How do you adjust bicycle brakes?


Quick Answer

To adjust bicycle brakes, turn the adjustment barrels, test for dragging brake pads, loosen and center the wheels, and lubricate the brake cables. This 45-minute procedure requires a screwdriver, lubricant, rubbing alcohol and cotton pads.

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Full Answer

  1. Turn the adjustment barrels

    Turn the brake adjustment barrels counterclockwise, and squeeze the brake levers. Adjust and squeeze the brakes until they are tight and responsive. When you are satisfied with the results, turn the adjustment lever locks clockwise.

  2. Test for dragging brake pads

    Spin the wheels, and check for dragging brake pads. If one of the pads remains in contact with the wheel when the brakes are disengaged, loosen the wheel, center it in the fork and tighten it.

  3. Center the brakes

    Loosen the brake bolt, and squeeze one of the levers. Maintain pressure on the lever as you wiggle the loose brake, center it, and then tighten the bolt. Release the brake lever, and spin the wheel to verify that the brake shoes do not interfere with it. Repeat with the other brake.

  4. Lubricate the cables

    Apply several drops of lubricant to the brake housing and cables. Squeeze the brake levers several times. If you spill lubricant on the wheels or brake pads, wipe it up with a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol.

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