29. How to Adjust Sidepull Caliper Brakes
Learn how to adjust brake pads, cable tension and centering on road-style caliper brakes.
In this week’s tutorial, we’ll learn how to adjust sidepull caliper brakes, found on most road bikes. For this job, depending on your bike, you’ll need a set of 5 or 6mm allen wrenches, a set of open-end metric wrenches sized 9 or 10mm, a 14mm offset brake wrench for centering, some rough sandpaper for re-surfacing the brake pads, a light lubricant like TriFlow, and an optional 4th hand tool for adjusting the cable tension.
First you’ll want to make sure that your brake levers are properly positioned. Check the handlebar wrapping tutorial for a more detailed procedure. It’s also a good idea to make sure your wheels are properly centered in the frame.
Many road brake systems have a quick release mechanism that loosens the brake enough so that you can remove the wheels. If not you’ll have to loosen the pinch bolt enough to give the cable some slack.
Now remove your wheel and resurface the pads with your sandpaper to remove road grime. Then reinstall the wheel and check to make sure the pads are lined up with the rim. Some pads have a curved washer that allows you to set the toe-in adjustment. To avoid squealing noises while your ride, try to set the rear of the pad so there is about a 1 or 2mm gap when the front of the pad contacts the rim.
To set the cable tension, first make sure your barrel adjuster is threaded all the way down. If you have a cable quick release system, make sure it is set to the tightest setting, where the brake arms are closest together. If you don’t have a quick release, you can always back off the barrel adjuster a few turns so that it can be easily loosened later.
Now set the cable tension with the cable pinch bolt. The 4th hand tool makes it easier by pulling the cable for you while you tighten the bolt. This is a personal preference, as it sets how far you’ll have to pull the lever before the brakes contact the rim. Some people prefer very responsive brakes and set them really tight, while others prefer a bit more slack. I like to have the brake contact the rim when I’ve pulled the lever about 1/4 of the way.
If your brake unit is really stiff or too loose, you’ll have to adjust the main center bolt. Some brakes have two nuts on the front side that turn against each other, while other systems like this one are adjusted by loosening off the back bolt, adjusting the front bolt, and then tightening it against the back bolt. The adjustment is correct when the brakes are tight but function easily.
Now check the brake centering. Both pads should contact the rim at the same time. If not, you can adjust this by loosening off the main back bolt and placing the centering wrench on the flats of the thick washer on the other side. Center the brakes with the wrench and then tighten the bolt. This sometimes takes a few tries because the brake will move a little bit while you’re tightening.
Once the brake is set up, drop a tiny bit of light oil on the pivot points. Wipe off any excess and be careful not to get any oil on the rim surface or brake pads.
I noticed I was missing a screw on one brake arm of my front v brakes, so I took off the screw on the arm that had one to find the dimensions of the screw. Then, after getting another screw, I can no longer screw either screw.
They just don't screw..
Maybe I'm missing something else?
I looked at the part where the spring adjustment screw screws into, and there's a little cavity that it runs along. Maybe a nut goes there or something?... Read more >>
i just bought a mid 90's Giant Yukon and its missing the 'yoke' i believe its called on both front and rear and i believe [based on looking at another giant bike i have] that it also needs some type of roller pulley piece for the rear brake to function properly. as it is now the brakes consist of just the calipers and worn out pads. the front has the cable connected to the lever on handlebar but it ends right where it would connect to the yoke and cable that connects to each side.
so it seems my front brakes could be fixed easily by getting a yoke and cable, but my question ... Read more >>
I have to change my plastic brake levers in this bike.[attachment=4514]
They are not good, brake cable keeps popping out randomly which is dangerous. I would like to get an alloy ones but don’t know what size/ type/model I need and what keyword to use to find them .They are many on ebay and I don’t know what are suitable for this dutch bike. I have low budget for these.Please help me.[attachment=4515][attachment=4516]... Read more >>
I have this bike.
It says the breaks are, Shimano Alivio M-System brakes
I'm trying to figure out which break pads to buy. This is just a road commuting bike.
I looked on Amazon, I have the free amazon prime month, but there are hundreds of different break pads of different sizes.
Measuring the current pads with a ruler, they are 70mm long. And the breaks are caliper in design.... Read more >>
I was trying to put in a new brake wire on a mountain bike Next Px 4.0 24".
Unfortunately I disassembled the brake lever (though it was not required to obviously).
