How To Adjust Bike Brakes: A Step By Step Guide

How To Adjust Bike Brakes A Step By Step Guide

Adjusting them is a pretty straightforward process when it comes to bike brakes. However, it’s essential to make sure that they’re adjusted adequately before heading out on the road. Here’s a quick guide on how to adjust bike brakes.

Things You Need to Know About This Tutorial

1. Bicycle Brake Systems: What do you know?

Modern bicycles can be equipped with three primary brake systems: disc brake, caliper, or V-brake.

Caliper brakes need a cable to be activated. This brake type can be found on road bikes.

V-brakes can be compared to caliper brakes in that they require activation via cable action. These brakes are very popular with mountain bikers, especially those equipped with suspension systems.

Bicycle Brake Systems What do you know

Disc brakes work in the same way as modern motorcycle and car brakes. The brake system is composed of a rotor (or caliper) and a piston that compresses the disc (or rotor) to slow the bike down or stop it. This brake system is available on hybrid, touring, off-road, and hybrid bikes.

2. Brake Adjusting Tools

This project will require several tools, including a pair of pliers, a spanner, a ring wrench, and Allen keys.

Depending on the specifications of your bike’s fasteners, you may need additional tools. Some bikers also recommend Anti-seize grease to enhance the performance of threaded parts.

Method 1: Adjusting your Brake Pads

1. Before you make any adjustments, check your brake pads. Brake pads are the ones that hold the front tire to your bike’s wheels when you pull the lever. If worn beyond the “wear line” line, you will need to replace the brake pads.

  • If your brake pads’ wear lines aren’t marked, you should keep them with grooves on the pads.
  • You can either order new brake pads online or pick them up at your local bike shop.
  • Also, ensure your wheel is aligned correctly in the dropouts. If it doesn’t, your brakes won’t be in contact.

2. Squeeze the brake lever to check where the pads are hitting the rim. The front tire’s rim should have both brake pads in contact. The pads should touch the rim in the middle, leaving a space between the pad and the tire. The pads that connect the rim too low or high could cause them to contact the rubber or spokes of the bike.

  • As you squeeze the brake lever, crouch down to see the pads.
  • Check that your bike’s quick-release mechanism is not loosening or damaged. If it isn’t tightened tightly, the brakes will not work.

Adjusting your Brake Pads

3. Use an Allen wrench to loosen the brake pads’ bolts in place. To loosen the bolts, turn the Allen wrench counterclockwise. It would help if you did not loosen all bolts, or your brake pads may come off the brake pad holder.

4. The brake pads can be moved up and down in the brake pad holder. Once the bolts have been removed, they should be able to move up or down. If they were too low to the rim, you could move them up until the center. If they were too high, lower them until they are centered.

5. The Allen wrench can be used to tighten the brake pad bolts. Continue turning the Allen wrench counterclockwise until all bolts are tightened. Make sure that the brake pads are correctly aligned. If necessary, adjust.

Method 2: Tightening Your Brake Cables

1. Pull each brake lever to check the tightness. The brake levers should be approximately 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) from the grip of the handlebars when you pull them. The brake cables may be too loose if the levers touch the handlebars as you pull them.

2. For minor adjustments to brake cables, loosen the barrel adjusters. The barrel adjusters can be loosened if your brake cables are slightly loose. The barrel adjusters can be found where the brake cables meet with the brake levers.

  • Turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise to loosen the brake cable. The brake cable will be slightly tightened if the barrel adjuster is loosened.
  • Loosen the barrel adjuster and pull the brake lever to check if the problem is solved. If the brake cable is still too loose, you will need to adjust the caliper. The barrel adjuster can be left as is. Do not tighten it.

Tightening Your Brake Cables

3. Remove the bolt that holds the brake cable to the caliper. The mainframe of brakes to which the brake pads are attached is the caliper. The brake cable is the short cable that extends from the caliper. Locate the bolt holding the brake cable. Turn it clockwise with an Allen wrench until it is loosening slightly.

  • Do not remove the bolt altogether. Turn the Allen wrench counterclockwise 2 to 3 times until you loosen the bolt.

4. To tighten the brake cable, pull it outward. Once the bolt has been loosening, it should be easy to pull the cable. Hold it in place once you have pulled the cable taut using your fingers.

The brake pads should be tightened on the rim of your front tire as you pull the cable. They should be snug enough to provide some resistance as you turn the tire but not too tight that they prevent the tire from turning at all.

  • You can turn the tire if you cannot do so, but pull down on the brake cable-less.

5. The bolt that holds the brake cable to the caliper must be tightened. Turn the Allen wrench clockwise 2 to 3 times until it stops turning. Once the bolt has been tightened, the cable should remain in its place.

6. The barrel adjusters should be tightened on the handlebars. The barrel adjusters you have loosened previously should be turned clockwise several times until they are fully tightened. The brake pads will be released from the front tire by tightening the barrel adjusters. Your brake cables should now be in good shape after the barrel adjusters have been tightened.

  • Pull the brake levers to check the brake cables. Now, you should pull the brake levers 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) apart from the grip on your handlebars.

Maybe you also need: How To Fix A Bike Chain?


Question: Why are my brakes constantly rubbing?

Answer: The most common reason is the alignment of the calipers. To avoid premature wear of the pads, the user must act and adjust the caliper alignment.

Question: Which tools are required to adjust the rubbing of bike brakes?

Answer: The Allen wrench is the only tool required to adjust.

FAQs how to adjust bike brakes centering

Question: What are the signs of a wrong brake lever?

Answer: The most common sign is the squeaking or squealing sound.

Question: Can you ride with a stuck brake caliper?

Answer: The ride will be stressful and tiring as the brakes are constantly engaged.

Question: Why do you need to change brake pads in pairs?

Answer: Maintaining the wheel’s braking power in balance is crucial.



Bike brakes require regularly adjusting to provide you with the best possible performance. To ensure that your bike brakes are in peak condition, it’s essential to change them periodically.

Whether you’re in the mood for a rundown on how to adjust bike brakes or want to know more about this topic, look at some of our other articles of BSXInsight for helpful information.

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