How to Check Bike Brakes

How to Check Bike Brakes
Brakes are one of the most vital parts of a bike. Checking them should be a part of every cyclist's pre-ride routine. Adjustment of brakes in all their varying forms can take a while to learn, but it only takes a few moments and a good set of eyes to make sure that you're ready to ride safely.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bike
Step 1
Visually inspect the brakes. The brake pads should be lined up parallel with the braking surface of the wheel, and should not touch the rubber of the tire when the brakes are engaged. The leading edge of the brake pad should be very slightly "toed in" so that the front edge of the brake engages the rim first. Brake pads should not be so worn down that metal is showing through the composite surface of the pad.
Step 2
Check the mechanical action of the brakes. Squeeze the brakes, one at a time, before starting to ride. The brake lever should move firmly but smoothly to engage the brake, and not display any sponginess or extra give when the brake is in contact with the rim. You should be able to push the bike forward with the brake engaged without the wheel rotating. Finally, spin each tire by holding up the bike and make sure that the brakes aren't rubbing against the rim when the brakes are off.
Step 3
Check your brake cables. Brake cables don't need to be replaced often, but you don't want to find out they needed replaced because they've failed. Check the brake cables along their entire path for signs of fraying, rust, or excessive wear.

Article Written By Nichole Liandi

Based in Virginia, Nichole Liandi has been a freelance writer since 2005. Her articles have appeared on various print and online publications. Liandi has traveled extensively in Europe and East Asia and incorporates her experiences into her articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from West Virginia University.

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