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.
So recently I noticed that my rear brake rod was very loose and I tried to tighten it up using barrel adjuster. Then I saw that it won´t work and the end of the rod looked like it had worn off or just got broken. I hope to get some help from here, because I really don´t know what to do except taking my bike to maintenance. Thanks for helpers!
That´s how it should be (front brake):
That´s how it is (rear brake): Read more >>
My bike was stolen and i recently got it back... but some of the parts where switched out. They replaced my 27.5 inch forks with 26 inch shocks(pretty nice ones though) and my 27.5 single gear wheel with a 26 inch mtb wheel with a disc break disc on it. Finding a 27.5 has not been easy. And my breaks wont reach the 26 inch rim. I was thinking about ringing up some kind of extension to mount the break pads on.. then a friend said he had a disc break set up. But i dont have the mount holes on my fram for it.
Is there some kind of adapter i can mount on my frame to make it work with the dis... Read more >>
I am interested in buying a fitness Canyon bike that can be seen at:
My primary goal with it is to use it with drop handlebars and I'm not interested in a regular road bike since this one supports wider tires (I'm about 95 kg weight), hydraulic disc brakes and I also want a big top tube to get a big seat post angle (with a Profile Design Fast-Forward seat post, the seat post ang... Read more >>
Hi, there, first time poster here!
I am a little desperate in my naive attempts to fix what is going on with my bike for years and it looks like I'm totally hitting the wall. Hope that someone might chime in and hint me on some way to fix the issue...
So, I bought a KENT SHOGUN T1000 HYBRID - MENS Model # 22798 bike (http://www.kent.bike/22798/shogun-t1000-hybrid-mens) around 3 years ago from my LBS. It has been making quite weird sounds when braking from the very beginning, but the LBS o... Read more >>
I recently bought a used gt a avalanche with auriga comp brakes. I managed to bleed the none working back brake, but it is squealing badly. Maybe the pads got contaminated or just need replacing. It struggles to brake as well... But that's not the problem. My front lever got dislodged and the washer that sits behind the reach pin ball is now located outside the 'catch washer', if I could call it that. Mineral oil also started leaking from the cylinder/piston. Is there a way I can fix this leak? And how do I remove the catch washer to get the push rod back so the lever doesn't swing around?... Read more >>
For a while my rear brake has been ineffective. I originally thought it was contaminated either the pads or the discs.
Basically the lever has the be pulled all the way back to the bars to make anything work. But at the start of a ride they squeal a lot. Usually by the end of a long downhill if I have had the brake on all the way down it will start working effectively but then when I start my next ride its back to being ineffective and squeals.
I have replaced pads, rotors and bled the system twice. I have even cleaned both the pads and discs with brake cleaner and sa... Read more >>
When I pedal, there's no noise, when I brake there's no noise, but when I stop pedaling, there's this noise:
I opened up the back hub and sprayed it with WD-40 and it already had a bunch of grease on it too.... Read more >>
Is there a simple way to fix this, or will I have to get new parts?
... Read more >>
when I was biking today, I stopped for a break, when I started up again, I didn't realize that my lock was caught on my back break cable. The brake is now really loose and won't engage. The cable still appeared to be attached in the same place, but is really loose. I tried tightening it by pulling more of the cable through, but this pulls through a few inches of cable and, when I turn the wheel, the rest of the brake cable becomes too taught and causes the brakes to engage. Any ideas?... Read more >>
I need advice on a maintenance issue.
Ok, I am not a novice rider, but not a hard core rider either. Normally I have had someone nearby that could or would help with minor maintenance over the years, so I know nothing.
The bike is essentially new. Due to military obligations it was ridden a couple of times after purchase and then packed, stored, shipped, stored again and then packed and shipped again (purchased in '11). I am now in Saudi Arabia and want to ride it around the compound to and from work/store.
I had the tubes replaced since the ones... Read more >>
Just bought a 2nd hand bike and was told it needed new brake pads but am unsure what ones I need
... Read more >>
I am attempting to replace the brakes on my bicycle, and I have a set of side-pull caliper brakes. When I took them apart, they worked just fine. But putting them back together, I cannot get them to function properly...the arms are both pulling up, and pulling the entire brake assembly to one side, instead of squeezing together as they should. What in the world is going on? I put it back together exactly the same way as I took it apart...it doesn't make sense!... Read more >>
OK.. I been trying to fix up a bike we got but we have to replace the brakes, and shifters and front and back derailers.
Question is.. The front brake is disc back is v-brake. Can I use basic brake levers for both? Its will be a mechanical disc brake on front.
... Read more >>
My daughter has trouble activating hand brakes on her bike. She has small hands and she can hardly reach the handles, and the handles are too hard to pull. I saw the post on the adjustment but I was wondering if instead it would be possible to replace these terrible brakes with something better? I went to a store today and they told me that nothing better would fit the bike because it is a "price point bike". Well, I know it is a cheap bike but I have hard time believing that nothing can be done.
Th... Read more >>
I am having trouble adjusting some cross top / interrupter brakes on my cross bike. The brakes are Avid BB 7's. The trouble I am having is when the cross top lever is tensioned how I like it the main lever is soft. When I tighten the main lever to how I like it the cross top is way to tight. Is this due to different pull ratios of the lever styles or am I missing something? Ideally I would have both levers at even tension. Any suggestions appreciated!
Thanks... Read more >>