How to Adjust Front Bike Calipers

How to Adjust Front Bike Calipers
Effective braking is crucial to a moving vehicle, and bikes are no exception. Caliper brakes will need to be adjusted from time to time. Sluggish braking is often the result of inadequate tension upon the brake cable and/or misaligned brake pads. A routine adjustment can fix both these issues and restore your caliper brakes to their optimum level of performance. The procedure is the same for front and back brakes alike.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Allen wrenches (5 mm and 2 to 3 mm as needed)
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Toe strap
  • Phillips head screwdriver (as needed)
Step 1
Check that the pads are striking the side of the rim squarely when braking. If not, use a 5-mm Allen wrench to loosen the fixing bolt behind the misaligned brake shoe, and raise or lower the brake shoe as needed until it is aligned with the rim. Re-tighten the bolt once you've aligned the brake shoe.
Step 2
Thread the brake-cable adjusting barrel all the way down into the brake or brake lever, then back it out a couple of turns. This barrel will be located either where the cable enters the body of the brake or where it enters the brake lever on the handlebar.
Step 3
Use a 5-mm wrench to loosen the cable-anchor bolt. This bolt "anchors" the cable to the brake.
Step 4
Pinch the brake calipers closed so that the pads are flush against the sides of the rim. They will need to stay like this while you work, so use either a toe strap (the kind found on some pedals) or an assistant to hold them in place. If using a toe strap, wrap it around the front of the calipers, and tighten the strap.
Step 5
Pull the end of the brake cable taught with a pair of needle-nose pliers, and tighten the brake-cable anchor bolt over the cable. You can now remove the toe strap or thank your friend for their help.
Step 6
Turn the brake-cable adjusting barrel in toward the brake or brake lever. This will give the cable slack, allowing the brake pads to clear the sides of the rim. Continue to turn the adjusting barrel until there is 3 to 4 mm of clearance between the pads and the side of the rim. This is the distance recommended by
Step 7
Center the brake if the pads are not equidistant from the rim. Most brakes feature a centering screw or Allen bolt on the top or at the side of the body of the brake. Depending on the design, use either a Phillips screwdriver or 2- to 3-mm Allen wrench to adjust this screw.

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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