Anyways now that I try to reassemble it, the brake lever spring mechanism is not working. The brake lever is of 'Sun run' brand (Chinese company).
Since I dont have a lot of time on my hand, I am thinking about getting a new brake lever. How do I know if it would fit on the bike's metal handle ?
I am looking to buy a cheap brake lever ? Any suggestions ?
<... Read more >>
I have a 1996 Roadmaster USA Men's MT Zone 15 Speed bike that uses Vanguard center cantilever brakes and I cannot figure out how to adjust the brake pads. When I ride it there is a point where the wheel rubs on the right pad. I also have a stem problem. There seems to be play in the front. I have noticed a gradual resistance building when I try to turn while riding. But that may be for a different forum.... Read more >>
Hello to you all, I'm new here Found my bike with a flat front tyre so turned it upside down, released the wheel and sorted it. Put the wheel back afterwards, turned bike right way up and hopped on it to test all was ok. Straight away noticed squeaking from front disc area - (it has a Shimano hydraulic brake) and when I pulled the brake lever, it went all the way to the handlebar, with the brake itself barely operating. I had a look and the pads and they app... Read more >>
Hi. I have a downhill front suspension bike (Norko Manic 2006), and I just dusted it off after some time in storage; now it might have had this problem before and I was just used to it, but I have been riding a commuter bike for 3 years now and so forget how brakes for downhill are supposed to be.
In the following question, I will mention "easing into the brake", again I am no longer used to hydraulic disk brakes so maybe this is just me not being used to it; but I know on my mech disk brakes i can partially apply the brakes; can I do this on hydraulics?
Currently the... Read more >>
Mountain bike with disk brakes.
When riding, there is a LOT of noise coming from the rear disk brake WITHOUT using the brake. the noise happens during the ride, using the brake, or partially using it, helps for a bit, but the noise gradually becomes worse.
The squeaking isn't produced when i'm not on the bike, and is sometimes lessened when accelerating or going over bumps.
I have no clue as i am very new to the entire disk brake concept however here are some things that i find strange:
-the rotor(?) seems to touch the brake pads(?)
-when bra... Read more >>
Some of you have already read me whining about my old road bike that I now use for light trails and stuff. I have the following problem:
- old Mafac Competition brakes
- soldered on studs for the brakes (so: no new brakes possible)
- new levers seem to have a different mechanical advantage than the old ones (new: pulls 14mm of cable, old: about (20 +/-2) mm of cable, hard to measure when not installed)
The old brakes just do not seem to work with the new levers (and if I measured correctly, they cannot). Any ideas? I just received a pair of adapters (to use V-brakes wit... Read more >>
The right side of my mtb brake handle doesn't return when pressed, does anyone know what could be the problem?... Read more >>
Hi, some quick background info;
I have 2007 giant with the basic mechanical disc brakes installed, and recently discovered that the skirt protecting the spring inside the brake mechanism had become dislodged, allowing dirt to coat the spring and making the brake unusable. After taking the whole thing apart and cleaning it thoroughly, I was unable to reassemble the mechanism. It seems fairly strait forward, the only parts are the spring, the rubber skirt, the mount and a bolt. My only problem is that after 3 hours of the messing around, I am still unable to assemble the mechanism. Is the... Read more >>
I recently bought a Giant Seek with avid elixir 1 brakes.
I love the bike, but in the last few days the rear brake seizes.
The problem seems to be heat related. When left in the sun, (85°±) the brake won't turn. Overnight in the garage and everything's fine.
Anybody have a clue?
Stuart... Read more >>
I recently purchased a 1986 Univega road bike. I'll preface this by saying I'm new to biking and don't know much. I took the front wheel off of the bike to load it into my car and when I put the wheel back on I noticed there seems to no longer be any tension in the brakes when I pull them. I'm sure this is a pretty easy fix and I'm overlooking something simple but I'd appreciate any help solving this problem. Thanks!... Read more >>
[attachment=4286][attachment=4286]First off, 2009 Specialized Tri-cross sport. I did buy used and not sure if the brakes on the front or rear were replaced since they look different.
Here is the situation: I was commuting to work and when taking off after a stop light, I noticed it was hard to pedal and heard a noise and realized my rear brake was really rubbing. I took a long look and finally realized the spring that returns the brake broke.
I stopped at the bike coop yesterday and found a few springs that look like they could do the trick to fix it.