How to Adjust Bike Brakes

How to Adjust Bike Brakes

I am not going to ask you how important you think bike brakes are. You already know. They are what gives you the confidence that no matter how fast you descend on a smooth terrain, you can stop progressively or instantly without any doubt.

They help navigate meandering terrains without the fear of falling over and they make mountaineering easy. Without the best braking system, cycling wouldn’t be fun.

But how often do you adjust your bicycle's brakes? Do you ever even think about doing it, in the first place? Some people ride bikes with worn out brake pads, but this isn’t often safe. Some don’t even mind riding with loose brake cables, but this could even endanger a rider’s own life.

So if you want the brakes to perform better, adjust them regularly. And if you want to prevent safety hazards on different terrains, always remember to fix the brakes of your bike.

Types of bike brakes 

There are seven types of bike brakes. They are built and marketed by different brands. And while all they do is to hold down the rim to stop the wheel from moving, the technology used in designing them differs from one brand to another.

As such, the working concept for each brake type is completely different. Below is a highlight of the seven types of bike brakes.

  • Caliper brake: This one has two arms, one attached to the cable sleeve and the other one to the brake cable. This brake clamps the rim between two brake shoes.
  • Band brake: Uses the friction between the rotating drum and tethered band to slow down the speed of the bike.
  • Drum/hub brake: They were quite popular back in the day, but they were superseded by affordable and reliable disc brakes
  • Coaster brake: It is also known as the back-pedal brake.
  • The cantilever brake: They are popularly known as the v-brakes these days.
  • Roller brake: Applies force from the brake lever to the central cam, which pushes against the shoe segments and further pushes the segment to get into contact with the rotating drum.
  • Disc brake: This is the most popular type of braking system in the world today and for good reasons.

Why disc brakes are popular 

It is a fact. Disc brakes are quite popular these days. A bigger percentage of different types of bikes use them. And there are many good reasons why. They are stronger, reliable, and durable unlike other break types.

They are good for all-terrains, thus suitable for whatever condition that you can imagine. Apart from their off-road capability, disc brakes neither overheat the tires nor wear out a bike’s rims.

It is absolutely important to know differences between Mechanical and Hydraulic Disc Brakes

So, how do you tighten a bike’s brakes? 

There are two ways to do this. You can choose to adjust the brake pads. Or you can just go ahead and tighten the brakes’ cables. In this tutorial, you will learn how to tighten your bike’s brake by adjusting the cable accordingly.

We have covered how to adjust Adjust Hydraulic Disc Brakes in more details.

Let’s get started:

Step 1: Checking how tight the brake cable is

The first thing you do is to check how tight the cables are. To do this, pull the brake level and then determine how far the lever is from the handle.

The lever should be at least 4cm away from the grip. If the lever touches the grip, then it means that the cables are loose.

If cable is slightly loose, then loosening the barrel adjuster, located where the lever and cable meet, can easily fix the problem. If this does not fix the problem, you may need to work on the brake calipers.

Step 2: Working on the caliper

Working on the brake caliper is quite easy and should take only a couple of minutes. Leaving the brake lever loose, use an Allen wrench to loosen the bolt. This will loosen the brake’s cable from the caliper.

It is not advisable to unscrew the bolt all the way. Rotating it about 3 or 4 times should be enough to loosen the caliper. Now that the cable is loose, it becomes easier to pull.

Step 3: Tightening the cable 

Now pull the brake’s cable outward. Keep pulling the cable until you feel it is tight enough to tighten on the caliper. If you have pulled the cable tight enough, the brake pads should hold well on the rim.

With your one hand still holding the cable tight, tighten it on the brake’s caliper by turning the Allen wrench clockwise about 3 to 4 times. Now go back and tighten the loose barrel adjuster on the bike’s handlebar.