How to adjust the hand brakes on a bicycle

When you really need to adjust your brakes

  • When you have a new bike. After installing new components on the bike, they need to be run-in, the purpose of which is to determine the condition of all elements of the bike. For two or three trips, you will probably understand whether you need to release the brakes or, on the contrary, tighten them. all this is determined empirically. In 98 out of 100 cases, a new bike needs proper adjustment.
  • When the bike has been hanging on the wall for more than a month. Well, or stood in the garage. in a word, was not used. The worst option is when the bike was stored at subzero temperatures. here you will need to service not only the pads and the brake mechanism, but also the transmission.
  • When while driving there were sounds that were not there before. It can be either a nasty creak, or a very measured hum, knock, whistle, wheeze. in a word, anything that speaks of a breakdown. And in most cases, the breakdown is associated with the brakes.
  • When braking performance has decreased. This can manifest itself in different ways, for example, when you press the lever, the bike does not brake instantly, but with a delay. Or like this: after braking, the handle returns to its original position for a long time.
  • When damage is visible to the naked eye. The cables may peel or break, the handle may break, the shoe may crack, and so on.

Now, having studied the situations in which you need to adjust the brakes, let’s get down to business.

How to adjust the brakes on a bike?

Professional cyclists have one funny and very apt saying: “It’s important to be able to pick up speed, but the real skill is to stop in time.”.

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adjust, hand, brakes, bicycle


There are three types of rim brakes:

How to Adjust Your Bike Brakes the Easy Way

  • V-Brake;
  • cantilever;
  • tick-borne.

In about 80 out of 100 cases, the bike will have vibrake rim brakes. If your bike is not yet 10 years old, then the probability is reduced to almost one hundred percent. this is a vibrake. This type of rim brake is simple and provides maximum braking power. Speaking about setting up rim brakes, we will mean exactly vibrating racks.

Next, you must adhere strictly to the order of actions. we proceed to remove the brake.

  • Carefully take the cable jacket and remove it from the holder. This is how the brake is released for further maintenance.
  • Unscrew the screw securing the brake levers with holders to the bike frame.
  • After unscrewing the screws and taking out the shirts, we remove the brakes themselves from the steering wheel.
  • The fourth step is performed only if you are going to work with the pads. you need to unscrew the screws that fix them. In this case, you need to unscrew very carefully, clearly remembering the sequence of all removed washers. With their help, adjustment will be carried out, so they must stand correctly.

If you have released the brakes on your wheels, then most likely you are going to change or update the pads. The latter is done when the bike was in a cold room for a long time or participated in a serious race where it was necessary to slow down a lot. The essence of the update is that the outer layer of rubber is simply removed, because it becomes too hard, and therefore completely unusable.

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Replacing the pads is even easier. just remove the old rubber, and put a new one in its place, if necessary, carefully trimming it with a clerical knife. If the block is cartridge, then it simply changes the cartridge.

Having finished with replacing the pads, let’s move on to adjusting the tension of the cables. The cables, or rather the degree of their tension, regulate the distance from the shoe to the wheel rim. To adjust this moment, you need to turn a special screw located on the brake lever. This should be done with the brakes already assembled. If such an adjustment does not help, you will have to unscrew the cable retainer and shorten it, much less often a slight lengthening is required. To unscrew the retainer, you need a hexagon. it’s easy to do, you don’t have to worry about possible difficulties.

Next, you need to adjust the position and angle of the shoe. To do this, you do not need to remove the wheels, otherwise it will not be possible to clearly place the block. When aligning, follow three simple rules.

  • In any case, the pads must be in the plane of the rim. Not a single pad should go beyond its boundaries. this will damage the brakes.
  • The correct position of the pads is parallel to the rim. This position should be maintained regardless of whether you apply force to the brake levers or not.
  • By the rotation vector. This is how the pads are supposed to act on the rims. if they are really parallel, then they will.

After making the adjustments and adjustments, you just need to put all the screws back in place, fix the loose clips, and check the brakes. over, note that it is imperative to check the brakes both at home and in real conditions. after a test drive, you will most likely need an adjustment.

How to adjust the brakes on a bike?

Professional cyclists have one funny and very apt saying: “It is important to be able to pick up speed, but the real skill is to stop in time”. And yes, we are talking here, of course, about the brakes. this is the most important component of any vehicle, without which it is not allowed to get behind the wheel at all. Correctly adjusted brakes are the guarantor of a pleasant ride, precise speed modulation and, of course, your personal safety. Misaligned or damaged brakes are a guarantor of trouble.

