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.
Having a problem with my front break line, whenever the I steer the handlebars right too much, the brake line comes out of the mount at the front of the frame. The tension of the wire is not tight enough and i've tried pulling it through more at the brake end to no avail. I don't feel i'm experienced enough with bikes to know what to do and so thought I would ask for some advice on here. If I'm not being specific enough or you need more info. to help me please let me know.
Thanks.... Read more >>
I do lots of home and car repair but never done anything on bikes besides basic cleaning. Found a couple of stolen and abandoned bikes no one has claimed and would like to fix them up to give to kids in need.
This bike had super worn and uneven pads so I replaced them. The rear brake feels loose/little resistance when you pull the handle, although it closes. It doesn't open evenly. As you look at in the pic, the L side stays closed and the R opens a little. Of course the pads I replaced were way super worn on the L a... Read more >>
I replaced the forks on my Trek 4300 for some First Air forks just a couple of days ago. I did the same with my trek 4500 a couple of months ago with no issues.
This time I cannot seem adjust the wheel or the actual disc brake unit correctly. No matter how many times I have tried, the pads still rub ( only lightly but annoying) on the disc. When I am free wheeling there is no noise but when I move the steering erratically, it is much worse. any ideas why this may be? Are the wheel bearing on their way out?
Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Matt... Read more >>
So today I bought all the necessary equipment to do a 700c conversion on my Falcon Majorca. Unfortunately the Shimano 105 brake calipers that are on the bike aren't long enough so they are to be replaced with a set of Tektro long reach calipers. I really like the 105's. They are responsive and stop the bike well and I'll be sorry to seenthem go......but do they have to?
I have another bike, a 2013 Carrera Vanquish that currently sports Tektro short reach calipers. I guess my question is this; in the grand scheme of things is it worthwhile swapping the 105's onto t... Read more >>
I decided to clean my front disk brake pads by heating them. Instead of sticking them in the oven, I took the medieval approach and threw them into a pile of glowing charcoal. Apparently not a good idea, it took just a few minutes to completely turnoff the pads leaving the bare metal plates.
LOL.. off to my LBS to get replacements.... Read more >>
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.
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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 >>