21. How to Adjust Cantilever Brakes
Adjust brake levers, re-surface pads, set cable tension and center cantilever style brakes.
In today’s tutorial I’ll demonstrate how to adjust cantilever style brakes. I will cover linear pull, or V-brakes in a future tutorial. For this job you’ll usually need a 5mm allen key, a 10mm open-end wrench, a strip of sandpaper, and an optional cable puller.
The first step is to set up your brake levers. Start by loosening the clamp and then align the levers so that they match the angle of your arms when you’re riding. Once the angle is set, tighten the clamp.
If you have smaller hands and your levers are hard to reach, you can set them closer by tightening the reach adjustment screw on the inside of most levers.
Before you begin, you should also check to make sure your wheel is properly centered in the frame, as this will affect the position of your brake pads. Make sure the axle is securely fastened all the way up in your dropouts. If the wheel is still off-center you may need to check the dish, which is further explained in the previous wheel truing tutorial.
Now loosen the tightening bolt on your brake arm and tighten the lever’s barrel adjuster all the way.
Loosen and then remove both brake pads from their mounting posts and inspect both their surfaces to make sure they are not too worn. If you see any metal poking through the pad surface, you’ll need to replace them. If the pads are in good shape, it’s a good idea to resurface them using some sandpaper.
With the pads removed, adjust the brake cable until both brake arms are parallel straight up and down, and then tighten. Using a cable puller makes brake cable adjustments a lot easier.
Now reinstall the brake pads and align them so the pad face is flat against the rim. Then tighten the pad so that it’s snug, but still loose enough to move around.
Take a look from the side to make sure the pad is in line with the rim’s brake surface, and not touching the tire or hanging off the bottom of the rim. If you can’t avoid one or the other happening, your pads may be too wide for your rim, and you’ll have to find some narrower pads.
Cantilever brake pads should be set so that the front of the pad touches the rim before the rear when you pull the brakes. This is called ‘toe-in’, and it prevents squealing when you use them. It’s a bit tricky to set up, so you may have to re-tighten the pads several times before it is correct.
For proper toe-in adjustment, there should be a gap of a few millimeters at the rear of the pad when the front is touching the rim. Park Tools recommends temporarily wrapping a rubber band around the back end of the pad to help set the spacing. Don’t forget to remove it when you’re done adjusting the pads.
Some bikes like mine have a link unit that sets the straddle wire position for you. If you’re using a carrier style with a pinch bolt, make sure the carrier is tightened as low as possible, while still providing enough clearance for your crossover cable, tire and fenders.
Now adjust the cable tension on the brake arm by pulling the cable through the pinch bolt and tightening. You’ll have to play with this adjustment until your brakes feel good. I like to have mine set so that the pads hit the rim when my lever is pulled about 1/4 of the way.
Make sure both pads now have equal clearance, and are not rubbing against the rim.
For minor centering adjustments, there is usually a screw on the left brake arm that sets the spring tension on one side. Tighten this clockwise to pull the pad away from the rim, and counter-clockwise to set the right pad closer to the rim.
I have loosened 2 screws on the front brake calliper and since then the front brake no longer works, could someone help me please.... Read more >>
I was given this MTB which has the right support for the rear brakes broken on the frame.
Here is the bike seen from the left side
And here is the details on the "pins" coming out of the frame in the rear, where the rear brakes were mounted (I didn't disassemble them myself, was already like this).
I'm not sure what I can / should do here. I guess to put the same brakes back on, the loose/broken part would need to be re-soldered onto the f... Read more >>
So i have pad brakes and on the back 1 works and one doesn't, the one that doesn't work, when places in position it is automatically pulled towards the wheel causing the pad to rub the wheel as soon as i tighten it, I've tried taking it off an repositioning it, doing my cables looser and tighter an changing it round for one of my old front brake holders but it just does not stay off the wheel.
Please help... Read more >>
I bought a Schwinn Deluxe Breeze and tried it out, back pedaled and bike braked quickly (maybe a 1/4 rotation) and firmly. Took it for a ride later and about 3 times I pedaled back 3-4 complete rotations and a time or 2 it never did brake.
When walking up a steep hill I noticed the pedals turning with the chain. A bit later pedals remained stationery when walking it.
This is what I've found when researching: 1960-65. There is a serial #
It has a Bendix automatic red band brake - no kickback
I read the arm has to be in proper place with the cone to work ... Read more >>
Been discussing this on a different post, but with what has happened I thought I would just make anyone interested aware of a problem. I bought a new carbon fiber road frame and a new 105 groupo. I now find that, due to the chunky nature of the new carbon frames, the standard front brake centerbolt is about 1 1/4" short of making it through the bridge and the rear is about 3/4" short for the rear bridge. With the frame construction, finding longer nuts is not an option.
