaking cylinder is not a guarantee case; I was suggested to buy a new brake lever that may «definitely last a couple of seasons». Since replacing the lever every time it catches some dirt wasn’t a good choice, I started to look for other options.

The internet was full of homemade projects that are smart and ugly at the same time. One DIY-guy shoves a piece of styrofoam between the pusher and the piston, mounting it with a screw, the other makes a “sealing” with washers. Rubber pipettes, switch caps, even PU-foam, everything comes to play in the hands of enthusiasts. What all these DIYs have in common – they are bulky, complicated and won’t solve the problem.

All in all, I haven’t found a single ready to go product that reliably protects my brake from oil leaking, is easy to install, looks good and doesn’t cost a bomb. So I decided to come up with such a solution.

Devil in detail

As the saying goes, it’s better to see your not-sealed-at-all Shimano brake’s inside life once. Just go over the pictures below. This is what the 2-year-young XT785 lever, belonging to the Russian MTB top athlete Ivan Kunaev, looks like.

The hardtail that the lever came from, was mainly in use as a pump track bike. With an eye to highlight the damage to the original parts, I shot them along with the new ones. Look at those scars on the cylinder walls! And guess how often Ivan had got to rebleed the brake.

The Lobster

The Lobster is a kit of 6 parts. The main part is the highly durable PU replacement of the original servo wave caps, that holds the silicone dust cover, reinforced with ABS frame. The corrugated dust cover protects the pusher, as it cycles, and prevents dirt from getting into the master cylinder. Two bushings with grub screws shield the handle pin and assist the free stroke screw keeping the Lobster firmly in place. The oil-resistant rubber O-ring seals the contact edges of the frame and cylinder. All original Shimano parts remain intact, you can refit them if you return your brakes for warranty service. 

Let’s say, you’ve got your Lobster. Will you need to visit a mechanic to protect your brakes? No, you won’t, the Lobster can be installed in less than 10 minutes at home without special tools. 

There are two major scenarios, how you can take advantage of the Lobster. To hit the sweet spot, install the Lobster into your Shimano brake lever right from the scratch. The second option is to fix your used brakes after the proper overhaul (polish the main cylinder walls, replace the piston cuffs). Installing the Lobster into not overhauled used brakes prevent them from further damage by dirt and dust, but doesn’t “heal” scratched cylinder walls.

Team

The Red Panda Components, based since 2018 in a historic factory building in Moscow, Russia. Our team runs the full cycle from initial idea through to actual production, sales and support. We evaluate and improve prototypes in collaboration with top Russian MTB riders and bike service engineers. Before shipment, each Lobster undergoes inspection by our quality purists. 

And just for the case you meet us in the street and suddenly feel an overwhelming compulsion to shake our hands, please check the pictures below.

Igor, design engineer, standing alone in the dark.  
Andrey, in charge of bureaucratic stuff, leading another local Enduro race.

Quick features

The Lobster for Shimano hydraulic brakes is: 

  • Reinforced silicone rubber dust cover to prevent dust, dirt and water from damaging the master cylinder
  • Sealed bushings to protect the handle pin
  • Fast and simple installation without special equipment
  • Original parts remain intact, any time ready for being reinstalled 
  • No bleeding required
  • 1-year full warranty
  • Spare parts always in stock
  • Designed and made in Russia with love

Thanks for reading. For your time and attention, we offer you a 5% discount. Use it with promocode MAGICPILL in cart.

https://www.redpandacomponents.com/