That is why it is so important to figure this out on your own. yes, your master will surely cope with any problem, but the need to adjust the brake pads may arise right during the trip. And you better take care of your awareness in this matter in advance.

We bring to your attention a complete instruction on how to adjust (adjust) the brakes on a bicycle. After reading all the points of the article, you can easily cope with any problem of low or medium complexity. complex operations, such as disassembling mechanisms and replacing internal components, are still better carried out under the supervision of a professional master.

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Step. determine the type of brakes

The type of brakes installed on your bike depends primarily on your riding style. Let’s figure it out with clear examples.

  • Foot. They are installed on the simplest city models, and on almost all walking bike models, for example, cruisers. Such brakes are very simple in structure, effective and reliable. In addition, and most surprisingly, the foot brakes do not need to be adjusted at all. They have one peculiarity: the longer you use them, the more force you need to apply for effective braking. This, by and large, is the only problem that can arise with such brakes, and it is solved by replacing the internal pads. This should be done by the master, it is not recommended to disassemble the brakes himself. there is a risk of wasting time, and gaining a lot of nerves, after which you still have to contact the master.
  • Rim. They are used on walking bikes, city bikes, road bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes and even jumping bikes. They are very simple in design, efficient, reliable, and most importantly, they weigh little. That is, despite the insignificant obsolescence, rim brakes continue to be used throughout the world. Their only drawback is that with prolonged use, the wheel rim is depleted, which leads to its destruction. Disc brakes look like this: two handlebars on the steering wheel that receive pressure, a system of cables, and two small mechanisms with pads on each wheel. force is imparted to them, after which an effective action takes place, that is, braking.
  • Disc brakes. The most progressive of all the varieties that exist today, they are superior to rims in everything, with the exception of two parameters. they weigh more, and require the installation of a special rotor on the drum, which makes it impossible to install, for example, a trunk. In general, disc brakes are the most effective and are used by professional riders to maximize ride control. Therefore, disc brakes are installed on high-level mountain bikes, as well as on bicycles for extreme riding. it is no longer possible to come up with something more effective. Due to braking through the rotor, the wheel rim does not suffer at all, and the very condition of the wheel does not in the least affect the braking. The last disadvantage of disc brakes is that they require powerful spokes from the bike, because the braking force is transmitted from the rotor through the spokes to the wheel.

Within the framework of a specific article, we will talk about rim and disc brakes. these are the most common types, and besides, they really need regular adjustment, which cannot be said about the foot brake. But before that, we’ll figure out how to tell if the brakes on your bike really need tuning.

Adjusting disc brakes

First of all, it is worth checking if the rotor is damaged. If there are chips and burst areas on it, then no adjustment will help. the brakes will still not work correctly. In the event of a damaged rotor, it will need to be replaced.

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As for the types of disc brakes, they are mechanical and hydraulic. The latter are mainly put on high-end bikes, because they cost a lot. The only difference between
setting up disc hydraulics and mechanics is working with brake fluid. Before winter, for example, it will need to be drained a little. This will help increase pad free play.

In disc brakes, it is most often required to adjust the angle of pressing the pads against the rotor. Do not forget that first of all they must be strictly parallel to each other.

So, the brake pads on disc brakes are located in the caliper. this is a special device that is attached to the frame and on the bike fork using an adapter. Follow the steps below to adjust the caliper and pads.

Also, when adjusting disc brakes, you may need to adjust the length of the fixing cables. This is done in the same way as with rim brakes. The mount is untwisted, then the cable is released, shortened or lengthened, the mount is screwed back.

Test Drive

After adjusting the brakes, you will need a full test drive. If, say, you decide to go straight to work by bike, then you risk ruining your trip, endangering your own safety. Therefore, always after adjusting, you need to take tools with you and ride a bike to determine how the brakes work in real conditions. This is the only way to gain the confidence in your own bike, which will be so useful for you on the long journey.

So, if your bike has a foot brake, you don’t need to adjust it. If rim or disc, which is much more likely, then the article describes the tuning process step by step for each of the cases.

In fact, adjusting the brakes is not needed very often, but it can cost you a pretty penny, especially if you decide to contact a professional bike shop. Therefore, the ability to independently adjust the brakes is not only convenient and useful, but also keeps your budget from unnecessary items of expenditure.

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