How to Adjust Road Bike Brakes

How to Adjust Road Bike Brakes
Among the skills a home bike mechanic should acquire, knowing how to adjust his brakes ranks among the most important. Properly adjusted brakes allow the cyclist to slow or stop his machine with the greatest efficiency, which adds to the peace of mind desired by any cyclist when maneuvering his road bike among the numerous obstacles of the road. Adjusting brakes requires very little time and is an essential step in ensuring the best performance and reliability from your road bike.


Difficulty: Easy


Things You’ll Need:
  • Allen key set
  • Needle nose pliers
Step 1
Loosen the brake cable anchor bolt, located on the brake. This anchor bolt is most likely an Allen bolt, and will therefore require an Allen key of proper size.
Step 2
Back out the adjusting barrel. This barrel is located at the point where the brake cable enters the brake caliper arm.
Step 3
Squeeze the brake arms so that the pads press against the rim of the wheel. This is best done by a second person; while the brake arms are being pressed against the rim, you'll need your own hands to hold the cable taught and tighten the anchor bolt. This combined operation requires no fewer than three hands.
Step 4
Pull the end of the cable taught with a pair of pliers. Retighten the anchor bolt so that the cable is secure.
Step 5
Turn the barrel adjuster in to give the pads enough clearance from the rim. Pads that are not given enough clearance may rub the rim or lead to abrupt braking.


Step 1
Check to ensure that your brake pads are spaced equidistant from the rim. If one pad is closer to the rim than the other, braking performance will be compromised.
Step 2
Locate the small centering screw. The screw will be located either atop the brake or just to the side of one of the caliper arms.
Step 3
Tighten the centering screw if the right brake pad is too close to the rim. Loosen the screw if the left pad is too close.

Tips & Warnings

Always check the quality of your work before venturing too far on your bike. Brake cables that aren't properly tightened will slip. Brake pads without enough clearance will cause braking that is uncomfortably abrupt. It's best to work out any kinks close to home.

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

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