How to Stop Bike Brakes From Squeaking

How to Stop Bike Brakes From Squeaking
While mostly an annoyance to the ear, squeaking bike brakes can indicate more technical problems. The noise is often caused by one or two problems: the brake pads and/or braking surface of the rim need to be cleaned and/or the pads themselves need to be "toed in". When brake pads strike the rim perfectly flat or with the rearmost portion first, the pads will often squeak. Toeing-in the pads, whereby the front portion of the pad strikes the rim first during braking, will help prevent this noise.

Instructions

Difficulty: Easy

Cleaning

Things You’ll Need:
  • 5 mm Allen wrench
  • 2 or 3 mm Allen wrench (depending on model brake)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clean rag or towel
Step 1
Loosen the brake to give you better access to the brake pads. Many brakes today have a quick-release on the brake--a small lever that when opened releases tension on the brake, increasing the amount of clearance between the pad and the rim. Other brakes--common on mountain bikes--may not have a quick-release but will allow for the cable to be lifted from its cradle on top of the brake. This also will release cable tension on the brake.
Step 2
Remove the pads from the brake by using a 5 mm Allen wrench to loosen the bolt at the back of the pad shoe. Some brakes, like Shimano road brakes, for example, will allow the pad to slide free of the shoe, in which case the pad shoe bolt does not need to be loosened.
Step 3
Clean the surface of the pad. A rag moistened with rubbing alcohol should remove any grime without leaving a residue.
Step 4
Clean the braking surface of the rim. Using a rag and rubbing alcohol once again, wipe down the upper portion, or braking surface of the rim. Sometimes you will need to press hard to eliminate stubborn grime.

Toeing-in

Step 1
Reattach the pads. If you're having to reattach a brake shoe and bolt, make sure the height of the pad is correct. When you brake, the pad will need to strike the braking surface of the rim. This is the portion of the rim you just cleaned. Pressing the ends of the brake together with your fingers will indicate where the pads will strike the rim when you brake.
Step 2
Close the brake quick-release. If your brake did not have a quick-release, reattach the cable to its anchor inside the body of the brake.
Step 3
Find the small Allen screw on the brake that adjusts the angle of the pads. This is only necessary for dual pivot brakes, commonly found on road bikes. According to parktool.com, mountain bike brakes, or V-brakes, naturally toe in due to a combination of convex and concave washers between the bolt and the arm of the brake. For road bikes, the angle screw will be located on the top of the body of the brake. The screw will require a 2 or 3 mm Allen wrench, depending on the model of brake.
Step 4
Turn the angle screw so that the front end of the brake pad angles slightly in toward the surface of the rim.

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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