Bike brakes are parts that can wear out in a short time. Also, they can get into trouble frequently due to firm touches of dirty dust. What if your bike brake brokes when you are on your way, and there is no bike repair service around? You will have no choice but to repair it by yourself.
So why don’t you get into this article now to learn some helpful tips about bike brake repairs? Even when you don’t want to fix your bike brakes at home, you will realize you need these tips when you face unexpected cases someday in the future.
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Bike Brake And The Roles Of The Bike Brake
A bike brake is a significant part of a bike. It is responsible for braking (or reducing) the bikes’ speed when riders are riding. A bike brake commonly consists of a brake lever, a brake cable, and brake pads.
When riders press the bike brakes, pressure from the brake lever will transmit to the brake pads through the brake cable. Such pressure forms friction to slow down the speed of the tire. Thanks to the bike brakes, riders can slow their bikes at a slower pace or stop them from moving.
Types Of Bike Brakes
Bike brakes include many different types, but the most common ones are caliper brakes, cantilever brakes, v-brakes, and disc brakes. Therefore, this article only concentrates on these types.
Caliper brakes are supposed to be the most common bike brakes. The brake cables fit a single point on the wheel for this type. That activates the brake pads and allows automatic swingarms on the central belt.
This type of brake is not only firm and sleek but also dependable. As it works by clamping down on a metal trim, it is also called a rim brake. Almost all youth bikes and road bikes have this type of brake.
There exist two types of caliper brakes, including side-pull caliper and center-pull caliper.
In comparison to caliper brakes, cantilever brakes are much more powerful. However, this type of bike brake is somewhat less aero-dynamic. Thus, it commonly appears in “cyclocross” bikes.
Usually, people will see the “cyclocross” bikes on cyclocross races where riders use road-style bikes to move across the light-off-road terrain. Racing smoothly in such light-off-road terrain requires the bike brakes to be sufficiently strong.
As a result, the caliper brakes are impossible to meet that requirement but the cantilever brakes. Besides, there must be a special fork responsible for mounting these brakes to the road-style bicycles.
V-brakes seem to be the most common term whenever we mention bike brakes. This type of bike brake mostly appears on off-road and mountain bikes because they require powerful bike brakes.
V-brakes are fantastic because they can slow and stop the wheel, even wet or muddy. Compared to caliper and cantilever brakes, this type is a little heavier. But anyway, it is still an ideal brake for off-road bikes.
Disc brakes seem to be more outstanding than v-brakes. Not only more powerful, but this type of brake also requires less hand strength to control your bike when racing. And of course, it will be heavier.
Unlike other types, disc brakes are not “rim brakes” because they cannot clamp the rim. Instead, they are used to fix the hub-fixed rotor. If you are looking for a strong, immune to heat, and more dependable brake, then this type of brake is a perfect choice for you.
Tools Needed for Bike Brake Repair
Before fixing your bike brakes, it is significant to prepare all the necessary tools. Sometimes you have good fixing skills but lack the needed tools; you cannot fix your problems. Therefore, a great and appropriate tool kit is a must. The tool recommendations include:
It is a small handheld tool whose sizes commonly range from 2 to 5 mm. People usually use it to screw the bolts.
It is one of the most common types of wrenches in a tool kit. Its length is about 6 to 12 mm. It has two U-shaped ends; one is slightly bigger than the other. You will use it to screw some bolts that are hard to reach.
You will need one or two pairs of latex gloves to protect your hands from dirt and injury. Besides, you might need some other necessary tools such as pliers, oil, bleed kit, etc.
For more information about the needed tools, let’s watch a helpful video on
How To Repair Bike Brake – Critical Tteps
How to repair bike brakes is one of the most popular topics recently. Accordingly, many articles are instructing bikers how to fix brakes. That makes them confused sometimes since they see a lot of methods.
Therefore, in this article, I introduce two short and easy-to-apply methods. I believe you will know how to fix brakes once you go through them. Also, at the end of each method, you will see a link to a video that can help you get a clearer understanding of each method.
Method 1: Adjust the brake pads
This method includes four steps that are easy to understand and apply. Specifically:
Step 1: Before you want to make adjustments, make sure you have already checked the brake pads.
