How to Adjust Your Bike Brakes


If you are a cycler, then you know the importance of having a fully functioning bicycle. If any part of your bike is not working the right way, it will affect your riding at best, and it might cause serious injuries at worst. This means that it is important to check your bicycle thoroughly and ensure that everything is in place before taking it out on the track. One of the main components of any bike is the bike brakes. Bike brakes are designed to help you ride and stop when you want. If the bike brakes are out of position, stopping becomes more challenging, and you might run into trouble if you are on top speed. However, bike brakes rarely fail without notice. When you start noticing things like squeaking, a stiff lever, or a soft lever, then you know it is time to check and adjust your bike brakes. Since most cyclers utilize rim and disc brakes, we will concentrate on them in this article. We would also provide you information on how to adjust your brake cables. Enjoy!

How to adjust Rim Brakes Pads

If you use a bicycle with rim brakes, then follow these steps to adjust your brakes.

  1. Assess your brake pads

If you suspect that your rim brakes are not functioning normally, then the first place you should check are the brake pads. Brake pads wearing out should be the most popular reason for brake malfunction. If your brake pads have already reached or passed the wear stage, then it is time to get new ones. However, if they are still good, then maybe they need a little readjusting.

  1. Pull the brake lever to see where the pads hit the rim

When you pull your brake lever, your brake pads should originally come into contact with the rim of your front tire. They should be properly aligned, and they should squeeze the center of the rim while maintaining an equal amount of space below and above the brake pads. If the places are not hitting the rim at the right spot, they could contact the tire or the tire frame.

  1. Unscrew the bolts holding the brake pads in place

If you have spotted where the misalignment is happening, you need to loosen the bolts holding the brake pads. You would need an Allen wrench for this exercise, and you would need to loosen both brake pads (even if only one is misaligned). You should not unscrew the bolts completely; just unscrew enough for manual adjustment.

  1. Adjust your brake pads to the right position

At this point, you can move your brake pads into the right position. If your brakes were too loose, then you should move your brake pads closer to the rim. If they were too tight, then you should move the pads further away from the rim.

  1. Tighten the brake pad bolts

Tighten your bolts back up with your Allen wrench once you are sure you have your brake pads where you want them. You should try to tighten the pads carefully and evenly.

How to adjust Disc Brakes

If you use a bicycle with disc brakes, then follow these steps to adjust your brakes.

  1. Position your bike upside down

The first step is to position your bike upside down or place it on a bike stand. You would need to work on the brake rotor and spin the wheel to adjust the brakes.

  1. Check the alignment of the rotor

To check the alignment of the rotor, you need to spin the wheel. The rotor moves with the wheel, and if it is bent or damaged at any spot, the rotor will move from side to side. At this point, you would probably have to get a new rotor because the rotor should only move with the wheel when spinning.

  1. Unscrew your disc brake bolts

If your rotor is closer to one brake pad than the other, then you need to realign the caliper. To do this, you have to loosen the brake pad bolts.

  1. Squeeze the brake and tighten the bolts

When you have loosened the bolts, spin the wheel and then squeeze the brake lever. This will bring your pads and your rotor into alignment. You should tighten your bolts while still squeezing the lever.

  1. Let go of the brake lever

Once you are done, let go of the brake lever and test your bike brakes’ functionality.

How to Adjust your brake cable

Your brake cable can affect your bike brake. However, you can easily adjust them, and their results are immediate. If you are stuck with bad bike brakes in the middle of a track, adjusting your brake cable can help you use the bike till you get home and fix it properly.

  1. Test the tightness of your brake cable

Your brake cable is what connects your handlebar to your brake mechanism. If it is too tight or too loose, you would feel it when you pull your brake lever. If the lever touches the handlebar, it is too loose, and if it barely squeezes, it is too tight.

  1. Tighten or loosen the barrel adjuster

Once you have determined what is wrong with your cables, the next step is to adjust accordingly. The barrel adjuster should be turned clockwise if you want it loose and anti-clockwise to tighten it.

  1. Loosen the bolt holding the brake cable on the caliper

If it is still not balanced after you have done this, you should use your Allen wrench to loosen the brake caliper’s bolt.

  1. Release or pull the brake cable through the caliper to tighten

Once the cable is loose enough, you should pull the cable outward if you want to tighten the brakes and release it inward if you want to loosen it.

  1. Tighten the bolt holding the brake cable

When you are done, tighten the bolt holding the brake cable and tighten the handlebars’ barrel adjusters.


Adjusting bike brakes is something most cyclers do to keep their bike in the best riding shape. If you want to adjust your bike brake to perform more efficiently, this article has provided you with all the background information you need. We advise you to do further research and adjust those brakes today. Cheers!