Why Bike Brake Pads not Gripping

Caution, danger ahead!

This should be the tagline of a bike which’s brake pads are not gripping well. You ride the bike for mobility and fun. But you must know when to stop.

If you fail to stop the bike at the right time, you may not ride next time. It’s that much dangerous. So, the brake pads should get fixed if it’s not gripping.

However, the problem can appear because of many reasons. Let’s know these reasons first. Then, get a quick fix accordingly.

Go for advanced troubleshooting if the problem doesn’t get solved after a quick fix. If you have more questions about this problem, check out the FAQ section. Keep reading the blog to the end.

5 reasons why bike brake pads not gripping

Why Bike Brake Pads not Gripping

The bike brake pads are not gripping because they are exhausted or misplaced. Also, it can happen when the wheel is wobbling, or the cable tension is too low. Besides, applying too much lubricant makes the components oily. Thus, the bike brake pads also can’t grip well.

Anyways, one or more reasons can appear at a time to cause this problem. Identify the reasons and get a solution accordingly. Before that, let’s understand the problem well.

  1. Exhausted brake pads: Brake pads, whether rim or disc, are subjected to rubbing. However, they are generally made of rubber or plastic. Besides, ceramic is also used in constructing bike brakes. It doesn’t matter which material is used; the pads get worn out because of friction. Thus the gap between the brake pads and rim/rotor increases. As a result, the bike brake pads fail to grip.
  1. Misplaced brake pads: Sometimes, the brake pads can get misplaced and stop gripping the rim/rotor. When your bike faces a crash or hit, this problem can appear. Besides, it can happen when the screws are too loose.
  1. Wobbling wheel:  Sometimes, the brake pads are in the right place. Still, it’s not gripping or gripping partially. This kind of problem is only seen in the rim brakes. It happens when the wheel is not true or wobbling. Brake pad rubbing problems can also arise in these situations.
  1. Low cable tension: The bike brake pads grip the rim/rotor when you squeeze the lever. The cable or housing is the thing that makes it happen. So, when the cable tension is too low, the brake pads’ traveling distance gets shortened. Thus, they can’t reach the rim/rotor and fail to grip.
  1. Oily components: Lubrication is a must to ensure the smooth functioning of the bike brakes. But applying too much lubricant can make the brake pads, rotor, or rim oily. Thus, the bike brake pad stops griping though everything is working alright.

A quick fix to loose bike brake pads

When the bike brake pads are not gripping, it’s not safe to ride the bike. So, you will need a fix immediately. But don’t rush after identifying the problem. Sometimes, it can be solved at home with minimum effort. So, there is no point in taking the bike to a mechanic and spending your bucks. Let’s learn when and how you can pursue a quick fix.

  1. Degrease the components: When the bike brake pads are not gripping for oily components, you don’t need any repair job. Simply clean the rim/rotor/pads and get a quick solution. However, you can clean the components with dish cleaner or soap water. But it’s best to get a Disc Brake Cleaner or WD40 Degreaser for precise cleaning.
  1. Adjust cable tension: If the brake’s cable tension is low, you can fix it with a simple Screwdriver. Nothing else is necessary to do the job. What you have to do is to loosen the cable holding screw. Then pull the cable outward until it reaches an optimum level of tension. Lastly, retighten the screw holding the callipers in the correct position. The cable tension should be set. Otherwise, follow the below repair steps.

How to fix loose bike brake pads

How to fix loose bike brake pads

Repair the brake pads if the gripping doesn’t improve after a quick fix. If the pads are worn out, get a new pair of pads. However, bike brake pads come in various designs and sizes. Besides, the disc brake pads are different from the rim brake pads. So, check out the Bike Brake Pads available online and get the best pair for your bikes.

Step-1: Swap the cable(s)

If the brake cable or housing is severely damaged, adjusting the tension is not enough. Instead, you have to swap the whole housing to achieve better grip and smoothness.

