How To Adjust Bicycle Brakes

Who doesn’t like his bicycle brake will be nice and effective? Do you know how to adjust bicycle brakes?

Everybody wishes that his bicycle brake would be able to stop quickly when needed. If you go fast, you know how important it is to start the braking as soon as you touch the brake lever.

If you need to adjust the brakes, you can easily take the service of any bicycle shop where they can perform the task for the bicycle owner and charges an amount to adjust the brakes.

But you can never imagine the basic brake adjustments are how easy to do for yourself.

Go through our article and learn how to adjust bicycle brakes.

 Definitely, you’ll be able to learn all the easy ways of how to remove the most common confusions for brake adjustment and how to correct them.

Let’s Go!

Before learning the procedure, some things to know will help you to comprehend the basics regarding bicycle brakes.

How Do Bicycle Brakes Work?

If you ride a bicycle, it’s usual that you know all about the brakes. The aim of a brake is to slow down your bike or stop suddenly. By a cable, the brake calipers are linked to brake levers.

When you hold the brake levers on the handlebars, the cables pull on the small caliper. It applies forces on the rubber block/ brake pads to press against the wheels.

Thus, the resistance between the block/pad and wheel rims reduces the kinetic energy and slow down the bike bringing you safely to a stop.

 Why Do You Need To Adjust Bicycle Brakes?

In general, brakes are mandatory on bicycles. But for safe cycling, effective brakes are very important. Bicycle brakes may not work efficiently over time. Some reasons are:

  • Cable stretches
  • Damaged rubber pads
  • Excessive friction
  • Poor installation of the cables
  • Poor quality brakes
  • Loose rear hub

Bike Parts- Related To Brakes

Know the name of the bike parts (almost all bikes have the same combination) that are related to brakes. These are:

 Pull lever– You need to pull it to engage the brake.

Cable And Cable Housing– Links the brake calipers to the pull lever.

Brake Calipers– They hold together to force brake pads onto the wheel’s rim.

Adjusting Knob– It adjusts the cable housing length.

Locknut– It locks the adjusting knob in position.

Step By Step Procedure To Adjust Bicycle Brakes

 Test The Brakes

Standing close to your bike, exert a force on the frontal brake lever and push the bike onward. The pull lever shouldn’t come into contact to the handlebar. Repeat this step with the rear brake. The rear wheel will be locked and slip when you try to push the bike onward. If the brakes don’t work properly, you’ll feel soft or relaxed in the cable (it’s not applicable for hydraulic brakes).

Visually Inspect The Brake Pads

You should check the brake pads first to know whether the brake pads are worn that are unable to work properly. Make sure that the rubbers are at least 0.6 cm thick and these are aligned with the wheel rims.

Inspect The Cables

Press on the brake handle to make sure that the cables are moving properly. If the cables don’t move, the clamp may become loose or it may be fastened in the cable housing.

Loosen The Lock Nut

The lock nut is situated close to the brake lever pull. It helps the adjustment knob to hold in fixed place. Disengage it as far as possible. It will enable the knob to turn.

Grip The Calipers

Hold both the calipers near the pads with your hand. Press inward so that they come close and brake pads come to contact on the wheel rims.

Disengage The Adjustment Knob

Turn the adjusting knob anti-clockwise as far as possible. Do it until the knob threads are almost withdrawn from the brake pull combination. The cable housing will reach to its available longest position.

Now try to pull the brake. If you can engage the brakes where you want, it is working great.

Keep Attention To The Two Situations

If the brakes employ too soon, apply a slight pressure on the brake lever. Slowly turn the adjustment knob back in.  When the brake lever reaches the spot you want, stop the process.

If the brakes don’t employ soon, note that your brake cable may be either damaged in some way or it’s too long. To adjust the cable length, unscrew the cable length setting screw slightly, pull the cable a little through it to shorten. Repeat the step until you get the desired length.

Check the brake thoroughly before start riding. If you feel the brake soft or the cable slips, your bicycle brake isn’t working.

Engage The Lock Nut Into Place

If you find that the liver is working the way you like, turn the lock nut clockwise. It will lock the assembly into position.

Test The Adjustment Of Your Brake Cables

At this stage, test the adjustment of the brake cables. Note that when the brake isn’t engaged, they should stay about 0.6 cm far away from the rim. On the other hand, when the pull lever is squeezed, they must come into full contact at about half the extent the lever can travel.

Check The Brake Finally

Make sure that the brakes hold when you pull the levers. Hold high the bike so that the front wheel remains off the ground. Give a good spin of the front wheel.

Look and listen to be sure that the rubber pads are not striking the rim. If it hit the rim, you need to repeat the steps and have to tighten the adjustment knob a little more.


Definitely, you’ve found our article on how to adjust bicycle brakes most useful to you. A few practice will build you to do the job easily and quickly and you’ll get your bicycle brakes functioning.

Checking and adjusting your bike brakes following the above-mentioned steps will take only a few minutes.

Have a safe cycling!

Joe Carrow

Product reviewer & passionate blogger. Beside writing for this blog, I spend my time crafting research based contents for HuffingtonPost, Lifehacker & Forbes!

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