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.
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.
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 >>