Does anyone know where I can find a 3 3/8" long (total length)bolt for a shimano brake? I will be calling Shimano t... Read more >>
I have a bit of a noise coming from the rear brake, it makes no noise whatsoever when moving it's only at a stand still when you hold the rear brake on tight and put some tension on to the pedal or if you try to push the bike forwards.
I have had everything apart and cleaned it all, the rotor has been off the wheel and cleaned and refitted everything, made sure there are no loose items.
I do not remember this happening on old alu kona frame, I have a carbon cube frame now.
My next move was going to fit some washers between the callipe... Read more >>
I would like to ask for some help from you.
Brakes: Shimano Hydraulic. Used for 1000 km.
Problem: It started to leak. It seems that it is leaking from the "Pushroad to Brake padal/lever" (view image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/Hydraulic_disc_brake_diagram.gif). I do not know the terms but the metal "cable" that connects the reservoir and the lever and the lever itself is oily.
Brakes lost the power.
Read more >>
Building up my new bike and in preparation (waiting on frame) I have installed my 105 5700 STI levers onto the bars. However, they look funky, looking from the front, the change levers stick outwards a lot, do they 'pull in' when the cables ar hooked up, or is their normal 'rest' position ? The body of the changer is not too far up the bar and the body sticks straight out.... Read more >>
I bought a brand new Specialized Hotrock 12 Coaster bike yesterday only to discover that the coaster brake ceases up after being applied when I got home. The crankshaft freezes up and will randomly unlock when fiddled with. I hope that makes sense.
Since the bike shop is so far away, I was wondering if anyone could give me a quick fix for this kind of issue before I pay a local bike shop to fix my brand new bike. I would really appreciate it.
Thanks!... Read more >>
I have an old 1980s peugeot road bike with dual lever "suicide brakes".
The little plastic piece that is a spacer between the screw and the suicide lever is cracked, but I can't figure out what it is called to find a new one.
It looks like a washer, but it actually is not, it is a cylinder that slides in with a washer thing on top... think of like a top hat but with a hollow center column.
Do you know what these are called and where I could find a replacement one?
I like my suicide brakes and would like to keep them but i need... Read more >>
Any help much appreciated! I disassembled my Shimano Sora BR-3400 dual pivot side pull rear caliper.
For some reason, the bolt that runs through the whole caliper in the centre gets thicker and will only allow the middle bit of the caliper to go onto it. See pictures.
Any suggestions?... Read more >>
Hi All - Trying to fix the coaster brakes on the bike my daughter outgrew so we can give it to the younger daughter of a family friend. However, the coaster brake is no longer working and I obviously don't want to give away something that is useless or unsafe. I'm not handy but decided to give it a try. The problem is that the brakes just would not engage at least not without turning the pedals backwards maybe 1-2 full revolutions. It really occurred after I took the wheel off to put on a new tube/tire. It's been useless ever since that event.
I started with these sites:
Read more >>
I'm not sure why but the pads on my front v-brake continuously rub against the rim, I've replaced the pads, re-installed a new brake cable, screwed the adjuster screws as far in as they can go, cleaned the calipers and re-greased them. I've even installed new v-brake levers but when I press the brake one of the pads does not retract fully and stays up-tight against the wheel while the other pad retracts a little better.
My wheel wobbles a little bit when I turn the bike upside and spin it freely but it isn't buckled, perhaps it needs truing but I'm not entirely sure. Not sure if ... Read more >>
hello, some of you may remember me, i posted a while back about my gears on the forum relevant to that. ive had some problems with my brakes, though, and finally decided to do something about it.
for those who dont remember, ive got an old fuji road bike refitted with hybrid tires.
for a long time, ive felt that my brakes are not all that effective. i mentioned this once when having a repair done, and he told me that theyre not really 'brakes' theyre just to slow you down. (as opposed to stopping you.)
so the first question is, what exactly did he m... Read more >>
I've just joined the forum and am hoping someone can give me some advice and save the remaining hair I have from being pulled out.
I have an old Raleigh mountain bike that I have given to my son, but before I did I attempted to upgrade it a little.
I have fitted new brake levers, cables and V brakes (All Clarks brand), yet I cannot get any tension in the rear brake. I have fitted the v brake and used the location hole (choice of 3) that gives the most springiness, but no joy.
I set it all up and pull the lever, but the lever will not return to its original position ... Read more >>