Brake pads are used to put pressure on the brake disc (or brake rotor) to slow down or stop your bike. Whenever you see your brake pads wear out unevenly, it means that your brakes need to be adjusted. In other words, it is time to make a replacement for your brake pads.
Here are some notes for your reference:
- You can get new brake pads at any bike shop or even online if you do not have time to go out. Good brake pads should have labeled wear lines or marked grooves.
- After replacing new brake pads, ensure that the wheel lines up correctly. Otherwise, it will contact your brakes, and of course, your bike cannot move smoothly.
Let’s check out this video to better understand this step:
Step 2: Squeeze the brake lever several times to check where the pads hit the rim.
The brake pads of two sides must simultaneously contact the front tire’s rim. Specifically, they must hit the rim’s center, and the above and below space must be equal. In case such distance is too low or too high, the brake pads will contact the spokes on your bike or the rubber part of the tire.
One more thing, if your bike has a quick-release mechanism, make sure it has not been undone or loose, or else it will be unable to squeeze tightly into the wheel.
Step 3: Loosen the bolts with an Allen wrench.
You can turn the Allen wrench to loosen the bolts, but remember not to reduce them all the way. If you do so, the bolts will fall out of the brake pad bracket.
Check if the brake pads can move up and down smoothly in their holder.
In case you see the places are too high on the rim, let’s move them down to the center. If they are too low, you should move them to the trim’s center.
Step 4: Re-tighten the bolts with an Allen wrench.
After re-tightening, ensure your brake pads are centered.
If you still cannot imagine how to adjust the bike brake pads, this video will help you:
Method 2: Tighten the brake cables
Unlike method 1, method 2 has six steps. But you need not worry too much; these steps are also easy to remember and apply.
Step 1: Pull each brake lever to check how tight your cables are.
The brake levers’ distance and the grip on the handlebars should be suitable. It is commonly about one and a half inches. If you see the levers hit the handlebars when pulling them, it indicates that your brake levers are too loose.
Step 2: Before making minor adjustments for your brake cables, loosen the barrel adjusters.
You might fix the problem by loosening the barrel adjusters if your brake cables are loose slightly. In this case, you can follow these steps:
- First, turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise to loosen it. This step will also tighten your brake cable slightly.
- Then pull the brake lever to test whether the problem is fixed or not. If you see the cable is still loose, adjust the caliper.
Step 3: Locate the bolt that holds the brake cable.
Unscrew it with an Allen wrench several times till it is slightly loose. Remember not to unscrew it all the way; only two or three times till it is open is okay.
Step 4: Tighten the brake cable by pulling it outward.
Remember that when you pull the brake cable, the brake pads ought to tighten on the rim of the front tire. But don’t make it so tight, or else the tire is unable to turn. In case your tire really cannot turn at all, let’s pull it a little less firm.
Step 5: Tighten the bolt on the caliper.
Turn the Allen wrench clockwise two or three times till you see it cannot turn anymore. When you have already tightened the bolt, make sure the cable is in place.
Step 6: Tighten the barrel adjusters.
Turn them clockwise till you can completely tighten them. Your brake cables are all set now!
You will learn more about tightening the bike brake cables with this video:
How long should I spend to repair my bike brake?
It is impossible to say how long repairing bike brakes will take. For some simple tasks such as brake pads replacement, you may spend around 15 minutes to an hour to get it done. If your bike brakes get serious problems, it will take a longer time to fix them. If your bike brakes get in simple trouble, it will take a shorter time.
How much does fixing a bike brake cost me?
The cost for fixing a bike brake will depend on your type of bike and the type of brake you want to repair. Different types of brakes have different prices.
For example, it costs about $10.00 for adjusting the front or rear brake, $12.00 for installing a new brake cable, $10.00 for installing new brake pads (per wheel), and $20.00 for installing a new disc brake (per wheel).
Which one is better for fixing bike brakes, at home or the shop?
It is impossible to say whether getting your bike brakes fixed at home or the shop will be better.
In some cases, your bike brakes only get into some uncomplicated trouble; you can repair them yourself at home. But that only works when you know how to fix brakes or at least how to tighten the brake cable, for example.
Otherwise, you have no choice but to send your bike to a local bike repair shop. In other cases, your bike brakes get into some complex trouble; you should send it to the shop, or else you will make your bike get into a more complex problem or even broken.