How to Adjust Bike Brakes

In any vehicle, the brake is considered as the most crucial part regarding safety. And bikes are not different than that. Either you’re riding a road bike or mountain bike, without an excellent braking system, the journey can get very dangerous. How to adjust bike brakes. Functional and robust stopping power is very much needed while riding. That’s why bike manufacturers have developed different types of brakes to ensure maximum safety. But it’s not unnatural that the brakes of your bike may feel too much tight or squeaky sometimes due to the constant use. But don’t worry, you won’t have to pause your ride and take it to a mechanic. You can fix this problem quickly by yourself!

Adjust Bike Brakes

Different types of Brakes

Before moving to the adjustment process, you need to know about the different types of brakes. Because each of them has different functions and requires various adjustments.

Caliper Brake: Caliper brakes fastens the rims between the brake shoes and has two heads. One head gets kinked with cable sleeve and another one to the brake cable.

'Caliper Brake' How to Adjust Bike Brakes

Calip​​​​​​​​​er Brake​​​​​

Disc Brake: This brake system is the most popular and preferred among the bikers. They provide the maximum stopping power instantly while riding. It’s the most reliable one as well.

'Disc Brake' How to Adjust Bike Brakes

Disc Brake

V-Brake: This brake system is also known as a linear brake, has long arms and the cable is connected with both of them. Previously known Cantilever brakes are now known as V-brakes.

'V-Brake' How to Adjust Bike Brakes

V-Brake

Hydraulic Brake: Hydraulic brakes system is controlled by fluids, such as glycol or di-ethylene glycol that converts the power into braking control.

'Hydraulic Brake' How to Adjust Bike Brakes

Hydraulic Brake​

Tools You Need

Now let’s figure out the tools you’ll need to tighten or loosen the brakes. You won’t have to go to a store and buy specialized tools. You’ll find that in your home or garage.

  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • A bunch of Allen keys (3-way is preferable)
  • T-Handle
  • Brake Cable
  • Housing kit
  • Brake Pads
  • Cable & Housing clutter
A bunch of Allen keys (3-way is preferable)

A bunch of Allen keys (3-way is preferable)

T-Handle

T-Handle

Brake Pads

Brake Pads

Follow the Steps

Now we’re going to describe you how to adjust brakes for different brake systems step by step!

Caliper Brakes

Step-1: First check the brake pads if they’re in a right position and maintain an equal distance from the rim or not. And to verify that you have to press the brake and identify whether the pads create pressure over each other. And to straight that eases the back bolt, make adjustments and slowly tighten it again.

Step-2: Now you’ve to measure the distance of the pads from the rims. And that entirely depends on your preference of how you want the lever’s flexibility. Squeeze the calipers and adjust the bolts until it feels right to you.

Step-3: Make sure not to adjust the lever in a way so that no space for releasing the tires can be found. Keep the gear downwards.

Step-4: Now it’s time for aligning the pads. The pads should always be positioned with the braking track centrally. Pads touching the tires and lower than the braking surface must be avoided.

Step-5: Finally, we have to make a barrel adjustment. Put out the pads by moving the barrel clockwise. Then do the anti-clockwise movement to remove the space. You can even adjust the cable stretch in this way.

Disc Brakes

Step-1: First you’ve to check the brakes and for that unlock the quick-release switch and check the wheels if they’re in the right position. Then partially unscrew the bolts so that you can bounce the caliper from side to side.

Step-2: After adjusting the brake lever check if the wheels spin smoothly. If you feel that it’s still scratching, repeat the process a few times.

Step-3: If step two doesn’t give you any satisfying result, then, the problem is on the rotor. Check the space on both sides of the rotor and adjust the bolts.

V-Brakes

Step-1: First check the spinning condition of the wheel and then loosen the brake cable to adjust the tension or rubbing.

Step-2: Slowly release the grip from the hand and see if the pads are in a separated length from the rim. You can move the cable from its position by using your fingers.

Step-3: Re-tighten the bolts of the brake cable and put pressure to see if the lever is comfortable to you.

Step-4: Now it’s time for adjusting the pads with the rim. You can either force the brake higher to activate braking or simply pressurize on levers. As the pads are now in a distance position, put it back in the right place and see if it’s still crashing with the tires.

Step-5: It’s natural for you to feel rubbing in only one side while the side is entirely OK! In that case, enhance the tension on the spring so that it makes a forceful situation for brake arms. After that, you can readjust the pads until it feels perfect on both of the sides.

Hydraulic Brakes

Step-1: Check the brake lever to ensure that it is sitting horizontally to the handlebar. If not, then use a wrench so fix the bolts in a way (rotate downwards) so that the lever and the handlebar don’t crash with each other.

Step-2: Check the brake calipers to ensure that they are not crashing with the rotor. The rotation should be centered and if not adjust the bolts and check if the wheels are still scrubbing.

Step-3: Move the lever and adjust the bolts firmly. Check the position of the parts and fix that.

Final Words

Brakes should be checked regularly, especially before long or mountain rides. Because a malfunctioning brake can make your journey really dangerous and it’ll difficult for you to get any help. And make sure to do a test drive after every brake adjustment. Never try to use one type of changes for a different kind of bike. And if you feel that something is wrong and you are unable to make it right, take that to a bike shop. So that you can get confident about the performance of the brake and drive safely.

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