Adjusting Bike Brakes – Start with the basics

Your brakes are the #1 safety mechanism on your bike.

Routine adjustments you bike brakes will enable them to perform better and guarantee you will be able to stop when you need to. The two principal things you will need to adjust or replace on your bikes braking system are the brake pads and the brake cables.

Worn out brake pads that are excessively low or ride high on the edge of the tire can be a safety risk. And maybe why the brakes squeal when trying to slow down.


front bike brake

Brake cables that do not have the correct tension or are too loose will make it much more difficult to brake resulting in slower stopping or complete failure. This could be very dangerous. Luckily, you can simply fix these issues with some common household tools!

How Often Should Check Your Bike Brakes? 

Before every bike ride. After all, you will need to stop at some point right? Everyone will wear out their bike brakes differently, just like car brakes. A heavier rider will wear down brake pads faster than a lighter rider. There are different levels of quality in brake pads which can lead to them getting dry rot. Also, the conditions the bike is ridden in and stored in is also a factor as well.

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Before Adjusting Your Bike Brakes, Start With A visual Inspection Of Them

First, check your brake pads before you make any alterations. The brake pads are the rubber pads that cinch down on the tires. Some bikes brake pads come with a line on them put on bu the manufacture. This line is often referred to as the wear line. This is a quick and easy visual check for starters.

brake-pads-for-mountain-bike

Make sure you are squeezing the brakes when using this method. In the event that the brake pads are worn out past the line named wear line, you will have to replace them before making any further adjustments to your brake system.

On the off chance that the wear lines on you brake pads aren’t printed on them, you can look to see if there are indicators notched or groove indicating where the brake wear line is.


Are the front bike’s brakes touching the rim in sync and centered on the rim of the tire?

Squeeze the brake handle to see where the brake pads hit the rim of the tire. Both brake pads need to come into contact with the edge of the front tire in sync. The pads should land the center point of the rim, with an equal measure of distance above and beneath the pad.

On the off chance that the pads are hitting the edge excessively high or low, they could come into contact with the elastic piece of the tire or the spokes on the bike. That will cause squealing brakes or worst case a dangerous brake failure when you need them the most (say slowing down while riding down a hill or having to stop hard and fast if a car pulls out in front of you.

Squat down to get good visual at the brake pads as you’re squeezing the brake handle to verify where the pads are landing and if they are touching the rim at the same time.

2 thoughts on “Adjusting Bike Brakes – Start with the basics

  1. Thanks for this awesome article. Safety comes first. I remember riding my bicycle lady month very closerby in the neighborhood. My bike brake failed, though not because the brake pad has worn out but the cable has loose, I fell but not hurt because I wasn’t on speed. Thanks for this article, it is really informative and helpful on how to keep my bike in good order. Great job.

  2. Hello Felicity, That sounds like it was a scary experience 🙁  I am sorry that happened and glad you did not get hurt!! I agree with you, safety always comes first. I am so happy that you were able to fix you brake cable! That is awesome! What other video tutorials did you do? I would love to hear how your DIY bike repairs are going! All my best! Nicole  

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