The basics of brake change are common to all calipers. Riders must adjust the tension of the cable and the position of the pads. However, each type of bicycle caliper has its small subtleties for a pleasant change, as well as V-brakes, Caliper brakes, Cantilever brakes, or U-brakes. This article will make way for technical explanations and practical advice.
1. Overall assessment of your bikes: Check the warping, centering, and condition of the cable before the change:
2. Adjust the brake cable tension: Before adjusting the brake cable tension, make sure that we fully screw the adjusting knob on the lever.
3. Adjust the position of the bike brake pads: Before doing this step, check the condition of your brake pads.
4. Adjusting the V-brake: You will adjust the V-brake springs in this step.
5. Adjusting the Caliper brakes: Pay attention to centering the caliper. You must check and refocus your brake caliper if necessary.
6. Adjust Cantilever Brakes: We can adjust Cantilever brake springs in the same way as for V-brakes, using small screws.
7. Adjust U-brakes: The front U-Brake does not use a bridge. The cable passes through one part of the bracket and then through the other.
Table of Contents
Check the warping, centering, and condition of the cable before the change
- Wheel centering: Before adjusting your bicycle brakes, you must first check the runout and centering of the wheel. If your wheel is only off-center which is more to the right or more to the left of the fork or frame, proceed with the centering.
- Runout: Turn your wheel to check the runout of the rim. If it is too warped, it is advisable to unveil the wheel before adjusting your brake. Or you can call a cycle technician if you have never performed this operation.
- Cable: Check the condition of the cable, the bellows, and the brake elbow for V-brakes, or the cable of the fixing bridge for Cantilever or U-brakes. You can lubricate the sheath and the elbow. Just insert a few drops of oil into the upper part of these elements.
Adjust the brake cable tension
Before adjusting the brake cable tension, make sure that we fully screw the adjusting knob on the lever. It is a nut-lock-nut system. Loosen the cable clamp screw, and hand tightens the caliper jaws. Tension the cable and moderately tighten the clamping screw.
You can also hold the cable with universal pliers or multiple grip pliers at the time of tightening. Now, test the brake lever free play:
- The brake is normally too hard: loosen the clamping screw a little. Then press the lever slightly until you reach the clearance you like. Finally, tighten the clamping screw to lock the cable.
- The brake is too soft: if your brake needs a little more cable tension, use the thumbwheel to fine-tune the change. Otherwise, perform the cable tension operation again.
Finally, check that the pads do not touch the wheel. It could be a cable that is too tight, a wheel that is too warped or improperly adjusted brake springs. What is a good brake lever stroke? It is when the brake is actuated after a movement of the lever of 2 or 3 cm.
You can follow the instructions of this YouTube video for the most accurate method.
Adjust the position of the bike brake pads
First, check the condition of your brake pads. If we wear them out, change them before adjusting the cable tension. The brake pads must be centered and parallel to the rim for qualified support and braking. For a wonderful change of the pads, the following steps are crucial:
- Loosen a pad, position it on the center of the rim neither too high nor too low. It must not touch the tire during braking, nor be in a vacuum.
- Brake is hard with the lever to hold it in place.
- Tighten the shoe moderately using the wrench.
- Hold the pad firmly with your hand and finish tightening.
Recheck the correct position of the pad and then perform the same operation on the other pad.
Adjust the V-brake
Here are a few explanations concerning the change of the V-Brakes springs. The springs return the lever to its initial position and center the brake caliper so that the pads touch the rim at the same time. There is one spring per caliper. The springs are changeable using the small screw on the side of the calipers.
You must first make sure that the springs are working properly. To do this, disconnect the V-brake caliper by pulling on the elbow. Then manually push the two parts of the caliper. Each of them must exert resistance. Now put the elbow back in place.
Now let’s move on to adjusting the springs. If it tilted your caliper to the left or your right pad touches the rim, you have two solutions:
- Tension the right spring by tightening the small screw
- Relax the left spring by unscrewing the small screw
After the change, brake several times to reach the final spring tension. You can adjust again to find the correct position of the caliper.
For effective braking, the pads must touch the rim at the same time. No need to put too much tension in the caliper springs. Your brakes will be too hard to apply. A brake that lacks tension will not return. If so, give tension to both sides. It is up to you to find the right balance for adjusting the springs.
Adjust the Caliper brakes
You must check and refocus your brake caliper if necessary. On most Caliper brakes, it is possible to loosen the keeping nut to re-center the caliper. Change the rest position of the caliper, then tighten the nut. Moderately tighten the keeping nutso as not to block the movement of the caliper!
If your caliper is centered and your pads simultaneously touch the rim, your setting is correct for effective braking. If not, perform the change again. Put a drop of lubricant on the springs to facilitate sliding. On some road bikes, it is possible to adjust the caliper centering with a centering change bolt.
Adjust Cantilever brakes
Note that on Cantilever brakes, we attach the cable to the right side of the caliper. It is the connecting cable that activates the left part. Cantilever brake springs are adjustable in the same way as for V-brakes, using small screws.
On a U-Brake, we attach the cable to the fixing bridge. This bridge leaves another cable connecting the two parts of the stirrup. The springs are changeable using the nuts and Allen screws inside these nuts. Turn the nut to give or remove tension.
It is necessary to lock the change of this nut by tightening the Allen screw inside. The front U-Brake does not use a bridge. The cable passes through one part of the bracket and then through the other.
How to Center Bike Brakes
If the brake shoes do not hit the rim evenly, even though the wheels are in the center, adjust the centering. Turn the spring change screw that is attached to each of the left and right sides of the brake by 90 degrees.
- Tighten the change screw, widen the gap
- Loosen the change screw, narrow the gap
How to Fix Brakes on a Bike
When the brake pulling margin increases, turn the screw of the brake lever to make fine adjustments. There are screws to adjust the tension of the wire and screws to fix it. Adjust by turning the adjusting screw and the fixing screw together. Then, turn it half a turn and pull the lever each time to check the pull margin.
When there is a feeling of pulling and we complete the change, return only the fixing screw to fix it. There is no logical point. When you apply the brakes with two fingers, you need to make adjustments until the lever does not hit your ring finger or little finger. It is not a bad thing to pack it in a squid.
If fine-tuning the adjusting screw does not work, you will need to adjust the wire. If you go beyond the brake lever, change the screw, let’s have a look at the shop. Also, turning the adjusting screw too much may cause the adjusting screw to come off from the lever. If you can see the thread of the adjusting screw over one centimeter, do not overdo it and go to the shop.
Tightening Bicycle Brakes
Once the position of the brake shoe body is determined, fully tighten the bolts while holding the shoe with your hand so that it does not move. Pull the brake lever to check if the brakes are biased. If it is biased, adjust it by tightening or loosening the spring change screw.
How to Loosen Brakes on Bike
After tightening one screw, loosen the other screw. Then pull the brake lever each time you turn the screw to check the balance. Change is complete when the left and right arms move and both the left and right shoes hit the rim at the same time.
Be careful not to loosen it too much and pull out the bolt. Do not overdo it before you get used to it, and you can talk to your bike shop and remember to choose your bikes in the world.