So, get a new Bike Brake Cable and swap it up with the old one. The procedure for installing a cable or housing is given below.

  1. Firstly, remove the housing. For that, loosen the cable holder screw and pull the cable out. Then, loosen the brake lever. Now carefully pull out the cable head without damaging the liver. Finally, you are ready to remove the housing from the bike frame.
  1. Secondly, place the new braking cable correctly. Pass the housing through its route. Then, expose the head and attach it to the brake lever. Now connect the tail with the brake calliper and tighten the cable holder screw.
  1. Lastly, adjust the cable tension. It’s a bit tricky job to do. Moreover, different types of brakes have different techniques to follow. So, I am going to break it down in the next step. Keep reading.

Step-2: Replace/adjust the brake pads

I hope you have already got a new pair of brake pads. Now let’s replace it and adjust the brake to achieve excellent grip on the rim or rotor. Anyway, different types of brakes need different types of fixes. So, follow the below instructions.

  1. Rim brake: Rim brake pads come in various designs. Take your old brake pad, search online and see which one matches. Get that pair of pads. Then, take a Hex Wrench, loosen the old pads, and remove them from the calipers. Now install the new pads similarly. However, you can also adjust the pad position. Get a Small Wrench, loosen the calipers, and adjust the pads to achieve an optimum position.
  1. Disc brake: When getting disc brake pads you have to consider many things. Again, search online to get a new pair that is identical to the old pair. Also, consider the material the pads are made of. Because there is a compatibility issue with the rotor. Generally, the name of that material is written on the rotor itself. So, follow it. Besides, consider the spring system.

After getting the right brake pads, remove the old pair from the caliper. Firstly. remove the holder pin. Then, pull out the spring and pads with a Needle Nose Plier. Now, insert the new pads inside the calliper and set the spring. Lastly, reinstall the holder pin and it’s all set.

Note: After replacing the pads, you must adjust them precisely to achieve a good grip while braking. So, learn  How to adjust bike brakes and do it correctly.

Step-3: Truing the bike wheel

A pair of straight, true bike wheels are a must for riding. It’s crucial for good grip on brake pads and for a safe and efficient riding experience. However, I have earlier discussed wobbling problems and their solutions.

So, I won’t elongate this blog more. But, you can check How to true a bike wheel and learn to do it precisely.

Frequently asked questions about bike brake pads

When should I replace my bike brake pads?

The life span of bike brake pads depends on the frequency of ride. So, it’s not possible to say after how many days you should replace the bike brake pads. But you can determine when to replace it. When the braking pad’s thickness is under 2 mm, replace it.

Why are my brake pads wearing out so fast?

Bike brake pads wear out too fast when the pads are rubbing with the rim or rotor. It happens when the calliper is too close to the rim or rotor. Also, the rubbing problem appears because of wobbling wheels. Whatever the reason is, the brake pads wear out too fast when they rub.

How can you make the brake pad last longer?

There is no such way to make the brake pad last. For that, you have to use the brake less frequently. But it will be a compromise with safety. So, I won’t recommend it at all. Instead, work on the position of the brake pads. Set it to an optimum position. Thus, you can reduce friction without compromising safety, and the pads will last longer.


There is nothing more dangerous than a bike brake with a poor grip. It’s a life-risking job for a rider to ride a bike with low gripping brakes.

Because 90% of crash cases could have been avoided if the rider could stop at the right time. So, well gripping bike brakes are a must for riding safely.

Of course, you should fix the brakes immediately after identifying poor grips. But don’t rush for it. Take your time and diagnose the problem. Thus, you can find an easy and affordable fix.

Look, poor grip is a common problem in bike brakes. It appears pretty frequently. So, you must check and maintain brakes regularly. Once you learn how to fix or repair it, you can do it yourself in the future. The process is simple and easy to do. You don’t need any special tools or supplies for it.

However, this post is about bike brake pads’ problems and solutions. I hope it will help you to achieve good stoppage power. So?

Stay safe and ride safe.

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