How To Adjusting Bike Brakes: 3 Common Breaks Adjusting Process

Hey, roadies! Cycling is fun until you fall and hurt yourself. I know all of you are fond of some real action and want fun rides with speed on the track. But, for a happy riding memory, you must ride safe.

Otherwise, cycling can become the worst experience for you. However, for a safe ride, you will need a safe bike. And good stoppage power is crucial for a safe bicycle. But, a too loose or too tight brake can be a threat to a safe ride.

So, learn about three simples methods of adjusting bike brakes. Get an efficient braking system and ride without any worry.

Inspecting the bike brakes before start fixing

Before you start the actual brake adjustment job, don’t forget to inspect it first. Because, before you adjust, you must know how tight/loose the brake is. It’s super easy to check a brake.

Just rotate the wheel with your hand. If the rim/disc is rubbing with the braking pad, it may need to be loosened. However, the rim/disc can be the culprit itself. In that case, you have to fix the bent of it.

Anyways, if the rim/disc is doing well, check the braking pad now. Rotate the wheel again and squeeze the brake lever. If the caliper can stop the wheel with a second, then the brake is OK.

Otherwise, it needed to be tightened. If you barely can squeeze the lever, then it’s too tight and needs to be loosened.

1. How To Adjust Caliper Brakes

Calliper brake

Mostly found on road bikes, the Caliper brake is a popular kind of rim brake. It features a horseshoe-shaped braking caliper. 2 types of adjustments are needed to get the expected performance from a caliper brake.

One is cable adjustment another is pad adjustment. However, no heavy tool is necessary to do this job. Just take an Allen wrench and a screwdriver, and start working.

Step 1: Set the brake in the correct position

Firstly, you will need to set the brake in the right place. Both braking pads must maintain equal distance from the rim.

If you fail to determine it by eye, squeeze the brakes and see if both pads touch the rim simultaneously or not.

If they’re not, take an Allen wrench and loosen the caliper from the frame/fork. Now, set the caliper in the correct place and retighten the caliper’s bolts.

Step 2: Check the distance

After that, you have to check the pads’ distance from the rim. Some people like a minimum gap, where others prefer a little more travel of levers while squeezing. Which one you want, I don’t know. Just loosen the bolts holding the cable and squeeze or release the caliper. Do it until you got the desired distance. Lastly, retightened the bolts maintaining the proper cable tension with your free hand.

Step 3: Ensure enough tire clearance

You can adjust the brakes as you want. But, in this process, don’t forget to ensure enough tire clearance. Otherwise, the brakes will get grimy quickly and disrupt the wheel rotation. Other hands, unmounting the wheel will get tricky when it is needed to be repaired.

Step 4: Set the braking pads

After adjusting the caliper, it’s time to place the brake shoes. For that, loosen the adjustable bolts and push the pad up or downward as needed.

However, make sure it is placed in such a position that neither it rubs with the tire’s sidewall nor missing the braking surface.

Step 5: Adjust the barrel

After it’s all set, the pads can still need adjustment. You can do it with the barrel adjuster. It’s a dial attached to the caliper.

Rotate it clockwise to move the pads apart from the rim and anti-clockwise to take them closer to the braking surface.

However, you can also use it for fixing cable stretch over time. No need to adjust cable tension altogether for that

2. How To Adjust V Brakes

V brake

V brakes, also known as cantilever brakes, are a common type of rim brakes widely used in MTBs. It features 2 independent arms as a caliper.

Like the caliper brake, it also needs 2 types of adjustment– cable and pad. But, here, maintaining cable tension is a little tricky. You can still do it yourself if you follow the below steps thoroughly.

Step 1: Adjust cable tension

Loosen the bolt holding the cable with an Allen wrench. Now, gently hold the caliper with one hand. Pull or release the cable with your free hand until it acquires the optimal tension. 

Also, make sure the arms stay in an optimal position by this process. They should not stay too far or too close to the tire. Anyways, reattach the cable and retighten the bolts after it’s all set.

Step 2: Place the pads

After achieving the expected cable tension, place the pads in the correct position. For that, release hand pressure on the caliper arm or squeeze the v brake lever.

By this, you can know the placement of the pad and adjust it accordingly. Loosen the bolts holding the brake shoes and push them upward or downward to set accordingly.

Ensure that the shoes thoroughly grab the braking surface, neither on the tire nor out of the wheel. Do it for both pads and retighten the bolts.

Step 3: Ensure tire clearance

One of the biggest challenges you will face with v brakes is, balancing equal cable tension on both arms. Thus you can see a pad clear from the rim while another is rubbing. Here, the tiny bolts holding both sides of the brake come to the rescue.

To fix this problem, you can loosen them and adjust the arm as you want. For example, assume that the left arm is rubbing.

Now, you can wind the cable with the left spring to increase tension and keep it clear from the rim. Anyways, after that, check if the brake is working well. Otherwise, repeat the above steps.

3. How to adjust disc brakes

Disc brake

Disc brakes are the most popular kind of brakes nowadays. For being highly efficient and weather-resistant, it’s everyone’s preference today.

But, for its complex mechanism, it’s more tricky to adjust. The most common problem with disc brake is the rotor rubbing with the caliper.

It may occur because of the wrong alignment of the caliper or rotor bent. To fix this problem, follow the below steps.

You may read also disc brake cleaning properly

Step 1: Fix the wheel and rotor

Before you start working with the brake, check the wheel and rotor first. Make sure the wheel is seated right, and the rotor is free from bent. For that, spin the wheel and see if the rotor and wheel are rotating straight or not.

If not, fix the bent. After that, check the wheel sitting. Undo the quick release and set the wheel straight on the dropout. If it is still rubbing, then the brake is the culprit itself.

Step 2: Adjust the caliper

If the caliper has a problem itself, you have to fix it cleverly. Loosen the bolts of the caliper with a wrench. You don’t have to undo the bolts fully but enough to move the caliper easily.

Now, retighten the bots squeezing the relevant brake lever. The wheel must rotate freely now. If it is not, perform this step again. After a couple of attempts, I hope it will be fixed.

Step 3: Use your eye

After the failure of all these steps, use your eye to adjust the brake. You can check if there is any gap between the disc and calipers by seeing it from behind.

Realign the caliper to create a gap between them. Lastly, retighten the bolts holding the caliper with your hand. Try it until you get the perfect braking power.


Good stoppage power is a crucial factor for an excellent riding experience. If you don’t want to have any unpleasant accidents, know how to adjust bike brakes.

Always check the brakes before you go for a ride and tune them if needed. Lastly, hope you can ride safely and can stop whenever you want. Have a nice day!


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