Adjusting Your Bike Brakes Is Easy

I’m a do it yourself type of person and find it a challenge to take on projects and see them through to completion. Whenever I have a job that needs my attention I will do some quick research on the internet to see what I can learn about it. My latest project was to give my bike brakes a good going over.

I used this article and managed to do a pretty good job with my bike brake maintenance. The article stated 30 minutes to complete. Unfortunately it did take me a little longer (more like an hour), but this was my first try at repairing my brakes.

To start off with I needed a special tool (called a “Third Hand”). Interesting name but basically it does indeed perform the services that another pair of hands would give you. It looks like this:

Obviously, I didn’t have this tool, but my local bike shop did and they were gracious enough to let me take it home to try it out. I do know the shop owner quite well so that obviously helped my cause.

First order of business was to tighten my brakes. Basic steps are as follows:

  1. Use “Third Hand” to clamp your brake shoes against your rim
  2. Loosen the cable clamps of your brakes
  3. Pull the brake cable, using a pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench
  4. When cable is tight, tighten up the clamps once again.
  5. Release the “Third Hand”

Fairly simple process really. You know your brakes are tight enough when the brake pads start to make contact with your rim after squeezing your levers ~1/2”. Just repeat the process above if your cables are still too loose until you get it to the correct length.

The article also explains how to lubricate your brake levers which, in my opinion, is not a bad thing to do on a regular basis.

The other critical component that needs to be checked is the brake shoes (typically rubber pads). My brake shoes were still in good shape so I didn’t need to replace them, but the article explains the process quite well.

When I’m riding my bike, I always want to ensure that my brakes are going to work when they are called to do so. I can’t imagine the feeling of pulling the brakes and not having your bike stop! According to my bike shop owner buddy, bike maintenance is critical to keeping your bike in good shape and your body safe. I totally agree.

Was it just me or was this bike brake adjustment really as simple as I seem to think? Anyone else tried to adjust their brakes and not have any luck? Why not comment on how it went; both good and bad. I think everyone would be interested in hearing. Safe riding everyone!

Robert Flaherty