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.
My original set of rear pads prematurely expired due to crooked wear on the outside pad. Upon closer inspection I see the piston extends at an angle, or crooked. This is not how the front brake extends (same model). Anyone know if opening the caliper to address this is possible? Thanks... Read more >>
Gitane Mixte circa 1970 or so.. Trying to find date-codes..
Did they have any?... Read more >>
Picked up some strong mtb(36h,dw) disc and rim brake compatible wheels for a great price. Was looking to convert my mtb from v-brake to disc(frame and fork have the mounts for disc brakes).
Been looking at some mechanical knockoff Avid BB5, BB7 disc brake kits that come with what is in the pic.
Anyone know anything about these? Will they work?
From what I can tell, they are just like the brand name stuff, just don't have the brand name branded on them.
Have not had any experience with disc brakes and I'm looking to try some out. If there is a better br... Read more >>
Bought some new wheels(36h, DW) for the MTB to replace the old beat up original wheels(32h) that my MTB came with. The original wheels had the machined V-brake rim surface for the brake shoes to rub on. The new set has a painted brake rim surface and the brake pads are leaving black marks on the rims. They also are making a lot of noise when braking(shoes have been toe'd in too).
Should I be using a different type brake shoe with the painted rims??
Thanks... Read more >>
Hello, I bought a bike the other day simply for getting from a to b. It was second hand with a back flat, no biggie. However the back breaks, when I pulled them they don't seem to spring back out for the wheel to turn, so I was fiddling about with it and made it a little better but then I noticed the break cable by the handle bars have come out of its mount, the wire is still in the lever but there is no tension.
Could someone help me with this? Tried looking on the Internet but can't see any clear videos or information about fixing it. thank you!... Read more >>
where can I get the best price and decent equipment for an XR200 front disc brake???All that is there is an old stretched cable and the disc. I am a golf course rider....... Read more >>
Fixing up a vintage Gitane and just tried putting new brake levers on the handlebars. I realized that the opening where the cable is supposed to come out of each lever doesn't match up with the hole in the handlebars. Is this going to be a major problem to find levers that will fit this particular handlebar? Should I just replace the handlebar? Any help would be appreciated!... Read more >>
I'm trying to fix up an older bike. The brake cant on the front tire, right side is way off. It's already destroyed the break pad. I need to figure out how to change the cant, or any new brake pads I install will be destroyed in similar fashion. How exactly do you do this?
Read more >>
Hello today whilst riding my bike i lost concentration (stupid i know) im only am amateur though :/ anyways i hit a wall with the right side of the bike and my right which is the front brake snapped off. The brake still works i was wondering is this repairable or will i have to use black tape and connect the brake handle back on to the handle of thr bike? I only just bought the bike a week ago from halfords its a mountain bike and really cheap. Any help would be appreciated.... Read more >>
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 >>